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Green buildings are technically feasible & economically viable: Prem C Jain, Chairman, IGBC

It is not just the need of the hour but also the most accepted concept. In the past few years, there has been a significant growth in green buildings. Prem C Jain, chairman of Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), in an interview, says that regulatory support and green incentives will go a long way in further accelerating the adoption and promotion of green buildings. Here are the excerpts:

What do you mean by green buildings?
To put it in a nutshell, a green building is one which uses less water, improves energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building.
The idea or concept of a green building or an earth centric building is not new to India. Green building concepts were practiced by our ancestors and were part of our DNA for sustainable development.
We somehow drifted away from these eco-friendly practices and approaches. The need of the hour is to re-discover our rich built-environment heritage and varied ethos.

Is it economically viable to go green? Is the scenario different for residential and commercial green buildings? If yes, then how?
Today, constructing a green building is not only fully technically feasible but also economically viable.
The incremental cost of a commercial green building would be about 3% to 4 % for incorporating green building attributes of energy and water usage, waste management, etc. The additional costs get paid back within two to three years, with substantial reduction in operational cost. This important proposition is enabling stakeholders go the green way and makes a strong business case.
The cost of a green home would cost less than a commercial green building. The increase in the cost would be very marginal (about 1%) and the incremental costs get paid back in about one year.

Do you think the current government incentives are sufficient for the growth of green buildings in India? If not, what kind of policy changes do you need?
Of late, there has been significant growth in the adoption and promotion of green buildings by various stakeholders. This has largely been made possible due to the voluntary involvement and participation of the stakeholders realising the environmental and commercial benefits.

As on December 31, 2016, IGBC had facilitated creation of an overwhelming 4.48 billion sq ft of green building foot print in the country, thereby enabling India to become the second largest registered green footprint country in the world.
This significant growth was made possible due to the efforts of various agencies in the government and private sector on a voluntary basis. It is heartening to note that the National Building Code (NBC) of India 2016 has incorporated a new part on sustainable development features in the built-environment. These are being increasingly recognised in various operating building regulations states and cities.
Today, many central, state and city development agencies are extending green incentives through additional built-up area with increased FAR/FSI of 5% to 10%, reduction in development charges, faster approvals and reduction in property taxes for certified and operative green buildings.
We believe that regulatory support and green incentives will go a long way in further accelerating the adoption and promotion of green buildings.

What are the other pain points hindering the rapid growth of the green building industry at present?
Green building movement in India is just a decade-and-a-half old, while the global green building movement is over 25 years old.
Discerning builders, architects & developers associated with the projects in India have incorporated green building attributes at the very early stages. Green building movement has grown from a just 20,000 sq ft in 2001 through CII Godrej GBC building in Hyderabad to 4.48 billion sq ft, as of 2016 year-end.
Some of the challenges have been lack of awareness among the builders, regulating agencies about green building concepts and technologies as well as the availability of technology options and economic viability.
Further, with the recognition in the National Building Code, ECBC and other Regulatory documents and the recent green incentives being made available, there has been a faster pace of adoption of all levels by Central and State Governments, building agencies, real estate developers and corporates.
The Annual Green Building Congress (14 editions so far) has played a contributing role in enlisting participation globally and for sharing best practices from Green Building Councils across the globe and sensitising Indian stakeholders to increasingly adopt the green building path.

Do you think green certification of a residential project can help in increasing the home sales? If yes, what is stopping the developers to opt for these kinds of buildings?
Yes. IGBC green homes rating system is very popular with over a million dwelling units, covered under 1,585 projects, amounting to over 1,405 million sq ft of residential built-up area.
Since the residential projects under IGBC Green homes incorporate many sustainable features, the quality of built-environment is enhanced substantially. With endorsements of the residential consumers as well as builders, it has helped to provide a premium status for IGBC green homes/ residential projects.
There is no negative outlook among the developers. NAREDCO, MCHI, BAI, CREDAI who are the leading agencies dealing with housing development have endorsed IGBC Green homes rating system and are increasingly adopting the rating in their projects.
With further green incentives provided by the state governments, and enhanced recognition in the codes and building regulatory framework, the movement is bound to catch up further.

How do you think green buildings can help in achieving the government’s scheme to provide Housing for All by 2022′ and developing 100 smart cities?
The green building movement will further provide a boost for Housing for All by 2022′ initiative.
Presently, there are two rating systems for residential sector namely the IGBC Green Homes Rating System (for higher and middle bracketed groups) and IGBC Residential Society Scheme for regular up keep and maintenance. Further IGBC has recently launched new green affordable housing rating system that takes care of the affordable housing segment for the weaker section, low income and lower middle income segments for smaller home sizes from 30 sq metre to 70 sq metre.
IGBC’s new green affordable housing rating system is applicable for housing projects which have been designed with built-up area up to 70 sqm. This rating would be an excellent opportunity for the 50 million housing programme in urban and rural areas under Prime Minister’s Housing for All initiative. The three rating systems will cover the housing needs of all brackets coming up in all cities and towns, as well as the 100 smart cities and 500 AMRUT cities.
Further for the 100 smart cities programme, the IGBC green cities rating system provides for smarter solutions for integrated energy management; water management; waste management; transport management and for providing smarter and reliable services to the citizens. The ICT support systems further provide an enabling framework for monitoring and measuring the performance of service level benchmarks for various services and ensuring compliance.

What’s the outlook for green buildings in India and for IGBC in particular?
IGBC foresees that the next 10 years will be the decade of integrated sustainable built environment. This will mostly be in the form of large integrated townships, satellite cities, gated communities, campuses with multiple buildings. This development presents an enormous opportunity to design the projects as green from day one and facilitate in building a greener and healthier India. Equal opportunity will be available for retrofitting existing built environment for making them greener.
IGBC aspires to facilitate development 10 billion sq ft of green building foot print by 2022 to be the global leader. Indian industry will play a more important role in addressing ecological issues and concerns and will explore new and untapped growth opportunities. IGBC is committed to play a vital role in bringing down global GHG emissions.
Health and wellbeing of the occupants, eco-tourism, and green railways stations will receive increased attention, apart from the existing focus areas.

Source: ET Realty

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