Build green, build smart

Published by firstgreen on

The market in India may reach up to 10 billion sq.ft. by 2022.

Although sustainable real estate is still in a nascent stage in the country, India is one of the leading countries in green building development. In fact, India ranks only second after the U.S. in terms of the number of green technology projects and built-up area. As of September 2017, more than 4,300 projects utilising green technology, accounting for approximately 4.7 billion sq.ft. of built-up area, were registered in India as per data shared by IGBC.

While this holds true for only 5% of the total buildings, the country’s market for green buildings is expected to double in the next few years and may reach up to 10 billion sq.ft. by as early as 2022 — at a valuation of between US$ 35 billion to US$ 50 billion.

Quantity vs. quality

The rampant urbanisation and massive population increase in the quest for faster economic growth has caused a major change in our lifestyles and overall quality of life. The rapid rate of depletion and concurrent steep rise in greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation have resulted in continuous environmental degradation. This is the primary cause of climate change, the rise in average temperatures and deteriorating air quality in our cities. In recent years, this alarming ecological dynamic has drawn the concerted attention of many countries and kick-started massive efforts to find ways and means to mitigate the rate of deterioration and ensure efficient use of natural resources.

Onus on realty

Real estate development is one of the biggest consumers of natural resources (water, energy, raw materials) and generates gargantuan amounts of wastes and pollutants. This sector alone ingests about 40% of natural raw materials, 25% of water and 35% energy resources. In addition, it emits 40% of wastes and 35% of greenhouse gases.

By adopting green building practices, the sector can reduce its negative ecological footprint and simultaneously help create a more sustainable environment in the long run. Efforts towards sustainable development involve the optimal use of natural resources, reduction and recycling of waste material, and significantly reduced pollutant emissions.

What’s in it?

The UEPA (US Environment Protection Agency) defines green building construction as the practice of using processes and technologies which are environmentally responsible and energy efficient throughout the building’s lifecycle.

This includes aptness of the site, design, construction, operations, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.

Green building construction technologies can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 20-30% and water consumption by approx. 30-50%.

Who certifies?

LEED (USA), BREEAM (UK), DGNB (Germany) and CASBEF (Japan) are a few of the key global entities that define, categorise and certify green buildings across different countries. In India, IGBC and GRIHA are the torch-bearers that define the green buildings’ norms.

Although the initial cost of constructing a green building can be relatively higher than in conventional ones, the enduring benefits such as low operating cost, better health and enhanced productivity makes sustainable real estate an extremely viable long-term investment decision for both developers and consumers.

A green building’s efficiency can be amplified by the adoption of innovative construction materials and better technologies. There are many green building construction technologies being used across the world, including:

– Biomimicry

– Green roofs

– Vertical and rain gardens

– Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panels

– ‘Smart’ glass panes

Challenges faced

Limited awareness: Even today, a large section of Indian users is unaware of green buildings’ enduring benefits and perceive them to be expensive and financially unfeasible options.

Inadequate policies: The lack of mandatory laws to enforce large-scale implementation of green buildings norms is a drawback.

Additional clearances: Developers already go through a tedious process of a multitude of approvals and are apprehensive of the additional burden of green compliances in the list of approvals, which can potentially cause more delays.

Insufficient incentives: There are very few incentive plans, and those that exist vary across states and even cities, depending on different governing bodies. In the majority of cases, incentives are in the form of additional FAR, followed by a rebate on property tax and other schemes and aren’t enough to encourage large-scale adoption of green practices.

Expensive equipment: The equipment and products used in green building construction definitely involve a higher cost than the conventional ones; though the added cost is marginal, many small contractors and developers cannot afford it.

Lack of experts: In India, a majority of real estate industry stakeholders — policy makers, architects, engineers, contractors, workers — simply don’t possess adequate skills and the knowledge required for green buildings construction.

In India, the growth of green buildings can be accelerated through standardisation of norms, better incentive schemes, and a robust financial support system. Increased awareness about green buildings and their long-term benefits will surely boost the green buildings sector and lead to the faster expansion of this very vital market segment.

source- The Hindu