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Gathering momentum

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The green movement in real estate has cast its net to every part of habitat.

BY RAJAT MALHOTRA

 

Environmentally sustainable real estate is important for India today. Given the demands on infrastructure, energy, potable water and waste handling and disposal, the real estate sector has little option, but to go green. Given that low-cost housing is bound to see a huge growth in the next two decades and more than 60% of India’s infrastructure yet to be built, property developers are now increasingly being prevailed upon to incorporate green features.
According to the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), green real estate in India has grown from a mere 20,000 sq-ft in 2003 to a little over 3 billion sq-ft of registered, pre-certified and certified projects in 2015. Of this, green office spaces account for 200 million sq-ft, primarily in the 10 major cities.
Developers are not ‘going green’ merely because MNCs will consider moving only into certified green office spaces in India. The demand for green office spaces is equally high among Indian corporates; some of the top Indian MNCs have included green office spaces in their corporate sustainability objectives.
This indicates that India is far from a reluctant adopter of green real estate practices. The growth supports the premise that the necessary market drivers – high consumer demand and the need to mitigate the high cost of energy and water needed to operate a building – are in place. In many cases, the requirements laid out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) for projects over 20,000 sq-m has helped the cause of green commercial real estate, as well.
IGBC, which works under the aegis of the CII, spearheaded the initial drive, and the members of CII were the first to imbibe green concepts in their CII Sohrabji Green Business Centre in Hyderabad. GBC was the first LEED Platinum building in India. Today, most Indian corporate from ITC, Godrej, Wipro and Infosys to Mahindra and Kotak, have opted for green offices.
A typical 100,000 sq-ft green office building saves the occupier Rs 30-40 lakh a year on energy alone. Savings in water could be close to half this amount. In comparison to conventional office spaces, green offices are 20-30% efficient on the use of water and energy. Of course, there are added costs, as well. Office rental benchmarking studies in the seven major cities have revealed a typical premium of 2-3%.
More developers have now recognised the importance of building green because it improves the lease probability in a market that is seeing parity between supply and demand. Simply put, corporates committed to green office spaces prefer leases in buildings whose core is certified green. Features found in green offices include space design and fittings which enhance energy and water efficiency while providing occupants with higher levels of comfort, ventilation and glare free illumination.
• The building envelope is designed to minimise heat gain via higher window/wall ratios.
• Building facades use high-performance glazing systems to reflect exterior heat outward.
• Energy consumption via efficient lighting and HVAC systems and BMS.
• Water usage is optimised through recycling treated waste water for landscape flushing, etc. and using water-efficient fixtures such as dual plumbing and flushing.
• Green cleaning programs with environment-friendly cleaning chemicals.

The author is COO, integrated facilities management (West Asia), JLL India

 

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