Carbon Credit in Green Buildings

17 May

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate...

Carbon Credits are generated by enterprises in the developing world that shift to cleaner technologies and thereby save on energy consumption, consequently reducing their green house gas emissions. For each ton of carbon dioxide (major GHG) emission avoided, the entity can get a carbon emission certificate which they can sell either immediately or through a futures market, just like any other commodity. The certificates are sold to entities in rich countries, like power utilities, which have emission reduction targets to achieve and find it cheaper to buy ‘offsetting’ certificates rather than do a clean-up in their own backyard. This trade is carried out under an UN-mandated international convention on climate change to help rich countries reduce their emissions.

There is a great need to reduce energy consumption in all sectors of the economy. Building Construction consumes vast natural resources, and building account for 40% of Global Energy use. The pre-construction phase is the optimal time to implement Energy Efficient design with minimal costs. Some results indicate that savings realized during the first twenty years of operation can account for more than 15% of construction costs.

The above paragraphs sums up in brief the basics of this discussion. The first one is the need to build Energy Efficient Buildings ( EEB‘s ) and the second to find the additional expense. Every one knows that to build an EEB one has to spend more than normal. Now the idea is how to get back the additional money spent.

Both in GRIHA  & LEED  the return on the investment is proven over time on various projects Pan India. However most of the data I have seen point to Institutional or Commercial  or Corporate projects. It is comparatively easy to map and maintain year on year energy reduction of buildings where the user would normally conform to the same pattern of use and adhere to the building maintenance and use guidelines  stipulated by the owner.

Moreover it is comparatively easy to explain prospective Corporate or Commercial clients wanting to do a Green Building the advantages and returns as mostly it would be for self use and benefits accrued are directly debited to them. The difficulty lies however in convincing the Builder / Developer who by default would make a core & shell edifice and sell it. This format is true for both residential & commercial projects they undertake. So explaining this group to go for EEB is a little difficult. This does not discount the fact that almost all big and reputed builder developers are already adopting Green Building norms and getting their projects certified in one rating or the other. In India both GRIHA     ( Green Building for Integrated Habitat Assessment ) the National Green building rating system and the CII led IGBC – LEED Certification are prevalent.

The Indian Green Building Council guided and supported by the Confederation of Indian Industries has a larger building foot print  under their rating system than GRIHA as of today. Under IGBC a continuously evolving and user participation based organization, which is quick to understand the business opportunities in sustainable practice has under its command a host of rating systems for different typology and yet for the common good of reducing Global warming & abatement of Climate change. Certification & Rating such as LEED -India CS, LEED -India NC, IGBC – Green Homes, IGBC – Green Township, IGBC – Green Factories and the latest being IGBC -Green CO.

What I have been proposing is using this brilliant rating system for large projects called ” Green Township”   map the reduction in energy and apply the existing methodology approved by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC ) for earning Carbon Credit. This money which one can earn through Carbon credit would not be sufficient to make profit, Carbon fund can be availed only by proving “additionality” which means the project must have incurred expense by which profit is diminished when compared to a base case;but it has been designed in such a way that it would definitely help offset part of the cost of going “Green”. I know I can do it and I propose other architects to do the same for builder/developers. In this manner we as professionals will be able to provide true value sustainable habitats for our country.

There are two methods by which one can earn Carbon Credits in Green Buildings. The first is mapping the reduction of materials used which is done when a building goes through the rating process; as each material has its own embodied energy, the reduction in its use would thereby help reduce the GHG emission. This however is quite difficult because the MRV (monitoring,  reporting and verification) process would be very cumbersome especially when applied to the way the construction process is in India. It could leave too many gaps which require careful thought and stringent process to be absolutely sure that the method applied is sound both academically and practically.

The next process is to map the reduction in electrical energy and water consumption.  This is a simpler method and use of RE which already has proven methodology helps getting the CDM process. As India is encouraging Solar Photo voltaic, both  roof-top or “green-power” wheeled from off-site location would qualify to earn Carbon Credits.



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2 responses to “Carbon Credit in Green Buildings

  1. David James

    May 23, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    This is another example of sanctimonious bovine manure that we encounter all over the world, especially in India.

    India looks both ways in implementing laws and it is most obvious in matters of the environment and Climate Change. For example, India imposes Euro 4 standards for automobile emissions for automobile imports into India, but allows fumigation on the roads by its “auto-rickshaws” and other domestic vehicles that ply on the road for more than 10 years.

    In the context of EEB and LEED, You say: “The difficulty lies however in convincing the Builder / Developer who by default would make a core & shell edifice and sell it “.
    The Green Building Council of India or GRIHA has never shown the carbon foot print benefits or even the economic benefits of using agricultural waste as an alternative to cement or mortar. The LCA of natural resources as opposed viz-a-viz cement/mortar beat the energy or carbon footprint of bricks and mortar by multiples and are much more aesthetically pleasing.

    It also provides a “second income” for people living in rural India. Indian governments like to tout their rural employment enhancement schemes by subsidies but provide no real plan to give the rural poor work.

    The real difficulty is actually that persons in the Green Building Initiative are about 10 years behind the curve and are paralysed in using data to convince the real estate market of a true green approach to buildings.

    • Oyeta936

      May 23, 2011 at 6:39 PM

      A different perspective is most welcome. If ideas could be shared on use of the alternatives to cement & mortar. Many an Indian would benefit. Request a page with the LCA from you, to enlighten the readers.


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