Published On: Thu, Jun 2nd, 2016

The Government has not realized the potential of green buildings yet says, Mr. Gurmit Singh Arora, Co- Chair IGBC, Mumbai Chapter

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Gurmit Singh Photograph

By Accommodation Times News Service

By Nimisha Gupta

The Co-Chairman of IGBC Mr. Gurmit Singh Arora opens on “Green Building Movement”, the strategies, incentives and plans to promote green affordable homes.

Q1. How do you see the “Green Building Movement” in India and challenges in the way of its development?

The “Green Building Movement” in India is expanding rapidly due to efforts put in by CII – IGBC. We started with 20,000 Ft2 in 2001 and are now at 3.61 Billion Ft2 of green foot print. IGBC’s target is 10 Billion Ft2 (1,000 Crore Ft2 ) by 2022 when India turns 75. We are adding 1 Billion Ft2 every year and are confident of achieving targets as set out. Our targets are to green India and to become the largest Green Building Council in the world.

Climate change, Eccentric weather patterns,  Heat island effect, the Fury of the Seas, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, Forest fires, Storms, Excess heat, rain & winter – all have added to our woes. Unless we do not participate in the green building movement together, we will leave behind disaster for our children. Hence, it is important that initiatives are taken both by the Private and Government, to only build green to protect our mother earth but to mandate green.

The challenges we see are the incorrect perception on cost. When we built the Green Building Centre in Hyderabad, it costed us 20% more. Today green buildings do not cost more than 1% to 2% over an average conventional building. Green buildings save over 40% to 50% of energy, 30% to 40% of water, use high Post Consumer Recycled & Local Content, enhance occupants health with better indoor air quality, providing Vitamin ‘D’ i.e.  day lighting without heat, use materials and resources which are abundant rather than in depletion, which makes up a green building.

Q2. At present how you see the demand and supply market of green products and technologies here and worldwide. How is their availability and competition?

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is the only Council, which has taken the proactive and challenging task to certify products for their greenness under the programme ‘Green-Pro.’ Products are certified for their Embodied Energy, Post Consumer Recycled Content, their recyclability potential, low VOC discharge etc. Many companies are now testing their products for their greenness so that products are certified as green. The market potential for green products by 2022 would be 300 Billion U.S. Dollar. Certified green products and technologies demand would grow exponentially. Earlier the reason for a green building to be more expensive was the non-availability of green products in the country. Today, we are looking at Inverter Technology in Airconditioners which is saving up to 34% energy and certainly has become a USP for advertising for white goods companies. This is a very positive step, where consumers are being educated on energy efficiency through such advertising like Inverter, VRV / VRF Technology, LED lighting, Star Rating (BEE). This is a step in the right direction  to ensure that products are energy efficient and better for the planet. Availability of green products is growing and so is competition, making these products more competitive and user affordable, e.g. LED lights and energy efficient A.C.’s / Refrigerators.

Q3. What has been the role of government in shaping green building environment? Any example of other countries where green buildings are given policy supports in terms of incentives on lower power tariff, lower bank loan, lower taxes, and lower insurance.

We are fortunate that some local Governments are recognizing the need to mandate green and to incentivize green. Our Chapters all over India are working with local State Governments to incentivize green buildings which is a state subject so that a major boost is given to build and mandate green, including lower tariffs and incentivization by way of FAR or FSI.

Today, Municipal Authorities in NOIDA, Punjab, Jaipur, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal are offering additional FAR of 5% to 10 % for green building projects. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is offering up to 15% Rebate on Premium (Development Charges) to Green Building projects certified by IGBC. Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is providing faster environmental clearance for projects applying for IGBC green building certification.

However, many more States should come up with similar incentives & benefits for developers on one hand and occupants on the other.  Developers can be offered additional Floor Area Ratio (FAR) while occupants can be offered reduction in property tax for at least two years. 

Some of the environmentally conscious real estate developers are promoting green buildings through various outreach campaigns and advertisements.

If you see over the last 10 years, builders are lending their name to their building projects. Builders like Hiranandani, Kalpataru, DLF, Lodha, Raheja name their buildings with their company name viz. Hiranandani Gardens etc. In other words, the long term performance of the building project is important for the builders’ reputation and hence such builders would try and provide better products installed in the project viz. energy and water efficiency. However, major builders are not aware of the green concepts and due to lack of incentives, they do not even venture into building green. Incentivization at the stage of pre-certification and monetary penalization if the builder does not build certified green – both are a must to push the building community to build responsibly. Government must also mandate the Construction industry to only build green.

Q4. Do you think that this lack of incentives is the reason of there is very minimum investment in green home concept?

The reason is lack of awareness in green building attributes lack of awareness on the cost increase. Any concept takes time to spread through various strata of society. Green building concepts will spread from HIG to MIG to LIG. Environmental concerns are becoming a major issue and a part of the dining table discussion. Certainly a PULL situation will be created from a home to buy only green certified homes.

 

Q5. Why there is so less support of green building policies. No incentives on tariffs, loans, taxes incentives, insurance benefits?

