Why opt­ing for green build­ings is now im­per­a­tive?

The use of green build­ing prac­tices can help in ad­dress­ing con­cerns re­lat­ing to re­source de­ple­tion as well as con­trib­ute to­wards cre­at­ing sus­tain­able cities

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Anuj Puri letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com The au­thor is Chair­man – ANA ROCK Prop­erty Con­sul­tants

Across the globe ,5 June was cel­e­brated as World En­vi­ron­ment Day, which is the prin­ci­ple plat­form of the United Na­tion to cre­ate more aware­ness and ac­tion to­wards pro­tect­ing Earth’ s en­vi­ron­ment. This day has a very special sig­nif­i­cance for the real es­tate sec­tor.

Over the past few decades, fast­paced eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment cou­pled with rapid pop­u­la­tion growth and ur­ban­iza­tion has led to a rapid de­ple­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources. The ac­cel­er­ated rate of re­source con­sump­tion and rise in green­house gases’ emis­sion has re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion. This has, in turn, re­sulted in cli­mate change, the rise in av­er­age tem­per­a­ture and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of air qual­ity.

The build­ing sec­tor is one of the ma­jor con­sumers of nat­u­ral re­sources such as water, en­ergy and other raw ma­te­ri­als. It gen­er­ates a large num­ber of waste sand pol­lu­tants dur­ing the three phases of its life cy­cle - con­struc­tion, main­te­nance and de­con­struc­tion. As per es­ti­mates, the con­struc­tion sec­tor con­sumes an ap­prox­i­mate 25% of water and 35-40% en­ergy, apart from other raw ma­te­ri­als.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it emits 40% of global waste sand 35% of green­house gases. Look­ing at the ram­pant degra­da­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment across the globe, it has be­come im­per­a­tive to take mea­sures for the op­ti­mal use of nat­u­ral re­sources, re­duc­tion of wastes and re­strict­ing the pol­lu­tion.

The use of green build­ing prac­tices can help in ad­dress­ing these con­cerns along with giv­ing an im­pe­tus to build a sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.


Apart from a noun, green build­ing is also a verb – namely the prac­tice of us­ing pro­cesses and tech­nolo­gies which are en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and en­ergy ef­fi­cient through­out the build­ing’ s life­cy­cle from sit­ing to de­sign, con­struc­tion, op­er­a­tion, main­te­nance, ren­o­va­tion and de­con­struc­tion.

Green build­ing prac­tices can im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment’ s ecol­ogy in nu­mer­ous ways. They can re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion by 20-30% and water us­age by 30-50%, and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce waste gen­er­a­tion by ex­ten­sive re­cy­cling. Apart from the ob­vi­ous pro­tec­tion of the ecosys­tem and bio­di­ver­sity, the use of green build­ing prac­tices leads to: · Bet­ter air qual­ity ·En­hanced day­light, lead­ing to lower elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion

· Su­pe­rior health and over­all well­be­ing · En­hanced pro­duc­tiv­ity Across the dif­fer­ent coun­tries, there are sev­eral pro­grams and agen­cies that de­fine, cat­e­go­rize and cer­tify green build­ings, such as LEED (USA), BREEAM (UK), DGNB (Ger­many) and CASBEF (Ja­pan). In In­dia, IGBC and GR I HA are at the fore front of pro­mot­ing the green build­ing pro­grams and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are done on var­i­ous pa­ram­e­ters such as:

· Water con­ser­va­tion and ef­fi­ciency · En­ergy ef­fi­ciency · The types of build­ing ma­te­ri­als and re­sources

· In­door en­vi­ron­ment qual­ity, health and com­fort ·In­no­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment ·Site and fa­cil­ity man­age­ment Though at a nascent stage, In­dia has emerged as one of the lead­ing coun­tries in terms of green build­ings’ projects. In­dia ranks only sec­ond af­ter the U.S. in terms of the num­ber of green tech­nol­ogy projects and built-up area. More than 4,300 projects with an ap­prox­i­mate 4.7 bil­lion sq.ft. of built-up area are reg­is­tered for green tech­nol­ogy in the coun­try.

