The Need for Net Zero in India’s Real Estate Sector: A Route to Sustainable Urban Development

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The real estate sector in India is a juggernaut that’s showing no signs of slowing down. As of 2021, the real estate market size in India was around US$200 billion and is projected to reach a whopping US$1 trillion by 2030. Furthermore, a staggering 70% of the buildings that will exist in India by 2030 are yet to be constructed. This booming sector, therefore, presents an unparalleled opportunity to build sustainably and address climate change concerns proactively.

India, with over 400 cities spread across 28 states and eight union territories, is a dynamic and diverse nation. Among these, eight cities, including Mumbai, National Capital Region, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad, are the hotbeds of real estate development. With this level of urban development and expansion, the focus on achieving net zero in the real estate sector is not only desirable but absolutely necessary.

India’s National Commitments Towards Net Zero

India has shown its commitment to combating climate change by making strong strides towards achieving net zero emissions. The nation understands that the rapidly expanding real estate sector plays a vital role in this pursuit. Buildings, both residential and commercial, contribute significantly to energy use and carbon emissions. Therefore, focusing on this sector is crucial to achieving sustainability goals.

Why Focus on the Real Estate Sector?

As aforementioned, 70% of the buildings that will stand in India by 2030 are yet to be built. This presents an enormous opportunity for new developments to incorporate sustainable design and construction practices from the outset. With the right policies and incentives in place, this growth can be channeled to ensure a net-zero future.

Government Policies and Incentives

Recognizing the significance of sustainable construction, the Indian government has launched several policies and incentives to encourage the real estate sector to adopt green building practices. The Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India, offers fast-track environmental clearance for buildings certified by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Furthermore, multiple states and union territories offer incentives such as extra Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for achieving various IGBC ratings.

One of the most crucial policies is the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), issued by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the Ministry of Power. ECBC provides minimum requirements for energy-efficient design and construction of buildings. Although the code currently excludes buildings intended only for private residential purposes, it nevertheless covers a significant part of the real estate sector. It prescribes energy-saving building technologies that lead to reduced energy consumption and promote low carbon growth.

ECBC implementation across India could result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. To date, the ECBC has been adopted in major cities such as Hyderabad, Bangalore, parts of Delhi NCR, and Kolkata. As more cities adopt and implement the ECBC, the potential for greenhouse gas reduction could reach over 250 MtCO2.

Another key policy is the Environmental Clearance, 2006, which mandates every infrastructure project to obtain environmental clearance from designated authorities before commencing construction. The clearance process involves a thorough evaluation of the project’s impact on various environmental factors and proposed mitigation measures. The accountability and transparency at multiple levels of approval make this process a significant step towards sustainable construction.

The Path Ahead

India’s real estate sector is at a crucial juncture where it has the opportunity to redefine its trajectory and align itself with sustainable practices. To harness the full potential of these green initiatives, continued policy implementation and stronger adherence to sustainable building practices are necessary. The potential for change is enormous, and the real estate sector has the potential to lead India’s charge towards a sustainable, net-zero future.