Developers Role in the Green Building Movement

‘Green Wagon touches directly one’s conscience & impacts the brand’s image & positioning’

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 The world functions on a vicious cycle of demand and supply. But looking at today’s dire need for sustainability in the structures where we live, work, study and play, it seems demand needs to be created in order to supply or perhaps even vice versa. After all slow death to the environment with carbon emissions and depletion of resources apart, humans spend almost 90% of their time indoors. That’s where the developer community needs to step in and don the role of a real game changer. Of course when we talk of India, they are one of the most crucial stake holders who need to work shoulder to shoulder with the government to stand true to the country’s pledge of reducing it’s emissions by 35% by 2030.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has emerged as a globally accepted tool in over 150 countries to ensure a building’s performance with maximum efficiency in energy, water, waste, transport and human health and takes it’s role beyond just design and construction to the entire lifetime of the building in appropriate operations and maintenance.

John Mandyck, United Technologies chief sustainability officer says, “More people recognise the economic and productivity value that green buildings bring to property owners and tenants along with the energy and water benefits to the environment which is driving the green building industry’s growth. It’s a win-win for people, planet and the economy.”

As per the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 Smart Market Report released by USGBC, nearly 70 countries have validated that global green building continues to double every three years. Emerging economies like Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa have also shown encouraging results as catalysts of green growth, with development varying from two to sixfold current green building levels.

The world’s green building market currently comprising almost 75,000 commercial projects following LEED across the globe, with 1.85 million square feet of building space getting LEED certified every day makes it a trillion dollar industry. That has eventually resulted in a steady boost to the green building materials market too expected to reach $234 billion by 2019.

In India, there are close to 2000 projects, comprising more than 822 million sq ft of space, participating in LEED which include renowned corporate establishments in multiple sectors of health, hospitality, mobility to name a few which have proven over time how LEED is critical in efficiency also keeping in mind the crucial aspect of HVAC systems and operation.

Shabbir Kanchwala, Sr Vice President, K Raheja Group who proudly boasts of a LEED platinum building in Hyderabad under their group occupied by the world acclaimed pharmaceutical company, Novartis explains, “Companies that emphasise the fact that they are environmentally friendly tend to build a green corporate image for themselves and gain the trust of the like minded consumers and share holder and cost savings in the form of lower energy and water bills and healthier workplace. Hence, we decided to commit to LEED.”

 

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Mr Kanchwala also points out that companies that promote a healthier workplace report a 20% decrease in the number of sick days used by employees according to the Green Business Bureau website. Now that is an encourage figure to ponder over for business groups and developers for greater productivity.

Wockhardt South Mumbai hospital part of Wockhardt Ltd, India’s 5th largest pharmaceutical and healthcare company has become the first hospital in Asia to have achieved LEED platinum rating.

According to Doctor Parag Rindani, Associate Vice President and Head, Wockhardt hospital, South Mumbai, indoor environment quality is paramount for us for our patient’s wellbeing along with of course creating a positive workplace for the employees.

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The Smart Market Report found that on an average, green buildings result in considerable reduction in operational cost compared to conventional buildings. Taking this in account, one can expect nearly 14% savings in operational costs over five-year for new green buildings and 13% percent for green retrofit and renovation projects.

Wockhardt hospital, South Mumbai committed to LEED right from the design stage and has gone an extra mile to optimise natural resources and efficiency in their building. All patient rooms even the intensive care unit typically isolated have windows which allow natural sunlight creating a feel good atmosphere. CFL lights and elevators managed in moderation for conserving energy along with the use of smart energy management has lead to incredible cost saving in water and power bills.

The widely known brand in hospitality in India, ITC has a proven track record in sustainability with all of their 10 luxury hotels across the country certified LEED platinum.

A look at the data in the LEED in Motion, India report will reveal their remarkable success. 55% of the total energy is met through renewable sources and the amount of energy produced through their wind farms alone can light up a 1400 km long highway for one year.

50% of water consumption has been reduced and wastewater is treated and recycled enough to irrigate 65,000 trees. Nearly 100% of solid waste is either reused or recycled eliminating up to 5,000 tons of solid waste per year equivalent of 6,000 tons of carbon emissions.

Ensuring sustainable and local material sourcing and that more than 30% of the food and beverages at each hotel are harvested and processed within a 100-mile radius results in a positive environment footprint.

Nakul Anand – Executive Director, ITC Ltd reiterates in the LEED in Motion, India report, “As a corporation, ITC is aware of environmental challenges and therefore our management decided to take meaningful action that would benefit the planet and our brand. We selected LEED because of its globally recognized, highly rigorous, and comprehensive standards. It also helped that LEED had built a uniquely strong and dedicated following throughout India.”

