Tam­ing the hous­ing mon­ster

The gov­ern­ment should pro­vide in­cen­tives such as ad­di­tional floor area ra­tio and re­duced in­ter­est rates on loans for pro­mot­ing en­vi­ron­ment-friendly build­ings

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Jai­jit Bhat­tacharya

Mod­ern houses are mon­sters. This is es­pe­cially true for ur­ban houses. Ac­cord­ing to some agen­cies, an av­er­age mod­ern house de­vours 8,400 units of elec­tric­ity, 132 kilo­liter of wa­ter and re­leases around 120 kilo­litre of sewage, be­sides gen­er­at­ing 2,900 met­ric tonnes of garbage per an­num. Build­ings are mon­strous for they are re­spon­si­ble for al­most half the world’s energy con­sump­tion and green­house gas emis­sion (Source: TERI).The sit­u­a­tion would worsen as In­dia is about to wit­ness a tremen­dous growth in in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment.

With the prime min­is­ter’s ini­tia­tive of Hous­ing For All by 2022, the in­cre­ment of 20 mil­lion houses would add at least another 1.8 tril­lion kg of car­bon diox­ide, by the con­sump­tion of elec­tric­ity alone. This will have a pro­found im­pact on In­dia’s econ­omy, en­vi­ron­ment and the qual­ity of life. Energy con­sump­tion would con­tinue to rise un­less suit­able ac­tions to im­prove energy ef­fi­ciency are taken up im­me­di­ately. The dam­age can be mit­i­gated by mak­ing the build­ings green. If these new houses that are to be con­structed are made green, it would mean sav­ing up to 9.94 bil­lion kg of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and 1.8 tril­lion litres of wa­ter ev­ery year.

This con­cept is all the more rel­e­vant for In­dia, which is bound to re­duce the car­bon diox­ide emiss ions as per the Ky­oto pro­to­col.

The green build­ings re­duce the de­pen­dence on non- re­new­able sources of energy by in­cor­po­rat­ing in­creased use of so­lar power, nat­u­ral heat­ing and nat­u­ral light­ing which also en­able cut­ting down of the costs. The en­hanced af­ford­abil­ity of pho­to­voltaic so­lar pan­els for so­lar energy and new tech­nolo­gies of so­lar energy have now be­come very much rel­e­vant in har­ness­ing the nat­u­ral so­lar energy with­out much re­cur­ring cost. The use of so­lar energy in In­dia is more rel­e­vant than in other coun­tries be­cause most parts of the coun­try get suf­fi­cient sun­shine dur­ing a ma­jor por­tion of the year. The am­bi­tious tar­get of the gov­ern­ment to gen­er­ate 100 GW of so­lar energy in the next five years also sup­ports the con­cept of green build­ings.

Thus, it is very im­por­tant for In­dia to cre­ate green build­ings. In or­der to do this, there is a need of an as­sess­ment tool to mea­sure the en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance of build­ings. One such rat­ing tool that can be used to mea­sure the de­gree of green­ness of a build­ing is Green Rat­ing In­te­grated Habi­tat As­sess­ment ( GRIHA). It con­sid­ers var­i­ous lo­cal is­sues in ad­di­tion to min­imis­ing ozone de­plet­ing sub­stances, adapt­ing ef­fi­cient con­struc­tion tech­nol­ogy and ac­cept­ing non-air con­di­tioned build­ings Through the GRIHA ini­tia­tives, the oc­cu­pants are ben­e­fit­ted by re­duced cost of energy use, bet­ter air cir­cu­la­tion, clean­li­ness, use of lo­cally avail­able low cost ma­te­ri­als and the en­hanced im­age and mar­ketabil­ity of the build­ing. In ad­di­tion to this, for mak­ing the build­ing struc­ture, fly ash bricks are en­cour­aged as they re­duce the per­me­abil­ity to wa­ter and ag­gres­sive chem­i­cals at a low cost. In broader sense, the sys­tem has been de­signed to suit the needs of the var­ied cli­matic con­di­tions of the In­dian build­ings. These ini­tia­tives en­sure that the oc­cu­pants have bet­ter places to live/work in.

To pro­mote green build­ings, there is a need to cre­ate an ecosys­tem for en­cour­ag­ing con­struc­tion of such houses. This can be done by cre­at­ing aware­ness about GRIHA. Cre­at­ing model build­ings and pro­vid­ing fis­cal ben­e­fits would also en­cour­age com­pli­ance with the GRIHA ini­tia­tive.

In ad­di­tion to re­im­burse­ment of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ex­penses, in­ter- est rates on house loans should also be de­creased. Although the de­sign and con­struc­tion of a green build­ing costs more than those of or­di­nary build­ings, the op­er­a­tion cost is much less. The cost to be in­cre­men­tal is min­i­mal and has an es­ti­mated pay­back pe­riod of around five to six years. Fur­ther, in or­der to over­come the hur­dle of in­cre­men­tal cost, the banks could give re­bate of, say, one per­cent on the in­ter­est rates for the con­struc­tion of GRIHA com­pli­ant build­ings. This would pro­vide oc­cu­pants an in­cen­tive to opt for green build­ings.

The banks could pro­vide the re­bate in the in­ter­est rate through pri­vate sec­tor lend­ing. The gov­ern­ment can pro­vide in­cen­tives for pro­mot­ing ver­ti­cal growth by in­creas­ing FAR for GRIHA-com­pli­ant build­ings.

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