15 Nov 12 Green buildings to drive eco-friendly lighting

With energy efficiency and conservation being the new buzz words, there has been an increasing focus on bringing down energy costs as well as being environment-friendly. Real estate in India is responsible for about 30% of the total electricity consumed in India. The need of the hour is to reduce expenditure related to energy and scale down the consumption of electricity. Green buildings are emerging as a solution to this problem and efficient lighting plays a very important role in addressing this need.


What is a green building?

A green building as specified by the IGBC (Indian Green Building Code) is one which uses 30% less energy than a standard building. As far as lighting is concerned, buildings have to adopt more environment friendly lighting which consume less electricity, produce less heat and greenhouse gases (GHG) and have a longer life. This is expected to drive technologies such as CFLs and LED lighting instead of high energy consumption halogen and HID lighting.


Current Status of Green Buildings

GRIHA and IGBC have certified 465 buildings (305 mn sq ft in area) as ‘green’, in India as of June 2012. There are about 1,600 buildings (over an area of 1.2 bn sq ft.) which have been pre-certified by IGBC.

The government has already adopted a plan for phasing out incandescent bulbs and other types of lighting that are not eco-friendly. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) recently recognized the potential of LED lighting as a key step to becoming eco-friendly and reducing energy consumption. BEE, along with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), brought out safety, and quality standards for LED lighting, as part of the Ministry of Power’s phase out of inefficient lighting. The phase out aims to encourage the widespread implementation of LED lighting in India and lower carbon emissions in order to make buildings greener.

The potential addressable market for green buildings is huge – IGBC estimates that 50 bn sq ft. of built up area will be added by 2020 and 100 bn sq. ft by 2030. Of this, 16 bn. sq. ft will be green buildings in 2020 and the residential segment will see the highest growth.

Challenges for Lighting in Green Buildings

The up front cost of switching to eco-friendly lighting technology is an inhibiting factor. LED, for instance, is atleast five to six times more expensive than conventional lighting. It does prove cheaper in the long run, as power consumption is lower. However, cost is not the biggest challenge.

Our interviews with stakeholders in the lighting industry value chain reveal that awareness about green building design, and how lighting choices can impact it, is sketchy at best. Incorrect perceptions are compounded by the fact that there are very few experts or consultants who can create awareness. Spreading knowledge and creating awareness about green buildings is the quickest way of getting this concept adopted.


The Road Ahead…

 The biggest challenge for the growth of the green building industry is the lack of awareness on the part of end users. Lighting manufacturers and consultants should make the end users aware of the benefits of green buildings and the choice available to them. End users especially depend on lighting consultants and specifiers to make lighting choices and the latter have to be enablers in this process. This is especially important in the case of residential and commercial spaces since they will see the largest addition in terms of sq. feet. With 16 bn sq ft worth of green buildings to be added by 2020, green buildings are the way to go. End users will have to go green with lighting or go green with envy!

Namita Adavi

As a research analyst at ValueNotes, Namita worked on market assessment and India strategy projects.

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