India: Delhi warms up to green workplaces

The building has recently won the Platinum LEED certification and the highest points in the world for being a ‘net-zero energy’ building. “Our building doesn’t need additional energy from any external source. That, however , doesn’t affect our work as there is enough natural light inside the office ,” says Ram Sai Yellamanchili, head of ECB Centre of Excellence India . About 30 employees work inside this two-storeyed office.

About 270 solar PV panels placed on the rooftop can generate up to 57.5kW of electricity, which easily meets the demand of the building. The design of the building allows maximum sunlight to pass through while blocking the heat. “This building is an experiment to prove that it’s possible to build a net-zero energy building,” adds Yellamanchili.

The new building for ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) at Jor Bagh is another such example. The building, which is expected to be ready by next year, is being constructed in a way so that it gets both the GRIHA 5-star rating and the LEED India Platinum rating. Architect Deependra Prashad, who is the lead consultant for the project, calls it the environment ministry’s effort to ‘walk the talk’ . A major feature of the building will be zero tolerance to surface-parking . A three-level underground parking is being constructed with preference given to CNG or electric vehicles as well as carpools.

Till a few years ago ‘green commercial buildings’ were considered to be very expensive. “The high cost of construction was a deterrent. However, the difference is negligible. For the buildings that we have designed, there is only a 3% difference in cost. The materials are cheaper now. It makes business sense to build green offices as the energy costs will get halved in the long run. The maintenance cost of a green building is also low,” says architect Mona Arora, who was part of the team that designed the ‘Green Boulevard’ building in Sector 62, Noida.

From outside, Green Boulevard looks like any other modern office complex. But as you enter, there is a gradual shift in temperature. Employees stroll around as water bodies, open courtyards and lawns. The building has 12 IT companies and houses about 5,000 employees. The building depth has been optimized to capture daylight and offer lovely vistas. The north-south orientation of the building ensures minimum direct sunlight from the north. All exterior shading systems are designed to cut off heat and screen the glare of the sun.

“During peak summer, the temperature inside is seven to eight degrees lower than that outside the office gate. That’s why we see employees walking around the courtyard. We have aligned the water bodies with the direction of the wind to allow evaporative cooling. The different levels of the structure draw in cool air. We have insulated the terrace too and used a white reflective surface to avoid heating during summer,” adds Mona.

There are a number of rainwater harvesting pits on the campus to recharge groundwater. Waste water is treated on the site through sewage treatment plants and reused for irrigation , flushing, etc. Water-efficient fixtures in common areas reduce consumption by 20 to 30%. In Gurgaon, too, buildings like ITC Green Centre, a LEED Platinum certified building, the Wipro Technologies Development Centre, Institute of Rural Research And Development (IRRAD) in Gurgaon’s Sector 44 meet 100% of their basic electricity needs.

Though most green buildings get certification either from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or Griha, architects say many uncertified but well-designed buildings are equally efficient.

“Design is most important. Even if the building is not certified, its design can help in consuming less energy. More and more companies are opting for such buildings for the long-term savings,” says professor Arvind Krishan , former head, department of architecture , School of Planning and Architecture (SPA).

Source: Times of India

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