Fewer bucks for greener norms

TUE, JUL 21 2015

The green building movement has gathered pace with its registered base recently crossing the magical 3 billion sq ft mark. With this milestone, India has become the second-largest country with such a large footprint after the US.

The CII Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), which has pioneered the concept since the setting up of the first platinum-rated green building, the CII Green Building Centre in the IT hub of Hyderabad in 2003, is now seeking to make it more relevant for ordinary citizens.

S. Raghupathy, Executive Director of CII-IGBC, told BusinessLine, “We are evolving a code for affordable housing. There is a perception that green buildings are only meant for those flush with funds. We are seeking to break that perception. The idea is to ensure that even affordable projects are able to have a proper green building at say ₹1,000 to ₹1,200 per sq ft of built up space.”

According to Prem C Jain, Chairman of IGBC, even the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has plans to adopt IGBC recommendations in their guidelines for design, construction and maintenance of affordable housing.

Designing model homes
Affordable homes is typically a nomenclature for houses built for middle to lower income groups. Attempts have been made by a number of architects and institutions to design such model homes that are attractive and yet cost effective. Pioneering architect, the late Laurie Baker had implemented such designs. Now, IIT-Madras has experimented with the Rapid Affordable Mass Housing technology where the use of Reinforced Cement Concrete has been reduced.

Sector experts say affordable homes in the range of ₹10-25 lakh are the most sought after, but there is little supply and lack of financial support. However, recently some of the top housing companies, including the Tata Group and the Mahindra group, have entered the segment.

To address this growing industry and government interest, IGBC is in the process of evolving norms for affordable homes and a specific rating system.

The Council has listed a number of features that will be part of the affordable homes inventory, making it a point to incorporate use of local materials with recyclable content. These include pre-cast concrete structures, use of energy efficient lighting fixtures, waste water treatment and reuse, water efficient plumbing fixtures and rainwater harvesting systems.

Apart from this, at least 50 per cent of exposed roof area would be covered with reflective materials, while roof and wall glazing would be used for the building envelope. When you add to this an efficient use of natural light and air flow, environment friendly paints, sealants and adhesives, you would perhaps get the greenest house possible.

To achieve this, the Council has even begun certifying products that meet green building requirements. The first such product -- an aerated concrete block from Zuari Cement – was recently certified. By the end of the year, another 75 green products are on the anvil.

Partners in progress
The good news is that over 300 companies from different sectors are working actively with the CII-IGBC in shaping up and developing the movement. Though there are no estimates available on the size of the future green building industry, it could be significantly higher than ₹50,000 crore, Raghupathy says.

“Our integrated approach includes cost effective construction technologies like monolithic and pre-cast structures,” explains MG Somasekhar, Chairman, IGBC, Mysore Chapter.

The green building has also transformed the way air-conditioning and lighting systems are used and operated, and waste management is done. Water is judiciously used and waste water is treated for gardening and other purposes.

Besides this, the use of solar heating and lighting systems in homes and commercial offices, and purchase of renewable energy for use by companies has also gathered momentum.

Affordable homes are often stereotyped as poor quality buildings. The rating is aimed at ensuring there is good quality construction conforming to set norms. “IGBC is working with the Central Government. Trial projects would be first implemented in Karnataka,” says Raghupathy.

India has a registered base of 3,178 projects with a projected cover of 3.04 billion sq ft. This is a major milestone in the green building movement.

“We achieved the first billion registered base in 2011, the second billion in November 2013 and the third billion in June 2015. We are keen that this number swells to 10 billion sq ft by 2022,” says the Executive Director reiterating, “Green is a way of life and going green makes good business sense too.”


SOURCE: The Hindu BusinessLine