Mahindra focuses on innovation for sustainability
With over a billion square feet area of LEED-certified projects already registered, India is today the second largest green building nation in the world, after the US. Corporate houses who made their entry into the realty space in the recent past, have helped the cause of building green construction in the country. Mahindra Lifespace Developers, the realty arm of the $15.4-billion Mahindra Group, recently made such new strides by publishing its first GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) compliant sustainability report. It became the first real estate company in India to come up with such a report, which talks about the company’s economic, environmental, social and governance performance in the most transparent and accountable manner. Generally popular in the manufacturing sector, GRI is a widely adopted non-financial reporting framework in the world.
Mahindra Lifespaces currently has nine pre-certified LEED projects under execution and one already-completed platinum-rated green building, which is at Faridabad. The company’s residential and commercial footprint includes completed development of 7 million sq ft of space, and 9 million sq ft of on-going and forthcoming projects.
Beating cost escalation
Building green spaces is always a costly proposition as the construction cost goes up by 2-5 per cent based on the project requirements and design. So how does the company ensure that its project costs remain under control while going green?
Mahindra Lifespaces, which started its in-house research and development nearly four years back, has come up with a number of innovative solutions to reduce its cost of construction. The company has done numerous trials and has also tied up with IIT Bombay for conducting thermal conductivity test. "We have developed energy-efficient building envelopes that take the maximum cost element. We have developed a unique fly-ash brick that reduces cost drastically. It has a very different thermal conductivity and we have already applied for a patent,” says Amit Pal, general manager–QA & Innovation, Mahindra Lifespaces. The company has also developed three to four innovative roofs sections. “If you look at our building premises, we have used fly-ash quite extensively. We have high volume fly-ash roads, car parking areas and walk-ways. These are the innovative solutions that we have adopted in last two to three years to reduce that additional cost to 1-1.5 per cent,” he adds.
Is customer willing to pay premium?
Though Mahindra Lifesapces incurs 1 to 2 per cent additional cost while building green, it wants to ensure that it remains sustainable and leaves something for the generations to come.
“At this point of time we are not really worrying about whether customers will be paying premium for that. I don’t think people are attaching value to green at the customer level at this point in time. But from our point of view, we see this something which is a must for huge development,” says Anita Arjundas, managing director and CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces Developers. She feels, over a period of time, customers will get more and more conscious about the fact that green also means better living conditions and health for them because of better indoor air quality.
But in commercial development, she says, actually that’s happening. “Today, if you look at a lot of IT buildings and office spaces, companies are insisting on getting into green LEED-certified buildings. For commercial, it makes immediate business sense,” she adds.