A work in progress for green construction
Green construction has many crusaders. But how many are going about it the right way?
Green building and construction is a word that has been thrown about quite frequently. Few would know its intrinsic meaning. In the construction industry, there are common allusions to green buildings and construction. But the question often arises, how much of it is being followed?
As the industry continues to expand and the world’s supply of non-renewable resources slowly grows rarer and more expensive, green construction becomes more than an environmentally-friendly option: It becomes a necessary step in how we live our lives. Thankfully, clean energy technology is more advanced than ever before, and can be as beneficial for your wallet as it is for the Earth. Green technology, like solar power, may look pricey up front compared to traditional resources, but over a lifetime of use, you’ll end up saving on energy costs.
The right thing
Green construction can be used interchangeably with green building or sustainable construction. Therefore, green construction means the use of resource-efficient and environmentally responsible processes in construction to ensure lifetime sustainability of the building. Primarily, the sustainability context of building implies building operations, site design, maintenance, repair, and demolition with the least harm on the environment.
Dr Sunita Purushottam, head, sustainability, Mahindra Lifespaces, says, “When we talk about green construction, we are looking at how effectively the buildings are made efficient and mainly in terms of material, energy, water during the construction as well as during usage. The idea is to mitigate the impact on the environment and human health and that can only be achieved through better selection of design, through construction and operation and maintenance.”
The construction industry produces the second largest amount of greenhouse gases and demolition waste (35-40%). Green construction ensures the preservation of precious natural resources and helps customers live a better life.
Swadesh Anand, director, EPC, Paradigm Realty, says, “Green construction is found to be high in demand hence it is important to keep in mind usage of construction techniques that address the durability and effectiveness of material used. Some of the necessary steps to be taken are correct infrastructure selection, moisture content testing before stepping into the dry-in phase using building membranes, breathable components, and installation of flashing and waterproofing systems. Location plays an equally important role and hence an area that is surrounded by natural features can help reduce site impact and protect natural vegetation.”
India has an aspiring target of 10 billion sq-ft green building footprint by 2022. With the implementation of the Green Building Movement in 2001, India as of March 2018 has achieved 5.27 billion sq-ft of green footprint making us the second country in the world in terms of the largest registered green building footprint. Shabbir Kanchwala, senior VP, K Raheja Corp, says, “One of the larger advantages of green buildings is the returns on investments made on them which accumulate in a short span of 3-4 years. Though the use of new technology might see additional effort and funds required in its construction, the rewards of these are far higher and gratifying. Use of technology helps in the green efforts, benefiting workforce and society as a whole, reducing operating costs and elevating brand value.”
Green construction is rated under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design). Rohit Poddar, MD, Poddar Housing and Development and joint secretary, NAREDCO West, says, “The first step is to limit the use of water and replace it with a curing compound that will cost 75% more but will be for the betterment of the environment. Using RMC (Ready Mix Concrete) with more percentage of fly ash which should be sourced from the closest supplier helps ensure a low carbon footprint. Second is orienting the building in such a manner that it gets ample natural light and ventilation (possibly east west orientation) which will reduce power consumption for the end user. Lastly, one must adopt proper thermal insulation in the building and windows for a greater heat resistance.”
Anuj Puri, chairman, ANAROCK, says, “Across the different countries, there are several programmes and agencies that define, categorise and certify green buildings, such as LEED (USA), BREEAM (UK), DGNB (Germany) and CASBEF (Japan). In India, IGBC and GRIHA are at the forefront of promoting the green building programmes and certifications. Certifications are done on various parameters such as: Water conservation and efficiency; energy efficiency; the types of building materials and resources; indoor environment quality, health and comfort; innovation and development; and site and facility management.”
Kanchwala says, “Green architects generally work with the concepts of creating an energy efficient, ecologically friendly house. It is believed that in the near future, all buildings will be green in order for our habitats to survive. Other benefits are that it helps to boost and protect biodiversity and ecosystems, improve air and water quality, reduce waste streams, conserve and restore natural resources, reduce operating costs, improve inhabitant productivity, enhance quality value and profits, optimise lifecycle economic performance, enhance inhabitants health, improve indoor air quality, and minimise strain on utility infrastructure.”
