“The big­gest de­ci­sion maker in mak­ing the green shift in In­dian real es­tate sec­tor is the de­vel­oper”

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Namrata Kohli let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Close on the heels of World En­vi­ron­ment Day, a re­search fa­cil­ity was launched at Teri Cen­tre on June 12, in Gu­ru­gram to pro­mote an en­ergy-ef­fi­cient real es­tate ecosys­tem in In­dia. The re­search fa­cil­ity called Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence (CoE), has been col­lab­o­ra­tively de­vel­oped by Mahin­dra Lifes­pace De­vel­op­ers and TERI, and it show­cases dif­fer­ent en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ing ma­te­ri­als and green con­struc­tion tech­nolo­gies for the in­dus­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Anand Mahin­dra, Chair­man, Mahin­dra Group- “In­dia has the op­por­tu­nity to be the world’s largest lab­o­ra­tory for do­ing things dif­fer­ently — be it fu­ture of ur­ban­i­sa­tion, or mo­bil­ity, or cli­mate change. The Mahin­dra- TERI CoE em­bod­ies our fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity be­yond just busi­ness- towards cre­at­ing a larger ur­ban stake­holder ecosys­tem that can power a trans­for­ma­tive ‘green shift’ across In­dia’s cities and towns.” The in­for­ma­tion is in public do­main and “this will pos­i­tively in­flu­ence the In­dian con­struc­tion in­dus­try to de­velop in­no­va­tive and sus­tain­able so­lu­tions, thereby build­ing a ro­bust green sup­ply chain ecosys­tem,” said Anita Ar­jun­das, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Mahin­dra Lifes­pace De­vel­op­ers Ltd

Dr Ajay Mathur- Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of TERI - The En­ergy & Re­sources In­sti­tute shares in­sights on the re­cent trends in the in­dus­try. Edited ex­cerpts:

Ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try es­ti­mates, build­ings con­sume 40% en­ergy, and the build­ing sec­tor specif­i­cally poses a ma­jor chal­lenge to en­ergy con­ser­va­tion. Are these tech­nolo­gies be­ing de­vel­oped at your re­search fa­cil­ity, rel­e­vant from the time af­ter the build­ing is ready or from the start of con­struc­tion it­self?

It is from the start of con­struc­tion it­self. And mak­ing use of waste ma­te­ri­als from older build­ings is im­por­tant. At the Griha Sum­mit last year at In­dia Habi­tat cen­tre, we put up a room dis­play­ing ma­te­ri­als that had some per­cent­age of waste ma­te­ri­als whether it was the tile, wall, roof, win­dows etc. The short point is there is a way to han­dle con­struc­tion and de­mo­li­tion waste. But once the build­ing is built, the op­tions are rel­a­tively low. Retrofitting is dif­fi­cult.

The CoE is about char­ac­ter­iz­ing the var­i­ous green build­ing and con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als that are avail­able in the mar­ket to­day- we have put up in­for­ma­tion on lo­cally avail­able build­ing ma­te­ri­als in our re­search cen­tre, giv­ing all kinds of de­tails such as con­duc­tiv­ity, how one should use it etc. Its a light house of in­for­ma­tion and is very much in the public do­main. Teri is plan­ning to open sim­i­lar cen­tre at Ben­galuru and Guwa­hati too, keep­ing in mind the spe­cific cli­matic con­di­tions in South and North East In­dia.

What are the spe­cific tech­nolo­gies that help save en­ergy and are less pol­lut­ing in man­u­fac­tur­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion?

The first is us­ing build­ing ma­te­ri­als which emit less heat. We have dis­played these bricks at CoE which are hol- low. The air es­sen­tially acts as a great in­su­la­tor and pre­vents the heat from com­ing in. The sec­ond thing is to have two lay­ers of walls and in­su­la­tion in be­tween. Like­wise for roof. The third is for win­dows. The thing with win­dows is that it al­lows light to come in, but the prob­lem is that apart from the light, there is heat and air that en­ters the room. One needs the right glaz­ing fen­es­tra­tion ma­te­rial. For in­stance with a dou­ble glazed win­dow with ni­tro­gen in be­tween, you get the light but 40% of the heat gets cut out. The idea should be to use ma­te­rial that is lo­cally avail­able and that which helps the build­ing be­come sus­tain­able.

