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View from India: Thumbs up for green buildings in India

Reports from the US Green Building Council (GBC) indicate that by 2018 the green building industry in India will grow by 20 per cent, driven largely by environmental regulations and demand for healthier neighbourhoods. New high-rise residential, communities and mixed-use development are expected to be the top three sectors for green building growth in India.

India holds promise when it comes to green buildings. The country secured third position this year in the USGBC annual ranking of the top 10 countries for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a green building rating system. Green buildings are being considered as modern-day architectural marvels because of their potential to protect the environment and transform the real-estate market. According to industry estimates for new buildings, India’s green building market is projected to be in the range of US$30-40bn.

Being a supporter of the green building movement, Nispana Innovative Platforms Pvt. Ltd. has organised its Annual Sustainability in Design & Construction India (SICI) event. The event has a holistic approach, looking beyond efficient buildings and taking into account power consumption, water management, local ecology and resources, all of which are essential to retain biodiversity and reduce global warming.

“When we look at the green building industry and sustainability on a large scale in India, the industry witnessed a growth rate of 20 per cent last year. This sector needs to be encouraged. Though many Indian states have already introduced incentives and guidelines to popularise green buildings, at a national level policy intervention is important for green buildings to become mainstream,” said Selvarasu, managing director, LEAD Consultancy Services, speaking at the event.

While it is hoped that green buildings gain mainstream acceptance, it’s necessary to balance the boundaries between sustainability and development or else it leads to global warming. “India contributes 6.5 per cent towards global warming in the form of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emission. Of this, 40 per cent comes from the construction industry and embodied energy. De-carbonisation is the way forward,” explained Ajit Sabnis, national president of the Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (India).

Energy efficiency, a low-carbon footprint and alternative forms of fuel are among the solutions for reducing global warming and to keep our nation healthy. “By 2020, 500 million people will be living in urban India and this means more resource consumption and emission. Around 60 per cent of the emission comes from fossil fuel and coal and 37 per cent of this is from commercial buildings and air conditioners,” reasoned Minni Sastry, associate director, the Energy & Resources Institute (TERI).

Against this background, it’s necessary to look at tech solutions which can infuse energy efficiency at every stage of the product. This needs to be backed by energy-efficient sustainable facades that ensure optimum use of natural daylight. Of course, facade design depends on technicalities like building orientation, location, operation and other complexities of design.

As well as looking at means of lowering power consumption, water management is also crucial. “It’s necessary to strengthen India’s waterways. We need a budgetary allocation towards water management. Only 40 per cent of our river water is managed and usable, the rest of it is either contaminated or not channelled properly. If this continues, the topsoil will vanish and food produce will go out of our hand,” cautioned Selvarasu.

Moreover, India is among the 19 mega-diversity countries in the world, with 81,000 animal species and 45,000 plant species. Future planning has to find the optimum balance between preservation and innovation.

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