By Jayashree Kini Mendes
There’s a general tendency among Indian companies to remind everyone about the green building they live or work in. The reason. Green buildings, though popular as an idea, are not actually constructed by the book in its totality. However, according to an article by Anuj Puri, chairman, ANAROCK, though at a nascent stage, India has emerged as one of the leading countries in terms of green buildings’ projects. India ranks only second after the US in terms of the number of green technology projects and built-up area. More than 4,300 projects with an approximate 4.7 billion sq-ft of built-up area are registered for green technology in the country. But are we really doing much?
It helps to go green, is an axiom we often hear. The government too is offering subsidies and incentives to developers constructing green buildings. T Chitty Babu, chairman and CEO, Akshaya Pvt Ltd, says, “Currently, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is offering out of turn consideration for all green pre-certified projects. Other than this, there are state-wise incentives. States such as Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra, and West Bengal are offering incentives such as increase FAR and reduction in property taxes. Currently, there are no such incentives in Tamil Nadu yet.”
The government of India provides fast-track environmental clearance for green building projects which are pre-certified/provisionally certified by IGBC. “They offer additional 5% FAR free of charge for projects which are rated Gold or above by IGBC. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA), offer an additional FAR of 3%, 5% and 7% for green buildings rated as Silver, Gold, and Platinum respectively by IGBC,” says Vivek Mohanani, MD & CEO, EKTA World.
The subsidies and incentives offered by the state governments are to be seen in proper perspective, as being subtle nudges towards encouraging more green buildings, rather than something sort of a freebie or goodie. “It needs to be kept in mind that land is a state subject, and various state governments offer concessions to projects that follow norms of green buildings. Across various states in India, the two basic incentives are (1) additional FAR/ FSI at no additional cost – in most instances, it ranges from 3-7%, this depends upon the rating of the concerned Green Building (2) Reduction in permit fee is also allowed, subject to related norms and regulations,” says Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, founder & CMD, Hiranandani Communities; president, Naredco.
From conceptual to design stages, the green building norms come into play right from selection of the site.
Dr Niranjan Hiranandani
In the Indian scenario, largely, green buildings have been commercial structures, where again, largely the project is leased out and not sold to the end users. So, with ownership largely being that of the developer who has constructed these buildings, it stands to reason that maintenance of the project – including the green building aspects – is that of the real estate developer. It is all about using the concerned material for not just maintenance, not just repairs but also renovation and retro-fitting the green building through its life, adds Hiranandani.
It is a myth that equipment and materials used in green building construction are expensive.
T Chitty Babu
Planning and greenery
With India having ratified the COP 21 climate change agreement, green buildings promises to be one of the strongest pillars and foundation for reduction of carbon footprint. Constructions of buildings have been one of the chief global emissions contributors. However, these hold the maximum potential in terms of delivering cuts if the focus aligns to building green. “Additionally, the PWD, government of Maharashtra, has mandated that the renovation of existing buildings and the development of all new government buildings in Maharashtra shall be carried out as per the suitable IGBC Green Building Rating system,” says Amit Ruparel, MD, Ruparel Realty.
Experts from the private sector can play a key role in participating with their government counterparts to chart progressive policy and draft win-win propositions for all stakeholders. “Godrej Properties is one of the five founding members of the Sustainable Housing Leadership Consortium (SHLC), a voluntary, collaborative effort with leading Indian housing sector companies to drive sustainability in India’s housing market. Brought together by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, the SHLC’s focus and mandate is to promote sustainable urban development. In addition to leveraging private sector investments to facilitate greater uptake of certified green buildings, IFC is facilitating policy dialogue between the private sector and the government, evaluating technology levers and sharing best practices, working to raise public awareness as well as identifying strategic actions for industry wide implementation,” says Anubhav Gupta, chief design officer, business head, Vikhroli; head, CSR & sustainability, HO design, Godrej Properties.
In terms of practices to adopt, developers need to audit the usage of energy consumption and pre-empt. The technologies that are used in green building lead them to be more energy efficient. “Although these technologies might have greater upfront costs, they save money in the long run. Green buildings make up for their slightly higher premiums through higher energy efficiency and reduced energy intake. A study shows that LEED certified buildings are 25-30% more energy efficient than conventional ones. Maintenance workers create a building microcosm that minimises waste, uses more sustainable materials and systems, and uses energy in the most efficient way possible. Using compressed air audits, VFD, heat dissipation in electrical control panels, low air pressure can keep energy maintenance costs at a minimum,” says Dhaval Ajmera, director, Ajmera Group.
