Green buildings and sustainable built spaces have been the way of life in India for centuries. In order to ensure a sustainable future, many developers are adopting and promoting building that adhere to this. Fe Money spoke to Prem C. Jain, chairman, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) on why green sustainable real estate is important for India. He advocates building with sustainable energy norms and says, “Our ancient structures were skilfully built, using locally available resources and incorporating features, which made these function in harmony with Nature. The Kāshi Vishwanāth Temple in the City of Varanasi, The Tāj Mahal in Agra, Forts, Palaces and Havelis are excellent examples of green buildings, which have survived the onslaught of time” Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What is green/environmentally sustainable real estate? What are the features?
A. Any real estate project, which imbibes the five elements of Nature in its design and construction, is a green/environmentally sustainable real estate. Essentially, in order to become environmentally sensitive, the project should broadly focus on the following:
-Materials & Resources Optimization
-Indoor Environmental Quality Control
Q. How is the green office and residential state in India in current market?
A. Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of CII, with the support of all the stakeholders, is spearheading the green building movement in India. India today has the world’s second largest 3.86 billion sq.ft registered green building footprint, with projects spread across the country. The reason for this significant growth is the fact that green buildings make good business sense.
Out of the above total IGBC registered green building footprint, about 30 per cent is commercial office space, under “IGBC NC” rating, and about 50 per cent is residential, under “IGBC Green Homes” rating system.
Q. Why green sustainable real estate is important for India, today?
A. Adopting and promoting green sustainable real estate is indeed an imperative to ensure a sustainable tomorrow. Adopting green design and construction practices facilitates not only lower energy and water consumption, lesser material utilization and reduced green house gas emissions, but also results in improved quality of life for the occupants. Over the last fifteen years, more than 1000 projects, certified by IGBC and operational across India, have demonstrated average energy consumption reduction by 30 to 40 %, average fresh water consumption reduction by 20 to 30%, simultaneously eliminating all solid waste from going to dumping grounds and landfills. Therefore, adopting and promoting green sustainable real estate will go a long way in addressing National priorities, namely – conservation of natural resources, infrastructure, water efficiency, energy efficiency, handling of domestic waste, and most importantly health and well-being of the occupants.
India’s contribution every year to the environmental benefits from IGBC’s current 3.86 Billion Sq.ft of registered green building footprint, amounts to
-CO2 reduction-50 Million Tons
-Energy savings-50,000 Giga Watt/ Hours
-Water savings-170 Giga Litres
-Solid waste diverted from landfills-1.6 Million tons
Q. As the real estate market is facing a slump, do you think green/sustainable houses or offices demand would pick up?
A. Registration of residential and commercial projects with IGBC has been steady over the years. In fact, there has been a steady increase in the adoption and promotion of green buildings across the length and breadth of the country. A clear testimony is India’s leadership position in the global green buildings map. Buoyed by our success, IGBC aspires to facilitate 10 billion sq.ft of registered green building footprint by 2022, when we celebrate 75 years of Independence. The mission is that the places we live, work, study and commute should all go the green way. India is well poised to set new benchmarks in sustainable construction.
Q.Which are the best places to invest in India in this sector?
A. With the spread and growth of green buildings across the country, all places in the country would lead to good returns from investing in green/sustainable real estate. IGBC estimates that the market potential, for green building products & technologies, would be about $300 Billion by 2025.
Q. With government’s focus on smart cities and affordable/low-cost housing, what role sustainable green house could play in these?
A. Government’s focus on smart cities and affordable/low-cost housing indeed augurs well in building a greener and healthier India. A sustainable green home has tremendous benefits, both tangible and intangible. The immediate and most tangible benefits are lower energy consumption and water savings. Green homes have shown energy savings to the tune of 30 – 40% and water savings to the extent of 20 – 30%, over conventional homes. The intangible benefit is better health of occupants, through abundant day lighting in every part of home, and enhanced ventilation as compared to conventional homes.
Some of the distinct measures adopted in Green Homes, which one may not be normally found in conventional designs, include thermally insulated walls, green or reflective roof to prevent heat island effect, day lighting, use of sun pipes, shading devices, use of salvaged materials, low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, lo-flow fixtures, energy efficient (CFL or LED) lamps, on-site waste water treatment, vermin-composting, energy & water sub-metering and the installation of energy efficient (BEE 3 / 4 star rated) appliances.
Indian construction industry is poised for a great leap towards fulfilment of Government of India’s commitment of “Housing for All”, “Swach Bharat Abhiyan”, “100 (Green) Smart Cities” and “300 Green Villages under RURBAN initiative.” Responding to our Nation’s priorities, IGBC has already started registering projects under “IGBC Green Affordable Housing”; large number of privately run and government-aided schools, under “IGBC Green School”; a handful of mega green-field smart city projects, under “IGBC Green City” rating; and several Village clusters adjoining urban areas, under “IGBC Green Village” rating.
Q. What factors will drive this segment in coming times? Why do you think companies will prefer this?
A. The fact that green buildings make good business sense, several new policy incentives like additional FAR, faster clearance, lower development charges by the State Governments, and growing demand from stakeholders for green buildings, are already consolidating India’s leadership position in the global green buildings map. With the exponential increase in number of green products across the country, the incremental cost of a commercial green building has come down to less than 3%; this additional costs gets paid back within 2 years, through substantial reduction in operational costs. All these important propositions are enabling more and more real estate corporate to adopt green building norms in their projects.