India has the second largest IGBC-registered green building footprint in the world, says Syed Beary of IGBC-Bangalore in an interview with Ranjani Govind

Any IGBC-rated green building carries a certified mark with it. Today, constructing green buildings is technically feasible and economically viable, says Syed Beary, Chairman, the Indian Green Building Council-Bangalore Chapter. IGBC is highlighting the fact that it has recently crossed 2 billion sq. ft. of registered green building footprint in India. “Green buildings also make good business sense with an investment return time of two years and energy savings of almost 30 per cent per year,” he says.

That by 2022 (India @75), IGBC aspires to cross over 10 billion sq. ft of green building footprint and in the process consolidate its global leadership position in green buildings is something that speaks of a huge responsibility.

With the concept of green buildings gaining ground among developers, IGBC had expected nearly two billion square feet of sustainable building footprint by 2015.

But with over 2,400 green building projects in the country, the dream has turned a reality a year earlier, ranking India as the country with the largest green footprint in the world after the U.S. (Green Building Council).

Syed Beary spoke to The Hindu-HABITAT regarding the concept of green or the sense of sustainability that has to be intrinsic to any construction in the world of brick-and-mortar.

What are the features, the basic requirements of a green building?

Basic requirements of green buildings are to reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts of development, conserve energy, conserve water, reduce usage of natural resources and construction materials and improve workplace environmental quality.

How difficult is it to take up a green building? Is it a challenge for architects to start with?

It is, indeed, a challenge for both architects and developers. However, considering the rapid global warming taking place and depletion of natural resources, we cannot sustain ourselves too long. Therefore it only requires concern for the environment, commitment to social responsibility, and application of mind and passion to do something to conserve resources to help future generations.

How costlier is it compared to a non-green structure?

It really does not cost extra to develop a green building. It is simple application of conventional wisdom, orientation of the building, concern for our neighbourhood and application of mind to minimise use of materials, best described by Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Even the Platinum Green Buildings of IGBC that used to cost 15 per cent more about eight years ago now cost just around 9-12 per cent more than non-green buildings.

Didn’t Le Corbusier or Laurie Baker do this involuntarily? Shouldn’t green construction be an unconscious effort and not be a certified one?

Le Corbusier or Laurie Baker did this from the perspective of providing economical housing construction for family dwelling units in India through use of architecture and local materials. With respect to our green building perspective, economics is only one of the several criterions for a building to be evaluated as green. IGBC’s concept considers all perspectives to ensure a long life cycle for the building.

The perspective was mainly conceived for commercial complexes but has now been extended to individual homes, SEZs, factories, townships, and companies and does not limit to economics. It accentuates sustainable development preventing environmental degradation, conserving natural resources, providing a healthy place and reducing life cycle costs.

How does one go about getting an IGBC rating? Is this a prolonged affair?

The project owner has to register his building with IGBC and the registration confirms his desire not only for building a green structure but getting his building evaluated as ‘green’. There are a set of performance standards for certifying a building, i.e., the level to which it is accredited or endorsed ‘Green.’ Certification does not start after completion of the building. The data logging/ documentation can go along with the construction of the building and be co-terminus with the building completion. The IGBC takes around 30 days to evaluate the building and give its feedback to the project owner. Once the project owner furnishes the clarifications against the feedback received and takes corrective actions, IGBC takes around 15 days to award certification. The whole process is simple, with no delayed bureaucracy involved.

So India is the second to have the largest percentage of Green Buildings.

What about the features present in the ‘best’ green buildings in the country?

In the third week of March 2014, the Indian Green Building Council of CII crossed the 2 billion sq. ft of registered green building footprint and India became the second country in the world to achieve this remarkable milestone. Over 90 of green building projects in India are going the IGBC way. Currently, 1,745 eco-friendly building projects with over 1.21 billion sq. ft. of green footprint are registered with the IGBC. By 2022, IGBC estimates to cross 10 billion sq. ft. in India which might make it numero uno in the ‘green market.’

IGBC has about 1,700 members, 1,200 accredited professionals and 15 vibrant chapters in all major metros. Now all types of buildings are going the IGBC ‘green way’ including airports, banks, colleges, convention centres, factories, government buildings, hospitals, hotels, institutions, IT parks, malls, metros, offices, residential buildings, schools, SEZs, townships etc. varying from 1,200 sq. ft to 120 million sq.ft.

Any IGBC-rated green building mirrors India’s rich architectural heritage blending with modern technological innovations. IGBC-rated green buildings ensure that energy is saved to the tune of 40-50 per cent and water is saved by 20-30 per cent; and intangible benefits like enhanced ventilation, day lighting, and good design with eco-friendly materials improve the productivity of the occupants.

Some of the best green buildings in India are: the building designed to house the new Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly at Chennai (now converted into a hospital) , IGP Office at Gulbarga, Suzlon ‘One Earth’ at Pune, ITC Hotel – The Royal Gardenia at Bangalore, Godrej Plant II-IT Park at Mumbai, Infosys Pocharam at Hyderabad and Bearys Global Research Triangle at Bangalore. Energy efficiency, water use reduction, construction waste management and use of local materials are some of the salient features of these projects.

Being at the helm of IGBC Bangalore, what do you notice in Bangalore’s building chemistry? How would you rate Bangalore’s buildings, vis-à-vis other cities?

Bangalore is in the forefront of the green building movement and the construction community represented by CREDAI has taken it very seriously and soon it could be in their DNA. Bangalore has some of the highest rated buildings of India. NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai are doing well in popularising the green building movement and registering buildings for green certification.

IGBC recently crossed 2 billion sq. ft of registered green building footprint in India.

IGBC takes around 30 days to evaluate a building and give its feedback to the project owner.