Green Buildings – A Strive for Sustainable Future

http://greencleanguide.com/three-primary-rating-systems-for-green-buildings-in-india/Green BuildingsConstruction sector in India is the major contributor to GDP as it promotes inclusive growth by creating equal opportunity during economic growth which benefits each and every section of society. It employs millions of people, creating favourable conditions towards the associated industries such as steel, cement, technology etc and accounts for major development in the social and economic sectors. However, one needs to understand the potential of our country in building a Green Economy and sustainable future.

Green Building, a concept that is imperative for our better tomorrow needs a major boost to promote and catch hold of every professional’s imagination involved in designing and planning of real estate, infrastructure, communities, and smart cities. Green Building is simply defined as, “one which uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building”. Designing of any conventional building mainly focuses on design, utility, durability and comfort whereas designing a Green Building involves all the environmental parameters thus creating energy security, water security, material and resources management, improved indoor air quality, and a healthy lifestyle. In the longer run, it reduces the operation and maintenance cost, enhances asset value and profit, and optimises life cycle performances.

OBJECTIVES:

The main objective of the Green Building is to use lower resources at the time of construction as well as during operation. Green Building mainly emphasises on sustainable site management, water management, energy management, material & resources management and indoor air quality. Each of the parameters needs to be planned and strategized to achieve necessary efficiency and benefit the users in long-term.

Sustainable Site: Selection of the site plays an important role while constructing any building. It is necessary that one should use the maximum potential of the site to gain maximum efficiency that is needed to conserve the topography, maintain the biodiversity, enhance the local development etc. Avoid constructing on flood plain areas, green field sites, wetland areas etc. Maintaining the site condition during construction is also vital to minimise the soil erosion, it is also necessary to provide a temporary drainage system that takes care of the storm water runoff. Increasing the perviousness of the site helps in recharging of the ground water. Select species that are native and are water resistance to the site for efficient landscaping.

Water Management: Water is a fundamental necessity of all living species; hence its usage should be optimised in today’s scenario. Water fixtures are the main source of water consumption, so while selecting the fixtures it is crucial to follow the technical specification as prescribed by the government standards. Recycling and Reusing the wastewater can lead to minimum usage of water through municipal sources. Rainwater harvesting and waste water treatment are the mandatory requirements to optimise the consumption of water.

Energy Efficiency: Construction sector is one of the major consumption of energy, it exploits the usage of natural resources. Therefore, while designing any building it is very important to understand the energy requirement of the project based upon its type. To achieve a high-performance building, minimum efficiency could be achieved by designing efficient building envelope, mechanical system, renewable energy, interior and exterior lighting systems and electric motor & pumps. Building envelope mainly refers to the exterior façade of the building and affects the comfort level of the occupants. Heating Ventilation and Air conditioning system (HVAC) determines the thermal comfort and the indoor environmental quality of the building. Renewable energy like solar, wind etc can be explored for saving up from the actual energy consumed through the grid. Efficient lighting system like the use of LED, CFL & T5 can easily bring down the energy consumption. Equipment, motors & pumps being the miscellaneous things must adhere to BEE star rating guidelines.

Material Resources and Waste Management: Materials are responsible for the overall performance of the building; hence it is very important to study the product specification that reduces the overall cost as well as the energy consumption. Use of recyclable materials refurbished or salvaged materials, locally available and durable are most preferred. Waste that is generated during post-construction from every household should be segregated into wet and dry waste for their appropriate disposable.

Indoor Environmental Quality: Indoor Environmental Quality addresses the comfort level of the occupants in the given space. People desire to live and work with the healthy environment, efficient designing of the building enhances clean air circulation, comfortable temperatures, adequate daylight and views.

Green Building “AN IMMINENT NEED”

The world around us is evolving rapidly in the process of science, technology and development due to which there are serious and unique environmental challenges. In this rapid growth and development, construction has lot to contribute to preserve the environment. However, in construction sector, preserving of the environment is hardly given any importance. In such a scenario, we need to find a better solution for addressing the environmental problems and preserve our natural resources.

