21 September 2019

Special Focus: Green Building & Sustainable Construction

The Green Bounty

 

A popular perception is going Green is costly, due to fancy composite materials and additions like costly solar panels or water/sewage recycling plants, etc. In fact the opposite is true. Going Green not only pays back handsome dividends in the long run in terms of tangible money savings, but it also reduces the Carbon Footprint significantly, whose environmental benefits are yet to be measured in terms of sheer scope of environmental impact.

 

A 2007 public opinion survey conducted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that respondents believed, on average, that green features added 17 per cent to the cost of a building, whereas a study of 146 green buildings found an actual average marginal cost of less than 2 per cent. Another landmark study by the firm Davis Langdon found no significant difference between the average cost of a LEED-certified building and other new construction in the same category: there are expensive green buildings, and there are expensive conventional buildings. Certification as a green building was not a significant indicator of construction cost. And as awareness of potential savings owing to Green construction spreads among potential buyers, certified green buildings have begun to command significantly higher rents. A University of California–Berkeley study analyzed 694 certified green buildings and compared them with 7,489 other office buildings, each located within a quarter-mile of a green building in the sample. The researchers found that, on average, certified green office buildings rented for 2 per cent more than comparable nearby buildings. After adjusting for occupancy levels, they identified a 6 per cent premium for certified buildings. The researchers calculated that at prevailing capitalisation rates, this adds more than $5 million to the market value of each property.

 

According to the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), constructing green building is technically feasible and economically viable in India. The incremental cost of a commercial green building has come down to less than 3 per cent, over and above the cost of a conventional building. The additional costs gets paid back in about 2 to 3 years, through substantial reduction in operational costs. Having lanched its own rating system, the IGBC aspires to facilitate 10 Billion Sq.ft of registered green building footprint by 2022, when India completes 75 years of Independence. This trend is reflected in the fact that India has the second largest registered green building footprint.

 

On a global scale, green building construction is doubling every three years, according to the 'World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report,' a report published by Dodge Data and Analytics. Some of the leading drivers of this growth are client demand, environmental regulation and an enhanced awareness of the occupant and tenant benefits of green buildings.

 

 

Market Maths

India has already emerged a major player in the green space. According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC), -- developers of the LEED green building program to foster more rapid adoption of green building practices in India -- green building is projected to grow 20 percent in the country by 2018. India already ranks third among the Top Ten Countries for LEED, and in 2016, nearly 650 projects in India earned LEED certification. Emerging economies such as India are engines of green growth, with development varying from two-to-six fold over current green building levels. According to a recent USGBC survey, 87 per cent of Indian green building professionals anticipate the use of LEED in India increasing overall, with nine out of ten industry senior executives in India anticipating that their LEED-related work will increase over the next several years.

 

The Dodge report finds that by 2018, the green building industry in India will grow 20 per cent, driven largely by environmental regulations and demand for healthier neighborhoods. New high-rise residential, communities and mixed-use development are expected to be the top three sectors for green building growth in India. The report, conducted in nearly 70 countries, also demonstrates that global green building continues to double every three years.

 

“International demand for green building, due in great part to the LEED green building program’s global popularity, has grown steadily over the years,” says Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & Founding Chair, USGBC. “As countries like India continue to urbanize at a breathtaking pace they need the necessary tools that support stable and sustainable economic growth. International business leaders and policy makers recognise that a commitment to transforming the built environment is crucial to addressing major environmental challenges.”

 

 

 “The growth of LEED reflects its global adaptability as the world’s most widely used and recognized system guiding the design, construction, operations and maintenance of green buildings,” adds Mahesh Ramanujam, COO, USGBC, elaborating that “LEED is a critical tool in creating structures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; create healthier indoor environments for workers, students and community members; and lower utility bills for building owners through reduced energy and water use – all benefits that are incredibly important to India.”

