Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Table of Contents for Infratrack


People are brain washed to believe that ‘Intelligent Buildings’ will help save energy and reduce cost



The colour green is filled with the resplendence of nature’s bounty but on a corporate score card it reflects profitable points from investors. In the recent past, the construction sector has been abuzz with talk of ‘going green’. The phrase itself has been dragged into every conversation or debate arising in any part of the country making it overtly redundant. But it always takes a passionate industry professional to highlight a different aspect to the concept to minimise the downside of it. Rumi Engineer, Senior General Manager and Business Head – Green Building Consultancy Services at Godrej &Boyce has offered his services in designing over 400 Green Building projects spread across India for both G&B and numerous other MNCs. Engineer is a LEED Accredited Professional, certified by USGBC, and a BEE certified Energy Manager. Throughout his association with G&B, for over 30 years, he has donned versatile roles in different areas such as Operations and Maintenance of Industrial Processes and Systems, Project Management and Energy Management Services. He articulates his concerns to ANUJA ABRAHAM on the need for industry professionals to understand the ‘why’ aspect of ‘building green’ rather than ‘how’ of it.


What is your take on the surge in ‘green building initiatives’ in the construction sector?


From a modest 20,000 sq ft of green built-up area in the country in 2003 to a vast footprint of over 1.8 billion sq ft of ‘green’ buildings in the country today, India has come a long way. With 447 certified green buildings and over 2362 registered buildings, the green footprint keeps on growing with each passing day. Looking at the current scenario it is evident that smart, sustainable green buildings have become a necessity in today’s life to protect our environment. Green buildings may require incremental investment which pays back for itself within a span of three-four years. Planning at the concept design stage helps in managing the investment effectively.  In the recent past, 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.

Green concepts lower the building’s energy, water and operating costs; therefore, the green building movement has shifted from 'push' to 'pull'—with markets increasingly demanding no less than green buildings. This powerful combination of environmentally responsible action along with built-in payback is creating a new value proposition that is accelerating green buildings in all regions of the country. The key driver to going green is that now green building is a business imperative around the world.


What are the value additions you have brought to your projects?


A majority of our clients are MNCs who operate pan India and are involved in hospitals, hotels, banks, data centers, malls, commercial and residential projects.


In the conceptual design stage, we enable building simulation which facilitates in designing a robust building envelope through software such as  ‘IES’, ‘Visdoe’, ‘Equest’. Building Simulation helps clients in selecting materials for the walls such as AAC (Autoclaved Air Concrete) blocks, insulation on the roof (Extruded Polystrene), low-e glass, double glazing unit, design of shading device etc. The materials will be selected keeping in mind the returns on investment made on capex. It helps understanding the climatology, orientation of the building and the impact of the sun path on the building. The robust building envelope design results in reduction of air-conditioning. Thus, this practice helps in saving 15-20 per cent of construction costs at the design stage. Also the reduction of AC load has a cascading effect on the capex by reducing contract demand, downsizing the entire electrical system (viz. transformer, DG sets and switchgears).


We perform quality assurance tests on data centres with huge server loads, UPS, Redundancy built in for their 24 x 7 operations to confirm if their system’s performance is with respect to its design. Also once a completed project has assumed operations, we measure, verify and analyse the energy data for an entire year and suggest necessary changes for further improvement in energy efficiency.


What are the latest green technologies implemented and promoted by Godrej?


Currently we are working towards technology that will improve energy efficiency with even better payback.


Heat Pumps: At one of our existing buildings for canteen hot water application we are switching over from PNG to heat pump. The payback period is expected to be two years.


Geothermal Cooling for HVAC system: In lieu of cooling tower, we will use ground source thermal gradient to achieve savings in compressor energy of the chillers. The estimated savings is 20 per cent with payback period of three years.


Radiant Cooling System: The radiant cooling panels are available which can be installed in the grid ceiling which helps saving significant amount of energy in the chillers.


Solar PV: We have already commissioned this in two buildings at 250kWp and 80kWp.


Give us an understanding of the importance of selecting the right technology?


Technological change is happening at a breakthrough pace. However approach towards right technology is of prime importance; too much dependence on technology has crept in with very little thought on ‘Application Engineering’. Hence we have not been able to achieve the desired result.  Literally people are being brain washed into believing that ‘Intelligent Buildings with latest gizmos’ will help in saving energy and reducing the cost. For any energy conservation to become viable the business case needs to be demonstrated by way of returns on investment.


Most of the time any project having a payback of around two-three years in the energy saving is accepted and implemented; whereas addressing incremental investment on the whole for an entire green building, the payback varies from three-five years depending on investment and its operating efficiency. Another area of great importance is water management. Municipal water charges are abysmally low for residences at Rs. 6.5 for 1KL whereas for commercial use it is Rs 35/1KL.


How is the architect’s contribution significant in sustainable design?


Architects influence entire design build process in a construction industry and assist in sustainable design. Architects are the primary catalyst in shaping our interaction with the environment and creating a fulfilling space. The structure/ building envelope needs to be designed with respect to the environment; for it one must keep in mind the resource effectiveness throughout the building’s life cycle. Revisiting our ancient architectural design which is better known as ‘traditional or vernacular’, we have some of the best monuments across India as standing testimony to architectural excellence.


The ‘going green’ aspect bluntly focuses on the business aspect of sustainability. How would you apprise your contemporaries to address the challenging times ahead?


There is a systematic degradation of the natural resources. The mangroves, parklands and other public open spaces are destroyed due to the ever-increasing greed. Many builders and developers still don't see the value in building green or when they do, they still treat sustainability as an add-on feature. Half baked information does more damage than ignorance. The challenge is to understand the whole gamut of green process, correlate the same with project design and have constant focus on the cost-benefit analysis. One should always ask what the ROI will be and not look at the investment in isolation. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the existing mindset from looking at ‘First-Cost’ to addressing the entire ‘Life Cycle Cost assessment’. It is a pity to see project team work hard towards achieving highest standard for design but in contrast put very poor efforts in operations and implementing best management practices. The finest of the designs will not bear fruits if not translated through proper installation of complex systems/ equipments and O&M process in the building.


The phrase ‘going green’ is not understood in the right perspective. Today everything has a prefix ‘green’ attached to it. People must understand the ‘why’ aspect of going green rather than ‘how to’ by presenting a business case for it. The business case does not just refer to the monetary aspect only. Gone are the days when people used to do business for profits only.  There are multiple dimensions that add to the profit and one such important element is ‘sustainability’.u




  • India among the top three countries with largest green building footprint in the world
  • Over 2,362 green building projects, a footprint of 1.8 billion sq. ft
  • More than 447 certified and fully functional green buildings
  • More than 1,100 IGBC accredited green building professionals



Case Study


To present a case study, one of the Godrej projects in Mumbai showed a decline in energy efficiency as the poor quality of water affected the performance of chillers. Although the design efficiency of water cooled chillers is better than air cooled chiller, the quality of water matters during operations. After taking necessary steps on controlling the water quality and cleaning the condenser, 15 per cent reduction in energy consumption was observed.



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