This is where Green Building could play the catalyst and help mitigate and conserve the natural surroundings to a very great extent. Stakeholders of the construction industry are now taking a gradual step in planning and strategizing this concept. “Currently most of our infrastructural establishments follow conventional methods which needs to be retrofitted to minimize the energy and water consumption and channelize the resources to balance the consumption and cost operation. it is important to initiate and retrofit the existing buildings to minimize the energy and water consumption and channelize the resource to balance the consumption and cost operation. There are also organisations like Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), Indian Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs(LEED) that promote the Green Movement in our country and have managed to certify the project based on their respective guidelines. 

BENEFITS OF GREEN BUILDING: 

With developing technologies, products and market scenario, Green Buildings can benefit the environment, economic and social life to help create greener urban communities. Green Building has plenty to offer, when approached from its conceptual stage. A lot can be planned from the initial level of the design, planning and execution to receive the benefit later. When a project is developed as per Green Building criteria, it manages to save up to 30-40% of the energy, 20-30% of the water, zero waste discharge, and healthy indoor environmental quality and ultimately instigates a green living lifestyle among the occupants.

Green Building technique using solar, wind power, adequate design for daylighting and ventilation can reduce the conventional energy demand, use of low flow fixture reduces the consumption of water and hence reducing the demand from the municipal source. Utilizing of storm water and directing through harvesting medium can replenish the groundwater. Minimization of the construction waste by reusing them on site are some of the necessary elements of Green Building techniques. Furthermore, approaches towards Green methods and establishing Green Buildings can have economic benefit if cost and budgeting is done in the initial level. Use of green designs and technology leads to a drastic reduction in the maintenance and operation cost. Also, due to easy convenience, operation and maintenance of the systems in green buildings lead to lower vacancy rates and higher property value.

Green Buildings not only serve the environment, social and the civic life but it has a major benefit for makers of the Green Building. Builders and developers who process the project of green design and technology are benefitted with branding and long term good market reputation as a Green and Responsible Developer. It makes them socially responsible towards the environment; also, it provides them with huge monetary benefits and instigates a major change in the thought process of designing and planning. Due to the high performance and long-time service of the Green Building to the occupant, the market reliability of the developer increases. To encourage this concept, in a very large scale, governments have been providing incentives in terms of FAR (Floor Area Ratio) and discounts on premium in some states in our country like Pune in Maharashtra, Haryana, Sikkim, West Bengal, Rajasthan.

MONEY MATTERS!

Green Building is gradually taking its foothold in the construction industry. The ideas, strategies, methods are more adopted and warmly welcomed by all the professionals to maximise its use in all the projects. Cost is termed as the main factor before investing in such concept. It is important from the investor’s point of view on how the payback would be recovered with additional gains. Developers/Investor are sometimes apprehensive when a new concept is about to be materialised when a large number of things are at stake. In such a scenario, it is necessary that before conceptualising any of the Green concepts, a feasibility study with respect to cost is carried out to compare it with a conventional building, including its payback and life span.

The project cost mainly intensifies during additional design analysis, construction materials etc. But these can be recovered by reduced maintenance and renovation cost, reduced utility bills (energy, water), longer life of building materials, decreased liability and more desirable workplace, work retention and tenant occupancy. Several materials and products that are eco-friendly, and which is cost effective than the conventional materials are gaining momentum. For instance, glass is the most important and expensive materials for the building facade, where the builder mostly opts for ‘double glazed unit’ despite its need, by using the right technical specification and requirement as per green building approach one can even use less expensive ‘single glazed unit’ to suffice the requirement. Cost escalation for any Green Building is around 2%, but that too will depend if all the parameters are taken into consideration during planning level to build a high-performance building. 

GREEN BUILDING IS THE NEXT BIG THING:

Green Building is a necessary tool to build a brighter and better tomorrow. It is a path that will help to develop and progress our country towards sustainable development. We need to bring awareness and generate the need for it. We, as the stakeholders have a great sense of responsibility to promote sustainability at every stage and platform. Hence, Green Building can play the role of one such medium and a contributing factor that will increase our economic strength without compromising on the natural resources and enhance sustainable development of our Mother Earth.

Author’s bio: Sneha Chavan is founder & partner at ARDRA Green Building Studio. She is an Environmentalist and has explored in the field of Green Buildings and its criteria for sustainable designing w.r.t environmental parameters. With a keen interest in contributing to the betterment of environment and society, she likes to participate in most of the eco-drive programmes, workshops and events.

 

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