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Category Archives: LEED/ GRIHA/ IGBC/ Sustainable

Smart City – Choosing between a Planned Development & a Development Plan.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, on his 3 Nations tour is bringing once more the Nation into the World focus, therefore sooner than later the World economies would come. Especially to build those 100 Smart Cities. For that is a lot of money and a lot of business. But before that happens, it is important that the Common Man, as we like to call ourselves in India get to know the pros and cons of building ourselves more concrete jungle, in our quest to be called “developed”.

A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most important component of a City is the Citizens. Devoid of it, many a Great City has perished & the Civilisation the city harboured followed suit. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards more Climate Resilient Cities, because the Climate is changing. And with every Epoch of Climate Change, Extinction follows!

As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual green house gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of Green House Gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every National Climate Change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch.)

According to the 2011 India Census, there are about 30 crore houses in the country. The census defines a house as a building or part of a building having a separate entrance from a road, common courtyard, stairs and so on. About 71% were occupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities of India 136 lakh homes were vacant. While 111 lakh rural homes were found empty. The above data would be read as a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but for those who choose to care it shows how “development” as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136,000,00 homes lying vacant in Urban centres most would be due to following reasons.

1. Occupants were living in an alternate abode within the city or in some other city around the world.

2. It was an “investment” in Real Estate.

3. It was unsold Real Estate inventory.

And if one would delve deep into the reason of empty homes in villages the compelling reason would be that the villager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle we so lovingly call a City.

But very soon, it would perhaps be the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breath of life, if changes which are important and urgent are not addressed by all stake holders.

This article would try and connect unseeingly disparate dots together to create a debate in the minds of the readers to look at events that take place in a more holistic manner to arrive at better building solutions for a Smart City.

We shall look into the reasons as to why Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which have the best of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) requires to be built in accordance to a mandatory legislation. For today “Green” buildings as we like to call them are not mandatory. And most being built are nothing but a “Green-Wash”. Either due to ignorance or avarice. We shall through this article build up bit by bit why we must look at solutions to build wise. Development is a necessity and it can not be stopped. But it can definitely be made more responsive and in sync with Nature. To do that this article shall dwell on two parts – 1. what a green building actually is and 2. how it can build climate resilient cities.

Not everyone understand why the term “Green Building” is used as an epithet for Energy Efficient Buildings. Therefore lets understand it in layman terms. Experts are excused from reading further.

1. What is Green Building?

A building which during its construction and occupancy, if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practices follow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Renew – Recycle – Refuse; can be termed as a Green Building.

Reduce –

The building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors. A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt & Various rare earth materials. It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined. Forest extracts not only means logged wood but with destruction of forests, wild-life too dies. Thus from paper to petroleum, textile to leather; there is almost everything even the mountains themselves, cut into slabs to adorn the floors of the house. Destruction is the first and foremost process of building a modern Building.

By reduction of use in construction materials through efficient design and construction practice; virgin materials need to be extracted less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover” of the as yet unexplored mines for Ore or Coal. Or building and/or upgrading of existing Hydro-power plants or deep-sea Oil wells. The former inundates vast swats of lush green forest cover, and also most of the time the homes of the city pavement dwellers, who were perhaps proud farmers eking out an honest living and most importantly producing something which no city dweller can ever do – GROW FOOD !

Before the rising backwaters of the dams flooded their homes and sank their hopes for ever.

If one has ever seen a picture of an oil spill on the sea and the associated dead sea-life nothing more needs to be added beyond reminding that with every Kilo-Watt of power produced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) power plants; one can in a simplistic calculation consider use of 1Kg or Coal and 1 litre of water to produce the same. The Coal is ripped form the bosom of Earth by a tear called open-cast mining; with rips out every tree & grassland. Destroying the homes of burrowed animals like rabbits and proud tigers alike. In its wake it leaves a slush which contaminates the rivers, which slowly die. Both from reduced rain-fall as well as silt.

While the burning coal creates Green House Gas emissions, the likes of which today plague Indian cities. With every bit of reduction a construction engineer brings into a building project. Sustainability of life continues.

Reuse

By utilizing existing construction materials, through a complete supply chain recycling process and most amazingly by utilizing existing best designs! Yes designs. If one but pauses by any modern township or towers being built around any of the Indian Cities, one would find either flats, row-houses, bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape being built within that very project.

Simply put, a residential tower is nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally and vertically; with services areas thrown-in. Thus almost everyone is having an identical house, made into an unique home by the way its is lived in! If a developer-builder company, utilizing a little more imagination beyond being swayed by Occidental designs and obscene RoI; could cash in on registering a few best designs and keep building them. It would then be promoting its very own “Signature” Style.

With each new building being built, the design and construction team would be able to keep raising the bar of excellence! For even if a design is the same, each project would throw in its own unique challenges and tweaks would have to be incorporated. But on the flip side the Master Material Sheet would become leaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimized as many details would still be relevant, within the old set of drawings from an earlier project.

Thus by the simple act of Reuse; a building and construction Industry can save life on Earth even while generating financial wealth for itself.

Renew –

The money saved thus could be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers. Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane. This in effect would spur growth and business of a different dimension, while help check the destruction of virgin forests. To start with, about a half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Every year, another 13 million hectares disappear (although afforestation adds another eight back), and the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that only about 22 percent of the world’s old growth forests remain intact. The activities of the pulp and paper sector threaten the habitats of several rare wildlife species such as Asian big cats (including tigers), Asian elephant, Asian rhinos, and Orangutans. The remaining natural forests in Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, Russian Far East, Southern Chile and the Atlantic forest region in Brazil are endangered because of growing demand for pulpwood, among other threats. Forests also maintain the world’s abundant biodiversity, essential for life on Earth.

Renewal of life by the simple act of saving forest.

Recycle –

While it sure looks fashionable when a debonair man and a pretty woman tango together to break and destroy all that was a fully functional home around a tap ! (an advertisement by a tap company)

Unfortunately in India, the one that is destroyed and the one that gets built around the famous tap, the décor are “inspired” western designs. Thus near zero in climate responsiveness. The only message its sends out is how to induce further pollution. This unfortunately is the reflection the psychology of the society today. The best of practice would be to become more Oriental than Occidental.

The former is application of mind over matter. The latter is always mindless destruction of everything intelligent and vernacular. Especially in the Oriental context. The deep rooted culture of India has traditionally been towards conservation and recycling. An heirloom gifted to the daughter, the priceless Silk Sari handed down with pride and care. The feeling of pride to sit on the rocking chair which once belonged to the grandfather, when one himself becomes the grandfather. To use left-over of a dinner to cook a tasty & healthy breakfast. To live for generations in a house built by the ancestor. T

he sense of belonging and pride which has slowly but surely crumbled. Leaving the average Indian city dweller confused by the constant pull and push of cross-culture and time. Having forgotten that it is this disconnect from one’s own culture which is the root cause of Global Warming. Mythology are replete with examples of Man-Animal, Man-Plant co-existence. The Kamdhenu, The Kalpa Vriksha both are giver of plenty. A simple yet profound example set by our ancestors that without the trees and animals, humans can’t have their wish fulfilled. Culminating with the supreme example of Rama -Hunmana relationship. A synergy between Man-Animal, both considered as God themselves.

While modern building can be built and are being built from recycled materials as it has started making more economic sense, much still needs to be done when Interiors are designed. A commercial space be a hotel or hospital have constant wear & tear. Renovation is a must. But by allowing intelligence to dictate the norm rather than trend could save lots of money. A corporate bosses Burma teak wood table could be modified to be a receptionists desk, while the old reception table could go into making the internals of storage shelve. The high VoC which most of the adhesives and glues and paints carry, reduce in emitting their noxious fumes as they get older. It is best therefore to retain old furniture, as it is healthier.

The simple act of Recycling not only insures immediate health benefits, the forest remaining intact insures fresh oxygen keeps getting produced to sustain life.

Refuse –

Not many know that in the deep Pacific Ocean there lies a plastic garbage patch. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan.

As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region. The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbour, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photo-degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals & fish, many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. Besides the particles’ danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. (Text edited from Wikipedia).

When residential or commercial society post occupancy, refuse using of plastic and utilize proper waste disposal. Refuse application of polymer paint to their furniture or are careful when the materials are being used during interiors, they are saving the environment from degrading further. It would be good to remember that the salt we eat needs to be made out of drying out sea water. Humans already have plastic flowing in their blood stream, by refusing and limiting the use of plastic and other toxic materials into their building pre and post occupancy. One would be perhaps saving their own life.

The above 5-R’s constitute a “Green Building”. And thus by building or buying into one, every person contributes in doing his/her bit in saving the Environment.

2. What is a Climate Resilient City?

The United States of America have the following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe. The Europe has the Following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe.

The Sub Continent of India has the following – Highland, Humid Sub-Tropical, Tropical Wet and Dry, Arid, Semi –Arid, Tropical West.

If one goes for a tour of the Europe and North America one would find buildings built in accordance to their climatic conditions. Thus their City skyline too looks more or less the same.

The skyline of Indian cities also match and feel like any European or American city.Even though we don’t come anywhere close to their climatic conditions. Nowhere in the west would one find a copy of the Indian vernacular architecture. We on the other hand also feel proud to not have a single building designed as per Indian Architecture.

The swanky glass encased building in the long cold winter months, in the American & European countries help trap whatever sunlight available, causing a green house effect within the building. It helps in enhancing the warmth the Air-Conditioners create. Saving precious energy and fuel. With hardly 80+ days of Sunshine it is a smart thing to do in Europe.

Most SME business, in the equally swanky glass encased commercial buildings & shopping malls of India close down within the 5 years of operation as the 200+ days of Sunshine requires the Air-Conditioners to constantly hum in its effort to cool the building, while people sweat under the collars with the induced green house effect a glass house brings as a default. It also drills a large hole in their pockets.

When we start building climate responsive buildings, we would be creating a Climate Resilient City. Indians are by default intelligent and literate. But as with most around the world less educated about the manner in which their life-style affect the health of the planet. An erudite person would consider it foolish to design a wash-room with toilet paper instead of a health faucet. According to a report by David Braun of the National Geographic wrote in the World Watch Magazine worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. India which traditionally washed itself find wiping more fashionable and thus design there 5-star Hotels similarly. Somewhere we have not got over in wiping a white….

Black or Grey water can be recycled and reused. Making of proper toilets is the beginning of building a Smart City.

A Swwacch Bharat.

The destructions of forests and natural habitat worldwide are leading to catastrophic changes in the weather pattern. The modern life-style must factor in climate change and global warming. And cities are the principal drivers towards this unwarranted change. For all the industry thrive upon the insatiable demand of a city. The need of creature comfort has spurred the race to build automobiles, appliances, accessories which have become more important than the basic building blocks of civilization. Food – Cloth – Shelter.

We are living on the Edge.

The unseasonal rain-fall India experienced early March 2015, has wiped out the Rabi Crop. In Sangli, Maharashtra 26,000 hectares of crop was lost. Pan India the loss is already a cause of concern as we are yet to fully recover from the $7 Billion loss Cyclone Hud Hud caused last year. More disasters are to happen, that we can no more stop. But we can surely adapt.

To conclude, when India builds its 100 smart cities, it should not only look at development but also the development plan. This is what the United Nations Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requires us to do.

 

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Green Business Idea – A sustainable guide for Retail to win against E-retail in India.


A long time ago, people in want of grocery or clothing used to go to a designated date in an open ground where merchants gathered – it was termed as “Haat”.

Image of Dilli Haat – New Delhi

While the name “Dilli Haat”, is derived from the same concept; its open nearly every-day thus “shops” as we know them evolved over time.

Even today, in the dusty by-lanes of sleepy mofussil towns & villages, where cultures haven’t changed much since the East India Company days; the shops close for the afternoon siesta and are open but just about 2 hours post sundown. These shops are usually day-lit and most having been designed in vernacular style don’t usually require a fan. Although you would now-a-days invariably find one hanging from the central beam. Immobile as there is usually no electricity to run it. More so in peak summer afternoons.

As all the power that is being generated by the creaking Coal fired Thermal plants in India can’t cope of with the demand the swanky malls require to keep their air-conditioners humming. And the spot lights which is tactically angled with precision to highlight the wares in the hundreds of designer shops within the malls.

But as the saying goes, Time is constantly changing and for all that glitter and glamour the large retails brought in, along with the ease of shopping. It left in its wake a huge carbon foot-print. With the angst of Climate Change being felt around the World the buyers to have begun to discern. Helped by the ease of shopping online and keeping one self far away from the madding crowd has certainly helped boost the E-Retail.

And with some serious high net worth individuals with great social standing and industrial acumen investing in some of the stellar performers, E-Retail is here to stay.

This gives some serious competition to the standard brick and mortar companies. This Diwali there were complaints galore, spread over every newspaper worth its name.

And just as the Newspapers, not very long ago felt the threat of extinction from Televised News; till they evolved and adapted, whilst some perished no doubt. The Brick & Mortar Retail can become competitive if they too wake up and think differently.

Example of Mall Interior. Courtesy -tomsherrillillustrations

All they need to do is build an Energy Efficient Building (EEB) or those who only take up space within a building work towards Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM). EEM’s can be applied to existing buildings and if the management wants it, can register themselves with LEED or IGBC certification. And get a Green Building Certificate. Thus becoming world renowned.

It is a simple Green Business Idea, which would once more prove that Sustainability is the Key. And while the economic pundits, may read you many passages in sustainability, its Ecology which is the master of the game. Thus the more natural the design and function the more sustainable the Retail space will be.

There are various ways to deal with it. In the first instance, the Retail chain could hire professional Interior Designer or Architects who have been long practicing sustainable design. These people would perhaps not have the past experience in designing retail; not because they could not but because they chose not to. As modern retail, focuses more on other aspects, rather than true sustainable architectural design.

This does not deride the ones who do. But the designers, while having wanted to make a form which would follow function in its true sense; are often forced to work on perceptions which have been engrained in the client’s physique.

One just needs to visit one mall and hop to the next. They all look and feel the same. This over time becomes norm in design. Although the better managed, while being energy guzzlers are efficient in many ways, the copy cats typically cut corners and make a mess of things.

The Retail stores work with very thin margin of profits.

Now with the roaring success of E-retail, there is simply no more lee-way with the retail stores to cut corners and yet maintain their competitive edge.

But by designing sensibly or demanding a sensible and energy efficient design of the rental space, they can turn the tide to their favour.

There are many ways to achieve these, both for new as well as retro-fits.

It can be achieved by having a better lighting approach. If one could work with day-light and maximize its usage during the morning business hours then the following difference would be felt. We all know that light produces heat and it is this heat which the air conditioners first need to cool before the space gets conditioned to the desired coolth. That means the air-conditioners need to work more to get the same amount of cooling which translates to higher energy bills. Add to that the operation and maintenance cost of the lights and the compressor/filters of the air conditioner which is running extra.

There are ways and means to provide sunlight to every square foot of basement, 3 stories below. So providing the lighting into the stores and even blending with the desired interiors is not so serious a challenge for those who know how.

