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Construction : Interview | August 2014 | Source : Infrastructure Today

Green buildings have been exciting and challenging

S Raghupathy, Executive Director, CII-Godrej GBC, Hyderabad, speaks on the need for sustainable urban development and the new rating system which will give a boost to green infrastructure.

To live in a city where one can just walk down to work has been an initiative supported by IGBC. What is the present reach and future outlook of this initiative?
Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) with the support of all the stakeholders has launched ´IGBC Green Townships Rating System´. The rating system enables the urban designers to apply green concepts and criteria, so as to reduce environmental impacts that are measurable.

Under this rating system, cities are evaluated on environmental planning, land use planning, resources management and community development. This in turn would address national priorities. Some of the major aspects addressed in the rating system include the following:

  • Efficient land use
  • Habitat preservation & restoration
  • Efficient transportation management
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Enhanced quality of life.

As on July 2014, over 35 green townships projects are going the IGBC way.

The next 10 years will be the decade of integrated sustainable built environment. This will mostly be in the form of large integrated townships, satellite cities, gated communities, campuses with multiple buildings, etc.

This presents an enormous opportunity to design these developments as ´green´ from day one and influence the way of life of people who live in such cities. The need to promote green cities becomes an imperative.

The place that we live in has a profound effect on our lives. People have a natural predisposition to feel better and perform better in livable & safe environments. Green cities promote the creation of diverse, connected, affordable, safe and healthy communities that enhance social interaction & ownership.

By the year 2022 (when India turns 75), IGBC aspires to cross 10 billion sq ft and is making concerted efforts in realising this aspiration.

In light of this, IGBC would focus on the following 

  • Work closely with policymakers to create conducive environment in advancing the green building movement
  • Demonstrate model green building projects in tier II & tier III cities
  • Develop cost-effective and simple tools for green building analysis
  • Facilitate large scale adoption of trendsetting green practices and affordable technologies
  • Facilitate engagement of local communities in the development of cities, right from the planning stage
  • Facilitate integrated development of new cities, by including all sections of society.

Five years down the line, where do you see India in terms of green infrastructure?
The green building experience in India has been exciting & challenging. Since its introduction in 2001, the green building concept has emerged as a very useful tool in designing sustainable habitats. The steady increase in several stakeholders embracing the green path is a clear signal that we are all set to redefine the way future buildings are constructed in India.

As we look ahead, we in IGBC would work closely with all the stakeholders in developing green building standards in areas where they are presently non-existent. In the coming 5 to 6 years, our specific focus would be on promoting green cities, green Metro rails, existing buildings, etc.

In a green metro, the energy consumption would come down by 20 per cent and fresh water usage would come down by 30 per cent. Most importantly, green metros will make the travel/transit of the passengers & occupants more memorable, enjoyable and green.

In the coming years, IGBC would also be focusing on Green Product Certification. We are sure Green Product Certification will go a long way in empowering customers with product information and also help them to choose products ranging from daily use to industrial use. The process will also further accelerate the demand for green products in the building sector.

Existing buildings will go the IGBC way. Green practices in the existing buildings can help address national issues like water efficiency, energy efficiency, reduction in fossil fuel use in commuting, handling of waste and conserving natural resources. Most importantly, these concepts can enhance occupant health, happiness and wellbeing.

With growing awareness on the need and importance of green buildings, customers would be demanding more of high performance green buildings, which are ecologically superior and economically viable. Net-zero (energy & water) buildings will be the order of the day. This in turn will generate more demand for green jobs in designing, simulation, commissioning and manufacturing of green equipment and products.

Are the current policy measures with respect to green buildings in India sufficient? Are there any changes you would like to recommend?
The green building movement is receiving excellent support from the government, both at the Central and State levels.

In this regard, some policy impetus would further drive the market for green buildings, enabling India to emerge as a global leader. A fast-track single window clearance system for green buildings would reduce project time.

The current Floor Area Ratio requirements need to be also relaxed in order to enhance viability of green buildings. Developers could be offered higher permits for FAR in urban areas. Governments may also consider promoting green construction through rebates in applicable property tax.

How can technology play a pivotal role in the management of civic administration, healthcare, transportation, utilities and green homes and buildings?
Technologies play a key role in ensuring the green building standards are met and adhered to the stipulations. Essentially, green technologies adopt an eco-friendly design which would facilitate in achieving lower energy consumption, lesser material utilisation, reduced emissions, etc. Green products & technologies will also enhance the recycling potential of that particular product.

Some of the green building technologies that play a key role in ensuring the green building standards are met and adhered to the stipulations include: high performance glass, wall & roof insulations, bamboo based furniture, building Integrated Solar Photovoltaics, High COP chillers, Geothermal Systems, Building Management System, Energy Modeling, daylight simulation, etc.

Green building technologies holistically address ecological issues and concerns and are playing a catalytic role towards this direction. Green buildings have demonstrated that appropriate use of technologies will bring down the energy consumption and promote a safe and secured environment.

Over the years, there has been a steady growth in the green businesses segment offering immense growth potential, opportunity for innovation & diversification. Green technologies make good business sense.

It is estimated that the market potential for green building products and technologies in India is estimated to be about $120 billion by 2015. Many companies in India are in the forefront of adopting and practicing green technologies.

What are the major roadblocks when it comes to the development of green infrastructure in India?
When IGBC triggered the green building movement in India in the early 2000´s, some of the major roadblocks encountered included the following:

  • Availability of green building products and technologies
  • Affordability of green buildings products & services
  • Awareness on the need and importance of green buildings.

IGBC with the support of all the stakeholders has facilitated transformation of green building technologies & products market. In 2003, there were very few products and employment opportunities in this sector. However with the spread of the green building movement across the country, the sector has witnessed tremendous growth opportunities.

A classic example of the cost of a product decreasing is the waterless urinal. The waterless urinal costed Rs 14,000 when the CII Godrej GBC building was constructed, today it is available for Rs 6,000. Now most of the green building products & technologies are available in India.

Technologies and materials like waterless urinals, CO2 sensors, VOC paints & coatings, high performance glass, wall & roof insulation, High CoP chillers, wind towers, etc., are today becoming widely accepted.

The green building sector in India offers immense untapped market opportunities. A study conducted by IGBC indicates that the market potential for green building products and technologies would be about $120 billion by 2015.

 
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