India is set to become a world leader in green buildings with hundreds of projects in the pipeline
Modernisation and development, along with burgeoning population, has led to frenzied construction and burning up natural resources such as water, sand and wood. Rising temperatures and diminishing access to water have now become a global concern.
The building sector consumes about 40 per cent of the energy, generates over 30 per cent of solid waste and 25-40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the next 20 years, the sector is expected to grow much higher than that witnessed in the last 65-70 years, estimates from Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) say.
But is there a middle path and green buildings offer some hope.
The built-up area in the green building sector is expected to reach 100 billion square feet by 2030, registering a 400 per cent growth. The council has embarked on a mission to make India one of the world leaders in green buildings by 2015, R. Parasuraman, its founding chairman, says.
India has 1,795 green building projects coming up with a footprint of over 1.26 billion square feet. IGBC Green Homes is the first rating programme developed in India exclusively for the residential sector and has got a good response. Today, over 3,50,000 dwelling units with a built-up area of 555 million square feet are being designed as green homes.
The rating systems are voluntary and consensus-based. “The interesting thing is that we covered over 200 million square feet in the past year. For us, it is an exhilarating time because what we could not achieve in the first five years, we are achieving in one year now. Seventy per cent of what we are now working on are residential projects. It is because people are beginning to be concerned about health factors, internal air quality and issues of water. In Kochi, where you are receiving 2,600 mm of annual rainfall, it is a travesty that you have got shortage of water for the past 10 years,” Mr. Parasuraman says.
The house built by Srinivasan, actor, in Kochi is the first green building in the residential sector in the State.
The country has done well in the green building arena in the past decade, but there is much more to be done, S. Raghupathy, Director of Green Business Centre, Hyderabad, the hub of IGBC activities in the country, says. Since 75 per cent of the buildings that will exist in 2030 are yet to be built, there exist huge opportunities in design and construction of green buildings.
One of the key issues pertains to extending the green building concept to Tier-II and III cities. There is a need to establish green building standards and codes in certain areas such as indoor air quality, indoor thermal comfort and material testing. A green building agenda should be extended to all communities in the building sector and made inclusive.
A major challenge is finding affordable technology. Strategies need to be worked out to attain cost-effective solutions. And efforts made to let financial institutions have an easy and quick assessment tool to evaluate the benefits of green buildings. Many of the green buildings have started reaping benefits. Performance data from over 40 IGBC-rated buildings have been compiled. The average energy savings over conventional buildings varied from 27 per cent to 47 per cent and water savings ranged between 36 per cent and 60 per cent.