The woe gets multiplied in towns and cities where a diesel generator feeds the required electricity. The average unit bill shoots to ₹16/unit when we generate electricity from captive generators running on diesel.

We can today not only infuse sunlight to take care of the lighting needs but also almost eliminate the use of diesel in generators by using alternative technology to fuel it. In-fact the fuel can be produced on the spot out of thin air, the technology is in progress while fuel cells are already becoming a practice.

The Earth and Sun are the final source of energy. And its abundance is infinite. One can in a green-field or existing retail property use Geo-thermal technology to power their air-conditioners and top it with Solar PV to completely disconnect form the grid, in certain cases.

Very few understand that one of the prime expenses in a retail food chain is the gas they use to prepare their food. This too can be completely eliminated or limited to negligible cost if one follows true EEM’s.

When we mention food, we must also mention the highly depleted resource, water. Something any retail would require, to use in cleaning of the show-window or preparing food to simple drinking.

Application of rain-water harvesting can help. But by using expert hydrologist as a consultant, instead of hiring a bore-well drilling company. As they can advise on how to eliminate the cost of drilling deep when water can be had at half the depth. The water source can become near perennial with one good seasonal rain, if proper rain water harvesting technique is applied. This combined with sensible storage and use of Solar Pumps can save huge operational costs.

And while it’s true that high-end technology adds to higher cost. But by designing and building wise this cost can be made viable. In fact a Green Building can at times provide a 20-20-20 saving. That is up to 20% in construction cost, operational cost and earning through voluntary carbon credits by reducing the Green House Gas emission is possible.

Today one can create a 5000 feet square, ground + 1 storied building in 12days and start inhabiting it. A huge cost is saved in the interest of the term-loan, which makes it a sensible decision to take. While at the same time the product that is used to build it eliminates or reduces traditional high-carbon emitting materials thus follows the true Clean Development Mechanism. This is so applauded at the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change. (UNFCCC)

One could also make one of the walls in translucent concrete, to let diffuse sunlight and eliminate dark passages, which thus reduces use of artificial lights. These measures pay back in record time. Thus making the effort viable.

There are also options available to have RESCO’s, renewable energy service companies who work with a select few sustainable design firm, who on being hired, invests in the capital cost of Solar PV, thus eliminating any initial capital expenditure. With the option to pay-back in a 20 year period.

These design firms are presently exploring options to find investors who would fund the complete plethora of EEM’s – Geothermal, Low E-Glazing, LED & Air-Conditioners too. This system already works in the USA.

In fact some have tied up with Avante-grade entrepreneurs in India, who have manufactured products such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, ceiling fans and tube-lights which run with a mere 2 Kilo-Watt of Direct Current (DC) instead of A/c thus complement their efforts on a RESCO model of design.

So with Solar PV on roof-top a small retail shop can become completely self-sufficient in energy. Even with a CAPEX cost the fast pay-back period these product have, the company would have zero energy cost in 5-7 years!

The most important take away from the above is that each individual becomes a stake holder in making India a business power house while keeping sustainability of the eco-system and thus by default ones’ own self and prosper.

It’s time for Retail to adopt and adapt to Green Business Ideas!

Sandeep Goswami

 

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Green Business Idea – River Transport within Mumbai & Smart City ideas !


The UN Secretary General, call for a meeting on the 23rd September, to understand what each Country would be doing, in his attempt to lift sagging morale of the environmentalists and continued disinterest of the World leaders for providing time bound doable agenda which would actually translate to abatement of Climate Change, needs all the support one can give.
To blame World Leaders would be wrong, simply because there are very few in the World arena today who have leadership quality. Had it not been so, Syria would not have had a blood bath from which spawned the ISIS. But, selling weapons of Mass Destruction is also good for the Economy. At least in the short-term. For some.

Almost all the industrial sectors are in some way related to and prosper from War! From Gold to Games all profit. Yes, games..almost everyone can take part on the near real episode of glory and gore, without actually dying!

Perhaps it would make a lot of sense if Countries could have a CGI war ! The losing side could have all its real money, converted to bit-con transferred to the winners. As the say, a failed economy is as good as a dead economy! At least the planet & people would remain untouched in the bargain.

But this sadly is not the case across the Middle East or South Europe! Add to that the deadly mix of Ebola and flood and drought!

As many climate change report have more or less predicted what anthropogenic Global Warming would bring about. Armageddon  is perhaps imminent in the near distant future !

So what if the UN Secretary General, provides the World Leaders with another option to boost economy other than oiling the war machine?

What about asking each world leader to adopt a developing or underdeveloped Nation’s city and help transform it into a Climate Resilient City. For the Building Industry too uses almost all the industrial goods and services as does the war machines. So here is another opportunity to boost the Economy and lift the sagging morale of the Environment brigade.

At least in India, they can immediately start on 100 of them !

Then look at the impacts of joining rivers! And cleaning the Ganga ! For in some parts the Ganga still lives. Are we sure we will not uproot an ecosystem, which may be a possibility if it needs to be navigable all the way?

Rivers of Mumbai

And while we are at it perhaps practice cleaning up the smaller rivers first which go from within the megalopolis, to gain first hand experience of which company will do the best?

Mumbai, therefore offers one of the best opportunity to showcase a Eco-friendly transport solution thus making it a  smart city from a sublime mess it is today!

At one stroke of a genius a politician can not only win the hearts and minds of the people for a longer time, but also ensure that the commercial city thanks it with continually filling it’s party coffers! (No politician worth his/her salt would touch anything which does not give for self-aggrandizement. Thus for the greater good so be it).

Let us look at the advantages and possibilities of cleaning up the rivers of Mumbai.

For starters lets count some of the rivers in Mumbai 1. Dahisar River a river in the northern suburbs of Mumbai near the suburb of Dahisar. It originates in the Tulsi Lake in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the northern reaches of the city.

2. River Mithi (also Mahim River) is a river in Salsette Island, on which the city of Mumbai is located. It is a confluence of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes.

3. Oshiwara River begins in the Aarey Milk Colony, cuts through the Goregaon hills, across the Aarey Milk Colony before emptying into the Malad Creek. On the way it is joined by another creek near S.V. Road.

4.Poisar River begins in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and empties into the Marve Creek and finally into the Arabian Sea.

The Polluted & Choked Rivers of Mumbai

The Dahisar River was once so picturesque that Hindi films were shot here. During 1956-57, crocodiles were witnessed to be residing the river, thus proving that it could harbor life and had a perfectly balanced ecosystem.

The rivers are nothing more than a mere stream when it begins and is contaminated with industrial effluents and sewage.

What we see in Mumbai is more or less happening all over the country and even the world. Rivers are dying. And we all know that great cities around the world are mostly near river banks.

But when I look at the Mega Urbanized Mumbai, which perhaps has all the failures of modern human habitation; I can also find rivers & lakes and a  forest reserve, which overlooks the sea! An extremely rare and perhaps unique combination of diverse ecosystem within a small geographical area.

This is indeed a city worth saving and transforming into a model from were others can learn and follow. How to coexist !

And to transform this city we need a Green Business Idea. After all it is the business hub of India with a sizable Gurjati population, who too can lay claim that business is in their blood just as our P.M Mr. Narendra Modi !

The blue print for it is already there. What we must is implementation in the shortest possible time. And add to it the concept of river navigation. From a quarter away from the point of origin, to keep it safe and more pristine, let water transport begin. With boats which are designed with roof-top Solar to power it.

There would be an immediate appreciation of real estate around the banks of the river, and as stringent laws would apply for better discharge of residential waste water (with complete ban on industrial discharge; or with super efficient affluent treatment); redevelopment, of projects would take place.

The economy would naturally take a boost. By utilizing its rivers for transport. Just as the suburban railways or the Metro which is its new addition. One look at the origin and exit of Mumbai Rivers in the map given, completely proves the feasibility of such a venture.

While the river cleaning action and the operating of ferry would also boost many business, at the same time stringent actions can be taken for CRZ ( Costal Regulation Zone ) violations. One of the moot reasons for CRZ violations is rooted in the concept of having a home facing the water-front! Be it anywhere in the World, a sea or river facing property always fetches a premium. So would all the future properties along the banks of the rivers of Mumbai.

I say future, because the current batch of buildings which are being designed need a serious overhaul and we must build Energy Efficient Buildings which would be Climate Responsive and at the same-time vernacular in design, thus blend form and functionality.

Malabar Hill, Mumbai in 1900’s

Imagine a stretch of real estate, about half a mile deep on both the banks of all the Mumbai rivers, which gives the citizens a feel of living in Goa. Yes! the climate and the feel of Mumbai of the Koli’s must have been pretty much like the holiday paradise.

The average productivity of each Mumbaikar would increase many-fold. Life-style related disease would reduce and pollution would be brought down. With efficient river transport coupled with the already existing suburban rail and metro network, the need for passenger cars would reduce thus leading to de-congested roads.

The areas around the length of the river would have several parks and open spaces which would once again become the natural catchment areas and soak up the rain to create higher underground water table, thus keeping the sea away. And also reduce the potable water crunch Mumbai faces every summer. And if the dredging improves the flow of water current; electricity too can be generated through micro-hydle mechanism. Thus a river alive today would have multiple use to business. While remaining sustainable.

And this idea would resonates so well with the World Bank thinking. As in World Water Week (August 31-September 5), the World Bank has warned that the world’s present ways of producing energy and providing clean water are currently on a collision course.

World Water Week 2014

The Bank says that 15% of water withdrawn from the environment presently goes to energy production, and that  amount will rise to 20% unless there is a rapid shift to sustainable forms of energy. This comes at a time when clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.

It also warns that climate change will put further pressure on water and energy manage­ment by causing more outages to the water supply and intensifying severe weather events, such as floods and droughts. (read more)

It would also make a lot of business sense to have the City of Mumbai transformed into a Smart City, as it could act as a model for the new cities which we are thinking of building. What would work and what could fail can be easily mapped in this city is a microcosm of the country at large. The fight between nature and man,between conservation and commercialization is so well seen in everyday life of this once beautiful city.

The new capital near the city of Vijaywada which the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu is considering to develop. And considering that he is part of the NDA which is headed by our forwarded thinking Prime Minister, who would want to balance Economy and Ecology (although he is suspect of leaning more towards the Economy, presently) the idea that the researchers at Imperial College London have calculated must be brought to fore. The findings suggest many companies investing in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as tree-planting programmes or funding green energy in developing countries, may be having a bigger impact than they realise. Each tonne of CO2 offset by businesses brings $664 in additional benefits to host communities….But the paper outlines that purchasing carbon credits from well-managed offset projects not only reduces emissions, but also “creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits”.(read more)

So if business is in our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blood, I hope he would be able to transfuse some into the cabinet, albeit changing its colour to Green ! And it would not be a moment too soon, as Andhra is a stricken Naxalite state. And farmers too are a distressed lot.

A recent study of the World Bank says that there has been a dramatic decline in honeybee populations. It has received wide media coverage, and not just because it imperils honey production. Agricultural production is also at risk, due to the important role bees play as pollinators. In fact, the value of the services they and other insects provide for the main global food crops has been estimated to amount to $209 billion a year, or 9.5 percent of the value of total global agricultural food production.

In light of the challenges posed by the decline of honeybees – and while the jury is still out on what exactly is causing the decline – the resources farmers have at their disposal to maintain or boost their productivity levels bear thinking about. In fact, even absent this decline, an economic analysis of farming techniques seems appropriate given the profit-maximizing nature of most farm operations. However, very little work has actually been done to look at natural ecosystems and the boosts they can provide to agriculture. (read more)

And there is this last thing which our Prime Minister whom we believe has a sense of National pride would want to showcase at least one of the 100 cities in the C-40 cities campaign. Yes, both New Delhi and Mumbai were signatories which was was mentioned in –Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.

However, in the City Climate Leadership Awards to be held on 22nd September in New York, India sadly does not figure.While each of the efforts are business opportunities. Or rather Green Business Ideas –

C-40 Cities Award Finalist

C40 Cities Finalists.

 

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Green Business Ideas: Certified Green Building projects should automaticaly qualify for Financial Cerdit Rating.


Got ideas on how to make green buildings go mainstream ?the World Green Building Congress is asking on Twitter and is ready to offer a $10K prize. It is being run by the ClimateCoLab as a contest.

This definitely inspires to come up with another Green Business Idea.

A credit rating is an evaluation of the credit worthiness of a debtor, especially a business (company) or a government, but not individual consumers. The evaluation is made by a credit rating agency of the debtor’s ability to pay back the debt and the likelihood of default. Evaluations of individuals’ credit worthiness are known as credit reporting and done by credit bureaus, or consumer credit reporting agencies, which issue credit scores. Credit ratings are determined by credit ratings agencies. The credit rating represents the credit rating agency’s evaluation of qualitative and quantitative information for a company or government; including non-public information obtained by the credit rating agencies’ analysts. (Wikipedia)

An Energy Efficient Building or Green Building as it’s popularly known, can save upto 30% in electrical consumption and saves around the same percent, water with judicious and clever use. The two most critical commodity in the World today.

Now, if a company is able to save on its Operational Expenses, it would naturally reflect on the profit graph. And if the company is profitable its ability to meet financial commitments becomes strong. Lets analyse this further.

The Confederation of Indian Industry also known as CII and its other bodies such as the CII-CESD and IGBC have for the past many years doing a superb task to bring about a paradigm shift in the thinking of the populace to adopt sustainable methods to conduct business. There has been a varying degree of success. But it is not enough to make the desired dent to limit and reverse the trend of Climate Change.

One of the enormous barrier is resistance to change. And to consider every change which requires some degree of extra expenditure as very risky. Because the result of the change on making a building energy efficient,  is a process spread over a long time period.

This resistance to certain degree also occurs. because the traditional business class in India do not train themselves in any Business School.(60% of top CEOs in India do not have an MBA degree: INSEAD and HBR study😉 Another report says – The typical CEO in India is male, around 56 years old, and with a degree from a local university — mainly IIT or IIM. Only 24% have an MBA. The most popular university subjects studied by CEOs are business, mechanical engineering, and finance.(read more).

It is more of dynastic wisdom handed down over generations. And thus each business creates their own ideas for success and deviations from that set of wise counsel is at times socially as well as circumstantially difficult.

Thus the old adage – to cut iron we need iron, can be looked at to find the formula of success. Thus we must provide incentive which the average CEO can relate to and would also like to flaunt.

THE CREDIT RATING.

The more powerful the credit rating more would be the incentive for people to follow the diktats to go Green.

Recently the Government of India has initiated a movement

India to implement code for energy saving, green buildings construction by 2017

The Economic Times NEW DELHI: It will be mandatory for all state governments to  implement by 2017 the minimum requirements for energy efficient design and construction set by the central government to meet the challenges of depleting resources, increased urbanisation and rapid construction, according to a top official. Shifting its focus to building energy-saving structures, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) of the power ministry has made mandatory the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which acts like a “cross-check for building designs and specifications” to reduce the energy consumption through design and choice of material and equipment.Under its ambit are components like building envelopes (wall, roofs, windows), lighting, heat ventilation and air conditioning and electrical systems.Introduced in 2007, on a voluntary basis, the code sets the minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings with a connected load of 100 KW. Besides new buildings, it also covers old buildings which are getting renovated and/or extended.

