It's spreading slow, but steady roots in India
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) defines a green building as one which uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building.
Recently the “greening” initiatives of India’s construction industry received a boost when the country was ranked number 3 among a list of the top 10 counties in the world by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) outside of the US. The report named India at Rank 3, recognising the country’s number of square feet covered under LEED, and this only indicates that Indian builders are serious about green initiatives. Green buildings in India are expected to grow to 3 billion square feet by 2020.
A Green Building basically should encompass all of the following. It expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. It is also known as a sustainable or high-performance building. Green design is about finding that balance between high-quality construction and low environmental impact. A lighter footprint means a longer-lasting planet, which is a win for the builder, client and environment.
With the growing population, it’s important to consider the sustainability quotient to live a healthy life. The most commonly used are the solar power installations. Solar tiles are installed around the concept of Net Zero Energy and net metering. Furthermore, certain incentives like extra FSI and tax premium rebates for green buildings are proposed to the developers. Also builders can add green building certifications to their list of credentials to draw the interest of homebuyers to their projects, which help in up selling.
Not just individual builders, some state governments too are keen on go green. For instance, the Maharashtra government has a mandate to go green as part of the Centre’s initiative to ‘Make India Energy Efficient’. It has committed to saving Rs 119 crore by converting all the existing government buildings to become energy efficient. It is anticipated that most of the newer high rise residential towers, schools and mixed-use developments that are coming up in the country will have a ‘green’ focus.
Anuj Puri, Chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants says, the number of certified green buildings in India has surged over the last four to five years, and this indicates that the sustainability concept is gaining popularity. However, the country has a lot of catching up with more developed countries to do. There is a pretty decent amount of space committed to ‘green’ certified building in India today, but it is insignificant in light of the spaces, which are under development and the number of existing buildings, he adds.
In today’s day and age, sustainable development is what some builders are following and rightly so, it has become crucial to use processes that are environmentally responsible; material that is non-toxic, ethical and sustainable; design and construction that considers quality of life, says Nibhrant Shah, CEO and Founder, of ISPRAVA, a luxury brand.
“Since inception, we have believed in sustainability, environmental conservation and in respecting communities. Our homes are furnished using refurbished and up-cycled products. For example, 90 per cent of our doors are sourced from old homes. We reuse wood and other natural materials wherever possible and hence believe in and will continue to follow the Green Building concept,” Shah adds.
As per Shubika Bilkha, Business Head at The Real Estate Management Institute, the LEED framework that is currently in place is cumbersome and fairly expensive for a small to mid-sized development. Additional R&D to encourage the use of locally available materials is equally important to make it economically viable. Education, training and awareness among all stakeholders are another critical piece of the pie. For sustainable development initiatives to be successfully implemented, an equal commitment of all stakeholders such the government, the consumer, the corporate, the supplier and the developer is essential.
“One of the key challenges that I foresee when increasing the proliferation of ‘green’ buildings across our urban and semi-urban landscape is to make materials and the evaluation/audit process cost effective for all developments,” says Bilkha.
Green is becoming profitable & desirable
Dharmesh Jain, CMD of Nirmal says green homes are becoming increasingly profitable and desirable. Home buyers today are increasingly prepping up to the concept of ‘green homes’ as they offer multiple benefits, not only in terms of a healthy lifestyle, but also provide serious savings on electricity and water, eventually leading to a significant cut on utility bills.
There are several benefits of living in green buildings as it is environmental friendly and helps in saving huge amount of resources like power and water. Green building saves 30-40 per cent power consumption, which results in reduced electricity bills and provides huge savings to the homebuyers. Adding to this, durable materials last a long time, which helps in saving the cost of replacement and maintenance, also incentives like tax rebates are offered in some states for living in green buildings. These benefits result in improving the overall quality of life. The environmental benefits are minimum usage of resources and smaller carbon footprints as compared to standard buildings. The social benefits include a healthy lifestyle.
Buildings account for up to 40 per cent of the total energy consumption in India, and commercial and residential real estate combined will account for more than 2000 TWh of energy consumption by 2030 (more than double of the figure in 2012). Of this, more than 60 per cent will be consumed by residential buildings alone. It stands to reason that housing developers and buyers need a lot of encouragement to ‘go green’ in India.
