Author – Rishi Rawat
Are you aware that your office or residential building could be harming the environment? Is it possible that your building is spewing harmful pollutants without you realizing it? We are well aware about various environmental issues such as global warming, water and air pollution and the measures that need to be taken to prevent them. If we switch to sustainable architecture and green buildings in India, not just for nature’s sake, but for ourselves, we could not only save the environment but also reduce our total ownership costs.
The building construction industry produces the second largest amount of demolition waste and greenhouse gases (35-40%). The major consumption of energy in buildings is during construction and later in lighting or air-conditioning systems. While, various amenities like lighting, air conditioning, water heating provide comfort to building occupants, but also consume enormous amount of energy and add to pollution. Further, occupant activities generate large amount of solid and water waste as well.
Sustainable architecture is the type of architecture that seeks to minimize the harmful impact that buildings have on the environment. Such sustainably built green buildings are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient, right from location selection to the demolition after its lifecycle ends. A green building uses less energy, water and other natural resources creates less waste and greenhouse gases and is healthy for people living or working inside as compared to a regular structure.
Building green is not about a little more efficiency. It is about creating buildings that optimize on the use of local materials, local ecology and most importantly they are built to reduce power, water and material requirements. Thus, if these things are kept in mind, then we will realize that our traditional architecture was in fact, very green. According to TERI estimates, if all buildings in Indian urban areas were made to adopt green building concepts, India could save more than 8,400 megawatts of power, which is enough to light 550,000 homes a year. There are five fundamental principles of Green Building:
1. Sustainable Site Design
- Create minimum urban sprawl and prevent the needless destruction of valuable land, habitat and open space
- Encourage higher density urban development as a means to preserve valuable green space
- Preserve key environmental assets through careful examination of each site
2. Water Quality & Conservation
- Preserve the existing natural water cycle and design the site so that they closely emulate the site’s natural hydrological systems
- Emphasis on retaining rain water and on-site infiltration as well as groundwater recharging
- Minimize the inefficient use of potable water on the site while maximizing the recycling and reuse of water, including rainwater harvesting, storm water, and gray water.
3. Energy & Environment
- Minimize adverse impact on the environment through optimized building siting & design, material selection, and aggressive use of energy conservation measures
- Maximize the use of renewable energy and other low-impact energy sources
- Building performance should exceed the minimum criteria of the International Energy Code compliance level by 30%
4. Indoor Environmental Quality
- Provide a healthy, comfortable and productive indoor environment for building occupants
- Utilize the best possible conditions in terms of indoor air quality, ventilation, and thermal comfort, access to natural ventilation and day lighting
5. Materials and Resources
- Minimize the use of non-renewable construction materials through efficient engineering and construction, and effective recycling of construction debris
- Maximize the use of recycled materials, modern energy-efficient engineered materials, and resource efficient composite-type structural systems as well as sustainably managed, biomass materials
Sufficient technical background and an understanding of green building practices are needed for implementing these fundamental principles, so that a building can be considered a truly “green building”. CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, ITC Royal Gardenia Bengaluru and Suzlon One Earth, Pune are some of the earliest green buildings constructed in India. Check this list of top certified green buildings in India.
Green Building Certifying Agencies
There are various certifying agencies that help building developers to implement these principles and get green certification. Some of them are:
- LEED-India – LEED is an acronym for ‘Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design’, which is an internationally recognized certification system for green buildings. The LEED-India Green Building Rating System is an international benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings (provided by IGBC).
- IGBC Ratings – The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is a division of the Confederation of Indian Industry that works closely with the government and aims at sustainably built environment. It offers four levels of rating for new buildings that are valid for 3 years: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Apart from new building certifications, the ‘IGBC Green Existing Building O&M Rating System’ offers applying sustainable concepts for existing buildings as well.
- BEE-ECBC – The Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) was established by the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) to set energy efficiency standards for design and construction of buildings.
- TERI GRIHA – The Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment is a national rating system for green buildings that is adopted while designing and evaluating new buildings.