Although a little disappointed that we have given ourselves beyond UNFCCC Paris COP. Where the wishful thinking of all climate change advocates would be to see the strict implementation of the Durban Declaration…

DURBAN Declaration. (pdf)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, delivered a breakthrough on the international community’s response to climate change. In the second largest meeting of its kind, the negotiations advanced, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, and the Cancun Agreements. The outcomes included a decision by Parties to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015. The President of COP17/CMP7 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: “What we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today.”

…. but the news coming close to the heels of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, it was indeed a good news.

While on June 2, the EPA released a proposal that will set the first-ever national carbon pollution standards limits for America’s existing power plants. Danger already lurks in the shape of Tony Abbott !

Tony Abbott seeks alliance to thwart President Obama on climate change policy – Tony Abbott is seeking a conservative alliance among “like-minded” countries, aiming to dismantle global moves to introduce carbon pricing, and undermine a push by US President Barack Obama to push the case for action through forums such as the G20. ……The combined front would attempt to counter recent moves by the Obama administration to lift the pace of climate change abatement via policies such as a carbon tax or state-based emissions trading. It is a calculated attempt to push back against what both leaders see as a left-liberal agenda in favour of higher taxes, unwise interventions to address global warming, and an unhealthy attitude of state intervention.

It would be perhaps one of the most defining moment for India to take up the leadership position and support what President Obama seeks to do, and in our Prime Minister Shri Narandra Modi we have a person who has an equally strong vision and a majority mandate. Who can do this.

Opposition to Obamas’ Climate Change Action Plan

The biggest bogey which any opposition raises is loss in job and money. And history has proven time and again this theory wrong.

And when you compare this to the report the World Economic Forum –

A growing consensus is emerging among the scientific and business communities that weather and climate extremes are on the increase, and that climate change contributed to a number of recent natural disasters. These include the European heat wave of 2003, and drought in East Africa in 2011 and in 2012. Losses resulting from climate-related disasters remain unacceptably high – in economic, social and human terms – making it imperative to build resilience, particularly in vulnerable areas.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change’s report, Climate Adaptation: Seizing the Challenge, captures some of the latest thinking in the field of climate adaptation and financing, with the goal of assisting decision-makers in the public and private sectors gain a better understanding of the issue.

Its Key findings completely deflates any debate to go against the logic of not working towards abatement of Climate Change.

1.Reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases are not happening fast enough. Preparing societies for the impacts of climate change, i.e. adaptation, must therefore happen in tandem with mitigation efforts.

2.Indices can inform decision makers on where climate adaptation is most necessary, and how best to allocate adaptation investments, including for prioritizing pre-disaster efforts. African nations, particularly Sub-Saharan, consistently emerge as the most vulnerable to climate change and the least ready to adapt, while a clear difference appears between developed and developing nations. More and better national data, particularly in developing countries, is required, while obtaining local data for comparison, for example across cities, may be a challenge. Metrics that are used to assess adaptation need can have conflicting aims and conclusions but competing methodologies can shed new light on seemingly intractable problems.

3.Up to 65% of the increase in the projected losses due to climate change could be averted cost effectively through adaptation investment. Decision makers need to look at “total climate risk” when considering adaptation investment and finance – this takes into account existing risk, future risk due to development and additional risk due to climate change.

4.Private sector funding will be needed to finance investments – the cash-strapped public sector will not be able to provide it all. Public sector funding can be leveraged effectively however and the public sector can also provide a framework that makes this investment attractive.

5.Water, food and energy systems are inextricably linked and so the use and management and particularly shortages of one can affect another, e.g. water shortages can affect crop yields, power generation and industrial processes. It is therefore crucial to consider each part of the water-food-energy nexus when making an investment or policy decision so that another part of the nexus is not compromised. Meanwhile climate change is stressing the nexus. Addressing this is beyond the scope of individual governments, companies or NGOs acting alone. Since awareness of the nexus is low, the current behaviour of companies or governments may not take it into account and therefore stress it further. A new approach is therefore required that involves multiple stakeholders with the aim of addressing these issues in a co-ordinated and holistic manner.

One does not have to be a scientist and least of all a myopic politician – corporate combine, engaged in short-term gain to understand that without FOOD & WATER even a Midas touch has no value.

But we usually read Fables and Moral stories as children. As our PM said, it’s time we bring our Culture to fore and start teaching them in the MBA schools!

For disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Climate Change! (click to read more)

 

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World Water Day – Do you know how much water a light bulb consumes?


By 2030, researchers estimate that the disparity between national water demand and reliable water supply will be nearly 50%. Currently, India has a total water demand of around 700 billion cubic metres, of which almost 85% is used for producing food. In another 17 years, India will have only half the water it needs, thanks to global warming and population explosion. On the World Water Day on March 22, the need to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating sustainable management of freshwater resources will be of pivotal importance. If we consider even the most cost-effective solution to reduce water scarcity, it will require an annual spend of nearly Rs35,000 crore by 2030, according to ‘Charting our water future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making’, a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.The report stated that India would require investments to the tune of Rs8 lakh crore over the next 20 years to provide basic infrastructure services like water, waste water and solid waste management. In India, just about 64% of urban population is covered by individual water connections compared to 91% in China, 86% in South Africa and 80% in Brazil. Allocation of Rs15,260 crore has been made in the Budget towards clean drinking water and sanitation as against revised estimates of Rs13,000 crore. A DNA News report by Dilnaz Boga.

While reading this under my study light, I looked up and started thinking – how much water does my light drink? I found some interesting answer under Saving Electricity, on water consumption to produce electricity (more information can be found in EIA page ). While I would not be able to verify the facts noted as under, even believing them to be accurate to some extent, presents a very sombre scenario.

Water Consumption by different types of Power Stations to produce electricity

  • Solar plant with dry cooling:  80 gallons per  megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with closed-loop cooling):  700-1100 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with open-loop cooling):  25,000-60,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (closed-loop):  500-600 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (open-loop):  20,000-50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Biomass (crops grown for the purpose of fuel):  40,000 to 100,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Natural gas fracking:  2-10 million gallons per well

This information required some chilled soft-drink and potato chips and lowering the temperature of the A/c. After all I have attended so many conferences on climate change, I have by now got used to the habit of consuming good food & drinks in luxury. How else can one solve the pressing issues of water scarcity and its related fall-outs like war and riots? Hunger and malnutrition caused due to drought and famine too requires a chilled pineapple juice in a PET bottle to be addressed properly.

Now let’s do some simple maths – 1 gallon = 3.78 litres (US- liter). As on July 31, 2010, and as per the Central Electricity Authority the total installed capacity of Coal or Lignite based power plants in India are 87093.38 MW.

So the water required to produce this electricity  87093.38 x 2268 liters = 19,75,27,786 litres.(assuming all are closed loop consuming  600 gallons/MW) Presently we have around 111 Thermal power plants which are coal/lignite based.

While it can be argued that water is recycled most of the time. That the coal, nuclear, Bio-mass, Natural gas fracking power plants  require water can not be denied. And it is impossible to stop the leakages. Some of it will have to escape, thus requiring continuous replenishment. Even Solar thermal requires water, though it can be called a saint in comparison to the others.

Thus a huge amount of water is not reaching the fields of a drought hit farm, or recharging the wells to quench the thirst. So with every drop of electricity produced we are removing vast amounts of water from the natural water cycle. This must be clearly understood.

India has an installed power generation capacity of 2,10,950 megawatts of electricity, according to government figures. And as per various estimates, India’s power generation meets only 90% of total demand.

TableAs the demand for electricity for a resurgent India is bound to increase, the thermal power plants have to increase their capacity or new plants would be needed to be set up. Same would be the case for Nuclear, Natural Gas, Bio-mass and Natural Gas Fracking.

With the table given, it is easy to the calculate how much water is required to produce electricity, which most of us waste. The common person needs to understand that Energy & Water are interlinked. Just as it is inside the body of a human. Without water, one has to die. Similarly without water we shall have no electricity. Until Renewable Energy, especially Solar PV and Wind mature to cover the demand supply gap. But this is not happening any time soon.

It is a choice in front of the intelligent animal named “human” to decide which is more important. To quench its thirst or thirst for more power to light up the ugly, unsustainable city which it habitats. The situation soon would be a choice of one or the other, unless we change the way we live. Sustainable design and living is no more an option but a necessity.

In my opinion, to celebrate World Water Day, municipalities all over the World  should announce 1 day of no water supply. This would make each and every citizen sit up and take notice of the school children walking down the streets holding placards on how to conserve water. The Police should arrest water thieves, a common thing in India & many other Asian countries and parade them in front of the media before putting them in jail. It is only then the seriousness of the problem be understood by the people. If at all.

For as long as city dwellers get their share of fresh-food and water supply, they care a damn from whose mouth it has been snatched. Thus, we will find people continue to throng so-called Holy men doing the unholy act of wasting water in cities of states which are in grip of severe drought.It is the mindset of the people which needs to be changed with sustained practical approach towards sustainable practice.

And one such idea could be by educating the people in a more grass-roots approach. We all need a home to live. And most in India aspire to own a home.

This could start with the building industry. The building industry consumes 40% of the world’s energy needs and 60% of all waste stems from it.

The Indian Builders Association has been seeking the Infrastructure status from the Government for a very long time. The Government could moot a law that in exchange of giving into that demand, the top management of all big and small builder and related stake-holder companies must go for certified & comprehensive Green Building training.

India practices two wonderful Energy Efficient Building design certification program through IGBC & GRIHA. Since its inception in 2001 IGBC, which practices the Indian version of LEED has 1,972 registered buildings and 149 projects are with GRIHA which opened in 2007. (source: Click here).

It is too small a number to effect a reverse change in the Global Warming and Water & Energy conservation. But if developers are made to attend Orientation Workshops as is organised by Centre for Science and Environment along with those by TERI -GRIHA and CII-IGBC. And without whose valid certificate one would not be given the licence to build, we may still be able to make the desired change we want in our effort to conserve Water and Energy.

This would automatically percolate to the public, the home/office buyers who would be bombarded by the green information in every brochure the developers distribute. And when the public starts to use the facilities and notice the difference it makes to their lives, the mission would have achieved its target.

And for once I believe this not to be a wishful thinking but a doable project. All that is needed is support from those who can influence the decisions of Governments.

 

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Business As Usual – a sure-fire guide to kill Sustainable Development Goals.


“Only Rupees Two ?. What about the rent of my roof ? With Mumbai realty prices starting at Rupees 6000/ feet square, I only get to save Rs.2 per KW on my electrical consumption and that too for a measly 20years ? A minimum of Rs 4 should be considered. After all it will be installed on my roof and it makes perfect business sense to bargain for more. After all the investor is doing this for profit and not for charity. It must be business as usual for him.”

With EPC for solar hovering at 8.5 Crore  shaving Rs. 4 out of 10 left us with a number which no investor who is not a buccaneer would touch and no banker would believe in. Especially when the user, does not have to pay a single Paise for the Engineering – Procurement – Construction (EPC) or pay for its Operation & Maintenance (O&M)  of the Solar power plant, but just consume the power produced for the full period of 20 years. And the Return on Investment comes via the tariff the user pays monthly, adjusted over the length of the contract.

In my effort to save the planet from global warming, I was pleasantly surprised when a few RESCO ( renewable energy service company ) approached me with the idea of applying Solar Photovoltaic as an alternate day-time energy source for large commercial establishments. It was like manna from heaven. What more could a practising LEED / GRIHA consultant want ? It would make all my buildings much more “greener” than the other green buildings. It was like a dream come true. Thus I ventured out to increase the ambition of my clients to go for Green Building certification, comforted by the fact that I would accrue more points on the certification scale with use of all that is possible with Solar Power.

Little did I know, that no one would be interested in utilizing such opportunity unless they could bargain for more. It is a typical tendency of all Human today. We always seek more. Even in death we seek more. While our ashes would hardly fill a small Urn, we like to have a few hectare of land as memorial. Everybody wants to build the Taj Mahal; the largest tomb-stone of this planet.

Capitalism and Greed ruled then. It rules now. The only difference is that the Emperor did not have to worry about Global Warming and sinking of the landmass under the sea !

It is therefore imperative that the Business As Usual model changes. Nations must act in unison to delete the present Capitalist meaning of Business as Usual. Simply because we are living in unusual times. This trend is evident even at the UNFCCC meets, which have now become more of a tour operators delight and the host country which wins the next round of meeting, prepares like one does after winning the Olympics, to rake in the moolah that would come from packed hotels; a sure-fire way to end the lean seasons of a city. And the repeated failure to come into concrete agreements since the Copenhagen Summit only lays credence to the alleged fact.

People follow the path shown by their leaders. When industry captains and world leaders apply the fundamentals of capitalism and have through that applications benefited self and the Nation in the past, it is hard for the common man not to practice it in one form or the other. In India, since Independence we have followed and still follow the L1 format. Everything has to be sasta-sunder-majboot ( cheap & best ). That we have a major scam a day and still considered 3rd world proves that we are wrong and horribly so. A few shiny glass buildings in 4 metropolis does not change the facts. All an unbeliever needs to do, is come to Mumbai and while staying in any tall-building wish not to spot slum & squalor. His/her prayers would not be answered.

It is therefore necessary for the leaders to take the responsibility of preaching the SREX Report and also the (IWR) Inclusive Wealth Report in our collective bid to forward the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG)

Millennium Development Goals Postcards

Millennium Development Goals Postcards (Photo credit: US Mission Geneva)

The Eight paths towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  2. Achieving universal primary education,
  3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women,
  4. Reducing child mortality rates,
  5. Improving maternal health,
  6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  7. Ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  8. Developing a global partnership for development

Which one can achieve by applying the SDG’s charter

  • Action-oriented
  • Concise
  • Easy to communicate
  • Limited in number
  • Aspirational
  • Global in nature
  • Universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.

Till now MDG has hardly percolated to the leaves just below the bud, forget reaching the grass-root.

The way I understand it, the Goal – Ensuring Environmental Sustainability should be the first and foremost focus. It needs to be action oriented and not conference oriented. Because conference by default don’t help in communicating easily. It is meant for the class not mass. And the class already aware of the subject are achieving almost everything as envisioned as long as it serves their narrow interest . It is the pace which is hardly comforting even if one accounts for the narrow interest oriented improvements the agenda of the rich promote.

How difficult would it be for the United Nations, to communicate directly to millions of internet users on a sustained basis and engage them on an one-to-one conversation to partake in Sustainable practice? Which directly benefit them, and thus allow them to make informed choices. How difficult is it that the World leaders come together and de-link the process of sustainable living and its practical methods from the BAU model as practised in the present flawed market system ? Why should the IRR (internal rate of return) and RoI (return on investment) be calculated based on a flawed capitalist system where profit always means self aggrandisement?