What needs to be done
Green construction is not a common term amongst homebuyers, however, it is a progressive notion in the residential as well as commercial sector. Explaining about the material available for green construction, Ashok Mohanani, chairman, EKTA World, and VP, NAREDCO Maharashtra, says, “Concrete is the key material that is used for during construction which eventually harms the environment. But there are numerous materials available that offer high aesthetics and urban design quality with high public acceptance.”
Mohanani lists some of the materials:
Grass Crete: Also known as “Sustainable Urban Drainage,” is a green option to normal concrete surfaces for parking lots, driveways and other access roads giving drainage profit and improving storm water amalgamation. It has resulted to be useful for businesses and developers because it drains at about the same rate (90%) as would an ordinary lawn in the same location. With 47% concrete and 53% holes filled with grass, it will aid to form a natural bio-filter to considerably remove pollutants.
Hempcrete: works as a natural airtight yet breathable and flexible padding, it is also mould free and pest resistant as well as nearly fireproof. Considered as a sustainable building material, hemp can be grown and replenished relatively quick.
Bamboo: absorbs more carbon dioxide, which is the perfect route to fight the current global climate change. Additionally it is an easily available material, making it one of the most cost-effective construction materials and is also highly sustainable giving the construction industry an aesthetic appeal.
To this Anand adds Timbercrate. “It’s a green solution to timber and concrete and a combination of both wastes can be used in green construction to have minimal heat transfer and radiation. Ferrock, an alternative to standard cement manufacturing methods, help reduce carbon emission. Mycelium, a concrete, is capable of organic self-healing which is a major step for biomass green building material. Wood, bamboo, Hempcrete, precast concrete, and strawbale are helpful and can be incorporated in terms of green construction.”
Though the industry is hopeful, green construction is more read than followed. Dr Purushottam says, “One needs to take a holistic look at the impact the construction sector can cause. Developers should consider demolition waste management, recyclable bio-degradable composite during construction, e-waste and hazardous waste. Waste is linked to land related pollution, and how it is dumped is a crucial cause of concern.”
Sustainable construction management means far more than building environmentally-friendly buildings. It is the combination of sustainable construction practices and sustainable building materials in order to reduce waste and environmental effect. Kanchwala says, “With construction and demolition, materials such as concrete, wood, asphalt which piles up quicker than they can be cleared, there is a mounting pressure on the construction industry to recycle and reuse waste. Green buildings use less energy, water and other normal resources creating less waste and are healthy for its occupants as compared to a regular construction. Sustainable construction is concerned with making buildings that advance on the utilisation of nearby materials, neighbourhood atmosphere and above all they are worked to lessen control, water, and material requirements. When it involves reducing waste in construction, a fast answer is alternative to traditional concrete. Incorporating sustainable construction materials into a building does not only make it entirely eco-friendly but also helps in reducing the environmental impacts caused by construction.”
Cost effective: Construction costs are marginally higher than a normal building construction, however the cost benefits that residents will get post are immense, and definitely a value proposition for them, like reduced electric consumption, rain water harvesting and sewage treatment plants etc. Green construction is sturdier and the investment is lucrative multi-fold.
Water efficiency: Green construction avoids wastage, for example; recycling of rain water and grey water and using it for toilet flushing.
Energy efficiency: Green construction saves more energy vis-a-vis buildings those are built out of bricks. It depends on all renewable energy resources such as solar power, hydro-power and wind power for generating electricity.
Preserving infrastructure around: Being resourceful in both energy and water supply, green construction make maximum usage of the capacity of local infrastructure greatly.
Buildings cause pollution as well as global warming so having a green construction will limit the negative impact of the building on the environment. Green construction provides the most effective means in achieving a better environment. It also helps in creating sustainable communities which address the frequent climate change. It saves the cost on water and energy usage. The benefits that green construction provides is beyond economic and environmental growth, is seen to provide a positive social impact.