Monday, January 25, 2021

Green Building & Sustainability

Building a verdant future


With India’s soaring energy demand projected to increase by 2027, there is increasing clamour to raise the energy efficiency of buildings in cities across the country.


From a modest beginning of 20,000 sq ft of green built up space in India in 2003 to over 2,362 green building projects at the end of 2013 representing over 1.813 billion sq ft of green building footprint, more than 447 certified and fully functional green structures and over 1,100 IGBC accredited professionals, it has been quite a ride for the country.

To add to the joy of the ride a number of rating schemes and building codes has been promoted and implemented which has opened up a wide range of opportunities in construction, architecture and engineering design, building materials and equipment manufacture sector.

Many would consider that progress, but with India urbanising rapidly – and the threat of global warming increasing dramatically – the forward movement is clearly not enough.

That said there is now a discernible urgency for green in the country’s building construction sector air. Sustainability is fast becoming part of the mainstream real estate and is expected to command more than 6.3 per cent share in the country’s GDP.

No one would know it better than Rumi Engineer, Senior General Manager and Business Head – Green Building Consultancy Services, Godrej & Boyce, who is among the leading green proponents in the country, “The green building movement has shifted from push to pull with markets demanding no less than green buildings.”  



Green Consciousness


Indeed awareness for building energy efficiencies in buildings is now showing a perceptible leap.   The country has already taken a decisive role in that direction by creating and Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which contemplates incorporation of efficient technologies, materials and construction techniques into new and removed commercial building structures.

With the country’s building stock expected to double in thirteen years largely riding the back of the urban juggernaut there is a lot of opportunity for various stakeholders in the pro sustainability movement like real estate developers, financial institutions, green building and landscape architecture firms, energy services, fuel companies, power supply equipment manufacturers, environment, water and waste management companies, and indeed ‘green’ construction material suppliers and climate technology firms.



Technology route


In India, the spend on HVAC, a major green growth area, is $ 1 per capita while it is $ 7 per capita in China – an indication of the growth potential of the sector. Further innovation in building management systems have proved to be catalysts for energy efficiency and reduced operating costs.  Green technologies have contributed to smarter, energy efficient products that consume less energy while delivering a comfortable environment to the building occupants at reduced operating cost. 

A case in point being, the ITC Royal Gardenia hotel in Bengaluru has deployed Carrier’s Evergreen 23XRV chiller, arguably the world’s most efficient screw chiller. The chillers have reduced the building’s energy consumption by up to 40 per cent over industry standards. And the building itself has become an apt example of environmentally responsible luxury. Also, the Terminal 3 of Delhi Airport has deployed 20,000 tonne of energy efficient refrigeration, which has facilitated the building to be rated LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold by the US Green Building Council. The T3 terminal is the world’s first and largest terminal building to achieve this rating. In view of the enormous possibilities companies like Voltas have recently created a dedicated cell to work on 'green' building projects, especially those involving existing buildings. With IGBC's recent introduction of the Green Existing Buildings Rating, the company foresees more and more projects targeting this certification. 

Says Sudhir Bhalerao, General Manager – Manufacturing, Domestic Projects Business Group, Voltas, “HVAC systems consume around 60-65 per cent of the overall energy consumption of a typical office building. We are well-placed to address the resultant growing need for energy efficiency and sustainability, being a pioneer in the HVAC field.”

“HVACR professionals are paying increased attention and promote fast adoption to green building technologies. India has been witnessing tremendous growth in building and construction sector for the past 5 years and will continue to do so in the coming years. This makes it all the more important for technology suppliers like Emerson Climate Technologies to continually strive for higher energy efficient products,” explains Sridar Narayanswami, Vice President & Managing Director, Emerson Climate Technologies.

The emphasis on energy efficiency also extends to mechanical pipe joining and fire protection systems in which players like Victaulic play a huge role. Pankaj Soni, Country Manager, Victaulic, says, “Our products are manufactured from 90 per cent recycled materials and contribute to making a building sustainable throughout its life cycle.”

Companies manufacturing fly ash which are used in various infrastructure projects across the country, have a huge role to play in sustainability. Says Sanjay Mandhania, Director, Ashtech India Pvt Ltd, which manufactures ready mix concrete, blocks, pavers, tiles and aggregates and is among the biggest supplier of processed fly ash in India, “Everyone knows that fly ash is the greenest product of the century and is the most important one in our basket of offerings. That shows our commitment to the green construction movement.” 

As per a McGrawHill study till 2008 demand for green buildings was primarily driven by the desire to do the right thing signifying that it was triggered by ideals to make a positive impact on society and environment. It can now be said that client and market demand is the new driver for growth in view of the tangible financial savings.

This is also seen in residential space with India’s leading real estate firms increasingly opting for green building. “All our projects are conceptualised and designed in a manner that they are extremely environment friendly. They follow environment friendly practices thereby conserving energy and natural resources,” says a spokesman for the Mumbai based Kalpataru. The real estate firm has developed a five storey IT building ‘Kalpataru Prime’, which is one of its landmark green projects – it is LEED certified and gold rated by IGBC –  with features like STP, rain water harvesting, double glazed unit, 100 per cent covered parking to reduce heat island effect, water efficient fixtures in common areas, low VOC paints, lifts with group control, CO monitoring sensors for parking area, water efficient irrigation system, CFC free equipment and use of material with recycle content.  Kalpataru is by no means the lone ranger on the green platform. Several real estate firms across the country have joined the energy efficiency bandwagon and there is evidence that the green rush may have just made a beginning. 