Why cant the World Bank and Economists innovate the datum through which sustainable tools and its products get measured for its RoI against the IWR ?

The logic is as follows. Should say, the Government of India decide that following MDG goal # 7 – all Buildings, Factories and Commercial  establishments opt for Renewable energy, as viable depending on the location, these are perhaps a few things that is bound to happen.

A) As the power consumption through fossil fuel would reduce, the pressure on the exchequer too would reduce. This is because we can import less oil. Now with the saved petro-dollars the government can implement all the social up-liftment programmes namely MDG goal 1; 2; 4; 5 & 6.

B) Large Hydle-powered dams would not be needed to be built any more and the lush green ecosystem which along with a few hundred villages, and with it the future of villagers would not have to sink into oblivion. This would directly save many from abject poverty and migration to cities to increase the size of slums. In fact the villagers could benefit by having some electricity themselves and improve their lot as mentioned in my earlier article Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. while the government benefits further.

C) While promoting gender equality requires the discipline and sobriety fast disappearing from our political class, as evident from the comments they have given on media in recent and not so recent incidents of crime against women. Empowering women can also be possible through use of RE, a few ideas on them can be found in my article Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.And through this too, as explained in the article the government can save on cross-subsidy and full-fill its promises for uplifting its countrymen.

It is business as usual for one political party not to allow an individual politician form a competing party to implement a good idea, which has mass appeal. Simply because in the next round of election the statesman may win against the politician.

Perhaps at the end of 1000 days in 2015, we will know whether we really achieved what was envisaged in the MDG or we still have to look beyond for the Future We Want.

 

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Sustainable Development Ideas:Building Sand Castle.


Rampant illegal sand mining across the Narmada valley on land acquired by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) from oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is not only threatening the delicate ecological balance of the area but could also reduce the project life of the dam. While truckloads of sand is being mined without any permission, the activity also contravenes the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award of 1979, which expressly states that land acquired for the SSP may be used only for agriculture or for reservoirs.The project life of the SSP, meant to irrigate 18 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat, 75,000 hectares in Rajasthan and 37,500 hectares in Maharashtra, is expected to be reduced because the mining is in the dam’s submergence areas, environmentalists say….In response to a Right to Information application, the NVDA has stated that it has not leased any land. “Thus, any mining activity on their land is illegal,” says social activist Medha Patkar , who has repeatedly raised the issue with the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) over the last two years. The collector’s report even named members of the sand mining mafia of the Badwani district, but no prosecution was initiated. One complaint by the NBA to Union minister for environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan in August said the government is on one hand spending crores of rupees for “catchment area treatment” that is mandatory as per the environment clearances issued to the SSP, and on the other hand is a mute spectator to hundreds of truckloads of mud, the topsoil discarded by sand miners, is being thrown into the reservoir. This could seriously affect the lifespan of the project, the NBA complaint pointed out. (Source:Sardar Sarovar Project hit by illegal mining)

We Indians like many other Countries, will have to wait for our “spring” to diminish the rampant corruption as prevalent today in all walks of life. The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the interlocutors for India at the UNFCCC will sit with eroded moral high-ground at Doha; that much is certain.Unless India wakes up and educates the total spectrum of consumer of SAND on how to conserve and sustain.

However, this article would focus on the collective responsibility of all and more so of the UNEP – SBCI to device methods to stop this madness.  Let us begin with understanding the cause and effect of SAND, before I propose my thoughts to “balance out the inequalities” before we can arrive at a more permanent solution.

SAND as we know, has its most use in the Building & Construction Industry. Manufacturing of Brick and Glass and many other uses. The lesser known  Beach nourishment to Hydraulic Fracturing equally require large amount of sand. Thus Sand’s many uses require a significant dredging industry, raising environmental concerns over fish depletion, landslides, and flooding. Countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia ban sand exports, citing these issues as a major factor.

Sand like water is both a friend and a foe. Just as water quenches ones thirst and can also drown everything; uncontrolled development leads to creation of too much of sand; i.e. it can render a place into a Desert. According to UNEP, about 36 million square kilometre, or one third (1/3) of the land on the earth, and one forth (1/4) of total population are affected by desertification. Among that, the land suffered from desertification in Africa is counted 10 million square kilometer.  In 1977 people met at the U.N. to discuss the problem of desertification. They came out with a Plan of Action to Combat Desertification which was a written document. The plan was not put into affect immediately though, because of both lack of financial and government support. In 1992, the U.N. met again and this time they developed the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. This document started being used in 1996. Affected developed nations need to donate to affected but not developed nations like Africa. This plan will help nations in need of money develop a plan to stop desertification. (Prospects and Problems, 2004)

The world’s great deserts were formed by natural processes interacting over long intervals of time. During most of these times, deserts have grown and shrunk independent of human activities. Paleodeserts, large sand seas now inactive because they are stabilized by vegetation, extend well beyond the present margins of core deserts, such as the Sahara. Desert fringes often are a mosaic of micro-climates. In these marginal areas, human activity may stress the ecosystem beyond its tolerance limit, resulting in degradation of the land. By pounding the soil with their hooves, livestock compact the substrate, increase the proportion of fine material, and reduce the percolation rate of the soil, thus encouraging erosion by wind and water. Grazing and the collection of firewood reduces or eliminates plants that help to bind the soil. “India, with a burgeoning, high resource-dependent population on land that is 32 percent degraded and 24 percent more – or 82 million hectares – in the process of being degraded,  – Brij Mohan Singh Rathore, joint secretary in India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.

“Humanity is the only desert-making species and we’ve been degrading usable land at one percent per year,” says Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). “Land degradation is the missing link to sustainable development, land degradation costs 11 percent of global GDP today,” said Gnacadja. “If it makes sense to the world today to be carbon neutral, in not striving for a degradation-neutral land are we not being senseless?” he asks.

So what if the problem of one is made into profit of another? Let us explore an idea which with proper thought, especially by Ecologists, Entomologists , Botanist and Zoologists sitting across economists and trade-pundits could be put into action.

We all know that The Building & Construction Industry account for nearly 60% of the Sand consumption. As the development and growth of cities continue and as per UNEP-SBCI data, nearly 80% of the population would live in Cities by 2050 AD we are looking at an explosion of construction to meet the demands of housing and trade. With resource getting dearer by the day, illegal sand mining will take up horrendous proportions, leading to major environment catastrophe, unless innovation are looked at.

And one such innovation could be importing of Sand from the Sahara and Sub- Sahara region to India and perhaps all the BASIC countries,where growth would be exponential as is being predicted by the World Bank and United Nations.

The concept if made workable would not only provide the building material; while we find alternative materials for building and designing our cities. (some of which I have already mentioned in the article –Green Business Ideas : Tall Buildings made from waste plastic is possible & its LCA is cheap – a builders delight and boon to Environmentalist) We would be able to stop immediately the sand-mining but most importantly the desertification of some of the regions such as the Sahelian Region in Africa and the Kutch and Barmer region closer home in India.

The best thing that may come out of this Green Business Idea is that, the UN and other local bodies which are fighting a hard battle to stop desertification would get the boost from the trade & business sector as the much needed money to keep the “green ridge line” intact. As beyond green ridge, sand dredging trucks can keep scooping up the sand which keeps crawling towards habitation. However care must be taken that between the green line and the desert only a depth of a Kilometre is allowed for the dredging to happen and not allow the trucks to venture beyond and ruin the eco-system that is out there. For deserts are alive too.

Before I end, I would like to leave this thoughts to all my compatriots in the environment and green building sector  and that is –

While we all may be talking of “GREEN BUILDINGS” through certification processes such as LEED or GRIHA, unless we move towards innovation, we would very soon not have the building materials to build the very designs we are happy making. It is one thing to become redundant due to unforeseen circumstance and quite another to have an ostrich approach to the problem which would effect the livelihood of many. Because, all said and done the Building & Construction industry is the single largest consumer of all the produce from every trade and industry sector. Therefore it is imperative that Architects innovate, Developers accept and most importantly the Government of India, must make importing of Sand whether from within the country ( intra-state ) or from Africa. It is very easy to identify, sand extracted from river and seas. These must be made economically un-viable to the sand collected from the deserts. This could become the sure-fire way to solve the problem of Sand and Desertification.

Courtesy: http://desertificationb.tripod.com/id1.html ; http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/deserts/desertification/;  http://www.green.go.jp/green/gyoumu/kaigai_e/03.html

 

 

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CDM -the Scam & the Redemption


In the absence of any monitoring system under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism or CDM (see box), DNA has found that several large projects in India that have been declared green and sustainable under the scheme are not only polluting the local environment but were also established by violating various environment laws. However, because of their status, these firms are permitted to sell carbon credits in the market, earning huge revenue in the process. These are the paragraphs from a superb investigative Journalism by DNA corespondent -Gangadhar S Patil.

In his article, Carbon Credit Fraud: How big firms faked green to mint gold he goes on to say – High cost and uncertainty ensure that many genuinely clean and sustainable projects fail to attain CDM status. These projects, handled by small-time developers, fail to attain CDM status because of the high cost involved in the application and verification process. Even if they manage to pass these hurdles, they don’t earn enough carbon credits to attract real traders in the market.

What Mr. Patil, infers is more horrifying than just the manipulation of the scheme to amass wealth, it is down-right criminal, if true.

Absorptions bands in the Earth's atmosphere cr...

Absorptions bands in the Earth’s atmosphere created by greenhouse gases and the resulting effects on transmitted radiation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are firms deliberately overproducing greenhouse gases (GHG) for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to earn revenue through the sale of carbon credits under the clean development mechanism or CDM scheme? The first indication is the fact that an analysis of the total carbon credits issued to projects across the globe, including India, shows that over 50 per cent of the total carbon credits issued until July 2012 were for the destruction of a deadly greenhouse gas called HFC-23 (Hydro Fluoro Carbons-23). It is 11,700 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and is created during the manufacture of HCFC-22, a gas used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

In comparison, renewable energy projects like wind, solar and biomass, together, account for less than 30 per cent of the total carbon credits issued in India; the figure is 20 per cent for the world. The CDM scheme allows firms manufacturing HCFC-22 to earn huge carbon credits by destroying its by-product, HFC-23. Since the cost of producing HCFC-22 is lower than the revenue generated by the sale of carbon credits issued for destroying HFC-23, it is possible that HCFC-22 is being manufactured solely for the purpose of destroying its by-product and earning carbon credits instead.

English: Greenhouse Gases

English: Greenhouse Gases (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second red flag is the fact that despite a sharp fall in the price of HCFC-22 due to supply exceeding demand and steep global economic recession, the production of this GHG has continued to remain at the same level…….Experts are not clear about what is happening to the excess HCFC-22 produced. Some believe that companies could be stocking it; others believe it is being clandestinely released into the atmosphere. As a result, there is no actual reduction of greenhouse gases though the total number of carbon credits issued is huge.

The last sentence would and should give shivers to any right thinking person. However, with the Country governance is doldrums due to the impact of one scam to another, the latest being coal; the knee-jerk reaction the government took this week in boosting the economy would not only impact the rudimentary Sustainable practices, it can erode it completely, with some  corporates muscling in their agenda of “growth” at the cost to the ecosystem.

carbon-Credit-Card

carbon-Credit-Card (Photo credit: charlesfettinger)

Today the greatest unrest is because of Energy requirement, which comes from fossil fuel and with Coal hitting the scam list, it would be difficult for the government to allow mining ( unless strong-arm tactic are used) and feed the critical requirement of the industries. Thus importing coal would gather steam. Which in no way helps in abating GHG, just reduces pollution at ones own door. The second being LPG, now it is well documented that Oil corporations are bleeding due to subsidy, but to stem the flow what is required is imagination not short-term solution.

Further, the increase in LPG price and the cap in its domestic use, would spawn another scam /corruption which now is a default setting among us.

And to stay in governance the Government would be very tempted to turn a blind eye on the misdeeds. So what must be done to balance “growth” and come out of the log-jam which is called “policy paralysis”?

As always, each problem has sustainable solutions; we only need to find them and in this article through the use of CDM.

In a recent debate, to the current situation at TIMES NOW TV, one of the guest in the Panel quoted – ” Darkness is not opposite of Light but the absence of light”.  Resonating the sentiment I would say that the failure of the CDM policy is not the failure of the idea, for the idea in itself is the original “Green Business Idea”  under which heading I have written many a blog and today I rest my arguments with the link to a series of those which directly point to a solution. What is required is to make the system a little more fool-proof. And to this extent the media, with its depth of reach should partner those who walk the path towards sustainability.

It is well documented, that traditionally in India the debt of the Father is paid by the Son. Horrific tales of the Bonded Labour are known to many. But if it’s a sad tale, it also has an opposite side. The side which investors in CDM and the Banks need to see; the honesty of the grass-root citizens of India. Unlike corporate frauds, they pay their debts. At times with their lives.

The Indian as opposed to the pseudo (westernised) Indian, always has paid respect to Nature and if one takes any religious festival of India, Nature is given due importance. In my earlier article Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming & Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming;Part-II Killing Trees; I have tried to document this aspect within the limited knowledge I could gather.

Further, I believe that the concepts which I have attempted to project through many of the articles termed Green Business Ideas, and especially – Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests; Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. All have the potential to earn CDM benefits. We can call them CER or REC; the money can be international or national but it must be available at the grass-root level. And at the level where innovations make a difference.

Greenhouse gas intensity in 2000 including lan...

Greenhouse gas intensity in 2000 including land-use change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we still need to rip the bowels of our Mother Earth, to feed our insatiable needs, we can actually limit them by creative thought; Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers.This very act alone would save thousands of petro-dollars and improve the fiscal  deficit. While at the same time creating millions of jobs in the service and allied industries of the Solar market. While the above thoughts look at the Indian grass-roots, the middle class too can benefit and its mental outlook can be changed with Green Business Innovation : Offices can now print on a E-paper and save forest.;Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.But these too, need the support form the UNFCCC and the Banks which traditionally look at large caps and easy return; which lead to the fraud in the first place.

While the present Mumbai city many not have enough roof-space to generate its own electricity, by making laws for future re-developments and up-coming townships (Green Business Ideas: the missing LEED/GRIHA credits can help boost economy worldwide.) a great amount of job creation and by that default wealth can be generated. The crisis of energy can be tackled and that should be the goal.

Within a span of 10 years, should Sustainable building methods become norm, the government can further cut its fiscal deficit by increasing the energy tariff to what it should be, while encouraging CDM benefits for the common person. The concept is addressed somewhat in Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy.

 The government in its first avatar of UPA-I started well in the path towards sustainability; but partisan politics and myopic views of both the political and corporate masters have not helped in boosting the concept which it came out with (Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success)What it must do is lend its ear to the citizens, who always care for good governance and will stand as a solid wall of support if the benefits from CDM flows directly towards them, instead of becoming another profit-making tool for the unscrupulous corporate entities.

 

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Green Business Ideas: the missing LEED/GRIHA credits can help boost economy worldwide.