While mak­ing the green shift in In­dian real es­tate, who do you think needs to be ed­u­cated first? Where does the buck stop ­ the ar­chi­tect, con­trac­tors or de­vel­ oper?

The de­vel­oper is the one who de­cides what to use and not to use. Next comes the ar­chi­tect or the en­gi­neer who is de­sign­ing the build­ing and he should know ex­actly what to use, when to use, how much to use.

Ul­ti­mately the ben­e­fi­ciary is ev­ery­body. These are lo­cally pro­cured ma­te­ri­als and their prices be­come com­pet­i­tive as the vol­umes in­crease.

Go­ing green has its own ex­pense. Af­ter all ev­ery­thing has a cost at­tached to it. But how proac­tive is in­dus­try and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to help In­dia make that tran­si­tion to green en­ergy.

One of the things that we have learnt is that the price of green build­ings has been re­duc­ing dra­mat­i­cally. In 2008-9, when we built the first green build­ing in In­dia and that was Cen­tre of science and en­gi­neer­ing at IIT Kan­pur, it costed 20% more. But with the next project of Aranya bhawan at Ra­jasthan (For­est Head­quar­ters, Ra­jasthan) the ad­di­tional cost was only 2%. All of these are the first costs. The en­ergy sav­ing over a pe­riod of time more than com­pen­sates the ad­di­tional cost. To­day the Kan­pur build­ing reg­is­ters en­ergy sav­ing of 70%. And to­day in places where you have a gen­er­a­tor, it be­comes half the size be­cause of less en­ergy.

Teri is try­ing to pro­mote re­new­able sources of en­ergy. You have said that In­dia is on the cusp of en­ergy change and so­lar power will cost less than ther­mal in 6­7 years. How soon will build­ings adopt re­new­able source of en­ergy?

This is al­ready hap­pen­ing. So­lar en­ergy is now cheaper than ther­mal and is cost­ing Rs 2.44 paise a unit while coal elec­tric­ity is avail­able at av­er­age price of Rs 3.50. But ob­vi­ously the so­lar en­ergy is avail­able when sun is shin­ing. So what hap­pens when the sun is not shin­ing is a chal­lenge. So­lar bat­ter­ies are ex­pen­sive right now. But I am sure that by 2025, so­lar bat­ter­ies will be­come cheaper and so­lar en­ergy will drive the world.

In In­dia, it is es­ti­mated that by 2021 the elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion through space cool­ing and heat­ing ap­pli­ances will grow by 180% due to af­ford­abil­ity of these ap­pli­ances and chang­ing life­styles. You brought ini­tia­tives such as the star la­belling pro­gramme for ap­pli­ances, the En­ergy Con­ser­va­tion Build­ing Code, as Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Bureau of En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency in the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia. Which sec­tors re­sponded well and how do you rate the real es­tate sec­tor?

All the en­ergy in­ten­sive in­dus­tries re­sponded well and the con­sumer was very re­cep­tive to star rat­ings. Alas the build­ings sec­tor ranked the low­est and I don’t think it was de­vel­op­ers’ fault. Per­haps it was a mat­ter of how the mes­sage was trans­mit­ted, the right mes­sage was not sent in the right man­ner. Af­ter all, there are mil­lions of con­trac­tors, ma­sons etc in the in­dus­try. Do they know where to get it from and how to use it? The fact is that the sup­ply chain and en­tire real es­tate and con­struc­tion ecosys­tem has taken much longer than I ex­pected.

Fi­nally, any tips for con­sumer to bring en­ergy ef­fi­ciency into their homes, of­fices, and fac­to­ries?

Cus­tomers must take care that what­ever they are pur­chas­ing for their home such as re­frig­er­a­tor, air con, mi­crowave, they must opt for the most en­ergy ef­fi­cient prod­uct with star rat­ings. Sec­ond please don’t use any­thing when you don’t need it. One should ask one­self- do I re­ally need the air con for five hours or can I re­duce it to two. Be­sides, if you are build­ing a house, please add in­su­la­tion to it. Then in­stead of a 1.5 tonne air con, you will only need a 1 tonne air­con and the long term ex­penses will come down dra­mat­i­cally. It’s all­ways a com­bi­na­tion of var­i­ous fac­tors such as your choice of equip­ment, kind of in­fra­struc­ture and fi­nally cus­tomer be­hav­iour that de­ter­mines en­ergy ef­fi­ciency in the long run.

Ajay Mathur

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