While leading architects insist on building green, developers are concerned about the rising costs that green constructions entail. But there are ways and methods to strike a balance, reveals prominent architect from Sangli Pramod Chaugule while talking to Manjushree Naik
Which are the green construction projects that your company is involved with? Give us details.
We are involved in many green projects and got the first four-star rating for a government campus in India for our Police Training School, Tasgaon, project. The client is Maharashtra State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation, Mumbai. The campus has features such as wind and solar energy, rainwater harvesting, recycling of water, use of local materials, biogas plant, natural light and ventilation for all the rooms of its 500 students. The project also entails maintaining soil topography of 65 acres of land while designing / constructing and maintaining the two lakh sq ft structure.
Another project is the Commissioner of Police office at Solapur. It would be completed by January 2011.
What are the challenges that pertain to green construction compared to normal construction?
The most important challenge pertains to convincing the owners for green building as going for it means extra costs for various materials like solar panels and wind mills having extra burden of government taxes. If Government takes care of this aspect, then it will be a timely support for green buildings otherwise when it comes to actual construction there is no difference between normal and green construction as such.
Architects the world over are endorsing green construction practices even if it means the construction costs shoot up. How do you view this from the developers' and builders' point of view?
I do not think this is a valid statement as the increase in cost for green buildings, particularly for projects handled by builders and developers, the areas are bigger in dimension - one lakh sq ft and above - and for that the cost will be increased in case of a green building, say by four per cent, but from a marketing point of view it is a better proposition since it will be a maintenance-free structure. Clean and green environs will fetch the builder 10 per cent premium - more than his next door builder or developer. So this will definitely be a good marketing strategy. Even the annual giving, that is recurring cost comes down by 50 per cent, thus it is a lucrative proposal for anybody.
Many regard the craze for green as hype since many traditional green techniques do not get points, as also there are those who say that going for ratings is like encouraging using materials and techniques that are not suitable for India and then awarding points for using them lesser. What is your opinion?
Absolutely, perfect. I am of the strong opinion that we should not directly adopt Western techniques and rating systems. You can feel the difference in the same time rated buildings of Police Training School, Tasgaon, and Suzlon, Pune. Basically we have all the traditional techniques for eco-friendly homes and really need not go for any fantasies as such. If you can go through the details of my own office building, you will be surprised to see all traditional eco aspects giving results, which we expect from rated green buildings. Most important will be features like cavity walls and earthen tunnels.
From a developer's point of view keeping the cost of the construction to the minimum is always desired then how do you strike a balance when you take up green construction?
I have been doing the same following the earlier-mentioned principles for two developers.
Do you go for green construction as a matter of policy or is it because clients / market demand it?
Since the beginning of my practice, I am doing it. It's the need of the hour. Clients are now asking for the same.
What do you think developers in general need to do in this regard, since lot of them such as the K Raheja Group, are doing only green projects?
This will be seen in everybody's case. I must congratulate K Raheja for initiation. I think in the future all will be doing it.
How do you think they are able to do so and still remain competitive?
I think, now a days, buyers are having good money to invest, and need quality environ. For that, they are ready to pay the amounts required. So, in my view, this will be definitely the need for competitiveness, henceforth.
Green construction in the residential segment is catching up only now. What do you think needs to be done?
Commercial benefits will be only limited to monetary ones but in the residential segment it will be a clean and green living environ, which will count most.
According to you, what more can be done by Government and private sector for promoting green construction?
In the private sector nothing is required but Government needs to take initiative in cost-control policies, maintaining cost policies, taxation policies, special benefits for saving infrastructural costs and so on. An institution going in for a water recycling plant of say five lakh litre per day will definitely reduce burden on government infrastructure. We must give benefit of the same to the owners.
What is your company intending to do in the future for promotion of green construction?
We will be going for it in all projects without any expectations of ratings. We have floated a foundation named Abhalmaya for creating awareness and promoting the green concept.
What role can India play in the world since it is one of the top-ranking countries in terms of number of green buildings?
India, traditionally, has been following these green concepts for years together. They might have been in crude form, but green thoughts / ideas have been a part of our culture all along. We just need to promote them and show to the world that we are pioneers in this field. We have to make it clear even to the people that your buildings and thoughts are green by Indian sub-continent rating methods, even if not by getting certificates, a sort of green building Sensex to be taken up.
Since commercial entities such as offices and companies stand to benefit a lot by going in for green buildings but since they may not be aware of the same. What more can be done?
Of course, awareness can be created by instituting various awards and extending monetary benefits to those going for such projects.