Cer­ti­fied, not cer­tain

Green-rated build­ings in In­dia are not nec­es­sar­ily en­ergy ef­fi­cient


IN­DIA IS wit­ness­ing a boom in con­struc­tion, at great en­vi­ron­men­tal cost.The sec­tor al­ready ac­counts for 40 per cent of car­bon emis­sions, 30 per cent of solid waste, and 20 per cent of ef­flu­ent in the coun­try. If the cur­rent rate of de­vel­op­ment holds,the coun­try will have 60 per cent more build­ings by 2030.

One way to min­imise the en­vi­ron­men­tal cost of the sec­tor is by con­struct­ing eco-friendly build­ings. How­ever, a re­cent study by non-profit Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment (cse) high­lighted that many green-rated build­ings are more pol­lut­ing than con­ven­tional build­ings. This is be­cause the ex­ist­ing green rat­ing sys­tems are “not trans­par­ent”,ac­cord­ing to the study. “Rat­ing agen­cies award green la­bels to build­ings on the ba­sis of their de­sign and con­struc­tion and not on ac­tual per­for­mance and re­source sav­ing.And most build­ings after re­ceiv­ing their green la­bel stop wor­ry­ing about their con­sump­tion,”says Nimish Pa­tel,prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tect of Ahmed­abad-based de­sign firm Ab­hikram.

In­dia has two es­tab­lished rat­ing sys­tems—the leed-In­dia Pro­gramme,which was man­aged by In­dian Green Build­ing Coun­cil till June this year, and the Green Rat­ing for In­te­grated Habi­tat As­sess­ment (griha) by The En­ergy and Re­sources In­sti­tute (teri).

While griha has not made the per­for­mance data of its green-rated build­ings pub­lic, leed-In­dia in 2012 pub­lished the data of 50 of its green-rated build­ings on its web­site. cse an­a­lysed the data of the leed-cer­ti­fied build­ings and found that the en­ergy con­sump­tion of a majority of them were re­mark­ably high.

“The ob­jec­tive of this anal­y­sis has been to as­sess if the rated build­ings,once they are op­er­a­tional,meet the bench­mark of the of­fi­cial star la­belling pro­gramme of the Bureau of En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency (bee),”says the re­port that is pub­lished in cse’s re­cent book Build­ing Sense: Beyond the green façade of sus­tain­able habi­tat.

Un­der the gov­ern­ment’s bee star la­belling pro­gramme,build­ings are ranked ac­cord­ing to their en­ergy per­for­mance in­dex in relation to the bench­marks cre­ated for dif­fer­ent build­ing ty­polo­gies—day use of­fice,bpo/IT of­fices (with ex­tended work­ing hours) and re­tail malls, and for dif­fer­ent cli­matic zones.The bee rat­ing sys­tem awards one to five stars,with five be­ing the most ef­fi­cient.

cse an­a­lysed data of 19 day use of­fice build­ings and 21 IT build-

ings and found 47 per cent of the build­ings did not meet the bee star rat­ing.N ine out of the 19 an­a­lysed day use of­fice build­ings and 10 of the 21 an­a­lysed bpo/IT build­ings did not meet the bee star rat­ing. Wipro Tech­nolo­gies kdc Tower 4 in Kolkata, which leed-In­dia cat­e­gorised as both day use and IT build­ing, was the worst per­former. The green build­ing ex­ceeded the bee bench­mark for day use of­fice build­ing by five times and IT build­ing bench­mark by nine times, says the re­port (see ‘ High on power’).

“Green build­ings are ex­pected to be top of the line, far ex­ceed­ing the min­i­mum bench­marks in all sec­tors. Fail­ing to qual­ify for the min­i­mum gov­ern­ment bench­mark is alarm­ing,” the re­port says.It warns that while sev­eral state gov­ern­ments are giv­ing mon­e­tary in­cen­tives to de­vel­op­ers to build green build­ings, “lack of strin­gent and trans­par­ent mon­i­tor­ing of ac­tual en­ergy and re­source use dur­ing build­ing op­er­a­tion can se­ri­ously com­pro­mise re­source sav­ings”.

The gov­ern­ments of Delhi, Ra­jasthan, Ut­tar Pradesh, Pun­jab and Ma­ha­rash­tra are al­ready giv­ing sops to de­vel­op­ers to get their build­ings rated un­der the leed-In­dia or griha rat­ing sys­tems.

Good mon­i­tor­ing agency needed

Sev­eral green-rated build­ings in the US have ex­ploited the fact that the coun­try lacked a proper mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem to track re­source con­sump­tion by build­ings. A study by the US Green Build­ing Coun­cil-New Build­ings In­sti­tute shows wide vari­a­tion in the ac­tual en­ergy per­for­mance of leed-rated build­ings in the US.The study found that many of the build­ings did not track an­nual en­ergy con­sump­tion after they re­ceived the green rat­ing. Sim­i­larly, in 2012 the Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil, Canada, sug­gested that 35 per cent of the leed-rated green build­ings were us­ing more en­ergy than un­rated build­ings. A year later, the green-rat­ing agency made it manda­tory for green-build­ings to dis­close wa­ter and en­ergy use ev­ery year.

Make green norms manda­tory

In­dia needs ap­pro­pri­ate green norms to bench­mark en­ergy and wa­ter use, min­imise waste, and de­velop mon­i­tor­ing and com­pli­ance strate­gies. In the ab­sence of th­ese bench­marks, even green norms can lead to dam­ag­ing trade-offs and un­in­tended con­se­quences. The cse book sug­gests that for starters, it should be made manda­tory for all new build­ings to meet ba­sic green mea­sures. It says gov­ern­ment in­cen­tives should be given only to those de­vel­op­ers who ex­ceed the min­i­mum green mea­sures.

bee di­rec­tor-gen­eral Ajay Mathur says that the pro­posed ef­fi­ciency in the de­sign of a build­ing is not com­pa­ra­ble to its ac­tual per­for­mance as one can­not con­trol how the build­ing will be used by the end users. “This is the rea­son we have not linked our ex­ist­ing En­ergy Con­ser­va­tion Build­ing Code (ecbc) with the star la­bel pro­gramme,” says Mathur. ecbc is a list of of­fi­cial de­sign guide­lines for en­ergy-ef­fi­cient com­mer­cial build­ings.

The cse re­port, how­ever, says delink­ing de­sign ef­fi­ciency with per­for­mance is a flawed ap­proach. Build­ings should be de­signed to meet a per­for­mance and this can be done by mak­ing star rat­ing manda­tory, it says.

In­dia should also look at in­tro­duc­ing manda­tory en­ergy and wa­ter au­dits and con­sump­tion-based en­ergy and wa­ter billing to im­prove op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency of all build­ings. This can be done by in­tro­duc­ing a le­gal frame­work for post-con­struc­tion per­for­mance, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency. Fi­nally, the coun­try should make it oblig­a­tory for all build­ings to pub­licly dis­close the data on an­nual en­ergy and wa­ter us­age along with built-up area.

Pa­tel says cor­po­rates need to change the way they look at green build­ings. “At present, most cor­po­rates invest in green build­ings for rep­u­ta­tion and not to save re­sources or the en­vi­ron­ment. This mind­set has to be changed.”


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