Building a better future
In a world where everyone wants to shine, real champions possess a strong work ethic and a certain amount of humility. They alter the playing field by elevating everyone in their midst. The above statement is what comes to mind when you see CEOs and MDs of companies being accompanied by their teams to the 4th Construction Week Awards that concluded on September 19 at Sahara Star in Mumbai. And it was the team that also went on stage to collect their respective trophy.
For those who could not make it, the awards ceremony was rather unique. Confined only to players in the construction and infrastructure industry, the ceremony had something for everyone, from façade to pre-engineered buildings to mechanical, electrical and plumbing works to, and the latest to join, smart projects.
Working towards an awards ritual is no small matter. First, there’s the integrity. Companies and people must believe in your judgement. Secondly, the award should fit the action being recognised. While Construction Week India is no stranger to organising an awards evening, the sense of trepidation and anxiety does not go away.
As usual, work on the awards began about four months ago when we began seeking out the jury members and looking at the parameters for each category. We also went back to some of the feedback given to us by the industry last year. It was the reason there were additional two award categories added this year — Façade Project of the Year, and Smart Project of the Year. Invitations to send in nominations also began around the same time.
Our prominent jury panel were with us throughout the process. The Grand Jury Meet was held was September 10 at JW Marriott, Juhu. Members of the jury came in at the scheduled time and had the process explained to them. Getting to work was easy. Jury members were required to go through each form within the category assigned to the group and award points on a basis of 0-10. But there was something we had not bargained for. Considering that each of them were well-versed with the industry, there was much deliberation among themselves. Each form was discussed, verified again among themselves and only then were the points awarded.
There’s more to an awards activity than meets the eye. There are many details that must be arranged beforehand, without which this rewarding opportunity may not be as successful as you want it to be. An awards presentation must be entertaining; at the same time, it should remind all participants of the significance of the occasion.
The centrally situated location of Sahara Star was a good ambience to organise an event considering the scale of the evening. Our guests began arriving at the duly mentioned time and soon the hall was packed to capacity with little standing room. Our emcee for the evening, Sangeeta Singh, greeted the guests. The welcome note was delivered by Saikumar Shanmugam, deputy MD, ITP Publishing India. In his speech, Saikumar ran through the company’s achievements and its success run in India as well.
The opening address was delivered by Zubin Irani, president – building & industrial systems (India region), United Technologies Corporation (UTC). In his address, Irani stressed on UTC’s goal is about assuring safety and sustainability to its customers and to the country at large. Considering that the real estate industry is one of the largest employers in the country, and buildings are constantly being built everywhere, safety is scant. His concern was the little notice given to preventive measures to ensure safety of workers.
The panel discussion that followed Irani’s address was met was much enthusiasm. Moderated by Dr Prem C Jain, chairman of Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), the panellists comprised Sunil Mantri, chairman of Mantri Realty; Gulam Zia, executive director (advisory, retail and hospitality), Knight Frank India; Zubin Irani of UTC; Abhay Mishra, CEO, Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd; Jagmohan Lal Arora, GM – rolling stock & depot, L&T Metro (Hyderabad); Sanjay Aggarwal, vice-president (long products), JSW Steel; and Architect Prem Nath, founder of Prem Nath & Associates. The topics chosen for the evening were Sustainable buildings and construction in India; and Changing regulatory and policy frameworks for the construction and infrastructure industry.
Dr Jain opened the subject speaking about what India needs to do in future to make more buildings green. While the total build footprint of green has touched 25 billion sq. ft. it’s still small compared to developed countries. He threw his first question to the panellists asking their views on how India can go to 100 billion sq. ft. in the next 30 years in terms of green? Replying to that Arora said considering that India’s per capita consumption of steel is low and to build more buildings the consumption would have to increase. Prem Nath confirmed that architects have been doing green designs for several years now. One can save power and water and create alternate sources of energy during construction.
Mantri averred that all his construction projects are either green or LEED rated. He pointed out some of the issues where the government has failed to step up. One is that environmental clearances are not given quickly even if the building is green, which is a sharp contrast from what was promised. Moreover, the FSI promised to makers of green buildings has also not come through.
Zia spoke on how maintenance of buildings entrusted to its inhabitants is not taken care of, while Irani explained how making new buildings green and sustainable makes sound business sense. “Considering that all data would be accessible through various interface in the buildings be it security, lighting, chiller plants, fire detection, etc and later analysing them will help improve operations. In terms of existing buildings, there are proposals on offer to bring down energy costs by 30%”, he added.
Mishra of Reliance Metro said that development happens after the city has been built. Public transportation must be in working order before people inhabit a new town. Mantri stressed the need for pre-fabricated buildings and instead eliminate the use of sand and bricks. “One could take recourse to solar heaters and panels, employing local materials for constructing instead of getting carried away with glass.
Developers need to employ Indian architects instead of foreign ones who are fascinated with glass. Constructing a green building means paying a small price for the logo, and building a platinum building saved me Rs 2.5 crore in municipal approval fees, which normally costs Rs 8 crore,” he added.
The panel discussion was followed by the awards. After the awards, the mix of crowd saw everyone catching up with peers and having a good time. You could tell that they were glad they came.