 

 

Globally, economic forces were cited in the SmartMarket Report as the most important drivers for many of the countries surveyed. The report found that green buildings offer significant operational cost savings compared with conventional buildings. To this effect, respondents expect a 14 per cent savings in operational costs over five-year savings for new green buildings and 13 per cent savings in operational costs over five years for green retrofit and renovation projects. Building owners also report that green buildings—whether new or renovated—command a 7 per cent increase in asset value over conventional buildings.

 

Material Matters

Architectural design, construction materials, Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC), water & waste recycling, and green technologies are the key enablers to building sustainable structures. Intangible benefits of green buildings include: enhanced ventilation, better views, and day lighting which significantly improve the health well-being and productivity of the occupants. The construction of buildings consumes large volumes of resources, which is why integrating biodegradable, recycled and sustainable materials makes a huge difference. Biodegradable materials like natural paints, which are void of VOCs typically found in their traditional counterparts, eliminate indoor pollution and decompose naturally without contaminating the earth. Green construction materials can prevent exhausting already depleted natural resources, such as steel beams made from recycled metal. Aside from eliminating the need to fell down trees for wood beams, recycled steel offers more resistance to severe weather conditions. In context of cross-ventilation, simply tweaking a building’s design can save on energy use and benefit occupants by taking advantage of on-site light and air, by translating the basic principles of airflow into a breathable building design technology. New materials are developed as smart, sustainable upgrades like a green windows are low-emittance windows, coated with metallic oxide to block the sun’s harsh rays during summer and keep the heat inside in winter. More than serving the conventional function of windows, low-emittance windows significantly lower HVAC costs.

 

“Green technologies may be slightly higher in cost compared to existing materials but show immense reduction in running cost or maintenance cost .Our study and client feedback suggests that market is ready to bear a premium of 15 to 20 per cent for such green technologies that reduce their hassles and offer ease in use, post maintenance reduction and quality to the construction.” Shilpa Joshi, Founder & Director, Green Build Products (I) Pvt Ltd

 

 

Zero-energy buildings are another enabler, specially designed and engineered to rely on renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, allowing them to operate independent of the electric grid. It not only saves energy, but also prevents additional greenhouse gas emissions. A zero-energy design utilises solar cells and panels, wind turbines, and biofuels, among others, to provide for the building’s electricity and HVAC needs.

 

In the same vein as zero-energy buildings, it is important to achieve net-zero water use in buildings, by having water-conservation fixtures, rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse via recycled water. With buildings using 13.6 per cent of the world’s potable water, or 15 trillion gallons per year, systems designed for water efficiency are targeted to lower water usage by 15 per cent. According to Jerry Yudelso, green building expert and author of “Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis,” fresh water shortages call for awareness and actions in the face of this water crisis.

 

These apart, construction chemicals are also major enablers of green sustainable buildings. A major player in this space, Choksey Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. (CCPL), offers Green chemicals that have a characteristic of developing high dry film thickness, which appears as a top and finish layer and so doesn’t require any further coverings of cement concrete reducing the cost of construction. Green chemicals also possess the characteristics of being solvent free. Further it has very less requirements of stringent equipment’s for the applications, this reduces the further expenses of making the structure non porous, impermeable and biodegradable.

 

“We work round the clock to develop products and solutions that will contribute in some way to India’s green building space. We have worked on Efkon India, HCC 24/7 Park, Vikhroli west, a building which contributes in all aspects to the concept of green buildings. We used our eco friendly 100 per cent Pure Acrylic Solar Reflective Coating- Sunshiled 100 in this project. Also, a lot of R&D effort is involved in the development of green products which further contributes to the cost factor. We at Choksey Chemicals offer many products contributing “Green constructions,” Anckur Choksey, MD, Choksey Chemicals Pvt. Ltd. (CCPL)

 

Robust demand at the consumer end has pushed the world’s green building market to a trillion dollar industry, a surge that has led to a corresponding increase in the scope and size of the green building materials market, which is expected to reach $234 billion by 2019. Today, there are nearly 75,000 commercial projects participating in LEED across the globe, with 1.85 million square feet of building space LEED certifying every day. In India, there are more than 1,990 projects comprising more than 822 million square feet of space participating in LEED.

