‘70 per cent of buildings that will stand in 2030 have not been constructed’

What should set alarm bells ringing for urban developers and policymakers is the data released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that says more than 70 per cent of the buildings that should stand in India by 2030 are yet to be built.

According to CSE executive director (Research and Advocacy) Anumita Roychowdhury, while in the United Kingdom 80 per cent of the building stock that will stand there in 2050 has already been built, India is lagging behind with a mind boggling number of 70 per cent of the buildings, that includes homes, offices and commercial establishments, not being constructed.

“What is worrisome is that Indian cities use more of precious water and energy and generate massive amounts of waste. The construction boon can be a bane as unfettered growth can have a damaging impact. In India, buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of the energy use, 30 per cent of the raw material use, 20 per cent of water use and 20 per cent of land use. At the same time, they generate 40 per cent of carbon emissions, 30 per cent of solid waste generation and 20 per cent of water effluents. With almost 70 per cent of the building stock in India yet to come up, the country is looking ahead to a critical situation.”

As a major destination point for real estate, the National Capital Region will be particularly affected. Therefore, the CSE has stressed the need to see the scalability of the buildings that have to be constructed.

“At homes, we have to use our air conditioners judiciously. With more and more homes using air conditioners, the challenge is not to become energy guzzlers. High performance buildings will require good insulation. Poorly insulated buildings severely effect the efficiency of air conditioning units and are high energy losses,” said Ms. Roychowdhury, while conducting a two-day workshop on “Urbanscapes: How sustainable are our buildings and cities”. The CSE has stressed the need for conducting workshops for the benefit of architects, engineers and prospective owners of flats so that they can understand the energy-saving strategies for constructing homes.

Pointing out that traditional wisdom needs to be kept in mind while constructing buildings, Ms. Roychowdhury said only one per cent of Delhi’s population lives in Lutyens’ Delhi and the urban boom in terms of housing and commercialisation has taken place on the periphery of the city. “Therefore, people living in East Delhi have to travel long distances. We have congested places like the Chawri Bazar and scantily populated areas like Aurangzeb Road.”

Citing another example, she said cities like Chennai, which have hot humid climate, do not require air tight glass buildings. “However, quite a few tight glass buildings in Chennai are being constructed. It is important to understand that we do not require 100 per cent air conditioned buildings. A fine example is the traditional Chettinad homes which have sufficient cross-ventilation. A big verandah is a common feature in every traditional home there,” she added.

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