Time for Green Buildings in India?

Time for Green Buildings in India?

Did you know that buildings consume one-third of India’s electricity production?

Just air cooling already accounts for 10% of total power consumption in India and it is estimated that by 2050, ACs in India will consume more power than the power consumption of the entire continent of Africa. 

In today's world, where climate change and healthy living are pressing concerns, GREEN BUILDINGS are emerging as a practical solution for transitioning towards sustainable infrastructure. 


So, what exactly are these Green Buildings? 

Green buildings are buildings designed, constructed, and operated to minimize environmental impact. These buildings incorporate strategies and technologies to reduce energy and water consumption, generate less waste, and use environmentally friendly materials. Beyond being eco-friendly, they prioritize creating healthier and more comfortable indoor environments for occupants.


How are Green Buildings different from their conventional counterparts? 

  • Water Conservation: Green buildings incorporate rainwater harvesting, water-efficient plumbing and wastewater treatment, ensuring every precious drop is conserved.
  • Energy Efficiency: Green buildings embrace energy-saving measures, harness on-site and off-site renewable energy sources and deploying efficient equipment. Designed to optimize energy consumption, green buildings reduce electricity demand and greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable planet.
  • Building Materials and Resources: Green buildings curate sustainable building materials, promoting waste segregation and encouraging the use of certified green building products, while normal buildings may disregard the environmental impact of their materials. From construction to operation, green buildings generate substantially less waste, alleviating the burden on our overburdened waste management systems.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: Fresh air ventilation and natural daylight are core for green buildings.  


Aren’t they expensive then? 

Upfront yes, but over the lifecycle of a building they end up being far more cost efficient. 

A 2022 research paper published in the IJCRT concludes that

  • While the initial cost of constructing a sustainable building is 43.3% higher than a conventional one, the breakeven period is a mere six years due to reduced operational costs. 
  • Annually, sustainable buildings can slash electricity consumption by a remarkable 44.4% and electricity bills by a whopping 73.9%, thanks to solar power generation. 
  • Moreover, the CO2 released due to operational usage plummets by a staggering 73.8% annually for sustainable buildings compared to conventional office buildings.

Another estimate by  Indian Green Building Council(IGBC) which promotes and certifies green buildings puts the savings in terms of 20-30% energy cost reduction and 30-50% lower water requirement. 


So how do we ensure Green Buildings are truly Green?

Green Buildings must adhere to rigorous certification process and stringent standards set by organizations like the Indian Green Building Council(IGBC) and the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA). 

These organization evaluate buildings on multiple criteria and issue appropriate ratings and certifications, ranging from Certified (40–49 points) to the coveted Platinum status (80 points and above). 


Is there any way to make existing buildings greener? 

There are several methods and practices you can adopt to reduce the environmental footprint of your existing buildings. 

  • Switch to LED lights everywhere in the building. They consume a fraction of the energy and last much longer than other types of bulbs. 
  • Seal any gaps around windows and doors. This stops drafts and keeps your home comfortable without using too much heating or cooling.
  • Install low flow faucets and showerheads with aerators to minimize water usage. In commercial office complexes consider installing waterless urinals. This helps to save water without sacrificing comfort.
  • Have separate bins for recyclables and regular trash. It makes recycling easier and helps the environment.
  • Use window films or shades to reduce heat from the sun. It keeps your place cool without using too much air conditioning.
  • Choose plants that don't need a lot of water. It makes your surroundings look nice with less effort.
  • Installing Grey Water Harvesting systems to reuse domestic waste water (e.g. after bath, cleaning bathrooms or kitchen sink or even from washing machine), after simple treatment for non-potable purposes e.g. cleaning cars, watering trees or flushing 

How do Green buildings as offices benefit the business? 

Along with the benefits of cost savings in the long run it offers below additional advantages for businesses opting for it: 

  • Employee Productivity and Retention: Green buildings focus on indoor environmental quality, which means better air quality, natural light, and comfortable temperatures. This improves employee health, well-being, and productivity, benefiting the company's bottom line.
  • Stakeholder Responsibility: Embracing green building practices shows that a company is socially responsible. It demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable development, which enhances brand reputation and attracts consumers and employees who care about these values.

Then, what is the challenge in adopting it? 

The perception of higher initial costs and a lack of awareness among stakeholders is the key challenge. 

While it is true that green building technologies and materials may initially bear a higher cost, the long-term benefits, such as energy savings and lower operating costs, far outweigh the initial investment, rendering this perception a mere misconception.

 

Further Reading:

https://igbc.in/igbc-green-homes.php

https://ijcrt.org/papers/IJCRT22A6552.pdf

https://www.irjet.net/archives/V9/i6/IRJET-V9I603.pdf

https://www.business-standard.com/industry/news/india-ranks-3rd-in-usgbc-s-list-on-green-building-certification-for-2023-124020701347_1.html

https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/on-sustainable-building-materials-explained/article67999691.ece

https://www.businessworld.in/article/Green-Buildings-A-New-Horizon-Emerging-In-Real-Estate-/14-03-2024-513360/

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/electronics/indias-demand-for-electricity-for-acs-to-exceed-total-power-consumption-of-africa-iea/articleshow/104669858.cms?from=mdr

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