Surjot Bhatia, Managing Director, Project Management Group, CBRE says, there is a huge opportunity for improving our sustainable built environment—right from building materials to the use of technology such as energy efficiency, water efficiency, air-conditioning, lighting, furnishing and fixtures, among others. In addition to the growth of sustainable green practices in the real estate sector, it is through careful implementation of design that sustainability will be best leveraged in India.
“Rising demand for energy, deterioration of natural resources and ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions pose an enormous challenge to our developing nation. Emerging economies such as India face a formidable challenge in finding suitable technologies to achieve energy and environmental stability. The real estate industry has an especially important responsibility to play a proactive role in climate change mitigation. Over the next few years we will need to encourage the emergence of several new technologies that promote a greener real estate industry. This will be a crucial step towards achieving a greener ecosystem and a sustainable future,” adds Bhatia.
CBRE Project Management has already undertaken more than 70+ assignments in which buildings have achieved Green Building certifications like LEEDS & GRIHA. “In future, we could see a major impetus in adapting in Green technologies if government introduces benefits and incentives for all new real estate developments,” he further adds.
Green construction road blocks
Green buildings are the indisputable need of the hour in India's deteriorating urban environment, but the higher cost of constructing such buildings – though it is marginal – has discouraged most developers from venturing into green buildings in India, observes Puri of ANAROCK.
“This is unfortunate,” laments Puri. “If we want to curtail the serious impact of both constructing and operating modern buildings on the environment, a more determined adoption of the concept of sustainable development is definitely called for. Sustainable development is all about limiting the destruction of natural resources and consumption of its gifts, and ensuring that we keep the planet green and alive.”
Green building development is quite a challenging segment for most real estate developers. They need to be able to source occupiers for green office buildings or buyers for green housing if they want to recover the initial investment capital – and of course, nobody builds anything without an eye on some profits. The growth of sustainable real estate in India hinges on consumers' demand for them, which will eventually dictate the supply of green buildings.
Need a strong argument for green
Deben Moza, Joint CEO & Executive Director, Project Management Services, Knight Frank India says: With the world leaders showing intent towards climate change initiatives, the need of a green and sustainable building design becomes a need in today’s world. India is working rapidly towards the need of an advanced outlook towards Green Building design & development and the efforts are also getting appeased by agencies across the world.
In India an ecosystem for a sustainable design philosophy is taking shape with support from all segments contributing and a sustainable future is under construction. Green building design is not only limited to a commercial or a residential development. The IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) categorises the certifications into several categories working for buildings ranging from commercial buildings, residential buildings, healthcare facilities, industrial facilities and so on.
“Our country is moving very fast in the direction of green buildings & sustainable smart cities and the same are fuelled by the intent of architects, project managers, property consultants, developers and governments. The combination of all is creating a conducive environment for sustainable energy utilisation and in-turn towards a greener future,” Moza.
Errol Fernandes, Chairman, Ferns Estates and Developers says the demand for eco-friendly housing has increased since the 21st century and lot of current home buyers are taking advantage of solar panels, turbines, water saving methods, waste management, efficient lighting and such, for a better life and future!
“Green buildings offer 20-30 per cent energy saving, 30-50 per cent reduction in water consumption, apart from significantly contributing to the health and wellbeing of occupants,” adds Fernandes.
Are ‘Green’ buildings actually there in India?
Green buildings are not yet a very common phenomenon in India, but policymakers, architects, and builders are increasingly identifying their benefits and pushing for them.
According to the United Nations Environment programme report, with the current growth of construction, the emissions will double by 2050 in India. With rapid climate changes and global warming, it has become imperative for Indian and builders to push for green buildings.
But there is heartening news. Even though green buildings currently comprise only 5 per cent of the construction sector in India, but there are reports like World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report, presented by Dodge Data & Analytics, which predict that in the near future, the green building industry in India will grow 20 per cent. Clearly there is slow but steady adoption of green buildings in the country. With growing awareness among homeowners and corporates green building concept is getting acceptance. Additionally, some state governments in India have started providing incentives for green buildings and with the impetus provided by Government of India promoting solar power, India may soon be on the path to building sustainable buildings.