 

The World over, corporates and politicians have used the bogey of financial crisis and slow economic growth to push wrong agendas, where the Planet and the People have always suffered to Profit a few. Be it building Dams & Bridges, decimating forest and sea-bed, GM food or Nuclear Power, limited understanding and short-term success have historically given way to disaster. It is time to pause and not give in to pressures and the bogey of economic collapse.  And it is specially true for India. Because as an emerging Nation we can use our collective intellect and find new avenues of economic prosperity. Why can we not create our own indices of growth and innovate ?

Quoting a few paras form the DNA News paper

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the state government will urge prime minister Manmohan Singh to scrap a notification which has restricted high-rises and “stopped real estate activity” in the city. Speaking at a function to inaugurate the LBS Road flyover constructed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) on Friday, Chavan said the notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) said high-rises in the country can only be built along roads which were wider than 30m. “In Mumbai, there are only two such roads,” Chavan said. He said this had “stopped real estate activity in Mumbai” Chavan said while everyone was worried about the repercussions of the global financial crisis on the country, with an impact of the slowdown being evident in many sectors, it was necessary for Mumbai to grow economically as it was the economic capital of the country. “If the country has to weather this (crisis), then Mumbai has to be the engine of growth… So, Mumbai’s infrastructure must be world class,” he added.

While, no one can deny the need for economic boost and given the  high-carbon “chakravyuh” (see definition) we have bound our modern civilization to, without destroying the ecosystem in some form or other, Humans can’t progress. Even towards the ideal low-carbon life-style we all strive for. However, it would be folly to find quick fix or half baked solutions,which would not only add to Climate Change but the effort would in itself be counter-productive, thus leading to a spiralling situations of throwing more effort and precious resources to correct the bad.

Reading further into other related News in the DNA paper one finds – The opening of Kurla flyover will clog the entire Kurla station area as the bridge narrows down to two-lane road on its either side. Residents said the flyover that was opened is originally a part of the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) and should have been elevated.

It does not need a rocket scientist to understand that taking wrong decisions would only lead towards disasters and difficulty for the common person.It is easy for an orator to sway the people in thinking that the recommendations and laws are for the common good, while the truth is completely different. Had it not been so,  towns/ villages  just 100 KM from our great cities would not be still lacking basic amenities.

The MoEF’s recommendation to disallow any high rise on roads less than 30m was not taken by the officials on whim & fancy. Environmental matters are complex. The cause and effects of an environmental disaster are always long term. Flash point do not occur in the blink of an eye, but builds over time which can’t be understood by the common person. And never by those whose sole goal is self preservation.

Let us focus on the article at hand. For Mumbai to grow, we need to build high rises and give into the demands of the builders. While it is absolutely true that the building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors and its growth would indeed help boost the economy, I would disagree to the argument that by discarding the MoEF laws we would be doing a service to the Nation and the Planet .

Using many of my previous articles as continuity and support to this article, such as –

Green Townships.;Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important.

Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.

Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.

Green Business Ideas : P.M.Manmohan Singh’s idea of Terminal Market Complex is a superb Green Idea which needs to be implemented

I have covered as simply as possible the ways we can develop our country, especially the Building and construction sector  including briefly touching on the subject of Water & Food, without which there would be no cities. And continuing from there I would like to state that we need  pragmatic thoughts to truly make our India a strong and Green Nation. And therefore sharing a few thoughts which I hope, the experts and the influential would find some spark with which they can create a truly brilliant idea to move this Nation forward.

1. It has been stated by some experts that reserved land by MADHA and the Port  Trust of Mumbai should be freed. I disagree, instead with strong laws we must completely make over the dilapidated areas of the old city. With strong laws, which does not allow for any protest, equitable distribution of space must be allocated to those who are presently residing while making room for more.

For example a proper town plan be made, and as per the design allocate  the plots to existing and new citizens.  Irrespective of the size of the earlier tenements all would get  plots or flats as per the master plan. Any legally valid extra space which would have been the property of a citizen in the old town, must then get converted into bonds  and handed to the rightful owner. Which they can in-cash in buying property in other part of the city by the same builder or simply have that converted into cash.

This will enable builders and planners to have the required town planning laws in place, have more 30 meter wide roads to build high-rises alongside open spaces which is for safety & extremely vital to allow percolation of rain-water which would increase the water table. Because with development density the most important factor would be the requirement of water, which is already scarce. I have tried to capture the grim prospect of water in Green Business Ideas – Sell water at the price of petrol – and reap the ‘fringe’ benefits.  but I know that I’m not even close to the  serious situation this one subject demands.

2. The present FSI / TDR laws must be revamped as many seek but, with impetus given to grant higher FSI only in the satellite city of Navi Mumbai and the likes of tier II cities such as  Nashik, Sholapur and Ahemadnagar etc, with great planning and speedy approval of rapid transit systems. While the  transit systems would take time to  develop to the world-class standards, given the vote bank politics, cumbersome and archaic laws and simple lethargy and ignorance of ground realities within various government departments; we can definitely take the IT industry, in which we are the world leaders to the next level.

In the article VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ? the concept which I had suggested is already a hit in the UNFCCC and even the Climate Group responded by providing me an article which shows the use of VoIP  to have a 5 Nation meet, pre Rio+20 summit. Saving huge amount of GHG emission and hard currency.

If we are truly  in the 21st century then why do we everyday travel to and fro from place of work to home and vice versa, especially those who have a desk job? Imagine developing gated townships which would by default have a business / convention centre and the residents of the township need to travel just that distance ( by bi-cycle preferably or walking ) and link up to their HQ offices?

Various distinct benefits can be derived – A] Smaller HQ office, this saves a lot of money for the company. B] Cheaper office spaces in the satellite townships. C] Better retention of talent who otherwise would find the commute difficult and accommodation within the Megalopolis unaffordable. D] Less traffic and pollution.

To give this idea a boost, the government both the state and centre should come up with laws and incentives which encourage these developments. In fact the LEED & GRIHA  green building rating system should incorporate these suggestions  as  credit points, which on achieving or attempting to achieve by the developer/builder,would open various incentives by the State & Centre. And they need not be directly monetary in nature.

3. The incentives which are actually required are already accepted recommendation at the centre. On January 7th 2010 at New Delhi during a stake holder meet initiated by GRIHA & MNRE the suggestion to have a single window clearance for all Green Building 3-star to 5 star  or Silver to Platinum LEED rated building should be 3 months maximum was accepted, this kind of acts can reduce the cost to builders a great extent. However, we do not see much traction at this end. Even the announcement of the then MoEF minister of preferential clearances for Green projects have not found much favour. And there are multiple reasons for that. The economic downturn, unfavourable land use policies and the most important, rampant corruption, which does not let good thing come to pass. Here again, if the public and private sector do rise up to innovation a lot of transparency can happen.

Single window clearance can’t be denied if the developer has been able to fix his designs and plans in accordance to all laws and developed the complete project in 3D and express it in the virtual reality. In the article Green Business Ideas : Virtual World Design can save the real world losses.an attempt has been made to show that how already existing practice can be taken to the next level of innovation and perhaps with active participation of ideas from experts the  3P agenda can truly be achieved :- Planet – People – Profit.

4. Regulation and control where it is most required must be put and decontrol of  building materials like cement/steel with a minimum and maximum price band must be put in place. No free market run, when it comes to development of the cities of India. As for the revamping of the megalopolis, as I have mentioned in my earlier article land prices too must have a cap. An upper limit and a lower limit for plots in different locations must be fixed and that can’t be crossed by law. More on this idea is mentioned in Affordable Housing: The Simples rules required.This would make a level playing field for cost-effective construction and affordable housing. In the flip side the good developers would themselves create sustainable buildings thus a Sustainable city would take shape.

Let all of us understand, and the layman more so, that a building life-span is a minimum 50 years. A bad infrastructure & town-planning today would make the suffering of the citizens  last for 50 more years, are we ready for that ?

 

 

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Sustainable Development Goals – the grassroot barriers


With all the talk we do about environment protection, safe deposing of toxic substance and circular economy, this recent advertisement actually shows us how shallow the words on environment protection are and how the Corporate world would still love teach the “developing” countries and the “third world” countries what it knows best – Destruction.

This Kohler-Co-Boom-Crash-Bang advertisement makes me cry out in despair. And another by the scooter manufacturer Hero, in their latest product Hero Maestro, proudly displays the IQ of the advertisement company, whose creative could think of the story board  where a parody is made out of a rare bird watching (connecting to nature) and bringing it down to the frivolous. While the former advert is a complete anti-thesis to all  talk about austerity and balanced consumption. It is a slap on the face of the  authors and followers of the Sustainable Development, Millennium Development and the Inclusive Wealth Report. While a free world has a right to express itself and  individuals should live a life-style of their own choosing; the time for vulgar extravagance which directly impacts nature must be curbed.

That such large companies who should know better the impact of visual medium on the minds of the audience is a telling report on the rot of the human race and the failure of us collectively to educate our children and ourselves on the dangers of Climate Change and the impact of Global Warming. Before the Rio+20 summit of the UNFCCC, I had made an appeal in form on an article that the United Nations, CAN International, Green Peace International and other Climate change forums like the CIICESD, WBCSD should create advertisements to create awareness. –UNFCCC – A Little Advertisement can help save Earth.

In three days time I would be using my printer for the last time. The reason is that Lexmark the company could not create a mark of its own in India. An absolutely perfect, 5-in-one printer is junk for want of ink cartridges!  The manufacturers do not have a mechanism in place to take back goods for recycle. And with all the hype on  the mechanism for Reuse – Recycle – Renew  is just as nascent as it was when the concept dawned. No company likes to standardize products such as ink of a printer, because they want only to sell their own goods. And the government too is a mute spectator to this tamasha!

Being the LEED / GRIHA  consultant, I believe in walking the talk. Using energy-efficient products, using public transport as far as possible. In effect the Reuse – Renew – Recycle is our core practice. So I went to the store from where I had purchased it and asked if there is any exchange offer, or would they at-least take it for proper recycling. The answer was a resounding No!

Next, I went to Lamington Road, the famous electronic bazaar of Mumbai. It is from here all electronic trade for India happen. ” My friend, if you wish you can leave the printer with me”, said my friend; an electronic goods trader and repair shop owner. ” Every month I sell junk I will sell this too.” he said. However he warned me that he was doing this as a favour and I should not expect any money on it. I know he was telling the truth, I tried selling a few cellular phones I own. Having bought them at an average price of Rupees 18,000 each, the total price offered by a second sale shop was Rupees 500 ! And I bought them in the year 2010 AD!!

As you can see from my personal experience stated above, and I’m sure there would be similar resonance from like minded individuals; there is absolutely no incentive in recycling. And the rich ( who consume most) would rather destroy a perfect home to build another, rather than even pause for a minute to think about the homeless, the needy or the poor. And that is exactly why the larger corporations and the advertisement companies should all the more take the responsibility and initiative to educate the masses on the merits of recycling. And initiate actions through business forums to standardize products which is needlessly complicated.

For, example I can insert my SIM card into a tablet, a 4-G cell phone or even the 1st generation cell phone and it would work. But when it comes to brand I still choose one over the other. That perception will always stay. All said and done there is a Brand loyalty. Ask Apple or Google or Microsoft.

If Kohler is listening then here is what I would have done the advertisement –  a perfect home being dismantled and being given away to the homeless or an orphanage, while building a new one around a tap.

Yes! it’s just a tap, when one turns it provides water, and for those living in the suburbs of some of the famous megalopolis in India; foul and dirty municipal water – Not Milk and Honey. So please grow up.

And  as a LEED/ GRIHA consultant, after watching this advertisement it would be difficult to recommend the product for any Green Building project.

 

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Green Business Ideas: India gives a PAT to Inclusive Wealth Report 2012


Whatever said and done; the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has the best sense of timing when it  comes to providing impetus to the Economy, launching PAT under NMEEE this week, is one such achievement. Let us look at how such green initiatives are going to be one of the best bet in boosting the Green Economy not only in India but world-wide.

A direct link can easily be established between India’s NAPCC agenda (of which PAT is a part) and IWR’s core thought. I had dealt in greater detail on what is NAPCC in – Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success. So I will only bring out the thought which resonates with the IWR in this article. Below are some of the very recent remarks found on the News, post the culmination of UNFCCC‘s summit at Rio and excerpts from the UNU-IHDP’s & UNEP’s  report IWR 2012 .

guardian.co.ukThe bizarre weather of early summer in the US – from heatwave, wildfires, drought to freak storms – is just a sampling of what is to come for 2012 and a window to the future under climate change…..

green-buzz.net – Global warming will mess up with attempts to save the Amazon rainforest, based on a negative new research that predicts that a third of its trees will be wiped out by even small temperature rises. …

guardian.co.uk – Whenever an episode of extreme weather – heat wave, flood, drought, etc – hits the headlines, someone somewhere is sure to point the finger of blame at human-induced climate change….

bbc.co.uk – Leaves are getting narrower on some plant species as a result of changes to the climate, a study has suggested.

In the last decade, almost one million people have been killed by disasters and more than one trillion dollars have been lost. Yet only 1% of international aid is spent to minimise the impact of these disasters : UNDP

The remark of UNDP simply reinforces the scope and depth of opportunity global business has in extracting itself out of the morass of economic slowdown and begin towards a newer and dynamic economic model based on the lines of a B-Corp, a recent and fast catching phenomenon around the western hemisphere.  And presently the slow down of  world economy is partly due to the slowdown in ideas and direction in the EU and lets not forget the Lehman Brothers very soon, lest the USA makes similar mistake again, in its present climb-up the ladder of economic well-being.

“IWI is among a range of potential replacements which world leaders can consider as a way of bringing great precision to assessing wealth generation in order to realize sustainable development and eradicate poverty,”said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, during the launch of the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 (IWR), a joint initiative launched at Rio+20 by the “International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP) hosted by the United Nations University and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Wealth accounting, the concept behind the IWI, draws up a balance sheet for nations and shows countries where their wealth lies. By taking into account a wide array of capital assets a nation has at its disposal to secure society’s well-being, it presents a more comprehensive picture and informs policy makers on the importance of maintaining their nation’s capital base for future generations. The importance of keeping an eye on the full range of a country’s capital assets becomes particularly evident when population growth is factored in.

Key findings from the report are:

  • While 19 out of the 20 countries experienced a decline in natural capital, six also saw a decline in their inclusive wealth, putting them on an unsustainable track, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, South Africa and Nigeria were the nations that failed to grow. The remaining 70 per cent of countries show IWI per-capita growth, indicating sustainability.
  • High population growth with respect to IWI growth created unsustainable conditions in five of the six countries mentioned above. Russia’s lack of growth was due largely to a drop in manufactured capital
  • 25 per cent of countries which showed a positive trend when measured by GDP per capita and HDI were found to have a negative IWI per capita. The primary driver of the difference in performance was the decline in natural capital
  • With the exception of France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, all countries surveyed have a higher share of natural capital than manufactured capital, highlighting its importance
  • Human capital has increased in every country and is the prime capital form that offsets the decline in natural capital in most economies
  • There are clear signs of trade-off effects between the different forms of capital
  • Technological innovation and/or oil capital gains (due to rising prices) outweigh decline in natural capital and damages from climate change, moving a number of countries – Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – from an unsustainable to a sustainable trajectory
  • Estimates of inclusive wealth can be improved significantly with better data on the stocks of natural, human and social capital and their values for human well-being.

