Driving India towards a greener future

The leading professionals from the government, academia, civil society organisations, builders, architects and engineers of India participated in the sixth GRIHA Summit held in mid March 2015. The Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) which is the national rating system for green buildings in India and the first indigenous attempt in addressing the sustainability issues in the Indian construction sector.

The Summit provides a platform that showcase the rating’s potential to achieve better performing buildings through its variances. The summit was made successful with more than 700 representatives from the different construction industriesthat participated in diverse discussionsregarding breakthroughs in the urban and rural habitats. The Summit was being organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and being supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), and the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

Dr.Rajeev Gowda,The Honourable Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, in his inaugural address for the Government of India, commented that, “While negotiating with other countries on environment and climate change issues, India is a low-carbon impact society. However, things are adversely changing. But India is positive that this kind of future can be pre-empted. India has high hopes that they can still use the knowledge of their ancestors, to build a bridge between the ancient wisdom and cutting edge technology.”

Mr. Amit Kumar, Adjunct Professor, TERI University and Vice President, GRIHA Council voiced out his concerns on the need to introduce certain changes in the construction sector. As he shares the latest achievements of GRIHA he commented that “…we have over 21 million square metres that have been registered for GRIHA certification.”
So far, there are 575 projects that have been registered, and it was expected that more than 150 projects will be further added in this year.

Dr.Leena Srivastava, the acting Director-General of TERI, the one who set the theme for the Summit with her welcome note, stressed out on the rapidly changing environment and the need to involve all stakeholders. She said that, “Climate, as we know it, is changing. While we want people to occupy green buildings, there are more energy service companies that are stepping in with services required to facilitate this, it is important that the end-users are empowered in making more informed decisions and understand that the economics work in their favour. People should have this awareness to the need for concerted action in enhancing energy efficiency which is much higher today, both for global and domestic reasons. This Summit is taking forward the initiatives that started earlier and it should succeed by offering a number of solutions and ensure action in a systemic, holistic sense.”

With the different promising solutions GRIHA has offered in promoting a more stable and sustainable habitat. The Council has successfully facilitated and supported seven professional organisations from diverse fields for having done an exemplary work on promotion of sustainable habitats.
These organisations aim to educate prospective professionals who will imagine and shape the future with a vibrant atmosphere providing students with a uniquely inspiring environment to study creative education; furthermore, Terra Viridis one of the organisations being supported by GRIHA focuses on policy making in creating an environmentally sensitive built environments. These organisations continue to play their part working with GRIHA’s set standard on green buildings.

The summit also took the opportunity to give attention to those who are actively taking, exerting effort to support GRIHA’s perspective on Green Building. Awards and recognition was afforded to some participants such as. Mr NP Agarwal, Executive Director, he received the award on behalf of National Building Construction Corporation Ltd for mandating at least a 3-star rating for all its building projects and ensuring countrywide implementation of GRIHA by organising intensive training and capacity-building of its professionals all over the country through TERI. In additional to the latter, in behalf of Central Public Works Department, Mr Divakar Garg, Director General (Works) received an award for being at the forefront of promoting GRIHA and Green buildings, particularly in the public sector.

Aside from generous recognitions there were also miscellany of informative topics that were covered in the different sessions during the summit.This includes the concept of “Building India with GRIHA. The essence of the idea is to study GRIHA’s role in driving design and constructionof sustainable habitat across the country,the session focused on the experiences relating the subject and different approaches of projects dealing with it across India. Another point that was highlightedduring undertake was the concept of “Designed in India!” or Made in India. This corroborates the GRIHA school of thought focussing on indigenous strategies. The focus of the concept is on local design solutions being propagated across the sub-continent by leading architects of India.

An additional comprehensive session was also being discoursed in the summit, and this focalizes “AQUA ACCESS” this covers the issue of water optimisation and availability of clean drinking water to all segments of society and innovating urban futures’ dealing with the opportunities to develop urban centres into “hubs of Innovation” ensuring environmentally sustainable and smart growth.

The two-day Summit was hosted by eminent speakers such as representatives from the government, architecture, construction and education. Speakers gave a talk about their experiences and promised vision to drive India towards a greener future. Some of the summit’s key speakers are Padma Shri Gopal Shankar, Founder & Chief Architect, Habitat Technology Group; Mr Alan Abraham, Principal, Abraham John Architects; Mr Andrés Prera – Principal, LEED Fellow, 1/2ambiente, Guatemala; Mr Jagan Shah, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs, Government of India; Dr Leena Srivastava, Acting Director General, TERI; Ms MiliMajumdar – Director, Sustainable Habitat Division, TERI; Mr Mahesh Ramanujam, Chief Operating Officer – U.S. Green Building Council; Mr John Hardy, Founder, Green School, Bali Indonesia; Mr P Sahel, Vice Chairman, Lotus Greens Developers Pvt. Ltd.; Dr Steve KardinalJusuf, Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore; and Mr Rajeev Talwar, Group Executive Director, DLF.

The Summit comes in the wake for the revolution of construction industry in India. According to the 12th Five Year Plan, almost 600 million people would be living in urban areas, which may result in the emergence of about 60-70 cities with a population of more than a million by 2030. Green buildings are fast growing development imperative in the country, as India has been set to become the third largest construction market in the world by 2025. (AGB.com)

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