AECOM, ranked as the No 1 green design company in the United States by Engineering News-Record, has designed 47 LEED Platinum-rated and 36 LEED Gold-rated projects across India. In an email interview with Dibyendu RoyChowdhury, Dr Prem C Jain, Chairman Emeritus, AECOM India and Chairman, IGBC, talks about the green building movement and how it has inspired India to go the green way.
A recent study by Dodge Data & Analytics shows global demand for sustainable buildings is expected to double by 2018, as global green building continues on its pace of doubling every 3 years. India also expects about 20 per cent growth in green building industry during the same period. What are the opportunities that design firms like AECOM have with regard to green buildings?
AECOM India has established an unrivalled position for its outstanding MEP and green consultancy services. We have designed 47 LEED Platinum-rated and 36 LEED Gold-rated green projects across India in the past 15 years. We have helped advance the Indian construction industry’s contribution to achieving the world’s second largest green footprint of 3.5 billion square feet registered with IGBC.
India is currently planning a large number of greenfield and several brownfield “Green Smart Cities” and has also launched the mission of “Housing For All”. National Building Code of India NBC 2015 has a new Chapter XI on “Approach to Sustainability” that is being convened by AECOM India. It is estimated that in the coming decades, there would be threefold increase in India’s present constructed footprint. Therefore, AECOM, being the global leader in sustainable design (according to ENR), will contribute the lion’s share in the design and construction of these “Green Smart Cities” and housing projects all across the country.
India currently ranks 2nd among the most active countries in green building projects, constructing about 3 billion square feet of green projects across the country. What changes have you seen in the growth of green buildings in India?
With over 3.5 billion sq.ft., India has the world’s second largest green building footprint registered with the IGBC. This remarkable achievement is the result of concerted efforts by all stakeholders within the Indian construction industry.
The 21st century green building movement in India has been inspiring and enriching throughout its journey of little more than a decade. It was triggered by the CII-Godrej GBC building in Hyderabad, which became India’s first LEED Platinum-rated green building in 2003. Since then, the green building movement in India has been marked with success stories.
With the support of all its stakeholders, the IGBC, part of CII, is spearheading the green building movement in the country. Today, the council is strong with more than 1,800 registered organisations representing stakeholders of all disciplines of the construction industry. Within a short time frame, IGBC has been able to present a clear business case for green buildings, by making construction of a green building technically feasible and economically viable.
Currently the incremental cost of a certified commercial green building sits around 2 to 3 per cent higher than that of a conventional building. This additional cost is usually paid back within two years through substantial reduction in operational costs. This has been the key contributing factor in the increased adoption and promotion of green buildings by all stakeholders, resulting in wide spread growth of green buildings across the country.
All the IGBC green building rating systems are based on the five elements of nature (Panchabhutas). These are designed to holistically address the national priorities, which include conservation of natural resources, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and handling of municipal waste, health and well-being of the citizens.
Various types of buildings, including airports, banks, colleges, convention centres, factories, hospitals, hotels, institutions, existing buildings, IT parks, offices, residential houses, hospitals, schools, malls, metro stations and townships are going the green building way. Today the focus is more on promoting sustainable built environment.
Some of the innovations, which green building movement has facilitated within the country, include net zero energy buildings, pre-fabricated buildings, building management systems, geothermal cooling, light pipes, high-performance glass, vertical landscaping, use of flyash and slag-based cement, and building integrated photo voltaics (BIPV).
Excellent policy incentives from various statutory bodies in the form of higher FAR for certified green buildings and rapid clearance for green building projects by MoEF-EIA committees have further accelerated the spread of green building movement in the country. The government’s initiatives of promoting 100 Green Smart Cities, Swacch Bharat Mission and Housing For All are some of the excellent initiatives which will go a long way in building a greener and healthier India.
