Building sustainable future
The green projects have grown considerably in India over the past eight years, thanks to initiatives undertaken by developers as well as state and central governments.
Green buildings are basically the ones which use fewer resources and have a lesser negative impact on the environment. Such buildings use less water, optimise energy efficiency, conserve natural resources and generate less waste.
India currently has two major rating systems: LEED India, run by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC); and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), a system developed by The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
Major developers like Tata Housing, Godrej Properties, K Raheja, Kalpataru, Mahindra Lifespace Developers, Inorbit Malls, The 3C Company, Ackruti City besides others had initiated the process of developing green building in India which is fast catching up among other developers.
Positive beginning in India
Tata Housing has been one of the biggest proponents of green initiatives in the Indian Real Estate space. Its first green development project was Xylem, which is also Bengaluru’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Gold-certified green IT park. The company’s other properties such as Aquila Heights in Bengaluru and Raisina Residency in Gurgaon are also IGBC Gold certified green developments, while the company’s premium luxury villas at Lonavala is platinum rated by IGBC. As on today, Tata Housing is developing over 45 million sq.ft, which is under various stages of developments, all built under the guidelines drawn by IGBC.
“We pioneered the concept of green buildings, way back in 2006 by developing Bangalore’s first sustainable green IT Park – ‘Xylem’. This IT Park has been designed to tackle the ‘Sick building syndrome’, with its major focus on occupants’ health with an ergonomic design and architecture. The design boosts employee productivity as well as helps reduce the operational cost of the building. Since Xylem, all our projects, right from low-cost housing to ultra-premium luxury residences, are duly certified by IGBC. Green development forms the core of our corporate governance policy,” says Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing.
“The future for green buildings is looking bright at the moment. The market has slowly transformed and green buildings are becoming the norm. A pleasant outcome of this emphasis on sustainability is that building design is going back to its roots of solar passive architecture. Traditional design features like shading devices, jalis, mass cooling, natural ventilation etc are being reconsidered and this trend is expected to pick up,” says Hisham Ahmed, an energy analyst at Environmental Design Solutions (EDS) Global.
According to him, the green building movement is also moving at a rapid pace. “LEED India is diversifying with more specific rating systems like Green factories, Green SEZs, Green townships etc. The GRIHA rating system has added SvaGraiha for residential buildings,” he adds.
Mumbai-based Ackruti City Ltd which is currently developing Ackruti Greenwoods, a Gold precertification residential projects in Thane, says the trend of eco- friendly is fast catching up with the construction industry, as it has become imperative to move towards sustainable development, especially in the view that there would be more building activity in future, which would affect the ecological balance if care is not taken.
“Commercial and residential sectors continue to be a major market for the construction industry. These sectors consume a lot of energy throughout the life cycle of buildings thus becoming a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Hence responsible construction activity is imperative. The solutions lie in embarking on sustainable development by adhering to green building norms- the most essential element being the efficient use of resources such as energy, water and material, so as to ensure that the building maintenance activities do not burden the environment and promote health of the occupants” says Hemant Shah, Chairman, Ackruti City Ltd.
Rahul Saraf, MD of Forum Projects who has completed its first green project Technopolis feels developers are slowly realizing the need and advantages of green building in India and thus there is a massive growth in green buildings. His company is developing Technopolis 2, an environmentally compliant IT Resort and a luxury residential project Atmosphere, both are green project. “I think the future of green building in India is very bright. The IGBC is making a tremendous effort to incorporate green building techniques in majority of developments in India. Whereas, GRIHA aims at ensuring that all kinds of buildings become green buildings. The strength of GRIHA lies in the fact that it rates even non-air conditioned buildings as green and puts great emphasis on local and traditional construction knowledge,” Saraf adds.
Quick Return of Investment
Though, the green buildings add to development cost, developers feel the investment could be recovered through various tangible and intangible benefits.
“The initial cost for developing a green building may be higher (5-7%) than that of conventional buildings but the long term benefits – tangible & intangible are many. This extra cost can be recovered in 2-3 years through energy savings and low operational and maintenance costs,” Banerjee of Tata Housing says.
Saraf of Forum Projects says that green building is economical in the long run. “Initial green design investment of just 2% higher will produce savings greater than 10 times the initial investment, based on a very conservative 20-year building lifespan,” he adds.
Ahmed of EDS Global thinks green buildings can go for a premium but it should be a win-win situation for both the developer and the client. “The developer should sell his building for a premium but the occupier should get energy and water savings plus the other intangible benefits of a green building during the operational period and the extra premium paid should be recovered in a reasonable time. Further, the developer may not incur huge extra costs for going green if he adopts sustainability as a policy. Green features should be incorporated right at the design stage to minimise costs rather as costly retrofits later on,” he suggests.
Equipments and building materials have a major role to play in green building. Energy efficient HVAC system, LED lightings, plumbing materials, besides others help in reducing the energy and maintenance costs of a building. Though India still has dearth of green building materials, major vendors and suppliers are working on developing products with green feature. “As India is on the way to become a genuine green building market, there is still a dearth of building materials needed for these structures. This makes green building a little more costly (about 10-15% more than the regular buildings). However, with the green movement having gained momentum, we expect that the costs of these products will come down considerably, as the profitability will come from the volume and not from the margin,” Shah of Ackruti City Ltd says.
