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View from India: Green is the colour for modern corporations

Several major IT companies and institutions are going the extra mile to do all that it takes to be green and efficient.

This movement is understandable, as green buildings are smart buildings. Green buildings deliver financial savings, are more comfortable, healthier, return higher productivity rates and have higher resale values, besides being beneficial to the environment. Environmental stewardship, it appears, is gaining momentum because water and energy are important to the services industry.

Suzlon Energy Limited in Pune, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and Olympia Tech Park in Guindy Chennai may have nothing in common except that they rank among the top green buildings in India. Many of them have won accolades, too. Wipro received the Silver Class Sustainability Award 2017 in RobecoSAM’s annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). RobecoSAM is an investment specialist and the annual CSA is the evaluation of companies’ sustainability practices.

Meanwhile, Infosys is the first IT company in the world to make a commitment in the United Nations to become a carbon neutral company by 2018-2019 and reduce the per capita energy consumption by 50 per cent (against the baseline year 2008) and use 100 per cent renewable power by 2018.

“Our focus is on green power, carbon offset projects and to reduce per capita water consumption to build a sustainable workplace, which offers thermal, visual and acoustic comfort,” said Swapnil Joshi, regional head HVAC and iBMS, Infosys, speaking at the eighth Annual Sustainability in Design & Construction India (SICI), organized by Nispana Innovative Platforms Pvt. Ltd. In sync with its sustainability policy, the company zeroed in on radiant cooling systems, low-emitting materials and sound isolation for speech privacy.

Energy-efficient insulated walls and roof are matched by water-efficient fixtures including low-flow, dual-flush toilets. Installation of biogas plants in various campuses ensures food waste management, re-engineering and retrofit of chiller plants, pumps and blowers are other highlights.

“In 2015, we became the first Indian company to join RE100, a global platform for major companies committed to 100 per cent renewable power,” highlighted Joshi.

While Infosys is one such example, broadly speaking, green is the chosen path by many commercial buildings and home spaces. The conviction is backed by the fact that green buildings show higher property values and average sale price increases by more than INR 1289 per sq. ft. A green-built community can result in annual gas savings of as much as INR 64,624 per house due to proximity to the necessary infrastructure.

“The USGBC set up its India operations in 2015 (IGBC). GBC’s vision goes beyond green buildings to encompass smart grids and renewable energy. USGBC has developed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system and many buildings in India have a LEED certification. PEER, our rating system modeled after LEED, assesses electricity system performance and verifies that significant and measurable outcomes have been achieved. It is a dynamic, adaptive rating process that looks at reliability and resilience,” added Milli Majumdar, managing director, GBCI, and senior vice president, USGBC (US Green Building Council).

Earlier in the year, USGBC and IGBC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to develop ‘LEED for Transit,’ a green rating exclusively for transit stations - a first for the world. As per the MoU, the Metro stations will be monitored and rated through the Arc Performance Platform. This new offering functions as a tool to measure, monitor and maintain green performance. It facilitates streamlined tracking of data across five performance categories such as energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience.

To sum up, what is required is a robust system certifying green credentials supported by the government, builders and citizens so that we have structures that are eco-friendly and responsive to citizen needs.

Let’s not forget, high-performing buildings demand less energy and water, which reduces the strain on common resources and allows infrastructure capacity to extend further. These are supported by the smart factor which extends to water metering, irrigation and street lights, among others. Clearly, the payback on this sector is very high.

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