Hurdles to green growth


Builders are wont to cite common barriers to energy efficient construction, such as high upfront costs, unavailability of finance and lack of information about the benefits of building green. The main barriers to building scale and efficiency in the green real estate sector is the widespread perception that a green building costs more. It is a fact that while a certified green building may have higher initial capital costs than a conventional building, but the operational costs over the lifetime of the building would be lower thus making a green structure more cost effective. Green real estate projects continue to face challenges in terms of obtaining financial support. Progress has been dogged due to lack of awareness among various stakeholders on the benefits building green, as also the unavailability of preferential lending rates for small and medium sized real estate developers. The major disincentives for financial institutions in supporting energy efficiency building projects have been low financial returns, credit risks, uncertainty and the difficulty of evaluating the added financial value of green buildings. Besides they also face the problem of not fitting into the traditional financial basket if the projects are of a smaller scale. However there has been much improvement in the green building lending portfolio of financial institutions with private players like Yes Bank taking the lead. Also in terms of initiatives National Housing Bank (NHB) and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) have been at the forefront of efforts to mainstream the green building movement in India. The emphasis is on promoting the development and sale of of energy efficient building projects. Ergo both these institutions have employed the concept to prepare a social and environmental checklist for project finance, capital investments and extension of credit. The measures also includes mapping and association of  green house gases emissions with lending portfolios, offering housing related products and services which deliver social value and providing upfront finance against GRIHA compliant projects. SIDBI is providing a Line of Credit to help finance of green buildings through the GRIHA/ LEED/ECBC framework. Under this scheme a concessional interest of 75 bps for rated or pre certified residential projects and energy efficient components of non-residential buildings have been provided. Meanwhile, NHB has come up with the Energy Efficient Housing Scheme (EEHS) for lending towards energy efficient buildings.



Way forward

It is inevitable that India’s construction sector – and those contributing to its development – to wake up and smell the green coffee. McKinsey & Company has assessed the global building efficiency opportunity at more than Rs 41 lakh crore by 2030 and with India being the second biggest market in the world the benefits can by no means be regarded as small beer. The potential  is enormous: the country could save nearly Rs 83,000 crore every year by investing in energy efficiency— which is an amount equal to the current spending on health and education combined. Collaboration between all the green stakeholders – including the state governments – would be a major step in taking an energy efficient step forward.

It is important for the governments to create incentives for builders to make energy efficiency investments in new construction — by offering property tax rebates, creation of special economic zones, increasing floor space index and expediting permit processes – in order to encourage widespread adoption of energy efficiency practices and. As the Americans would say, “Green is the colour of Money.”

And that is not something to be just sniffed it. It is also a colour, which we might add, keeps the world healthy.




  • Real estate development expends up to 40% of energy and is a leading cause of global warming
  • Threat from green house gases from electricity use in new and existing buildings, and building material manufacturing to see  significant increase with 500 million people living in urban India by 2020
  • As per European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC) estimates built space in India will increase  5-fold from 20,000 million  sq. ft. in 2005 to over 100,000 million sq. ft. in 2030.
  • Prime Indian urban centres to develop up to 200 million sq. ft. of commercial space and 45 million of retail space thus presenting  a big opportunity for suppliers of green real estate products, as per a JLL study.
  • Electricity consumption from commercial buildings to increase more than 3 times by 2021 if buildings are built and operated in the conventional way.
  • Construction cost of a green building, as per a 2013 McGrawHill study, is 5 to 8 % higher for a platinum  building than a conventional building, but green buildings deliver substantial reduction in operational costs. Incremental higher cost of a green building gets paid back within 3 to 4 years.
  • ECBC to reduce energy consumption by 40-60%
  • Huge potential exists to reduce energy consumption by using efficient appliances and implementing other features such as daylight integration, use of passive architectural design and energy efficiency lighting and cooling systems.
  • As per a World Bank Study electricity savings of 75,356 GWh can be achieved in 2021 by using efficient household appliances.
  • If states across India adopt the Energy Conservation Building Code and developers participate in strong programs for rating  commercial buildings, an estimated 3,453 terawatt hours of cumulative electricity could be saved by 2030 - equivalent to powering 358 million Indian homes annually between 2014 and 2030.
  • With developer participation 3,453 terawatt hours of cumulative electricity to be saved by 2030.
  • Global insulation market to be driven by an approximately 7 per cent rise in consumption through 2016, and will reach about $60 billion.




Andhra Pradesh: National leader in building efficiency

After more than a year of technical review and extensive stakeholder consultation with real estate developers and experts, Andhra Pradesh has formally taken the lead by adopting the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) into state law for large commercial and public buildings and major retrofits. Andhra Pradesh, India’s fourth-largest state, has already taken the lead by announced that it will adopt an (ECBC).  The code becomes effective in August 2014 and the innovative framework includes phased-in implementation that will require compliance after training workshops and awareness building among municipal officers and real estate developers. The ECBC is expected to dramatically reduce energy consumption by as much as 40-60 per cent, increase electricity reliability, and enable consumers to save money.  In fact, adopting the code in Andhra Pradesh could save the amount of energy by 2030 that’s needed to power 8.9 million Indian households annually over that time frame. Improving building efficiency presents a huge opportunity for developers, investors, building tenants and the country as a whole. Today’s buildings in India use one third of the nation’s electricity and the total number of buildings there is expected to triple by 2030. Implementing building energy efficiency standards will drive much needed sustainable growth, cut costs and save energy for Andhra Pradesh and India. The Energy Conservation Building Code will establish minimum energy efficiency requirements for the design and construction of new commercial buildings and for major retrofits.  The code is expected to translate into substantial energy savings and to create more resilient communities as India faces the growing threat of climate change. Andhra Pradesh’s innovative adaptation of the ECBC makes it the most comprehensive and rigorous code adopted by an Indian state to date.



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