Recommendations

While inclusive wealth has increased for most countries, the report shows that an examination of natural capital is crucial for policy makers.

Even though a reduction in natural capital can be offset by the accumulation of manufactured and human capital, which are reproducible, many natural resources such as oil and minerals cannot be replaced. As a result, a more inclusive definition of wealth that will secure a legacy for future generations is urgently needed in the discussion of sustainable economic and social development.

The report, which will be produced every two years, makes the following specific recommendations:

  • Countries witnessing diminishing returns in natural capital should invest in renewable natural capital to improve their IWI and the well-being of their citizens. Example investments include reforestation and agricultural biodiversity
  • Nations should incorporate the IWI within planning and development ministries to encourage the creation of sustainable policies
  • Countries should speed up the process of moving from an income-based accounting framework to a wealth accounting framework
  • Macroeconomic policies should be evaluated on the basis of IWI rather than GDP per capita
  • Governments and international organizations should establish research programmes to value key components of natural capital, in particular ecosystems.

UN Under-Secretary General and Rector of the United Nations University, Prof. Konrad Osterwalder, concluded that using the IWI would safeguard the interests of many developing nations.

If one reads the document of NAPCC  and compares it with the MDG’s which reads- “The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have functioned as an important tool to focus international attention and action around key pressing global issues,” he said. “As 2015 fast approaches, the deadline for meeting the MDGs, it is clear that the opportunities for many developing countries to achieve their goals may be compromised if the present rates of decline of various crucial ecosystem services continue.”  – one would find a lot of commonalities.

And in the recently launched PAT document India is moving another step in the right direction towards inclusive wealth generation. – Designated Consumers (DCs) account for 25% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and about 45% of commercial energy use in India. In order to further accelerate as well as incentivize energy efficiency, the Government of India is designing a Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme. PAT is a market based mechanism to enhance cost effectiveness of improvements in energy efficiency in energy intensive large industries and facilities, through certification of energy savings that could be traded. The genesis of the PAT mechanism flows out of the provision of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

By this one very act, if implemented properly business all-over the world would get a boost. An an Emerging Economy India needs to develop and for that it has to create capacity in the core fields of – 9 industrial sectors namely Thermal
Power Plants, Fertilizer, Cement, Pulp and Paper, Textiles, Chlor-Alkali, Iron & Steel, Aluminium and Railways.

To bring in energy efficiency in these core sectors Indian Industry would be looking at the West which whatever be the current economic scenario, still lead in R&D in many areas and has off-the shelf solutions for most industrial machinery. They have the state of art product design and solution and a need a wider market which can absorb the supply. The BRIC Nations are the ones which can rise up to the occasion and with PAT, India can attain leadership position by 2015, in this space. NMEEE can be divided into   PAT; MTEE; EEFP & FEED  and together they would not only be able to have a positive impact on the GDP but their implementation shall have a direct positive effect on various service sectors  and  create the much needed jobs all around.

Let us take the most important and controversial sector of Thermal Power Plants – it is one of the greatest concern for Environmentalist all over the planet and if this sector itself has to reduce its SEC, serious thought would be applied to overcome the challenges.  And through PAT it shall be addressed because conventional thermal power fuel is coal, which although a natural capital is also a potential GHG hazard and to extract it we need to deplete the most important wealth of any Nation – the forest cover.

The Indian Industry through the CII is already geared up for this challenge and ground work has already started. The CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre [CII Godrej GBC] is promoting the concept of ‘Make Indian thermal power plants world class’. The main aim is to bring the industry together to exchange views and meet new technologies, facilitate continuous performance improvement in thermal power plants and thereby achieve world  class standards. I am confident that given the stakes, a green economy with long term wealth generation vs  “gone” ecology, the present Thermal Power plants which are coal fired and GHG intensive would take on the new avatar of  CSP driven thermal power plants.

To the common person who associate Thermal power plants to polluting coal and do not want to see them existing any-more, the coal is just a fuel that is used to boil the water to steam, which runs the turbines and generates electricity. In technical terms all that is required is to switch the fuel from the GHG intensive Coal to Concentrated Solar Power or CSP.  The era of Solar Aided Power Generation from Conventional Fossil Fuelled Power Stations has already arrived.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region a great concept towards renewable energy is taking shape The DESERTEC concept which will be an astronomical step towards sustainable supply of green energy at a global dimension. It is estimated that CSP plants in MENA can generate up to 470, 000 MW by 2050. Similarly in the USA, Bright Source Energy’s tower solar collector in the Mojave Desert would supply up to 900 megawatts of clean energy to California in the next decade. The new technology will use several “power towers” at each commercial plant. An array of hundreds of mirrors known as heliostats will reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop each tower, and the resulting steam will power a turbine.

The above illustrates the great changes that are occurring in  the Industry and Economy of the world. And we have in the India context only  touched the first of the 9-DC’s considered under PAT. Rest assured, the green economy model would soon encompass all sectors of industry mentioned. And it would be the best thing than can happen to this planet.

 

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Green Business Innovation : Offices can now print on a E-paper and save forest.


 

Architects typically work with large-format drawings on 24 by 36-inch or larger paper. Most architectural firms have their own large-format printers or plotters to print and copy computer-generated drawings. Architects and construction houses waste a lot of paper. Even when they design a LEED building. Because the way most of them work is not sustainable at all, this I covered in my earlier article, Green Buildings – How most of them are really made, the inside story.

The reason for this is simple. The corporates which run these architectural houses are mostly developers who have become so callused by the “system” which runs India, that they have lost the perspective of good and bad. For most of them Sustainability is another “task” and “Green norms” are an impediment which they need to give a lip service too. Thus one would see, even for a small correction or revision, entire design sheets are printed, minimum 3 prints of size A -Zero.

Since trees come in all different sizes, it is difficult to estimate how much paper comes from one tree, however according to one paper manufacturer, a cord of wood measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet produces nearly 90,000 sheets paper. Taking the last census report, India’s total population was around 1,20,00,00,000. If every Indian save one sheet of paper a day approximately 15,000 Trees can be saved. If 15,000 Trees can be saved just by not wasting one sheet of paper a day, imagine of how many trees can be saved if we become more  prudent in our approach.

Let us consider some interesting facts which I have gathered from various sources –

1. Consider this: according to the state government of Australia, over 600,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard are sent to landfill in NSW every year. Australians as a whole use 210,000 tonnes of office paper each year – and much of this is not from recycled sources but from virgin forests.

2. In the USA The average student uses about 11 sheets of paper per day. The school year goes on average 180 days so this would equal to 23,760 sheets for 12 years.

3. A Seattle based study found that businesses typically throw away about half of all documents within 24 hours of printing. In fact, about 170 tons of paper is sent to Seattle’s landfills each day from Seattle businesses.

For every dollar spent on printing documents, companies typically incur $6 in handling and distribution costs, according to a Xerox study.

Over the course of a year Seattle paper waste contributes about 9,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as the emissions from consuming 972,000 gallons of gasoline. 

This is a study by Xerox of one American city, in India and rest of the developing world we do not have such studies done or reports published. Simply because we do not think this as a problem which needs urgent and immediate attention.

But such problems can not be defined locally any more. The devastation in Japan  a year back has come to haunt the American West coast in form of  Billion ton of debris. Similarly the decimation of rain forests for pulp & paper industry would lead to unprecedented challenges more severe than what we have experienced till date and it would not be their locally. This is known to all, yet we fail to arrest easily achievable targets, such as reduction on dependence on Paper. We all know by now that it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to have a paperless office/school . But how much paper do we consume unnecessarily? It is no more possible to contain the problem by raising ones personal bar as to when one needs a paper copy of something from the computer. Strong legislation are required which would make it near mandatory that unless you′re printing something super important,(which can be defined and refined on a weekly/monthly basis by each corporation) one must  save ink and paper by tracking changes in electronic documents.

To make this legislation work, one must however understand the fundamental barrier. We still like to hold up a piece of paper in our hand and look at it from time to time, jot notes directly at the margins, rather than type for every little corrections. Moreover, for architects and other engineering professionals, physically scanning the page from top to bottom, is more sure-fire way to spot  an error than scrolling a large drawing and zooming in and out of it. It simply does not work ! I know that from personal experience. So how does one adhere to reduction of paper use and not face the cumbersome process of electronic tracking on a small computer screen ?

The answer lies in using something with is instantly portable, transferable, editable and yet not a traditional paper. E-Paper ! Yes, something which was born in the 1970’s has matured enough to be taken seriously. The first flexible EPD for consumers could be available in Europe in 2012 itself.

This is one of the spectacular proof that, it is the Business and Industry which will finally be the torch bearers of abatement to Climate Change and Global Warming. And innovation should get support from all quarters to survive the vagaries of market forces. And ones which are as important as Saving forest and whole eco-system the Governments should support it. But before we put some thought as to how we can support and grow such ideas let us understand what it is –

Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane.

Electronic paper display (EPD) is often considered to be more comfortable to read than conventional displays.This is due to the stable image, which has no need to be refreshed constantly and has a wider viewing angle. An ideal e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image appearing to fade. The contrast ratio in available displays as of 2008 might be described as similar to that of newspaper, though newly-developed displays are slightly better.There is ongoing competition among manufacturers to provide full-color ability.
Applications of electronic visual displays include electronic pricing labels in retail shops, and digital signage,time tables at bus stations,electronic billboards, mobile phone displays, and e-readers able to display digital versions of books and e-paper magazines. Electronic paper should not be confused with digital paper, which is a pad to create handwritten digital documents with a digital pen.

What an innovation. A genius of the human brain which can bring about sea change in the way we work. Tied to a e-book reader, a tablet, a computer and a smart phone, this was perhaps the penultimate tool, which can eliminate maximum use of paper; before we can adopt interactive projections in thin air in front of us, as shown in Sci-fi cinemas and is  some more time in becoming a reality for common persons to have.

So what could be the immediate uses, other than being another TV or a display kiosk? To my mind it can be used for printing architectural drawings, and each of these sheet can be reused till the final design to be produced is readied. And only those need be printed. Sure there would be trials and errors but human always find methods if there is a will. It could also act as submission sheets during class tests which are held with regularity in schools to prepare children for their annual and mid-term exams. The data can always be transferred into flash -drives for storage, thus refreshing the sheets for reuse, while still retaining record of previous data. Perhaps News corporations could devise ways where one could download the “News Paper view” form e-papers which already exist in the web and in fact they can rent out the flex-sheets, and charge as they would for the subscription. It is common knowledge that  amount of pulp that required daily to publish news papers are humongous.

But, as with Renewable Energy, such high technology would come at a price which would not be within reach of the common person. And here the Governments, guided by the UNEP and other responsible organisations like the World Bank, World Resources Institute, Climate Action International, Green Peace, Carbon Disclosure Project etc should come together to focus in finding the right financial instruments which would help scale it and make it affordable. In fact small amounts from those that are pledged under various programs to arrest deforestation and abate climate change could be pooled to make such innovations; I’m sure many more equally important are around the corner; a success.

In fact if the news paper readers from world over could just contribute $1 the amount would be huge, and in the bargain the Earth would gain.

Courtesy: howstuffworks.com, articlecity.com, bloglines.com, ask.com, click4carbon.com, wikipedia

 

 

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Green Business Ideas – Using Solar Panels as Glass Facade can reduce Heat Island Effect in Cities and earn LEED credits


glass facade

In the past week I was interviewed by two News media both electronic & print which were very excited about a report by scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) India,  on Glass Façade Buildings in the City of Mumbai, India  and how it is raising the overall temperature by more than 17° C in the surrounding area of the building. Although it could be true, one must explore about how this problem be addressed without making ‘glass’ a bad building material. Things are not always black or white, therefore I would use this as an opportunity to once more showcase how Sustainable Cities  could be planned.

Glass has been a tradition building material for eons now. Colored glass was found from the Babylonian era and some of the most beautiful Churches and Cathedrals draw their prime beauty from the Stained Glass murals. Glass is the only single medium which allows the external environment into the room in a controlled fashion. Which means one can enjoy rain, snow or bellowing wind swaying the tree tops without getting wet or cold and having that curly lock of hair firmly in place.

Yet uncontrolled use of glass can create problems, such as raising the ambient temperature of the city/town and making it warmer. While extensive use of glass in building façade may be considered a good thing to counter the harsh winter experienced in the temperate regions of the World, it is foolish in Hot climes.

The reasons are simple. The word ‘Green House‘ originally meant ( before Global warming became popular) a glass house which kept the temperature warmer than the freezing  European cold and let some plants & vegetables grow. This happens because the heat from the Sunlight gets trapped within the space by the default property of glass.

While this is good for designing a building in say Norway or Alaska, where every drop of Sunlight would bring in the warmth and perhaps help save in reduction of energy consumption required for district heating, the same principle would require enormous amount of  district cooling which otherwise would have been normal in case of a hot and humid city like Mumbai or any other city with similar climatic conditions. And those large  water-cooled Air-conditioning plants placed on the roof tops to cool the buildings do so by pumping cool air inside the buildings while sucking the hot air away and out into the surrounding atmosphere. So a total glass building would not only throw more hot air out into the cityscape it would also use more water to cool itself. Yes, there is air cooled A/c plants too and high-efficiency COP’s have the ‘Green’ label attached but it too consumes energy and heats the sorrounding it however saves on water. Only the most well designed and high-end commercial glass façade buildings conform to all Sustainability criteria. But it does not hold true for all.

Therefore while the building may look swanky and very western, I would caution the tenant in buying space there as their energy bills could shoot up. Moreover by default of design constrains, its cheaper to make the Glass Facade buildings near hermetically sealed. Further no one would want the Air conditioned space to get warm because of a leak in the window casing.

Now the above observations lead to some unique problems for India or for any Emerging Economy in the Third World with similar climatic conditions.

First is the heat & dust. Not only does glass buildings get warmer inside it turns ugly on the outside too because of the perpetual dust. And once the commercial buildings are sold it becomes the building owner association responsibility to take care of maintenance. Maintaining tall glass façade building does not come cheap. It requires a whole new engineering solution, such as façade cleaning lifts and trained people to do it.

Second, we are a ’emerging economy’. Which means only a few rich & super rich have the luxury of having uninterrupted power. Rest are routinely treated with planned load shedding / power cuts and have to generate their own power through fossil fuel smoke belching  Diesel generators. In case of longer duration of power failure, rationing is done to cut cost and even the generators are shut down. And in this case one has no choice but to sit in airless rooms breathing Carbon –Di– Oxide exhaled by the neighboring colleague and hoping to survive the day.

