Living the Green Way
Amidst the rising concerns over the climate change, the ‘Concrete Jungles’ are undergoing transformations. Call it environmental compulsion, the modern buildings worldwide are being constructed with a thought to surrounding nature. Ankit Gohel brings the views and opinions of professionals from across the real-estate industry.
The Green buildings are designed in such a way to reduce the overall impact of manmade structure on the immediate natural environment. Some of the strategies employed are waste management, reduced carbon emissions, energy & water efficiency, soil and natural vegetation conservation and minimal use of natural resources.
According to Aditya Kedia, Managing Director, Transcon Developers,“Aggressive government incentives can go a long way in encouraging the eco-friendly construction and attracting developers as well as home buyers in this direction. The cost, benefits, and performance of green buildings must be documented and communicated to expand the market and also remove the misconception from the mind of stakeholders.”He also highlighted the lack of availability of local manufacturers who can produce good quality eco-friendly building materials. Due to which, the initial investment to develop a green building as compared to conventional building increases by 5% to 8%. Giving an example of his project Tirumala Habitats,a Pre-Certified Platinum rated green building in Mumbai he stated, “The green features of this project include Soil erosion control system, rain water harvesting, low flow water fixtures, water irrigation management and grey water treatment. Energy efficiency is also kept into consideration with the use of Solar PVs, LED lightings. The project will also incorporate organic waste management and segregation as well as Low / no VOC paints and CFC free equipment for healthy indoor air quality.”
Informing about the demand from homebuyers Vijay B Pawar, Founder and Director, Mirador Constructions said that the demand for green homes in the affordable housing segment is rising. The projects of Mirador Constructions in Shahapur, Mumbai are eco-friendly and this factor has actually helped them in good sales. He also concurred that the construction costs for eco-friendly buildings remain high. “Meticulous planning before construction is essential when it comes to a Green building project. This involves a good amount of time which is considered a challenge by many developers,” he added.
Taking a different standpoint, Mahesh Anand, President-Decorative, Nippon Paint stated a recent global report according to which 55% of consumers across 60 countries were willing to pay higher prices for goods from environmentally conscious companies. He added, “The conventional paints include formaldehyde, heavy metals and other substances known as volatile organic compounds (VOC) which occupants inhale causing toxic effect on lungs, especially for children and elderly. The paint industry has adopted an eco-friendly approach to its products, developing products that are environment sensitive and do not release toxic fumes. The home buyers too are increasingly showing inclination for such healthier finishing materials despite the marginal higher costs.” Indeed, as per IGBC estimates, by 2025, green products market potential would be about USD 300 Billion.
Terming green buildings as the future of Indian real-estate, Sanjay Bhutani, CMO, Rivali Park, CCI Projects elaborated, “Home buyers investing in green-certified properties are benefitted in two ways. Firstly, the health benefits from environment sensitive products are enormous in the long run. Secondly, due to the energy efficient and water saving technology and fittings, the home owners save almost one-third on water and electricity bills as opposed to conventional buildings.”
Designed by GenslerGA, Rivali Park is a LEED registered and IGBC Gold pre-certified project with more than 72% open green space. The projects attempts to incorporation of sustainable aspects via approximately 30 percent less water usage through high-tech plumbing fixtures and usage of VOC free non-toxic paints, adhesives and Green Sewage Treatment Plant..
There is a widespread impression that the Green buildings are expensive to be considered economically feasible. The design experts point out that higher construction costs can generally be avoided by including green design right at the project planning stage. The resource efficiency provided by green design and technology leads to drastic cost savings that continue to offer long-term savings on utility bills. Energy-efficient buildings exert less demand on the local power grid and water supply, stretching the capacity of local infrastructure. With increased emphasis on renewable energy sources, the building sector is moving toward sustainability as a permanent objective.
Designers play a very important role in developing a green certified building. Be it a commercial or a residential building, people are aware of the sustainability and green environment. Pallavi Shrivastava, EDAC, LEED AP ID+C commented, “People are proactively taking initiatives that not only help the environmental footprint but also their vision and goal for their company to reduce waste and consumption of resources. The clients face doubts where they are unsure of ROI and upfront investment in going green. They have also come back to us with queries on what kind incentives they can expect from governing bodies by investing in green building technologies and methodologies. There is a real opportunity here for the government to integrate smarter construction methodologies into our booming real estate industry which is only going to grow for next couple of decades.”