Equipment and maintenance
In a green building, there is a need for constant evaluation. “It is the support, which has to be provided by the developer in terms of the equipment maintenance and services. The developer should also look into water conservation and harvesting practices. Some developers have integrated rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharging initiatives in their developments. Solar energy also needs special impetus. All these initiatives need monitoring on a periodic basis and the developer can identify a suitable third-party agency for their maintenance, says Bijay Agarwal, MD, Salarpuria Sattva Group.
The initial installation cost of green home systems is marginally high, but it definitely pays off in the long run as water and energy bills are drastically reduced. “Green buildings typically witness 12% operational savings and 7% assets value appreciation as compared to conventional building. The green buildings specially designed for the tropical environment have paved the way for innovative techniques and utilisation of new green materials in the construction industry. These tropical green buildings not only enhance the comfort of dwellers, but also conserve on water and reduce costs associated with energy repair, maintenance and air conditioning. Cost of green materials need not dictate the cost of green buildings, and expert designers can utilise green materials, including some that apparently cost more, without increasing overall project costs. Photovoltaics or extra insulation can have a good payback even though they are expensive to install and their returns can only be seen after a few years,” says Manju Yagnik, vice-chairperson, Nahar Group.
Green buildings require a host of certifications from agencies such as IGBC or GRIHA council. This has an exhaustive set of guidelines, which require a highly disciplined development approach. Certain mandatory requirements and green credits are also applicable. “Projects can qualify for precertification once the developers have incorporated the requirements in the project’s design and submitted the relevant documents. The final certification is awarded once the project is complete. The developer, at every step of project completion, is required to submit all supporting documents. This must include information on how and to what degree, the developer intends to adhere to the prescribed certification norms,” says Agarwal of Salarpuria Sattva.
Speaking about green products, Gaurav Mathur, head of business development, Grundfos India, says, “Around 10% of the world’s energy is consumed by pumps. If these pumps are replaced with energy efficient pumps (like Grundfos), we can save around 4-5% of this energy. Most pumps waste energy due to incorrect sizing, lack of intelligent control, or outdated technology. A Grundfos Pump Audit evaluates efficiency and the potential for saving energy at a site. It results in an overview of pump performance and suggestions for improvement. Pump audits have produced results for all customers. Industries and water supply companies have cut their energy consumption by 40-60% due to our audits.”
Vincent Pinto, sr. VP, new installation business, Schindler India, says, “In elevators and escalators, Schindler strives to bring greener products and technologies to customers. With use of gearless machines, our products consume up to 30% lesser energy compared to conventional systems. Technologies such as Standby mode when not in use, STM belts, etc also bring about savings in power consumption and space. Our products are almost 100% recyclable and free from harmful substances. Our plant at Chakan, Pune, is IGBC platinum rated and we have used solar panels to power more than 75% of the operations.”
We have dedicated environmental planners and sustainability experts in-house consulting with experts on every project.
Babu of Akshaya says that it is a myth that equipment and materials used in green building construction are expensive. Most equipment and materials are commonly available in the market and if the builder uses technology to the full potential, there is a chance of reducing the overall construction costs as well. For example, Aerocon blocks, though expensive as compared to a clay brick, have following advantages: They are lightweight and can reduce the structural load significantly; they are bigger in size and better manufactured reducing the mortar requirement as well as plastering thickness; and again due to their size, the construction times is faster and requires lesser time.
Green Buildings have pre-set norms which have to be followed at all four stages. “For conceptualisation and design stages, the green building norms come into play right from selection of the site. During the design stage, due importance has to be given to placement and location of the structure vis-à-vis lay of the land as also wind direction, to make sure that the orientation of the building is such that it ensures more natural light and air into the building,” says Hiranandani.
Robust planning is one of the key factors that contribute towards making a building green. “We believe in green or sustainable thinking as a core development proposition. We have dedicated environmental planners and sustainability experts in-house consulting jointly with industry experts on every project. While a green home typically does not cost a lot more to maintain, green features do add to capital costs. We are in the process to pilot post occupancy surveys to close the loop between green infrastructure and demonstrable benefits seen over the project lifecycle. We actively participate in raising the bar using codes defined by IGBC for the practices, codes and innovations to be realistically implemented and comparable across other frameworks like LEED and GRIHA,” says Gupta of Godrej Properties.