Pankaj Srivastava writes about Green buildings emerging as a vital part of sustainable development wherein needs of the present are met without compromising ability to meet the needs of future generations.
The ever-increasing world population is severely impacting our environment by putting tremendous pressure on the existing resources. During this development process, while it is important to provide for the living of everyone, it is equally significant that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. In short, ‘Sustainable Development’ is what we need to bring back the environmental, economic and social equilibrium in the world.
Green building is a vital part of sustainable development. Under this concept the structure build and the using process of it, both are environmentally responsible and remain resource-efficient throughout the life-cycle of a building. Green buildings thus help preserve the environment and ensure sustainable living. The design team, architects, engineers as well as the client works hand-in-hand at all stages of the project to ensure that from sighting concept to design, construction, operation and maintenance, as well as renovation and even demolition is done in an environmental friendly manner. The practice also efficiently addresses the building design concerns such as economy, utility, durability and comfort.
The Current Need
It is understood that through a proper synergistic design, the various green building technologies can be used together to produce a greater cumulative effect. Thus, the current need is of modern sustainability initiatives that should comprise of an integrated and synergistic design approach with which both new construction and the retrofitting of existing structures is done.
Green building concept consists of varied practices, techniques and skills, which often emphasize on deriving benefits of renewable resources. For instance, use of sunlight through passive solar, active solar and photovoltaic equipment to supply electricity; use of plants and trees to create green roofs, rain gardens or in reducing rainwater run-off. Instead of conventional concrete or asphalt, use of low-impact building materials such as packed gravel or permeable concrete to enhance the ground water replenishment, is one more such technique.
There are various steps involved in the designing of sustainable buildings. At each step, one or more specify ‘green’ building materials would be required. Keeping a check on the quality of these materials and ensuring that they meet the environmental standards set by the authorities is the key to Green construction. For cost optimization, these materials can be procured from local sources. Reduction of loads, optimization of systems and generation of on-site renewable energy are some of the Green measures adopted by builders working towards sustainable development.
The Indian Perspective
India is developing at a very fast pace and so is the demand to provide wholesome housing to cater the needs of India’s growing population. The government as well as the realtors has well realized the adverse impacts of this development on our environment if it’s not done in a sustainable manner. The conservative centralized approach towards Green infrastructure is not going to serve the purpose. It is time to make it integral to all infrastructural developments. If the realtors will not take up this responsibility on their own, the government may have to legalize and make it mandatory.
The Indian realtors understand the significance of Green building and though we haven’t set any specific targets to achieve in within the laid down time-frames, we are continuously working towards sustainable development by undertaking more and more Green initiatives and implementing them in future projects. Rapid progress of the Indian Green Building Council and the Platinum, Gold and Silver ratings achieved by our various prestigious green building projects reflects highly upon India’s Green initiatives.
The only obstacle in the path of going green is probably the misunderstanding that Green project are costlier to build and unaffordable for common people. The pressing need is to create more awareness, break myths and educate the industry and people about the benefits of going green. The average payback period of green projects is 4-5 years, which makes them financially viable for every realtor, irrespective of the size of their business.
The construction industry has welcomed the government’s move of offering carbon-credits for green implementations. There are several ways of going green. One of which is conservation of landscape, biodiversity, native species, soil, pervious surfaces and solar reflective surfaces. Water harvesting, optimum use of water, grey water recycling and reuse, waste segregation, conversion of waste to energy, energy optimization through efficient lighting and HVAC equipments, and use of renewable energy are some of the famous methods that are part of most of the Green projects. These days, many Green structures also feature energy simulation, climate responsive architecture and apt (Green) material selection.
Some of these measures do not cost much but only requires thorough project and construction management. With such small measures to mitigate the adverse impact of construction on the environment, we can achieve an eco sensitive development.
The Green Measures
The realtor plans and designs a project within a given framework of a land parcel. However, the nature, for example elements like soil and water, can not to be restricted to these boundaries. The to and fro movement of these elements across the construction boundaries causes pollution. However, with proper and timely planning these adverse impacts can be mitigated.
A realtor can reduce adverse environmental impacts of any project simply by thoughtful designing and adopting eco-friendly construction practices. Various authorities are encouraging realtors for going green by providing various incentives such as Carbon Credits, ratings and certifications. Many realtors are working towards creating a better and sustainable environment and the day is not far when a project will be considered unusable if it does not meet the Green standards.
(The author is COO, Maitreya Realtors & Construction Pvt Ltd.)