21 Mar 18 Green buildings in India – Fad or reality?
Gol Konda, Hawa Mahal, Red Fort, Dhyanalinga have one thing in common- they are old Indian monuments, each architecturally or structurally eco-friendly and built keeping in mind the local environmental factors. In ancient India, buildings in hot and dry regions had corridors directing the wind to cool naturally; and in wet regions, structures or shafts captured natural light and breeze. However, with the adoption of western building and construction practices, compromises in energy efficiency have crept into architecture in India. Today, we have to be conscious of our impact on carbon footprint and adopt green technologies.
So what is a green building?
US EPA (Environment Protection Agency) defines ‘green buildings’ as the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle – from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. In layman’s terms- any building that makes optimum use of natural resources throughout its life can be called a green building.
Why do we need green buildings?
Buildings account for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UN Environment Program, these emissions will double by 2050 if no preventive measures are taken to reduce the impact of the rapid increase in construction activity. The only way to tackle this problem is by adopting green technologies and transforming the way buildings are designed, built and operated.
Status in India
India is, slowly but surely, taking steps to build an ecosystem to support green buildings with various initiatives.
- The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) was formed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2001 with a vision to enable ‘Sustainable built environment for all’.
- Currently, 4452 green building projects with a footprint of over 4.79 billion sq. ft. are registered with the IGBC. The Council has set an ambitious target to facilitate 10 billion sq ft of registered green building footprint by 2022.
- India has ratified the COP21 climate change agreement and plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emission per unit of GDP, by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030.
- In 2016, India ranked 3rdglobally in the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual ranking for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings.
- Eight states and local bodies in the country provide extra FAR (floor-to-area ratio) for green buildings.
Backed by environmental regulation and rising awareness, India’s green building footprint is expected to grow at the rate of 20% y-o-y, creating a lot of niche opportunities for suppliers of building materials and solutions.
According to the Council of Architecture, green building materials that are gaining in popularity in India are
- Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), engineered wood, and even straw bales for a strong and sustainable building structure
- Cellulose, cotton, wool, polyurethane, polystyrene and isocyanurate for insulation
- Steel, slate/stone, composites made from plastic and rubber for roofing
- Natural clay plaster; paints, stains and coating with low or no volatile organic compound; natural fibre flooring made of wool, cotton, bamboo, cork; and paperless drywall for internal finishing
Additionally, solutions to improve energy efficiency, water conservation, waste disposal, indoor air quality, etc, are also emerging as big opportunity areas for companies to venture into.
Green buildings are definitely here to stay in India, a sector which promises tremendous growth potential for years to come.