Hyderabad-based CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre is aiming for one billion sq. ft. of green footprint by 2012.
S. Srinivas, Principal Counsellor, CII-Godrej GBC, spoke to Madhu Gupta on various issues associated with green buildings
What kind of growth do you envisage for the green buildings sector? What is the scope / market potential of green buildings, materials and equipment in India?
Our experiences of the recently constructed green buildings have been very encouraging. Our vision is to have one billion sq. ft of green building footprint by 2012.
The markets have transformed in the last 10 years. Building-owners, developers, architects and consultants see a value proposition in designing green. Green design is turning out to be a niche area for developers.
During the next few years green buildings are well poised to grow at 50-60 per cent annually.
Owners and occupants are now demanding green buildings from architects, designers and consultants, there is an increased need for green building materials and products in the market.
Many new materials and services have been introduced as a result of the movement. Some of these include high-performance glass, wall and roof insulation, low-VOC paints, adhesives & sealants, CRI-certified carpets, FSC-certified wood, high albedo roofing material, fly-ash blocks, eco-friendly chemicals, waterless urinals, high COP chillers, CO2 sensors, root zone treatment plants, wind towers and so on. The potential for green building materials and products is estimated to be US$ 40 billion by the year 2012.
How far the green building movement has penetrated in India? How many green buildings exist today and how many more are coming up?
The green building movement in India was spearheaded by CII in 2001. With a modest beginning of 20,000 sq.ft green built-up area in the country in the year 2003, today more than 716 green buildings with a built-up area of over 441.18 million sq. ft are being constructed all over India. Already, 118 buildings are fully functional and operational as of today. Another, 598 buildings are under design / construction and will be completed in another 4-5 years.
Having said this, the share of green buildings as a percentage of the total construction is less than five per cent. This would slowly but surely would increase, considering the enthusiasm of all stakeholders to do green.
What are the emerging trends in the sector?
Green buildings have always been part of the Indian ethos. The large-scale adoption today comes naturally for Indian designers and architects. The only change, perhaps, that we are seeing today is the need to blend our traditional wisdom with contemporary technologies and practices. This can largely be attributed to the changes in lifestyle and general increase in economic affordability of the people.
In short, green practices are a rediscovery of the past and we would only see more of these in future.
One cannot be oblivious to learn best practices from other parts of the world, from wherever they come from. It would rather be a reactionary response to say “we know all the green practices since ages.” After all, today the world is flat. We shouldn't be wasting time in reinventing the wheel.
Some of the new trends & technologies that have come up due to the movement include use of solar energy for air-conditioning, natural ways of treating waste water (through root zone treatment using certain species of plants), design for abundant natural lighting, adequate ventilation to address sick building syndrome, use of technologies to monitor and optimise on energy consumption.
What policy measures are required for the propagation of green buildings? What else is expected from the government?
The 700+ buildings coming up in the country have taken on the path of green as a call of their own conscience. The tangible and intangible benefits that these buildings offer are something which one cannot ignore. For example - 40 per cent energy savings, 30 per cent water savings, the emotional pride of owning a green building have largely been the drivers so far.
Governments, more than anything else, have to first demonstrate their own commitment by going green. Gone are the days when people were looking for incentives to embrace these concepts. After all, incentives are only incidental; arguably, they can neither inspire a project to go green or change the economics of a project.
Having said this, we feel governments should develop simple guidelines so as to bring in larger part of stakeholders to doing green. IGBC is working with progressive governments like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to integrate green guidelines in to the building bye-laws.
What are the hassles and challenges for the growth of green buildings in India?
There are absolutely no hassles. While challenges have been there, alongside tremendous opportunities have emerged. The following are the challenges faced during initial stages:
Awareness & capacity building - Awareness on the green building concept was sporadic during initial stages. With the educational and training programmes conducted by IGBC, now we have excellent professionals deeply involved in this.
Availability of materials - The green building movement has enabled a wonderful market transformation in the country. Today we have manufacturers specifying their recycled content in marketing brochures - a far cry from the days when they were shy of mentioning such details simply because of the negative connotation that people associated with recycled material. The general perception was that such materials could be inferior in performance and aesthetics.
Most of the materials are today available within the country. However, we need more manufacturers involved in green building materials. The market potential for green building materials & equipment by the year 2012 is expected to be US$ 40 billion.
Cost of green buildings - At initial stages the incremental cost has been experienced between 12-18 per cent and now we can observe that the incremental cost has been reduced to 5-8 per cent. Further, we are aiming at green buildings becoming less costlier than conventional buildings thus making them affordable for the common man.
How different is the scenario in developed and other developing countries compared to India with respect to green buildings?
The movement started earlier in countries like the UK, the USA and Australia. Whatever be the country, environmental issues are the same everywhere - waste management, resource efficiency, occupant health and, most importantly, the quality of life.
There is a lot to learn from other countries. Almost every country has diverse climates, issues of energy security, need for water efficiency and in general abate the impact of climate change.
China is fast catching up and would be a major player, for the sheer number of buildings that would come up. Singapore has some of the finest buildings, many of them net-zero energy ones. So also Switzerland. Canada too has been an early mover.
Name green materials which are widely used in India? What are the recently introduced green materials?
Materials widely used, largely due to the movement -- fly-ash blocks, bamboo, compressed wood, recycled steel, aluminium, eco-friendly paints, adhesives & sealants, wall & roof insulation, eco-friendly certified carpets, harvested wood, and eco-friendly housekeeping chemicals.
Equipment / Systems / Technologies -- waterless urinals, high efficiency air-conditioning systems, CO2 sensors to maintain indoor air, wind towers, root zone treatment systems
How important is the space in designing and constructing green? What is the scope of designing green in metros / TIER -I, -II, -III cities? Does space constraint hamper green design? Will there be customers for green buildings in TIER-III cities?
Space has absolutely no impact on the extent of green. For example, India today has a 2,500 sq. ft showroom in Bangalore to a thee million sq.ft of a commercial bank building in Hyderabad, designed and constructed as green. There are independent houses & flats coming up as green homes. The issue in Tier-II, -III cities is one of awareness and capacity building, which IGBC will address immediately.
Coordination among the members involved in designing and construction of green is important, so how do you go about it?
About 10 years back integration would mean stapling the designs from architects, MEP consultants, landscape designers, etc. This does not work anymore. A green building cannot be delivered by a single designer or consultant. The architect has as much a role to play as the AC consultant in enhancing energy efficiency. A landscape consultant can contribute as well. But integration is a good aspect. Everybody has a role, however small it is.
Construction of a green building is a costly affair. How costly is a green building construction compared to the conventional one?
There was a perception in the market that green buildings are costlier. This perception has been today demystified. Considerable research and analysis has been carried out with regard to the cost impacts of a green building.
The cost could be slightly higher than a conventional building. But then, this needs to be seen with a different paradigm. The question is how do we compare the costs? There needs to be a baseline cost for all comparisons to be alike. The incremental cost is always relative and depends on the extent of eco-friendly features already considered during design. The incremental cost will appear small if the baseline design is already at a certain level of good eco-design; it will appear huge if the base design has not considered green principles.
The second and rather a critical paradigm is to look at the incremental cost in relation to the lifecycle cost. This approach could be revealing. Over its lifecycle, the operating cost would work out to 80-85 per cent while the incremental cost which is a one-time cost is only 5-8 per cent.
Give us details on the latest with regard to green projects.
Today IGBC has 716 green buildings registered with a built-up area of over 441.18 million sq.ft. These include residential, commercial, IT parks, offices, exhibition centre, and so on.