Third, in smaller Tier -II & III towns and even the cheaper business districts within the megalopolis  the buildings only ape the Glass Facade exterior with no  Fire Safety Norms as a priority, and are built by unscrupulous Builder developers who themselves are an ignorant lot along with little or no understanding of EHS ( Environment – Health – Safety ) nor it is understood by the general public. ( the whole of India has only 2-3 dedicated burns center, one in Mumbai. New Delhi has none. However thousands die each year through burn related accidents) . So Glass buildings which are not designed well may lead to catastrophe in case of fire. Further as some are built right upon the road-side in high density areas, during Earthquake or other calamities, it may only compound the problems further with razor-sharp glass falling all over. True the glass have built-in safety feature to shatter into small bits but bad fixing and poor quality glass do not perform as intended.

Business and Scientific report do not go hand in hand. But  Science must be heeded if Business is to thrive. Global warming and its associated risks are too well documented to be ignored.  ( read my article for details:  Climate change – the most significant emerging risks facing the world today ) If the City of Mumbai or any city with similar climatic conditions continues to grow in this fashion and Glass façade buildings become norm and not exception, we are looking at a serious problem.

So we come to the question of what would the Developers and the Public do post reading the NEERI report ? Will tall glass façade building vanish from the cityscape? No chance.

But saving Mumbai ( and other cities ) is a must. Therefore here I will present an alternate thought which the Glass manufactures like ASAI, MODI etc along with the Solar PV manufacturers would I hope discuss over cocktail & dinner and come back with great Eco Ideas which would at least help reduce the problem of Heat Island Effect. And for this we must look at BIPV.

CIS Tower, Manchester

Image via Wikipedia

Building Integrated Photo voltaic (BIPV) has been around for sometime. It produces electricity and can also act as a Glass Facade. (As the image to the right shows, the dark blue glazing with a logo on top )  Now this is an option which has not been explored to its full potential in India and the rest of the World because of the cost verses production of electricity. It is generally understood that BIPV which is still in its nascent stage needs to develop further to truly become the choice for Architects and Builders to consider using it as an alternative to Glazed Building. This can happen only when the cost of the product becomes near equal to that of conventional Double Glazing Unit ( DGU ) which we see all around the city of Mumbai. However we can speed up this process by simply bringing in the economy of scale.

So how does one bring about this economy of scale? Simple, by introducing the Green building concepts which require the use of Solar Power or Green Energy. Both in the TERI – GRIHA  and IGBC -LEED certification process require  to bring energy efficiency of about 14% to the Building Envelope ( skin of the building; the outermost wall /glass surface ) which  at times design constrain and economic factors make  very difficult to deliver. Further Green Building Norms also ask for 10% of the total building energy be drawn from Solar Power. This too, is difficult due to unavailability of required roof-top space in certain cases.

BIPV

Now BIPV  are SPV  (solar photo voltaic) patches of  modules which is sandwiched  between glass.  It not only produces electricity but also reduces the amount of Sunlight from entering the building which is known as the SHG factor for glass ( Solar Heat Gain). So this can act like ceramic frit-glass, which too is an architectural favorite as it has lower SHG factor  and yet have dual function. Further in the Green Building rating system one looks for high SRI  (surface reflective index) content to reduce the heat island effect. Glass has high SRI index. So it reflects more sunlight away and what could have entered the building unhindered gets caught and converted into energy by the SPV cells. So another LEED credit point, credit interpretation could be sought jointly by the SPV as well as the Glass manufacturers.

Now as more and more buildings all around the world are opting for LEED Certification ( Leadership in Energy and Environment Design ), the above two credit points would fit well into the scheme of things. But this may not be enough to reduce the cost of  BIPV. Therefore we can adapt the idea which I have explained (in the article – Green Business Ideas : Cheap Solar Power is possible  ) earlier to manufacture cheaper BIPV’s  and yet creating space for newer research & development. Therefore what NEERI published as a problem can be solved by scientific ways and high-end engineering which follows the basic principles of Sustainable Building Design. And who knows one day we may have enough BIPV clad Green Buildings just as the above French building ( click on image ) which would help further reduce the enormous Carbon Footprint each City has, to make a safer Earth with better business ideas.

 

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Technical Manual for Sustainable Site Documentation.


SUSTAINABLE SITE DESIGN:

The purpose of sustainable site planning is to integrate design and construction strategies by modifying both site and building to achieve greater human comfort and operational efficiencies. It charts appropriate patterns of use for a site while incorporating construction methods that minimize site disruption and the expenditure of financial and building resources. The process is based upon the premise that any landscape setting can be analyzed and studied as a series of interconnected geological, hydrological, topographic, ecological, climatological, and cultural features and systems. Selecting a building site begins the process of calculating the degree of resource use and the degree of disturbance of existing natural systems that will be required to support a building’s development.

SITE ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT:

Site assessment is a process that examines the data gathered and identified in the site analysis, assigns specific site factors to hierarchies of importance, and identifies, where possible, interactive relationships.

Data collection:

Technical site data –

Geographical latitude (solar altitude) and microclimate factors, such as wind loads

Affect building layout, including solar orientation and location of entrances, windows.

Topography and adjacent landforms—Influence building proportions, wind loads, drainage strategies, floor elevations, and key gravity-fed sewer-line corridors.

Groundwater and surface runoff characteristics— determine building locations as well as natural channels for diverting storm runoff and locations of runoff detention ponds

Solar access—Determines position of building to take maximum advantage of natural solar resources for passive solar heating, day lighting, and photo voltaic.

Ai r-movement patterns, both annual and diurnal— particularly influence sitting of multiple structures to avoid damming cold moisture-laden air, or blocking favorable cooling breezes during periods of overheating. Properly measured wind loads and pressure differentials are essential for designing interior air-handling systems or use of passive solar cooling strategies.

Soil texture and its load-bearing capacity—Determine building location on the site and the type of footing required. Identify site-grading processes by the soil’s potential for erosion by wind, water, and machine disturbance.

Parcel shape and access—Affect a site’s capacity to accommodate a proposed development, even if its size and environmental\ factors are favorable. Potential access points should not burden lower-density or less compatible adjacent land use. Zoning setbacks and easements can also affect development potential.

 Neighboring developments and proposed future developments—Affect proposed project and may lead to requisite design changes.

Analyze specific characteristics of climate zones: Climate has specific characteristics requiring mitigation, augmentation, and exploitation; there are 5 climatic zones in India.

Analyze the site’s existing air quality: Most state require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) outlining the potential negative impacts of a proposed development and how they might be alleviated. Site planning requires two kinds of air-quality analysis regarding: (1) assessment of the existing air quality of the site to determine the presence of noxious chemicals and suspended particulates, and (2) projection of the negative consequences (if any) of the proposed development on existing air quality. In primarily commercial or industrial areas, poor air quality should be a key factor in determining site suitability and use, especially for such facilities as schools, parks, or housing for seniors. Testing should anticipate seasonal or diurnal wind patterns to make certain that the worst possible case is tested.

Perform soil and groundwater testing: Perform soil tests to identify the presence of chemical residues from past agricultural activities (arsenic, pesticides, and lead); past industrial activities (dumps, heavy metals, carcinogenic compounds and minerals, and hydrocarbons); and any other possible contamination either on or in the vicinity of the subject site.

Test soil suitability for backfills, slope structures, infiltration: The native soil should be tested to determine bearing, compactability, and infiltration rates, and, in turn, structural suitability and the best method for mechanical compaction (i.e., clay soils require non-vibrating compaction and non-erosive angles of repose for cut-and-fill slopes).

Evaluate site ecosystem for existence of wetlands and endangered species: Preservation and restoration strategies require thorough economic analysis, specialized expertise, and sound baseline data gathered through both remote and on-site sensing methods.

Examine existing vegetation to inventory significant plant populations: This will enable the developer or owner to later specify vegetation that is susceptible to damage during construction, so that protective measures can be developed and implemented.

Map all natural hazard potentials (such as winds, floods, and mudslides):Eberhard Bosslet - Since 1983 - works with rui... Historic flood data, wind-damage data, and subsidence data should be mapped along with current annual wind and precipitation data.

Diagram existing pedestrian and vehicular movement and parking to identify Patterns: Existing traffic and parking patterns in areas which are adjacent to or near the site may need consideration in relation to proposed building design and site circulation patterns.

Review the potential of utilizing existing local transportation resources: Explore the sharing of existing transportation facilities and other resources, such as parking and shuttles, with existing institutions. This can lead to greater site efficiencies.

Identify construction restraints and requirements: Special construction methods may be required because of local soil condition, geology, earth-moving constraints, and other site-specific factors and constraints.

Infrastructural data

Analyze site for existing utility and transportation infrastructure and capacity: Existing infrastructure should be analyzed for integration into the building and facilities.

Historical Data

Review architectural style of the area for incorporation into building: If desirable, the architectural style that is historically predominant in an area can be reflected in the building and landscape design, enhancing community integration.

DATA ASSESSMENT  Illustration of a level spreader installation ...

Identify topographic and hydrological impacts of proposed design and building use: Measure cut-and-fill potential and assess potential for erosion, siltation, and groundwater pollution.

Develop general area takeoff and overall building footprint compatibility with site: For example, measure total site coverage of impermeable surfaces to determine thresholds of run-off pollution potential (i.e., over 20 percent impermeable coverage of gross site requires mitigation to clean storm water before it enters drainage system off-site). Footprint should also maximize site efficiencies with regard to required road, utility, and service access.

Identify alternative site design concepts to minimize resource costs and disruption: Develop several alternatives to explore optimal pattern with regard to factors such as grading and tree-clearing consequences and resulting infrastructure costs.

Review financial implications of site development, building, and projected maintenance costs: Total cost of the project must factor in ongoing costs associated with the site design, development, and operations, as well as hidden embodied energy costs associated with specific materials.

DeveloUS Air Quality Index Map-1/23/2009p matrix of use and site compatibility index: Each site may be assessed to reveal its development compatibility index with regard to a specific type of development. This index may reveal a pattern of incompatibilities thereby specific appropriate mitigation measures are undertaken.

Courtesy: Nicholas T. Dines, author.

 

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Recession is the best time to go Green


Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and Chair of the C40 Cities
Climate Leadership Group (C40) says- “For the first time in history, half of the world’s people live in cities and together are responsible for more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas production. Collectively, the C40 cities account for approximately 21 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product. Roughly 12 percent of the world’s carbon emissions are produced in our metropolitan areas. And nearly one of every 12 people on Earth lives in or near our cities’ limits.Granted there is no single solution for confronting global climate change. Still, the best scientific data tells us that it is long past time to address this challenge, and that cities must lead the way. This report represents a critical first step in our leadership – as individual Mayors and as a collective – towards a common, sustainable future.” C40 cities report city-wide GHG emissions totaling 609.5 million* metric tons CO2-e. This figure is equivalent to the total emissions from a country like Canada.

World over there is a slump in the Realty market. With many a nations almost folding over in Europe and the US yet to recover form the disaster of 2008, there are many who would want to toss the wisdom of Environmental concern for short-term (disastrous) gains, in almost all sectors of business.The conventional “wisdom” prevails over more slower yet saner approach. In this context when the exponents of Green Building try to move their agenda forward, all they get is a patient hearing. And it more often than not, ends there.

As per Nielsen Report on Sustainable Efforts & Environmental Concerns Around the World -“There are many possible reasons for declines in concern about climate change/global warming. Focus on immediate worries such as job security, local school quality, crime and economic well-being have all diminished media attention for climate stories in the past two years. In the face of other pressing concerns, a public “caring capacity” for climate change has been tested,” said Dr. Maxwell T. Boykoff, Senior Visiting Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. “Without continued attention paid to global warming/climate change in the media, such concerns may have faded from the collective public conscience.”

So when consultants who wants to promote as President Barak Obama says – “Better Building Initiative” not many takers are available.This is happening because while Governments all around are good at providing  lip service to Global Warming & Climate change, strong policy decisions are not being taken. Now it is also a well understood fact that should one choose to do an Energy Efficient Building -‘Green’ Building as it is popularly known, up to 20% CAPEX; 20% OPEX & 20% GHG can be reduced. This is something which even the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), the Green arm of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and compatriot of LEED – United States Green Building Council;  too agrees.

It is also a well known fact that 40% of GHG emissions and 60% of waste which is detrimental to our Ecosystem comes from Buildings or building related works.So there is clear & present danger. This danger must be addressed by all who understand the Environment Impact in our daily lives.

Now having these above numbers it makes enormous sense that during recession one must adopt the practice of making more Energy Efficient Buildings. Whether they follow the matrix set out in LEED rating system or India’s National rating GRIHA is more a matter of choice. A cheaper building a better living standard would almost always reduce expenditure in areas of   Safety,Health & Environment.

India which strives to be a Global player is as usual set to miss the bus, while Brazil & South Africa have taken the lead in taking the initiative for the C40 Cities for CDP, India has not and is in the same boat as China. For India it would be better to pursue the Environmental policy vigorously because of some fundamental reasons, the most important being that while the world was in turmoil in 2008 India was not greatly affected. This gives it the chance to become a leader in the Renewable Energy space by creating policy both at the power plant level but most importantly at the tail end level of roof-top RE. With the Indian people still woefully short of basic needs like Electricity & Water, having a strong Environmental policy and effective implementation of Green Building measure would keep India in good stead in every sense of security and prosperity a Country requires.

 

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Popularity of Green Buildings: The Side Effects


Yesterday I was reading a construction magazine. It was the standard “Ho-hum” more like an information bulletin than anything to do with articles on building industry in India. So what struck me most were the advertisements, especially the new project launch adverts.

Almost each of them had in some way other named their project “Green”.It was either starting with the words like -“Green Acres“; Green Woods, the name of the company + Green. Some were highlighting how much greenery it was providing in terms of parks or flower-beds.

Now I know for a fact that as of today India has between its two Green Building rating system – IGBCLEED & TERI- GRIHA less than 2000 projects registered. So how was it that in the area of Mumbai & surrounding every second building is “Green”?

Well the answer is quite simple actually. We as Indians are born smart or at least some of us think we are ( in a population of 1. 20 Billion & counting “some” is quite large actually). Now the US of A gave us the word “Green Building” when we imported their sustainable building rating system LEED  { leadership in Energy & Environmental Design }. Nothing wrong with that, we Indians always have a fascination for all things imported and this LEED perhaps is the best thing that ever came to our shores.

The problem begins when the so called smart people, especially the “hobby builders/developer” as I like to call them start to use the term “Green” in their projects. Now what are “Hobby builders”- these usually are a group of investors whose main business may have given them a little spare cash and this they would like to invest in the building industry as in India – Roti, Kapada aur Maakan ( Food clothing & Shelter ) is an ever-growing demand. So these businessmen like to earn a little extra on the side. As profit is the main motive for at-least some of them, they use every trick in the book to popularize their product. They visit a few “Expo’s” collect a few brochures of the best builders and blindly copy the words therein. They neither understand what a Green Building mean nor would they ever spend that initial extra to make the building they build Energy Efficient Buildings, which by the way – “Green Building” stands for. Therefore one would find a clutch of fancy named buildings coming up which would usually be very poorly designed and inefficient in terms of saving of Energy & Water.