Pallavi recently completed a project in BKC, Mumbai which is an office space of 520,000 Sq. ft. They have incorporated sustainability features like power saving, effective use of daylighting and reduced consumption of water, for the project to be USGBC LEED Platinum certified. Project is on its way to achieve its plaque, very soon.
According to her, the awareness has been rising steadily in India for last 5 to 7 years and clients have come to see a real value in investing in greener built environment. To a large extent, this movement has been bottom up with the huge change that is occurring in our temperatures and weather cycles which have gotten disrupted. Emphasis on low carbon sustainable cities is the mantra for developing countries like ours. It has also presented us with a unique opportunity to not just build, but build wisely and smartly without impacting the growth and development of a country.“Bhutan is world’s first carbon negative country. What it means to be Carbon negative is that the country’s carbon sinks, such as its forests, absorb more carbon dioxide each year than its sources of pollution, such as factories, emit. It is pretty amazing what this country has achieved and is leading the way to set most impressive sustainable benchmark. With all the chatter around AI and Robotics in real estate, real game changer of the future will be to create carbon neutral built environment,” she added.
Once the construction is complete, maintenance of the green features of the building becomes an important consideration. These buildings are equipped with advanced energy efficient systems and smart solution like motion/occupancy sensors, HVAC systems, etc. which require expert monitoring to ensure, the efficiencies are running to their optimal limits throughout the building lifecycle. Rushabh Vora, Co-Founder and Director, SILA, the facility management service provider company explained, “It requires a unique approach towards facility maintenance of a green certified building, may it be soft or hard services. The main objective behind a green building is the use of minimum resources throughout the lifecycle of the project. A LEED certified building has to be 30% more efficient than the other buildings and the HVAC system and other equipment should comply with the minimum energy efficiency standards. Thus, expert consultants are engaged for managing these systems and conduct semi-annual audits of the functions.”
With growing awareness among general public and the conscious decision of corporate and investors to be seen as socially responsible, there is a gradual rise in the investment in green buildings. Green practices also benefit in the form of taxation with tax credits for the incorporation of legitimate sustainable practice in the operations. As a result, developers are taking a keen interest in green buildings. In fact, inclination towards eco-friendly homes in semi-urban areas is almost the same as it is in urban areas due to assured lower operating costs resulting from improved energy efficiency.
Green Ratings in India
A green certification adds credibility to the project as it is a third party validation by subject matter expert. It implies that the builder has incorporated green features in the project that have been validated by the certification agency.
Devised by United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system evaluates the environmental performance of a building and encourages market transformation towards sustainable design. Many countries including India have adopted this green rating system.
India has developed its first rating programme. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was formed in the year 2001.It has launched over 20 fully indigenised green building rating systems for commercial, residential, cities, townships, factories, schools, healthcare, data centres, metro stations, railway stations and several others. The ratings incorporate National Standards and Codes, including- National Building Code (NBC), Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines.
Similarly, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) developed the GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment). Promoted by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) as a national rating system, GRIHA is originally developed from LEED and has additional requirements.
Net Zero Future
Buildings have a huge role to play in addressing environmental concerns as they contribute around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the same proportion of waste. Energy-efficient buildings reduce emissions in both their operation and initial construction and also bring down the peaks in demand. Emerging concepts like restorative and living buildings could begin to compensate for environmental damage by being carbon negative or making a positive contribution to the environment.
There are different definitions for net-zero energy including net-zero source energy, net-zero energy costs, and net-zero energy emissions. Also, energy efficient technologies can only do so much toward achieving net-zero energy. A building form that is not designed to maximize energy efficiency will put that building at a disadvantage. The design of the building makes or breaks the possibility of a building to be as efficient as cost effectively possible. If the design is not as efficient as it can be then the renewable energy system required to achieve net-zero energy will be more expensive.
According to a white paper by AutoDesk Inc. Sustainable Design Development, the key design areas for designing a building to be as energy efficient as possible.
These design areas are easy to address in new construction projects using building information modeling (BIM) and sustainable analysis tools. With these newer tools a design team can conduct design optimization to deliver a net-zero energy capable design in a matter of days rather than the weeks it took in the past.
For an existing building, the design is already there, but the owner does not know if the design is net-zero energy capable. Today there are technologies for capturing a building’s geometry very quickly from digital photographs and creating the BIM model from such pictures. Once in the BIM model form the required analyses can determine if the building is net-zero energy capable.