 

Environmental Benefit

Average Benefits per Million Sq.ft

Benefit from current 3.5 billion sq.ft registered with IGBC

CO2 reduction

15,500 tons

50 million tons

Energy savings

15,000 MWH

50,000 GWH

Water savings

45000 KL

150 million KL

Construction waste diverted from landfills

450 tons

1.5 million t ons

 

 

Recycle, Reuse, Redesign

To practice green sustainable construction it is most important to follow the three R’s of resource conservation, mainly Recycle, Reuse, Redesign. Best opportunity to recycle materials are those that change most often, such as partitions, finishes, furniture, and supplies, which have best opportunity to be redesigned based on available technology and sources for new materials. Permanent partitions and fixtures should be assembled in such a fashion that they are easily disassembled for reuse or recycling. Finishes should be minimal, natural and nontoxic. Recycled content will be the only ingredient in 95 per cent of all replacement materials on the site. Construction and demolition (C&D) materials found in abundance at any redevelopment site can also be reused. Most common materials are concrete, wood, drywall, asphalt shingles, asphalt pavement, metal and cardboard, which typically make up 70 to 95 per cent of the discarded material at a residential or commercial site. They are often discarded but are actually valuable commodities that can be recycled into new products or used in many new ways. Seen as waste, disposal C&D materials is often viewed as a part of the cost of doing business, and recycling and reusing these materials are sometimes overlooked as cost saving options. Recycling can benefit a project’s business bottom line, which also benefits the environment.

However the real breakthrough in recyclable materials will come from nanotechnology. Given enough time nanotech will spawn hybrid construction materials of all types which will have a longer lifespan and at end of which they can be recyclable. And generically it will be Phase Changing Materials where nanotech will give such game changing breakthroughs.

 

 

End of Sustainability?

The urban population across the globe is expected to grow from 47 per cent in 2000 to 70 per cent in 2050. If current trends continue, expansion of the built environment will destroy natural habitats on over 70 per cent of Earth’s land surface by 2032, driven by rampant population growth and unplanned urbanization. If this trend continues, Earth as an habitat could be rendered uninhabitable by end of this 21st century itself. Therefore a critical paradigm shift is required in the concept of Green Buildings, which needs to be more holistic and inclusive of the environment it impacts. We are on the brink of disaster and if humans don't act fast environmental degradation could become irreversible, making our planet ultimately uninhabitable in the long run.

 

 

”K Raheja Corp has a green building footprint of nearly 3.5 crores sq. ft., across India and we do extensive work in this sphere. We are also working with the Bill Clinton Climate Foundation under their Building Energy Retrofit Program to further our commitment to green. We are proud to be the only Indian real estate firm to have won this prestigious global award, which will now be embedded in the company's history books." Shabbir Kanchwala, Senior-VP, K Raheja Corp, on occasion of the company emerging sole winner from India at the recently hosted ‘Sustainable Building Awards 2016,’ in the United Kingdom. This award comes from the very credible BUILD publisher house, with a stringent process of short listing firms and individuals exclusively on merit, followed by thorough and dedicated research and global online voting, to ensure that each win was based solely on the company's achievements.

 

CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre building in Hyderabad —India’s first Platinum rated green building, all of the wastewater, including grey and black water generated in the building, is treated biologically through a process called Phytoremediation. Thereafter, the treated water is used for landscaping.

 

 

Environmental Impact Assessment, or EIA, calculates probable impact that a proposed project may have on the natural environment. Generic template of the EIA notification stipulated by the Ministry of Environment and Forest is as follows;

  • Introduction
  • Project Description
  • Description of the Environment
  • Anticipated Environmental Impacts and Mitigation Measures
  • Analysis of Alternatives (Technology and site)
  • Environmental Monitoring Programme
  • Additional Studies
  • Project Benefits
  • Environmental Management Plan
  • Summary & Conclusion
  • Disclosure of Consultants engaged



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