India: Green building movement may cause concerns

File picture shows workers walking in front of the construction site of a commercial complex on the outskirts of Ahmedabad

India is locked in a frenzy of construction to meet the demand for homes, offices, and shops. A staggering two-third of buildings that will stand in India in 2030 are yet to be built. Unless policies minimize resource guzzling and wastes with appropriate architectural design, building material, and operational management, there can be massive environmental debacle in the building sector. Unlike the developed world, the challenge is not to retrofit the already built to make it green; but to build new, which is efficient, sustainable, affordable and comfortable for all. This will have enormous impact on the quality of urban space; water and energy resources in cities; and waste generation.

This concern has emerged from the new study of the New Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) — Building Sense: beyond the green facade of sustainable habitat. The study was released here today in the Mumbai Dialogue on green architecture by architect Shirish Beri. This gathering of leading architects and experts was organized by CSE along with the Mumbai-based Institute of Urbanology.

CSE has expressed deep concern that the data put out by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) on energy consumption of large commercial buildings that were rated and awarded silver, gold and platinum rating, under the LEED green rating programme, is incorrect. These buildings are grossly underperforming. Several of them cannot qualify even for the one star label under the energy star labelling programme of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) that ranks buildings based on their energy efficiency when operational.

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