Is your house green enough?

You should run proper checks be­fore buy­ing a home that is said to be en­vi­ron­ment­friendly

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Juggy Mar­waha

The tremen­dous rate of real es­tate de­vel­op­ment across the globe, and es­pe­cially young, emerg­ing na­tions, is im­pos­ing im­mense pres­sure on the en­vi­ron­ment and its nat­u­ral re­sources. With such rapid de­vel­op­ment, there is a lot at stake when we look at im­por­tant fac­tors such as en­ergy avail­abil­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity.

The real es­tate sec­tor is one of the ma­jor contributors to global warm­ing due to the ex­ten­sive pol­lu­tion dur­ing the con­struc­tion process as well as emis­sion of green­house gases dur­ing the life­cy­cle of the re­sul­tant build­ings. On an av­er­age, build­ings con­sume about 20% of the to­tal en­ergy avail­able in a coun­try, and this trend is in­creas­ing with ev­ery pass­ing day.

Mount­ing con­cern for the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of real es­tate has ne­ces­si­tated the for mu­la­tion of sus­tain­able so­lu­tions. This has led to the ad­vent of the sus­tain­able real es­tate and re­lated ‘green homes’ con­cepts. At its ba­sis, sus­tain­able real es­tate is all about us­ing re­sources sus­tain­ably and ad­dress­ing the de­mands of the present with­out com­pro­mis­ing the abil­ity of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to meet their own needs.

Green hous­ing or eco-friendly homes are an in­te­grated approach to­wards min­imis­ing the ad­verse ef­fects of con­struc­tion and its op­er­a­tion on the en­vi­ron­ment and pro­mot­ing health­ier living for peo­ple. It has been ex­ten­sively doc­u­mented that living in con­ven­tional build­ings has been work­ing against res­i­dents, both in terms of living stan­dards and the costs of ex­ces­sive en­ergy con­sump­tion.

The process that gov­erns eco-

friendly homes is lim­it­ing the use of scarce re­sources such as wa­ter, en­ergy and ma­te­ri­als used dur­ing con­struc­tion and oc­cu­pa­tion. The idea is to in­cor­po­rate fea­tures that make the most of nat­u­ral re­sources such as light and wa­ter while re­duc­ing heat gain and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of in­door air. Green build­ings not only en­hance qual­ity of life but also re­duce the cost of living, as th­ese build­ings in­volve sig­nif­i­cantly lower con­sump­tion of en­ergy, wa­ter and other

re­sources.

Con­straints to growth

The first and fore­most con­straint for the pro­lif­er­a­tion of green build­ings in In­dia is the lack of in­for­ma­tion and in­cor­rect per­cep­tions. It is gen­er­ally be­lieved that green build­ings cost more and take a long time to pay back in tan­gi­ble en­ergy sav­ings. Such a per­cep­tion leads to lower de­mand lev­els from the larger buyer base. In fact, the ad­di­tional cost fac­tor is rapidly re­duc­ing as more and more de­vel­op­ers get into the ‘green homes’ arena, since there is in­creased com­pe­ti­tion. Also, green homes re­sult in sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced util­i­ties bills right from the start.

Also, many de­vel­op­ers are de­terred from adopt­ing the ‘green mantra’ in their projects be­cause green build­ings may in­volve in­creased con­struc­tion costs. They may also find it chal­leng­ing to ob­tain the nec­es­sary tech­nolo­gies, source green build­ing ma­te­ri­als and find ap­pro­pri­ately qual­i­fied ar­chi­tects and con­trac­tors in In­dia. Nev­er­the­less, de­vel­op­ers are aware that the ‘green wave’ is catch­ing the fancy of more and more home­buy­ers in In­dia and want to get on the band­wagon. Un­for­tu­nately, this has re­sulted in a lot of res­i­den­tial projects which pro­ject them­selves as ‘green’ with­out ad­her­ing to all the manda­tory pa­ram­e­ters or hav­ing ob­tained the nec­es­sary cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Know what to look for

The over­all ben­e­fits of green build­ings de­pend on the ex­tent to which sus­tain­able fea­tures are in­cluded dur­ing the ini­tial plan­ning and de­sign. In some cases, such fea­tures can also be in­cor­po­rated after the build­ing is com­plete. But the point is that a few green fea­tures do not qual­ify a build­ing as en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able.

Be­cause of the in­creas­ing in­ter­est in this con­cept by home buy­ers, many de­vel­op­ers have be­gun pro­mot­ing projects under the ban­ner of ‘ eco- friendly homes’. While many of th­ese projects are in­deed ac­cord­ingly cer­ti­fied by com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ties, oth­ers are merely seek­ing to get on a pop­u­lar band­wagon with­out ac­tu­ally de­liv­er­ing the goods.

To en­sure that a gen­uinely ‘green’ res­i­den­tial pro­ject is not mis­taken for one of the many wannabes, it is im­por­tant for their developer to ob­tain ac­cred­i­ta­tion from the green rat­ing sys­tems fol­lowed in In­dia. GRIHA (Green Rat­ing for In­te­grated Habi­tat As­sess­ment) is one such sys­tem which ver­i­fies all that a build­ing has ad­hered to all the pre­scribed pa­ram­e­ters, and that the ma­te­ri­als and pro­cesses have been used at ev­ery stage of con­struc­tion.

THINKSTOCK

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