The construction industry has no MRP and the rates stipulated by the government do not appear practical in many public projects, leave alone the private sector, feels eco-friemdly architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

When we walk into a house warming function, we dare not ask the owner, ‘who has paid for the house construction?' It will be an invitation for a slap on the face with the obvious answer being the owner's family has paid for it all! Sounds fine, but is it a true and total fact?

To check out we may continue asking ‘who has paid the owner?' Let us imagine the owner is employed with good salaries; so, indirectly, the employer has paid the costs. Where does the company make its profits from, to pay the owner? Obviously, the revenue and profits of the company comes from millions of customers who buy the company's products. Imagine the products are agricultural seeds or cement or clothes. Where do these products come from? We may differ in answers, but possibly would concur on natural resources. Now the more obvious answer – mother nature has paid for it all.

Unfortunately, we never consider nature as the paymaster. If we have the money and affordability, we claim our powers and build a palace for ourselves. With lesser money, we build a modest home. All our acts of buying an apartment, furnishing the interior of an office, getting a farm house designed or developing seaside villas is solely dependent upon how much money we can spend or invest with no realisation on how nature too spends on our projects, complementing our efforts at all levels.

The day either our money or resources of nature deplete, construction has to slow down.

Cost to owner vs. cost to nature

All buildings are estimated and costs calculated as per systems of civil engineering. While these costs are important to budget the project from an owner's point of view, from the perspective of nature, the costs to be calculated are rooted in quantum of consumption, embodied energy, greenhouse gas emissions, recyclability, percentage of wastage, contribution to climate change and such others. Of course, with neither easy formulae nor non-debatable figures, the cost to nature can never be estimated accurately. The cost to owner being a direct and verifiable figure, it gets overarching importance.

Construction industry has no MRP (Maximum Retail Price). The scheduled rates stipulated by the government do not appear practical in many public projects, leave alone private sector. While products such as cement or switches have a printed price, they too are prone to frequent discounts or variations.

Most consultants hesitate to give general figures, fearing contextual variations and the danger of misleading prospective owners. However, specific to any project with all details worked out, it is possible to estimate the costs. Even if this budgetary figure is calculated, let us remember it is only the cost to owner, and not the cost to nature.

(The writer is an architect working for eco-friendly designs and can be contacted at varanashi@gmail.com)

Keywords: real estate

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