India: Why Does Green Building Become Popular?

Going green has never ever been as attractive as it is now. The cost differential of being environment-friendly has come down from a high of 15-18 per cent about a decade ago to less than four or five per cent now, when compared with the overall cost of making conventional buildings, according to CII-Indian Green Business Council (IGBC).

From just one registered green building in 2003, India now has over 2,100 projects registered with a total area of 1.65 billion sq ft. With this, India has the second largest green building footprint in the world after the US. In the last three years, 400 projects were completed and fully certified by the council. These include airports, banks, convention centres, factories, hospitals, hotels, IT parks and commercial buildings.

MAKING THE CASE

S. Raghupathy, Executive Director of CII-GBC, says constructing a new building or converting an existing one into a green building makes business sense.

The cost of green buildings has come down gradually. The incremental cost one pays to go green now gets paid back within two-three years as against the much longer period of seven-ten years about a decade ago. Studies by the council suggest that these green-rated buildings save up to 30-40 per cent on energy and 20-30 per cent in water consumption. They also use recycled water for plants. The separation between green and conventional buildings begins with the design. Well-designed homes or offices are properly ventilated with good cross-circulation. These buildings are, by default, designed and constructed using well-insulated walls and green rooftops to avoid direct solar radiation. One important aspect of new-generation green buildings is that they invariably have rainwater-harvesting systems and water treatment facilities. Also, modern faucets, which cost about the same as regular ones, reduce water usage by about 30-40 per cent.

CORPORATE BACKERS

Large companies such as ITC, Infosys, Wipro, Godrej, Tata, ACC, M&M, Hero, and Raheja are among scores of other companies who have all taken to platinum- or gold-rating certification. In some ways, they are reference points for the green movement.

With a chunk of a large company’s costs being taken up by the energy bill, they have all put in place systems which bring down overall energy consumption. Significantly, with the State Governments encouraging setting up of solar photo-voltaic units and offering incentives for both grid-connected and rooftop systems, companies are installing renewable energy units both to meet their power requirement during peak hours as well as to save on energy costs.

The green building movement is growing with each passing day. While power-intensive factories are being covered sector-wise, be it paper and pulp, power, cement, and other manufacturing units, efforts are also on to partner with local administration in this regard. This includes offering additional floor area for construction if they apply for green certification and give importance to landscaping.

GAINING POPULARITY

As CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad plays a catalytic role in promoting the green building culture, the scope of the movement is now spreading to buildings, habitats, townships, smart cities/towns, factories and commercial establishments.

According to estimates, the construction sector accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions which are responsible for global warming. Conservative estimates suggest that more than four lakh Indian homes have taken to the concept of green homes and its rating system is gaining in popularity not only because  it brings savings to the owner but also because it is a source of pride. According to Chandrashekar Hariharan of BCIL Homes, Bangalore, who works on the concept of grid-free homes, a house-owner could save up to 40 per cent on energy.

The Green Business Council and CII have come out with a rating system for existing buildings. The rating system was launched a couple of months ago and provides rating tools for building-owners. They are working with real estate bodies such as Credai to popularise the concept.

The existing buildings can achieve savings in energy and water consumption to the tune of 15-30 per cent.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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