How­ever, this is only about 5% of the to­tal build­ings in In­dia, in­di­cat­ing that there lies a tremen­dous po­ten­tial for fur­ther pen­e­tra­tion of green build­ing tech­nol­ogy in In­dia.

Grow­ing at an ex­po­nen­tial rate, the In­dian green build­ings’ mar­ket is ex­pected to dou­ble and may reach close to 10 bil­lion sq.ft. by 2022 (at a valu­a­tion of $35-$50 bil­lion).


Al­though the ini­tial costs of a green build­ing maybe higher( up to 15%, de­pend­ing on var­i­ous fac­tors) than for con­ven­tional build­ings, the long-term ben­e­fits such as low op­er­at­ing costs, po­ten­tial health ben­e­fits for the oc­cu­piers and pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment makes such build­ings very vi­able op­tions.

Some of the key fac­tors that are likely to drive the green build­ings’ de­mand are: · In­creas­ing aware­ness · Im­prov­ing af­ford­abil­ity · En­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits · Re­sources - coun­tries with higher pop­u­la­tions and lim­ited re­sources will tend to adopt green build­ing prac­tices faster

· Gov­ern­ment sup­port, subsi- dies and com­pul­sions


Green build­ings aim to build a sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment through ef­fi­cient use of en­ergy and con­ser­va­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources.

The ef­fi­ciency of a green build­ing can be max­i­mized by the use of in­no­va­tive con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy. While there are many tech­nolo­gies used across dif­fer­ent coun­tries, some of the more no­table ones are:


Also known a sb io mime tic, this is a con­cept of im­i­ta­tion of the var­i­ous mod­els, sys­tems and el­e­ments of na­ture and in­cor­po­rat­ing them into build­ings’ de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture. This trend has led to the adop­tion of many in­no­va­tive designs to op­ti­mize the of build­ings’ air ven­ti­la­tion along with bet­ter cool­ing and heat­ing con­trol. East gate Centre in Zim­babwe, with it sb io mimi cry of­ter­mite mounds, is a great ex­am­ple.

Green Roofs

In what is also known as the liv­ing roof tech­nique, the roof of the build­ing gets fully or par­tially cov­ered with veg­e­ta­tion and soil on a planted wa­ter­proof­ing mem­brane. This mod­er­ates the heat­ing and cool­ing of the build­ing along with im­prov­ing the air qual­ity.

Ver­ti­cal Gar­dens or Liv­ing Walls

In this tech­nique, the plan­ta­tion is done ver­ti­cally on ei­ther side of walls. This tech­nique helps in de­grad­ing the pol­lu­tants and en­hanc­ing the air qual­ity.

Glass Fiber Re­in­forced Gyp­sum (GFRG) Pan­els

This is a very cost-ef­fec­tive and durable tech­nique of de­velop- ment. It can be de­ployed fairly quickly and con­sumes less raw ma­te­ri­als such as sand, ce­ment and other prod­ucts. Ad­di­tion­ally, thecore com­po­nent- gyp­sum - is eas­ily and cheap ly avail­able, con­sid­er­ing that a huge amount of it is gen­er­ated as a waste from fer­til­izer and min­ing plants. Build­ings which use G FR G pan­els have a bet­ter life­span and do not re­quire beams and col­umns.

Mono­lithic Con­crete Con­struc­tion

Un­like con­ven­tional tech­niques, in this method, all struc­tures such as walls, floors, beams, col­umns, slabs etc. along with win­dow and doors open­ings are cast in a sin­gle op­er­a­tion with the help of mod­u­lar form­work made of alu­minum. With thin­ner walls and col­umns, it pro­vides a higher us­able area. It is one of the po­ten­tial tech­nolo­gies that can be used in af­ford­able hous­ing on a large scale, and it also con­serves nat­u­ral re­sources.

Rain Gar­dens

This con­cept helps in en­hanc­ing ground­wa­ter ab­sorp­tion by re­duc­ing the amount of rain runoff. It uses planted de­pres­sion s to al­low water runoff to go through im­per­vi­ous ur­ban ar­eas, path­ways, drive­ways, com­pacted lawns, roofs, park­ing lots etc. This tech­nique al­lows more time for water to be ab­sorbed in the ground that leads to an in­crease in ground­wa­ter lev­els, low soil ero­sion and re­duced water pol­lu­tion.


