Designing sustainable skyscrapers

Green architecture plays a pivotal role in creating a sustainable building ecosystem, paving the way for reduced energy consumption and enhanced environmental resilience for our future cities

Updated - March 08, 2024 04:35 pm IST

Published - March 08, 2024 03:52 pm IST

India has been extensively witnessing massive growth in terms of its urban development. This demographic shift towards urbanisation has positioned cities as pivotal centres, influencing various aspects of the nation. The gradual replacement of traditional landscapes with concrete structures underscores the need for space-efficient and innovative living solutions. As urbanisation becomes a driving force for national reformation, towering skyscrapers emerge as prominent features, symbolising the aspirations and dreams of the expanding Indian urban demographic. Beyond symbolic representation, these structures play a crucial role in addressing the challenges posed by climate change and establishing a foundation for sustainable living in the 21st century.

India is actively pursuing energy efficiency as one of the key means of promoting low-carbon development. The country is already making considerable efforts at undertaking climate actions across its entire economy. We have a long tradition of reverence and respect for nature that provides broad societal support for India’s pro-active climate policies and actions. India has consistently made ambitious commitments at the UNFCCC, the key multilateral forum for climate change, and under the Paris Agreement, and has a strong track record of meeting these commitments. At present, only about 5% of the total buildings in India are certified green. There lies a tremendous potential for further penetration of green building technology in India. The real estate industry is also of the opinion that green buildings are not only a solution but will eventually be the only tangible solution for countries like India.

Symbiosis of high-rise buildings and sustainability

Buildings consume about 30% of the world’s energy and account for almost 40% of annual CO2 emissions. To be sustainable, buildings — both new and existing — need to change. To limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050, as specified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), every effort must be made to decarbonise buildings. As these numbers create an increasing tension in preserving the environment, the need for sustainable action stands eminent to safeguard our planet. Today, BMS (Building Management System) has become an important part of buildings which ensure operational efficiency, security and safety for occupants by seamlessly integrating real-time systems such as lighting, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning), electrical etc, to help optimise energy usage and comfort leading to reduced carbon footprints and meeting sustainability goals. Skyscrapers offer some of the most energy-efficient spaces by concentrating resources and people in one place. The convergence of technology, design innovation, and environmental consciousness has paved the way for the inception of the symbiotic relationship between skyscrapers and sustainability.

Skyscrapers help in potentiating this vision by creating liveable, sustainable, and resilient architectures along with a holistic approach that combines smart building technologies and green infrastructure for a better future.

Integrating green spaces

As our nation collectively moves towards a sustainable future, green buildings are slowly claiming their prominence in the current decade. The ANAROCK report reveals that green buildings cut energy consumption by 20–30% and excessive water consumption by 30–50%. Green buildings help reduce carbon emissions and also eliminate the need for air conditioning, which has been resulting in creating 14% of global carbon emissions.

India currently stands third in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green buildings list with over 2.8 million gross sq. m. of green buildings, with a growing CAGR of 7.2%. The integration of green spaces within skyscrapers plays a major role in fostering sustainable urban development.

Green skyscrapers revolutionise urban sustainability by drastically reducing energy expenditures. Through advanced IoT (Internet of Things) enabled sensor networks, they intelligently optimise heating and air-conditioning, preventing unnecessary energy use. Despite initial higher costs, these structures prove cost-effective over time, curbing maintenance expenses through sustainable practices. Designed for efficiency, they minimise energy, water, and resource consumption, presenting a smart solution for building sustainable cities. In the Indian context, green architecture plays a pivotal role in creating a sustainable building ecosystem, offering a path to reduced energy consumption and enhanced environmental resilience for our future cities.

The writer is Business Head, Digital Energy Division, Schneider Electric.

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