The environmental impact of the building industry is significant. Buildings annually consume more than 20% of the electricity used in India. Urbanized development shifts land usage away from natural, biologically-diverse habitats to hardscape that is impervious and devoid of biodiversity – this has adverse effects on the occupant’s health and well-being. Conversely, many developments happening in virgin land tend to disrupt ecological balance and natural habitat. Such far reaching effects on our natural environment and personal well-being necessitate action to minimize its impact. Thus, green building practices have been evolved, which can substantially reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts and improve existing unsustainable design, construction and operational practices. As an added benefit, green design measures also reduce operating costs, enhance building marketability, increase worker productivity and reduce potential liability resulting from indoor air quality problems. Studies of workers in green buildings reported productivity gains of up to 16%, including reductions in absenteeism and improved work quality – based on “people- friendly” green design.
In other words, green building design has environmental, economic and social elements that benefit all building stakeholders, including owners, occupants and the general public.
Green Building Certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary act in India. A Green Building certification for a project is provided by three Green Building Certifying Bodies in India viz. Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) founded & driven by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) founded & driven by USGBC and Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats (ADARSH) driven by The Energy & Resource Institute (TERI).
Respective rating systems from each of these certifying bodies are as follows:
- Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)
- IGBC New Buildings (NB) for self-occupiedcommercialbuildingssuchascorporate headquarters,hotels,hospitals,schools,ITparks,malls etc.
- IGBC Green Homes for residential buildings.
- IGBC GreenFactory for industrial and manufacturingfacilities.
- IGBC GreenTownship forlarge mixed use townships consisting of residential, commercial andinstitutionalbuildings.
- IGBCExistingBuildings (EB)forall types of existingbuildingsuchas residential,commercial, institutionaletc.
- Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED):
- LEEDIndiaNewConstruction (NC) for self-occupiedcommercialbuildingssuchascorporate headquarters,hotels,hospitals,schoolsetc.
- LEED India Core and Shell (CS) Rating System for commercialbuildingswhereinspaceis rentedoutto otherparties,e.g.ITparksandmalls.
- LEED Commercial Interiors (CI) Rating System for rented/ownofficespaceinacommercialbuilding
- LEED for ExistingBuildings – Operations & Maintenance (EB – O&M)foranytype of existingbuildingsuchas residential,commercial, institutional,mallsetc.
- Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)
- GRIHA (Built up area > 2500 sqm.)
- SVA GRIHA (Built up area < 2500 sqm.)
- GRIHA for Large Development (Built up area >1.5 lac sqm.)
- Environmentally friendly design: The IGBC and GRIHA rating systems mandate the applicant project to follow the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) requirements. ECBC provides design norms for Building envelope, Lighting system, HVAC system, Electrical system and Water heating and pumping systems. This leads to 20 – 30 % energy savings.
- Building Commissioning: Third party validation of performance levels of critical HVAC and Electrical systems as per the Design.
- Water savings : 40 – 50 %
- Reduced impact on environment
- Enhances occupant comfort thereby improving productivity
- Marketing/ Brand Building: The pre-certification once awarded, a project can use it for its marketing the project as a green building, thereby creating a positive brand image for the developer.
- Fast Track Environmental clearances: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) provides priority to IGBC/LEED/GRIHA pre-certified projects for consideration by Expert Appraisal Committee/ State level Expert Appraisal Committee.
- NOIDA and Greater NOIDA have incentivized LEED & GRIHA projects (on a plot of more than 5000 sq m and above) with free of cost 5% additional FAR for projects that complying with GRIHA 4 or 5 star rating / LEED Gold or Platinum rating.
- The developers in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) get discounts in the range of 10-50% on the premium amount of building permission charges, as per the level of rating awarded by GRIHA.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Government of Punjab has notified that an additional 5% floor area ratio free of charges shall be permissible to buildings that provide relevant certificates from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency or from GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment). This notification has been issued under the the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995 towards ensuring resource optimization in the built environment.
- SIDBI has been providing financial assistance to IGBC, GRIHA & LEED certified Green Buildings by offering concessional rate of interest, presently 50 basis points.
- Ministry of Urban Development issued a notification for local authorities to incentivize and provide 1% to 5% extra ground coverage and FAR for projects of more than 3000 sqm plot size on basis of GRIHA evaluation.
Incremental Cost for Green Buildings:
A certified or silver rated green building would have incremental costs in the range of 3-5% over conventional ones, whereas the cost can go up further for Gold or Platinum rated projects. However, by using building materials with good thermal insulating properties, high efficiency HVAC and lighting equipments, solar water heating, water recycling plants, rain water harvesting systems, etc. as a policy decision for all projects, the incremental costs can come down to as low as 1-2%.
In commercial green buildings, these incremental costs could be easily recovered within a few years through energy savings, provided best operation and maintenance practices are followed post occupancy. More than anything, it is the attitude and understanding of the people that can boost the cause of green buildings. We should understand that green buildings are more about sustaining the resources for future generations than about generating economic returns out of them. It is our social responsibility to build responsibly and without harming our environment. Only then can we expect the same kind of growth in green buildings in India as found in the developed economies.