However there is hope, at least for an optimist like me. In the process of naming their project “Green” they are planting a few trees & having some soft-landscapes within the project. If one visits projects which were built just before the word Green started begin popular, especially in high density areas, it is a sad sight to behold. Ugly, ill-ventilated and with absolutely no space for a Green patch.

Although for every LEED or GRIHA rated building being designed in India at-least 500 “non-green” buildings are coming up. With Global Warming becoming a threatening reality each passing day, hope the so-called “Green” builders would truly start off on the path towards Energy Efficiency and Environmentally responsible   building design.

 

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Green House Gas:the invisible Killer


Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, includ...

About 40% of the Global Green House Gas (GHG) is emitted through building related activities and 60% of  this pollution occur post occupancy in form of municipal waste  etcetera to indirect pollution via consumption of electricity, which generally coming from Thermal Power plants which burn coal & is high on emission of pollution . There is an immediate and urgent need to reduce this pollution to keep our health and comfort to the optimum. To do this we must design Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which is low on pollution.

Now let us understand what is “pollution” to appreciate the immediate and urgent need for each one of us to act to reduce it in every sphere of our life-style.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution became a popular issue after World War II, due to radioactive fallout from atomic warfare and testing. Then a non-nuclear event, “The Great Smog” of 1952 in London, killed at least 4000 people.

Pollution control is a term used in environmental management. In the hierarchy of controls, pollution prevention and waste minimization are more desirable than pollution control. In the field of land development, low impact development is a similar technique for the prevention of urban run-off.

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissi...

Let us examine in brief the top 5 GHG : 1.CO2 :Carbon Dioxide. 2.CH4 :Methane. 3. N2O: Nitrous Oxide. 4. O3: Ozone  5. SP: Suspended Particles . A detailed report of the effects of these can be found in the internet, should one chooses to read. The chart shows how much GHG is emitted sector wise. However I think  SO2F2: Sulfuryl Fluoride should also be included in the top 5 as its more harmful than CO2.

Now there are also Naturally occurring greenhouse gases. They  include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). Several classes of halogenated substances that contain fluorine, chlorine, or bromine are also greenhouse gases, but they are, for the most part, solely a product of industrial activities. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are halocarbons that contain chlorine, while halocarbons that contain bromine are referred toas bromofluorocarbons (i.e., halons).  Some other fluorine containing halogenated substances—hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—do not deplete stratospheric ozone but are potent greenhouse gases.There are also several gases that, although they do not have a commonly agreed upon direct radiative forcing effect, do influence the global radiation budget. These tropospheric gases— referred to as ambient air pollutants—include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and tropospheric (ground level) ozone (O3). Tropospheric ozone is formed by two precursor pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of ultraviolet light (sunlight). Aerosols—extremely small particles or liquid droplets—often composed of sulfur compounds, carbonaceous combustion products, crustal materials and other human induced pollutants— can affect the absorptive characteristics of the atmosphere.

So how does Pollution affect us, I mean the Human Body? The chart sums up most of it. However we live in and work in buildings which use various types of building materials most of them are cause of Environmental degradation which the common man is not aware of.

If we just take one example SF6;Now other than SF6 being 4,800 times worse than CO2 in the global warming scale, Sulfuryl fluoride is a gas fumigate that has been used — since the 1950s — to kill bugs and rodents in indoor structures, such as homes, warehouses, and railroad cars. It is also used in the Electricity sector, the magnesium industry, the electronic industry even as an adiabatic property applications, notably in tennis balls, shoe soles and also other applications, such gas-air tracer in research and leak detectors, for medical purposes, electronic applications, sound proof windows ( Double Glazed), degassing aluminium specialities etc.;

If we look more closely at global industrial emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and the ‘new’ gases HFCs, PFCs and SF6, then it shows that about half of them stem from CO2 emissions related to cement – clinker – production, ( a major product required for the building industry) about one-fifth can be attributed to adipic acid and nitric acid production and one-third stem from the three new gases, each with approximately equal contribution of about 10%.

The building industry is perhaps the biggest consumer of all that is produced in all other industrial sector, be it steel,cement, stone, wood,  leather, paper, paint, ceramic, glass, plastic, electrical & electronics; think of a product either in finished good or raw material, the building industry more often than not has a use for it. Thus emitting some form of pollution in the process. Purely from a Building Industry perspective without Sustainable Building design practice however high we build, we will fall prey to the catastrophe the GHG will bring in its wake in form of Global Warming & Climate Change.

To do this we need to develop life-style which is sustainable. Act without weighing the “additional cost factor” of going Green, which actually is very nominal and becomes Zero Sum within a very short time span. Internationaly we have Green Building programs such as LEED, BREEAM and GRIHA which is the Indian National rating system. India also has a Confederation of Indian Industries driven – Indian Green Building Council which is doing spectacular work.

I have condensed some of the references for easy read and adapted from Source(s):Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia; Observations of CAPIEL-UNIPEDE concerning the Revised IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories ; IPCC ; the U.S. EPA’s Global Warming web; Fluoride Action Network and others.

 

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How to buy a Green Home – A Guide


 

U.S. Green Building Council

Image via Wikipedia

Mankind as a race has prospered because it has always been able to find solution against impossible odds, right from the era of cave men to the present city dwellers living in sky-scrapers. While there has been spectacular progress with the rise of each civilisation, a  great stress on the natural resources of this planet has taken its toll. So much so, that nations have come together to take action in every sphere of activity we as a modern society are engaged in, for saving this only Living Planet and to keep it Sustainable for the future generations to come.

As more and more people understand the devastating results of climate change which global warming could bring; they are willing both in their personal & professional life to give back to Nature its due. It is in this backdrop, “Green” Building as Energy Efficient & Sustainable Buildings are popularly known, is slowly making inroads into every day life. In the following paragraphs we will discuss the processes of buying the right Green Building.

To the common man let me first put you at ease by saying that almost always, the house in which your Grandfather or Grandmother was born, in your native village would if rated today under LEED, achieve the GOLD or even the PLATINUM standard Green Building Certificate. So if you still live in it, you need not worry too much [ unless you have completely modified it ]. Even if you do not live in it but visit it once a while you have hope. All you need to do is follow the basic design of that house and make or modify the one you live in. But if you live in a flat in some high-rise building then I suggest you read this article and any similar to it with great attention.

By now nearly every home buyer in the most Metro are aware of the term ” Green Building”. Nearly all Builder/ Developer claim that their building is a Green Building. This is relevant both in the US and India where the popularity of LEED Certification is growing by the day. Now, how much is “Green” & how much is “Green-wash” ? How should the humble buyer who is unschooled in the jargon used by the builders as is, now get to understand high-end technology that goes into designing and construction of Green Buildings?

The process of choosing a Green Building must begin with one surfing the net and learning as much as one can, from the official website of the rating system. Most Green building rating organisations have a definition posted in their site. The next most important information you will find in the site would be a list of already completed projects. This is your most important page. From this list you will get the details like names of builder / developers who have already completed a green building project. Next you should look at what is the rating it has achieved. In LEED the rating starts from CERTIFIED – for projects which have been able to muster the basic minimum requirements, SILVER – for projects which have attempted and achieved more than the basic minimum, GOLD – a fairly good position to be and finally PLATINUM –  building which has achieved all that is required to be a true green building.

Now you would also notice a column which says “Pre certified”. This one must read with care. A “pre-certified ” rating would usually be given to projects which are registered with the governing body like the USGBC ( United States Green Building Council ) or if you’re in India its the IGBC. It is not necessary that a pre-certified SILVER building would be inferior to say a pre-certified GOLD. It just states the intent of the builder as to what his engineering & architect team think it would be possible to achieve through design & construction. This decision is taken at the initial planing stage when all the facts and factors may not be at hand. It is only when the project is complete and verification done by the Council that the true rating of the building can be derived.

Now if this leaves you in confusion as to which project to choose from while buying yourself a Green Home, cross check the Pre-certified list with the completed and Certified list. There you must identify the builder who is most consistent in achieving a rating and then choose that builder /developers project from the pre-certified list. Next you should try to visit some of the actual Green Homes in your area and speak with the occupants to understand their experience. This will give you a fair idea of what you should expect in your dream Green Home.

But before you negate those who are first timers in the pre-certified list you must also pay attention to the brand name of the builder/developer. I personally have experienced many a good builder/developer who had chosen not to register their buildings for Green Certification. Although they had accumulated a lot of Goodwill over the years with quality projects and have in fact built edifices which even now if rated easily get SILVER; did not agree to hire me as a Green Building consultant. They said they did not need someone else to tell them whether or not they build quality homes. Their architects, very senior and experienced echoed the same sentiments. Today they have begun registering their projects as the market demands and awareness makes Green Homes certification popular.

What you must be careful of, are the fly by night or hobby builders. These are a lot who essentially are investors with some spare cash and usually mushroom during a boom in the business. Their only interest is to do a single or if  successful with the first, a few projects and sell it for maximum profit. They usually have very limited understanding about the discipline of building industry and would normally resort to all available means of advertisement to highlight their project. Pre-Certification as Green Homes is a prestigious announcement and the best advertisement a builder can get. Sadly people try to exploit it. Therefore a project which during launch may have a pre-certified tag of GOLD may end up with just CERTIFIED.

But this does not happen often as most Green Council have an inbuilt check & balance system to weed out the unscrupulous.

 

 

 

 

 

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Carbon Credit in Green Buildings


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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GRIHA: the Indian answer to Climate change.


India has in its Parliament declared that 25% of GHG will be reduced by the efforts of the Government by year 2020. The Government of India under the under the Leadership vision of the PM set about its task of formulating Eight action plans to combat Climate change. The National Missions are to be institutionalized by the respective Ministries and will be organized through inter-sectoral groups. The National Action Plan for Climate Change  ( NAPCC )are;

National Solar Mission,
National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency,
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat,
National Water Mission,
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system,
National Mission for a Green India,
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and
National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

On this page we shall discuss the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat.

The Government of India, entrusted the formulation of a  National rating system to The Energy and Resources Institute {TERI} a research and policy organization, which does original work and provides professional support in areas of energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology and the conservation of natural resources to government departments, institutions and corporate organisations world wide.

Under the able leadership of TERI’s Director General,the brilliant and famous PADMA BHUSAN  Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri; who, having immense experience in various field like Economics, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and currently Chairman of IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was established by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 ) and supported by a stupendous dedicated team at its’ Sustainable Habitat Division, head by divisional Director Ms.Milli Mazumdar studied all the rating systems in the world currently in practice and then decided to establish a rating system so brilliant that even a simple citizen of Rural or Tier -III town can have his building rated and certified, built on the experience of local Masons.

This simplicity and grass root upward approach  of  Sustainable Building Certification was aptly named – GRIHA ( Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment ). Today GRIHA is promoted by  Association for Development and Research for Sustainable Habitats ( ADaRSH ) under the secretariat of MNRE.  GRIHA is in compliance with Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), National building Code (NBC), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines and thus compliments the National Action Plan perfectly.

The Government of India to is promoting GRIHA by making it mandatory for all Central Government & Public Sector Unit projects to follow GRIHA and achieve 3- star rating minimum. In the 12th JNNURM Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission,  a massive city modernisation scheme launched by Government of India; it would be mandatory to achieve GRIHA rating. The Reserve Bank of India ( RBI ) through its wholly owned subsidiary the National Housing Bank  ( NHB ), is contemplating an instrument by which 0.25% of interest subsidy would be given by all Banks, to loan taken for projects undergoing GRIHA compliance. The State Bank of India  in already providing this rebate. The Ministry of Environment and Forest ( MoEF ) has announced that it would come out with a ruling whereby EIA will not be mandatory for projects under GRIHA rating.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy ( MNRE )  too has its own bouquet of sops for project going for GRIHA rating.


 

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Green Certification for Interior Design


Logo of the World Green Building Council, whic...

World Green Building Council

A lot is being done in the field of Green Building. New rating systems are coming up around the world. What started out as LEED– US, spread to LEED -Canada, LEED –India {IGBC} etcetera, today we have a World Green Building Council. The UK has its BREEAM, Australia & New Zealand have their own rating, Singapore and the far east also rate their buildings.

India also has a rating system designed under the command of the Government of India, the GRIHA. Showing India to be a very progressive and mature Nation with regards to its understanding & supporting the cause for abatement of Global warming.

But while, including LEED-India & GRIHA  rating give importance to Architectural / Civil- Structural efficiency along with Lighting & HVAC energy reduction in their quest for rating the building for its “greenness”  not much is being said about the interior design. Other than in LEED -US, which has a commercial interior rating called LEED-CI but that is all there is, according to my knowledge. I may stand corrected in this and would be happy to know of any other green interior rating.

The reason Interior Design,  a very very big and lucrative market World over; does not have a stand-alone Green rating of its own is because most of the existing  “Green” ratings presume that the subject gets automatically dealt with when one does a “Green Building”.

Well this presumption is correct to an extent, such as in selection of bath  & toilet fixtures which generally conform to the requirements stipulated for water efficiency, to recycled tiles, certified wood, low-V.O.C paints, LED lighting, low SRI carpets, star rated A/c etcetera. But for me, this should not be the case. I don’t see this as a complete solution at all.

Now lets see how much of it gets done in India. Not much to speak of !

Both LEED-India & GRIHA are in there early years, the knowledge and idea about them amongst the Building & Construction Industry is very limited, pan India. A few good developer/ builder do practice it. However, most have rudimentary to nil knowledge.

With this being the situation when it comes to construction of “Green” Building, I would rather call them Energy Efficient Building {EEB} to avoid any confusion as to the purpose and intent; it is hardly surprising that we do not as yet have a rating system which will cater specifically to interiors.

Yet every day we have some high-end show room opening which displays furniture, wall & floor tiles, Italian marble & granite, Egyptian carpet and et al. Do these furniture & tapestries with there high -gloss and stain free coating get checked for there Environmental friendly approach?

Don’t  the teeming, so called high end and those who aspire to be high-end Interior Design Consultants, who rip apart perfectly well done interior finishes in the houses of the rich & the famous and toss out every inch of wood -work, stone, highly toxic paints scraped from walls etcetera, need to be aware?

Aware that their actions are detrimental to the planet? Should not they also be educated on the mantra of Reduce – Recycle – Reuse? The three “R” are the basic principals of a “Green” or to be exact an Energy Efficient and Sustainable design.

It would in my opinion make immense Economical & Ecological sense if both IGBC and ADaRSH  the  Indian institutions responsible for the LEED-India and GRIHA rating system start to think about creating a – Green Interior Rating which can rate both commercial & residential projects.

India would be left richer as a sustainable Nation should awareness in Green Interiors is mooted. As one must remember homes & office premises are usually bought once in a life-time of most Indians but Interior design usually happens once in 5 years; either at one go or in instalments most Indian homes see this change.

It is time we think of doing something right about it and make the world a little more safer for our children.

 

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