Today Indian industry is in the forefront in developing indigenously, out-of-the-box green building products and technologies that are ecologically superior and economically viable. A host of green technologies and materials, such as waterless urinals, low-flow fixtures, CO2 sensors, low VOC or no VOC paints and coatings, high-performance glass, wall and roof insulation and high CoP chillers, are manufactured locally and widely used for projects. It is estimated that by 2025, market potential for green building products and technologies in India will be about $300 billion.
Today, end users are not only demanding certified green products but also additional information on how green the products are, including the test results of green performance parameters. This is a clear indication of growing awareness of the need and importance of green buildings and green products.
To address this imperative, IGBC has launched GreenPro Certification. GreenPro adopts a holistic cradle-to-cradle approach in assessing products that include design, raw materials, manufacturing process, performance during use, recycle and reuse at the end of the product life.
It is inspiring to witness how young students are playing a catalytic role in taking forward the green building movement in the country. IGBC works closely with the students’ community in inspiring them go the green way.
Over the years, India has gained enough experience and has vision, leadership, technical expertise and wherewithal to address various aspects of sustainable construction. The 21st century green building movement in India is well poised to scale greater and greener heights. The day is really not far when the place we live, work, study, play, commute and shop will all go the green way, and we will build a greener and healthier India.
India has three primary rating systems, including GRIHA and IGBC. Does India need more suitable guidelines for sustainable building construction across the region?
It is important that any guidelines for sustainable building construction are holistic and must address national priorities. They should also enhance the quality of life and health and well-being of the intended users.
The current need is to have such robust green building guidelines, where customers have the choice to select the guidelines. However, multiplicity of guidelines might lead to confusion among the stakeholders. All said and done, only a robust and vibrant guideline for sustainable building construction will stand the test of time; it will offer a holistic solution in addressing environmental concerns associated with the built environment.
The energy and resource prices are expected to rise in the near future. How is the cost influencing the energy and sustainability initiative?
It is inspiring to witness how cost is not acting as a deterrent to stakeholders in adopting and promoting energy efficient and sustainable initiatives. Today, there is increased awareness on the need and importance of adopting and promoting green as the way of life. Stakeholders are willing to go the extra mile and pay the extra amount in going the green way. The additional investment gets repaid within a short spell of time.
A clear indication is the steady rise in the number of green building projects registered with IGBC. With what started as one green building project in 2003, more than 3,500 green building projects are today adopting IGBC green building rating systems.
Today, India with over 3.5 billion square feet has the world’s second largest registered green building footprint with IGBC. Now IGBC aspires to facilitate 10 billion square feet of registered green building footprint by 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of independence.
A recent World Bank report has highlighted the following:
- Green growth is necessary
- Green growth is affordable
- Green growth is desirable
- Green growth is measurable
The most important is to focus on promoting sustainable business growth models. Once a clear business case is developed, stakeholders will be willing to pay the extra cost and process reap both economic and ecological benefits. Investing in energy and sustainability initiatives will not only make the companies more competitive but will also facilitate a greener, healthier and vibrant economy.
The Government of India has recently announced the names of the first 20 cities to be developed as smart cities and has planned to invest Rs.50,802 crore over the next 5 years. How is it going to change the dynamics of green building industry?
The announcement of the names of the first 20 cities to be developed as smart cities is indeed an excellent step in building a smarter, greener and healthier India. This initiative will be a game changer and will usher in a paradigm shift in the way cities are conceived, designed and operated.
Undoubtedly, the green building movement will scale greater and greener heights. In fact, all the upcoming cities should be planned and designed with sustainability as the dominant criteria.
Green and smart cities present an excellent opportunity to redesign and transform cities by solving critical infrastructure issues, thereby encouraging people to live more sustainably. Broadly, a green smart city will facilitate (not limited to) the following:
- Enhanced quality of life
- Efficient use of resources
- Efficient land use planning
- Efficient mobility management
Green smart cities will offer new growth opportunities to various stakeholders in developing ecologically superior and economically faster business growth models. IGBC is already partnering with the government and other stakeholders in developing eco-friendly and energy- efficient smart cities.
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 and 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.