Saturday, January 16, 2021

Table of Contents for Greenitiatives


Sustainability without significant business sense will not have widespread acceptance



A fully owned subsidiary of Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd, Ecofirst Services Ltd is a leading engineering services consulting firm. Its objective is to leverage the engineering and technology expertise of the parent organisation and its own sustainable development framework to create a niche basket of services in the built environment. It  provides wide ranging services in the Green Building Space like Energy Management, Water and Waste Management, Sustainable Architecture and Master Planning, Sustainable Infrastructure and MEP design under a unified offering called Total Sustainability Solutions. CHITRANJAN KAUSHIK, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, ECOFIRST SERVICES LTD offered ANUJA ABRAHAM an understanding of the work done by his firm.  




Your company credo is ‘Sustainable by design’. Tell us about your major initiatives in the sustainability space?


As a Total Sustainability Solutions provider, we set sustainability goals for energy, water and all other aspects of the project and work toward achieving the same. For energy, we look into not only reducing the energy demand but also include alternate and renewable energy sources as part of the solution. For Integrated Water Management we work on sustainability of source of water, do the scientific investigation and use lots of hydro meteorological data to conclude the strategy. Our focus is on water security for the future, grid independence as much as possible, and to try to achieve zero discharge. In addition, complete detailed Infrastructure and MEP designs services are also provided by Ecofirst, which are always designed keeping sustainability in focus. Our Green building solutions are designed not merely for documentation or winning the credits but are meant to enhance total value proposition of the project by sustainability initiatives. Currently Ecofirst is working with many corporate developers, Real Estate funds, institutes, hospitals etc. Clients like Godrej Properties, Mahindra Lifespaces, Tata Housing, Samsara Capital, Fire Capital, Fortis Healthcare, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, GM Infrastructure, Ananta Lifestyle, Patel Engineering, PRA developers are working with Ecofirst.



What are the best practices that Ecofirst brings to the sustainability table that is different from those offered by others? Could you highlight some of them?


Sustainability requires holistic thinking and simple solutions for which one has to work hard and may have to do complex calculations. There are many add on peripheral services like ecological and environmental care of the site, social and cultural integration, passive analysis, sun path analysis, climate analysis, wind analysis, energy modeling and lighting simulations, road profiles and grading, sediment erosion control plan etc which are required over and above simple utility designs (MEP and Infrastructure designs) which make overall designs functional and sustainable.




What are the latest trends in eco-friendly designs internationally? What practices can India – and should – adopt and implement?


Sustainability is a local subject in general and has to be adopted as per local resources availability and needs. International practices of benchmarking of the performance and efficiency, measurement and monitoring mechanism are required to be adopted to make green designs more acceptable. International designs practices have been developed around their local environmental laws and management methods. Many of such design practices are excellent and are required to be adopted by Indian design practices. The practices like level of detailing and comprehensiveness of the solutions need to be built into local design practices.




Developers cite rising costs as a deterrent to “go green”.  Do you discern a change in that traditional approach?


Ecofirst believes that sustainability should be affordable as well and don’t see it as incremental cost for going green. Traditional approach like casual schemes, not so well functional services or lesser care for existing environmental laws may save some immediate money. However the same will be detrimental in the long run of the project for both functionality
and maintenance.




What is Ecofirst’s prescription to ensure that the development that follows from now on in the country takes the sustainability route?


They should start thinking about sustainability right from the day they start conceptualising the project. They must do some more table work, explore little more options and go for simpler solutions. At every step they should think what of the resources can be reduced or reused.




India has already outlined its plans to develop industrial corridors and smart cities. What is the role Ecofirst can play in that zone and what are your recommendations?


Smart cities need to be sustainable. Therefore while working on these the focus should not merely be on IT driven hi-tech smart cities but a more balanced “Sustainable Smart Cities” approach should be taken. Technology should help and improve the sustainability quotient and functionality of the city but sustainability and sustenance should be the core focus. They should merge with the surroundings with strong focus on social inclusion and should not come as a standalone foreign land. Ecofirst can bring sustainability and life to “Smart Cities” by adding cultural, social, environmental and ecological aspects, use patterns and habits to the solutions.



What are your suggestions for a ‘sustainable’ smart city?


All the cities should know their sustainability limits and have a clear defined road map to develop within those limits. Unless a clear strategy to develop within limits are adopted all the cities, smart or otherwise, will develop in the manner we see at present and will keep all resources under pressure. Over a period such unplanned unsustainable developments will prove very costly and will face all kinds of challenges like social, infrastructural, financial and political.



Could you highlight the importance of selecting the right technology?


Use of appropriate technology is always important at every step of design. With increased focus on sustainability, companies are innovating and new technologies are being introduced in the market, which help designers to achieve their green goals. Technologies like occupancy sensors and data acquisition devices have advanced significantly. Chillers, pumps electrical appliances, insulation, material reuse etc are becoming more efficient and green. The volumes are driving down the prices as well and IT is making them increasingly more manageable.




How do you assess the current water situation in Mumbai?


Mumbai is traditionally getting a good quality and quantity of water. With ever increasing population and immense pressure on water resources situation of water stress is being felt. Time is ripe that Mumbai should identify its sustainability limits and do a balancing exercise and work on a water master plan and road map to manage water as a source. Effective measures to rejuvenate water streams, to curb consumption and further reuse treated waste water in every possible way are required to be taken.




What initiatives must be taken to reduce water wastage or reuse water in construction/building activities?


For building activities, fresh water consumption including borewell water need to be stopped completely. Construction companies and developers need to be discouraged from using fresh water and encouraged to reuse treated waste water from surrounding habitation for not only building construction but for landscape development also.




Inevitably ‘Going Green’ focuses on ‘business’ aspect of sustainability. What is your take on the challenges there?


Unless sustainability has significant business sense it will not have widespread acceptance. It has already become a major parameter for business success and growth. There are enough warnings and indicators showing that any unsustainable growth will put the very existence of the business itself at risk. Only business sense which will help us to grow further will be the focus on sustainability. Business out of sustainability is a mere by product.

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