Interview with Dr Prem C Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council

Interview with Dr Prem C Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council
03/04/2018 , by , in Interview Old

India’s Green Visionary


Dr Prem C Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council gives credit of his achievements to his mother who encouraged him to be an engineer. Talking to Shubhra Saini, he goes down the memory lane to recount the green buildings movement in India and the way forward.

Dr Jain is of the belief that sustainable living is in the DNA of every Indian. “Culturally, we have been taught to reuse & recycle but, with rising consumerism, we are forgetting the traditional way of living which promoted resource efficiency and eco-sensitivity.” As a matter of fact, his aesthetically designed home in Delhi, is a representation of his belief and lifestyle. The greenery outside, the beautiful paintings and statues inside, the collector’s edition ‘Bhagwad Gita’, all depict his deep interest in nature, philosophy and arts. And the creativity doesn’t just end here. His wife Renu Jain is a painter, sculptor and a Kathak dancer; she majored in Interior Design from the University of Minnesota (USA) and is a renowned sitar player. Their daughter too pursued design interest albeit in the field of fashion. A well-known fashion designer Payal Jain has been involved in the revival and hence preservation of handicrafts that are on the verge of becoming extinct.

My house is like a temple for me because I built it for my mother who stayed here for ten years with me. I have always felt the place to be blessed. A lot of my new initiatives started here and became success. For instance, first steps towards creating IGBC were conceptualized here. Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) too started from this house.


Down the Memory Lane

Born on Jan 26, 1936 in the conservative Jain family of Old Delhi, Dr Jain’s mother was a rebel in her own way. She was determined to give her son the highest of education against all odds. Fondly reminiscing Dr Jain said, “My mother encouraged me to enrol in Banaras Hindu University for engineering. She even mortgaged her jewellery to send me abroad for higher studies. I completed my Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from University of Minnesota, USA in 1965 and came back to India in 1970. I wouldn’t have been what I am, if not for her determination. She has been my role model and inspiration throughout.”

After returning to India, Dr Jain served as a visiting professor at IIT Kanpur, where he taught post-graduate studies and set up a laboratory for environmental engineering. He has also been on the visiting faculty for the School of Planning and Architecture at Delhi University since 1973. “After the two year teaching stint at IIT Kanpur, I joined the architectural firm of ‘Stein, Doshi & Bhalla’. The way they infused nature with built-mass is an example of how one can combine simplicity of nature with complexity of design.” It was in 1980, that Dr jain established Spectral Services Consultants Private Limited (now an AECOM company) with the mission of providing energy-efficient, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP) services. He believed that rather than blindly following the western design practices, adopting India’s traditional architecture in a modern and scientific could help build eco-sensitive and cost-effective buildings.

Architect Joseph Allen Stein once told me that simplicity, honesty and passion is all that one requires for achieving success. I have been following that advice since then.


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