The Government has not realized the potential of green buildings. Buildings consume a very high amount of energy in a city. Nearly 40% to 50% of the energy and 30% to 40% of water can be saved in case buildings are certified as green. Certainly, an awareness on green building increases, buildings certified as green will become the norm of the day. Refrigerators always used Thermocol Insulation earlier. Godrej started advertising their Refrigerators with Polyurethane Foam (PUF) Insulation. PUF Insulation become a USP and soon become an important bench-mark. Green buildings will also become Construction Industry minimum bench-marks in times to come.

Q6. Are green buildings highly costly? If yes please explain and if no please explain?

It is a perception that green buildings are costly.  Initially green building in India costed 20% more over a conventional building. Today green building cost less than 1% to 2% over a conventional building. The reason is that, lots of items today have become mandatory like Rain Water Harvesting, Solar Water Heaters, Sewerage Treatment Plants etc in many Municipalities. Secondly, localization of green product is taking place in a big way. From incandescent lighting to CFL to LED and the story goes on.

The following table illustrates the average benefits/ Million Sq.ft in green buildings.

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 The following table illustrates the benefits in IGBC Green Homes.

Tangible Benefits

Water Savings 50,000-60,000 litres /year/household*
Energy Savings 1,500 – 2,250 kWh / year / household*
Carbon Emission 1.2 – 1.9 Tons / year / household

 

*Baseline: Energy: 300 to 600 Kwh / month / household

*Baseline: Water 135 litres /person / day

 

Q7. IGBC promotes green building concept. Can you please tell IGBC strategies in promoting this very concept?

IGBC is a builder driven community. IGBC has  20 (Twenty) Chapters across India and every chapter provides green building concepts & support through builders and tries to mandate green buildings through government, has regular training of Accredited Professionals  (IGBC – AP) so that the green building concepts are promoted through the various strata of the Industry. IGBC has 13 Rating Systems and are on the verge of launching 4 more ratings this year, to cover every aspect of the Construction Industry Supply Chain.

Q8. What measures one should adopt to promote awareness about green building practices for the benefit of professionals in the construction industry? How do you map it with the overall economic development and business potential of India?

If all buildings are built mandated green, every city can save 40% to 50% energy, 30% to 40% of water, save resource, improve health of the occupants thereby saving Fossil fuels which to produce requires expensive and polluting energy and helps in mitigating climate change.

Professionals should take’ IGBC Accredited Professional Exam’ so that they can propagate green building concepts within their strata of the Society. IGBC is the only Rating Agency which covers the entire supply-chain of the building industry including Metro Stations, Schools, Campuses, Existing Commercial Buildings, Existing Residential Welfare Societies, Green Homes etc. IGBC is now coming up with ratings for Hospitals, for Schools and even for Green Villages. IGBC will keep on evaluating this through it’s ratings and through public & industry partnerships to improve it’s ratings on a regular basis.

Q9 Can we achieve the target of “Affordable Green Homes”? What are your IGBC plans and measures in promoting this concept?

Yes, we can achieve the target of ‘Affordable Green Homes’ because every home whether HIG, MIG or LIG can be certified under IGBC Rating System. As explained, IGBC has already issued a Pilot Version of Green Villages Rating System.  The biggest problem of global warming for developing countries is Cooking Fuel in villages. Wood used for cooking fuel not only increases carbon emissions and global warming but spreads diseases like Cancer to the residents. Secondly, village lakes are used by villagers to wash their Cattle & Bullock, thereby polluting the entire lake.  Sanitation is not proper and water supply inadequate. There is a lot we can do in villages to ensure proper Sanitation, clean water supply, recycling of waste and improve occupant’s health by promoting green buildings concepts. Hence, IGBCs Rating System touches all arteries and strata of the Construction Sector and Society at large, whether Residential, Commercial, Malls, Hotels, Schools or Hospitals. We will certainly “make a difference.”

 Q10. As Co- chairman of IGBC what is your message to construction fraternity?

As Co-Chairman, Executive Board & Founding member of the IGBC, my clear message that we do not have a choice but to promote green or you can leave behind a “Will” for your children with a Tsunami, a Cyclone, a Tornado, a Forest Fire, unprecedented rainfall, earthquakes etc.   Or we could all team up together to contribute to our mother earth and stop the menace of global warming.

Donald Trump, the presidential candidate in U.S. claims global warming is a hoax but wants to build a huge high wall on the sea front of his lavish Irish Home, contradicting his own statement! 

I don’t think, we have choice as we need to participate in reduction of carbon emissions and stopping the menace of climate change where it is today. The country must unite as they have done now as in COP 21, because global warming is the single largest threat not only to our mother earth but to humanity at large and to our economies & countries whether developed, developing or under developed.

IGBC’s Rating Systems are based on the ‘Panch Butas’ – Jal, Vaayu, Agni, Dharti & Akash and using these 5 elements have the ratings evolved. Let us try and save our ‘Mother Earth’ together. Let’s only build green!

 

 


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