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Dharmesh Jain – President, MCHI – CREDAI and Chiraman & MD, Nirmal Construction Pvt Ltd supports LEED which is evident in his ambitious upcoming project Discovery offices project in Mumbai, a LEED platinum which is using technologies such as floor to ceiling insulated glazing to contain heat and maximize natural sunlight and automatic daylight dimming system and greywater system which recycles rainwater. It is said that the building is being made of recycled and recyclable materials such as slag which reduces damage to the environment by decreasing the amount of cement required which helps lowering greenhouse gas produced by normal cement manufacturing process. While the air entering will be filtered but the air exhausted will be cleaned as well.

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Mr Jain opines, “I do feel that whatever steps that are being initiated in green development are in the right direction and in an exercise as large as this, there will be mistakes and oversights that will happen but there is definitely a potential to transform the housing market and help the real estate industry incorporate sustainable practices.”

Hemant Gupta, Head – Sales, Ireo Waterfront, a Punjab based 500 acres township built on sustainable development puts forth his opinion on creating a healthy living community, “Looking at the vast population of India and it’s need for housing and with the limited resources we have always overlooked, it is important to build houses that are energy efficient, conserve and recycle water and provide efficient solid waste management. A variety of design features such as green roofs and insulation which will provide thermal comfort along with the use of local materials can help reduce cost, save resources and make buildings energy efficient. 100% rain water harvesting and recharging of earth through harvesting structure will take care of water requirements as well as slowing the depleting water table. We lack right technology, mindset and money to push these changes in the current buildings but government as well as private sector can build model localities and offer incentives and payment plans to encourage people who want to take up these homes.

According to the Smart Market Report, green building industry will grow by 20% in India in the next 3 years, mainly on account of environmental regulation and rising demand.

Several Indian state governments including West Bengal, Noida (UP), Rajasthan, Punjab among others have promised extra built up area to the developers but put the entire onus of monitoring and certification on rating agencies.

According to AK Tripathi, Director of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy “Out of the 100,000 MW solar power, 40,000 MW will be in the form of rooftop solar power in 26 states and union territories, which translates fully into the building stock and directly relates to green buildings.”

Moving from buildings to city scale, GIFT (Gujarat International Financial Tech) City, the smart and sustainable city which is already underway holds great promise with their USGBC partnership.

Loveleen Kumar Gard, Asst. Vice President – Environment & Sustainability, GIFT City tells us, “At the design stage itself of the infrastructural services, all the sustainable parameters and performance indicators were taken into consideration at city level, be it power, water, solid waste management, transport or ecology. The globally accepted LEED certification, will help GIFT city management and the developers come on a common platform to understand LEED and thereby derive maximum benefit out of optimum utilization of renewable resources, energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, people’s health and other aspects pertaining to green building development.”

 Well, there’s more to LEED for developers. While they will of course be pleased with their account books showing reduced bills and happy clients and customers with the indoor environment, it also results in enhancing the asset value.

Mr Kanchwala of the K Raheja Group says, “As investors and occupants become more knowledgeable and concerned with the environmental and social impacts of the built environment, buildings with better sustainability credentials will have increased marketability.”

The Smart Market Report states, building owners have reported that green buildings, whether new or renovated, command a 7 percent increase in asset value over conventional buildings.

Harshul Savla – Director, Suvidha Group too articulates his point on the need for green buildings, “Green Buildings – A Luxury in Present, A Necessity in Future. As a developer we make assets primarily to sell, very few of us would actually hold an asset (this would change with REITs kicking in – green buildings in my opinion will be a necessity), so anything that increases the marketability of an asset would be worth putting a dollar on. Green wagon touches directly one’s conscience, as a corporate too it impacts the brand image and positioning, especially in a buyers’ market with so many options, a large corporate would prefer to be perceived as a responsible corporate citizen helping in reducing the carbon footprint hence the preference for green buildings. I think educating the developers will be a huge step and making them accredited/ certified green practitioners to build low carbon footprint structures. A lot of them like me are second and third generation into business who are receptive to the external environment and the change of outlook and perspective it demands.”

In an Indian scenario though, while developers are coming forward to spread green development, many agree that a lot more needs to be done in this regard.

Mr Kanchwala stresses that, “Developers are to be blamed for the number of green buildings being undertaken at present by them compared to the total number of construction taking place. Developers need to be educated of the benefits of green buildings.

If we soak in the above points and ponder over how LEED benefits a building and it’s occupants, wouldn’t it be apt to end with a quote by Winston Churchill which couldn’t be truer, ‘we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.’

 

 

 

Published by Geetanjali Prasad

For a decade or so, I worked as a television news reporter, producer and anchor and dabbled in genres like entertainment, business, real estate, sports and travel for different television channels. Currently since the last five years, I am taking care of the subject of climate change and green buildings by visual storytelling through digital platforms for an American organisation. I have started this blog purely for love of writing and pursuit of extraordinary stories (as the name suggests) by looking for people who have done immensely inspiring work or overcame situations that demanded exceptional grit and determination. I want to document and share these stories with the world in the hope that it motivates more people including me to be just a little kinder to everything and everyone (including animals & environment) around us, a bit more fearless to fight for what is right and the endurance to achieve what we envision.

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