While the use of green build­ing prac­tices is on the rise in In­dia, there are also a few chal­lenges and bar­ri­ers. Over the last few years, the slow­down in In­dian real es­tate sec­tor has led to a huge stash of un­sold in­ven­tory. In ad­di­tion, the im­pact of re­cent re­forms a midst sub­dued de­mand has fur­ther damp­ened the mar­ket sen­ti­ments, and the ma­jor­ity of the de­vel­op­ers are strug­gling to off­load the ex­ist­ing in­ven­tory.

Cur­rent mar­ket con­di­tions have made the de­vel­op­ers skep­ti­cal about the us­age of any tech­nol­ogy that in­creases the cost of con­struc­tion. Apart from this short-term mar­ket sit­u­a­tion, some of the other chal­lenges for green build­ings prac­tice im­ple­men­ta­tion in In­dia are:

· Lack of aware­ness about green build­ings prac­tices and its long-term ben­e­fits: A large sec­tion of In­dian users are still un­aware of green build­ing con­cepts and its en­dur­ing ben­e­fits. A ma­jor­ity of users per­ceive that green build­ing prac­tices are ex­pen­sive and not fi­nan­cially fea­si­ble.

· In­ad­e­quate Gov­ern­ment’s rules, stan­dards& poli­cies: There are not enough strin­gent and manda­tory laws to en­force largescale im­ple­men­ta­tion of green build­ing norms.

· Lack of skilled re­sources and sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts: A ma­jor­ity of in­dus­try stake­hold­ers such as pol­icy mak­ers, ar­chi­tects, engi­neers, con­trac­tors and work­ers don’t pos­sess ad­e­quate skills and know-how re­quired for green build­ings’ con­struc­tion.

· In­ef­fi­cient in­cen­tives and sub­si­dies for de­vel­op­ers: There are very few in­cen­tive plans and those that ex­ist vary across states or even cities, based on the gov­ern­ing bod­ies. While in the ma­jor­ity of cases, in­cen­tives are in form of ad­di­tional FAR/FSI, fol­lowed by a re­bate on prop­erty tax and other schemes. How­ever, these in­cen­tives have not been sig­nif­i­cant enough to en­cour­age de­vel­op­ers and home­buy­ers.

·Higher cost of equip­ment and prod­ucts: The equip­ment and prod­ucts used in the con­struc­tion of green build­ings cost more than the con­ven­tional ones, so small con­trac­tors and de­vel­op­ers can­not af­ford them.

· Ap­provals and clear­ances: De­vel­op­ers al­ready face a te­dious process of ap­provals, and there is an ap­pre­hen­sion that fur­ther ad­di­tion of green build­ings’ re­lated com­pli­ance may cause ad­di­tional de­lays.


The re­lent­less degra­da­tion ofthe en­vi­ron­ment along with fast pace de­ple­tion of re­sources, ris­ing pol­lu­tion and cli­mate change has af­fected the hu­man life sig­nif­i­cantly. The de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health con­di­tions are alarm­ing for the cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

This state of af­fairs calls for par­tic­i­pa­tion of coun­tries to take mea­sures to slow down en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion. The build­ing sec­tor can play a vi­tal role in build­ing a sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment by in­creased us­age of green tech­nolo­gies.

In In­dia, the growth of green build­ings can be ac­cel­er­ated through stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of norms, sin­gle win­dow clear­ances, ro­bust fi­nan­cial sup­port sys­tem and most im­por­tantly cre­at­ing aware­ness amongst stake­hold­ers. In­creas­ing aware­ness about green build­ings and their ben­e­fits can cre­ate a big­ger mar­ket-po­ten­tial-and when all is said and done, green build­ings are the foun­da­tion of sub­stan­tial sus­tain­able liv­ing mantra.


Biomimet­ics in­volve in­cor­po­rat­ing el­e­ments of na­ture into build­ings’ de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture

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