One needs to think green

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OVALBangalore, June 21:There are times when surveys scare you. Some more times, visualising the impending disaster may upset you. But when reality hits you, you only have to head towards tackling the situation. “We are somewhere at this point when we need to act immediately,” says Syed Mohamed Beary, Chairman, IGBC Bangalore Chapter, when The Hindu-HABITAT asked him about the relevance of having a Conference on Green Homes 2013 in the city today (June 15, Le Meridien, from 9.30 a.m. onwards).

A note issued by the CII on the bearing that such conferences would have on people’s psyche said, “By 2030, the country is expected to have 68 cities with a population of more than one million, 13 cities with more than four million people and six megacities with a population of 10 million or more.” And what does this imply? “Simple,” says Beary, “An appalling upsurge in housing requirements resulting in a severe strain on natural resources such as water, soil and fossil fuels. Lesser said about the quality of life, the better.”

Going further, Beary explains that the existing building stock is about 25 billion sq. ft, and by 2030 it is expected to reach 100 billion sq. ft. And 60 to 70 per cent of this would be in the residential sector. “This is the reason, ‘building homes to be green in their construct and behave’ should be the norm, a natural prerogative for anybody taking up construction. Simply put, that’s when we can get sustainable, and don’t land up crashing down. Green homes not only address energy, water, and waste-related issues but also enhance quality and business sense.”

Mr. Beary, Prem C. Jain, Chairman, IGBC, and Chandrashekar Hariharan, Vice-Chairman, IGBC-Bangalore Chapter, are some of them leading this green initiative of CII.

While every prediction seems discouraging in lieu of the construction sector playing and influencing such consequences – 60 per cent of the world’s electricity is consumed in buildings – what are we going to look at, especially in conferences such as these? Says S. Srinivas, Principal Counsellor, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), “As the construction sector is growing rapidly, preserving the environment poses many challenges and at the same time presents wonderful opportunities for various stakeholders. The energy, water and materials demand have to be minimised. The building sector accounts for 30-40 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions and ‘green buildings’ can play a catalytic role in addressing environmental issues and concerns.”

With a large chunk of land parcels going away for development, the green cover is on the decline, leading to adverse impact on the micro-climate. Almost 85 per cent of the crude oil is imported and we continue to travel using fossil fuels at speeds at which we can bicycle. The piecemeal manner of expanding our infrastructure seems to address issues only temporarily.

To address these issues, IGBC’s conference today will have Krishna Byre Gowda, Minister for Agriculture, and M. Lakshminarayana, Commissioner, BBMP, as special guests. This will be followed by a panel discussion on “Role of print, electronic & social media in reaching out green to the common man.”

IGBC will launch the ‘IGBC Existing Buildings rating system’ to facilitate building owners and facility managers in implementation of green strategies for the existing commercial buildings.

So, it is imperative that architects and builders sensitise themselves to the design and construct ideas. What is the mode that the IGBC adopts for imparting this?

Says Srinivas, “Architects and the builder-community have been our early supporters. IGBC, with the support of all stakeholders, regularly organises outreach programmes that include the Green Building Congress, Green Building missions, training / awareness programmes and exhibitions. IGBC, over the years, could reach over 40,000 stakeholders. Today there are MNCs who are willing to pay extra premium (1-5 per cent) to occupy a certified green building. Many developers are committed to go green and want to be branded as green.”

Green homes shouldn’t remain an elitist concept. So, what are the plans to make it án everyman’s green build-mantra? IGBC representatives say the vision of IGBC is to enable sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders by 2025.

Today the numbers speak for themselves. With a modest beginning of 20,000 sq. ft of green built-up area in the country in 2003, more than 2,085 registered green building projects with a built-up area of over 1.43 billion sq. ft are registered with the IGBC, out of which over 745 projects, with built-up area of 672 million sq. ft, are being designed as IGBC Green Homes.

With proper planning at the design stage, choice of right materials and efficient equipment, green homes can be designed with a minimal incremental cost of only 2-3 per cent. This cost gets paid back within 1-2 years through substantial savings in operational costs.

Mr. Beary, however, says a lot needs to be done. IGBC, through various outreach programmes, is underlining the need and importance of adopting and promoting green buildings as a way of life. “Since 75 per cent of the buildings that would exist in 2030 are yet to be built, there exist huge opportunities in design and construction of green buildings.”

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