Marathon Group who is building Futurex with a Gold pre-certification rating says though there has been a great awareness about the green building concept in India in the recent past, the material/products which are being used in the green construction is still not available in India. “Most of the time we (developers) had to import it from the international market, which is escalating the construction cost of the project,” says Mayur Shah, Managing Director – Marathon Group.
Role of products & building materials
Companies in the HVAC and lighting sectors such as Philips Lighting, Trane, and Johnson Controls besides have shown tremendous proactiveness in developing energy efficient products.
Indranil Goswami, Head- Lighting Application Services, Philips Lighting India, says, “Philips India has been consistently working with industry bodies such as ELCOMA, Bureau of energy efficiency and NGOs towards addressing India’s power crisis through promotion of energy efficient lighting in India. A founding member of the IGBC, Philips has a track record of 77 green buildings in India already. Philips offers range of energy efficient lighting solutions across segments and is driving energy efficiency in India.”
Philips offers LED-based lighting solutions for retail, office, hotels and streets etc. For the hospitality sector, Philips has retrofit lamp solutions such as Novallure LED candle and MASTER LEDspot LV MR11, to enable hotels to easily convert to energy-efficient lighting. “LED lamps reduce energy consumption by up to 90% and reduce maintenance costs by 33%. For the retail segment, Philips’ LEDO downlighter system was developed by the company to address the need for LED downlights in the office and retail segments in India,” says Goswami.
HVAC system plays a major role in energy consumption. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings worldwide account for 40% of global energy consumption. Of that amount, between 45-65% is used by HVAC systems that keep building environments comfortable and healthy. The slightest inefficiencies in cooling and heating systems create a huge energy drain and have a significant financial and environmental impact.
HVAC system provider Trane says they develop solutions that incorporate emerging technologies to optimize energy and operational efficiency and increase sustainability. “These solutions allow building owners to optimize energy management, and enable them to reduce operating costs. Whether it is a chilled water system which is Class A rated in the Eurovent certification program – or water terminals equipped with an EC (electronic commutation) fan motor – reducing energy costs remains a top priority for Trane,” says Rajesh Sikka, Trane Business Leader for India.
Sikka says his company actively assists customers in obtaining certification for efficient buildings such as LEED for new constructions and major renovation.
Another HVAC player Johnson Controls who offers Building Automation Systems says in today’s world where sustainability matters, green products are a boon and certainly help in earning LEED certification in buildings. “Building Automation Systems & Energy Efficient Chillers impact the reduction in energy costs by 25–40%, thereby creating an ROI of 2.5 to 4 years,” says Seemant Sharma, Director–Engineered Systems, Johnson Controls.
Eaton which offers a broad range of energy- efficient and environment friendly electrical solutions says its products can help a building go green and qualify for LEED credits through the USGBC. “In fact, Eaton products have the potential to collectively contribute up to 27 of the 69 total credit points towards LEED certification (LEED-NC Version 2.2),” says Anoop Nanda, MD – SA, SE Asia and Japan, Electrical Sector, Eaton Corporation.
Eaton’s Three-Phase UPS products isolate critical loads from power disturbances with the highest level of protection possible using double conversion technology, and redundant design. “The 9395 UPS system can help to save €16,413 on energy costs alone and €11, 489 on cooling energy costs in a data center,” he adds.
Jotun India offers eco-friendly paints, and some of its products in Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) category include Fenomastic Emulsion and Jotashield Extreme. The company says its paints are derived from natural raw materials like citrus peel extract, beeswax, seed oils and tree resins. Jotun is also a founding member of the Emirates Green Building Council in the Middle Eastern Region and as well as a member of the IGBC.
“With premium paint quality like Jotun Paints, one can be assured that a repaint won’t be required for a really long time. This ensures a good return of investment for developers as well as buyers in the long run,” says Percy Jijina, Director Sales, Decorative–Jotun India.
Future of green building
Banerjee of Tata Housing who was instrumental in launching low cost housing concept under the Shubh Griha brand which also a green project feels market for eco-friendly structures is expected to reach an all-time high. “The day is not far off when going green and constructing green buildings will be the norm of the day and green buildings will play a catalytic role in addressing issues of climate change. In fact, over a thousand green buildings have been registered with the IGBC till date. According to relevant sources, there is expected to be around 92.9 million sq. metres of green developed area in our country by 2012,” Banerjee adds.
According to Ahmed of EDS Global, more and more buildings will adopt sustainability in some way or the other in the future. “Government regulations and environmental policies will also play a part in this. Energy efficiency standards like ECBC are moving towards becoming mandatory. We can hope for a future where all new buildings/upgrades will be sustainable,” he adds.
Shah of Ackruti City feels the concept of greening India has come about early and the future is really bright. “There has been enough awareness created in the last few years, which would work in favour of greening India,” he adds.
Mayur Shah, MD of Marathon Group, says green building construction is costlier by 20-25% as compared to the traditional construction. “Currently there are no provisions of any tax benefits by the authorities for pursuing green buildings. We are sure that the government may consider in the near future,”he adds.