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Tag Archives: Climate Change and Green Buildings

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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Climate Change and Finance in India: Banking on the low carbon Indian economy


In January 2009, a roundtable discussion for CEOs of financial institutions, convened by The Climate Group, concluded that there was an imminent need for engagement with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and a larger cross section of banks to raise awareness on climate change. This report emerged from a meeting in late 2009, when The Climate Group initiated dialogue with the banks operating in India to discuss the most effective ways to tackle climate change.

The Climate Group and the IBA agreed to produce a report outlining best practice in the finance industry in India and recommend action that banks can take to accelerate a low carbon economy. Working with PricewaterhouseCoopers, a survey was carried out to gather this information.

Amongst the report’s most important conclusions are:

  • A small number of banks are initiating change
    There is a small group of banks in India that are leading the sector in tackling climate change and that recognize the commercial advantage this will provide. Energy efficiency is one key focus, with an estimated market worth more than US$15 billion by 2015.
  • Taking advantage of policy
    The action being taken by banks is no longer limited to reducing operational emissions – it is focused on taking advantage of domestic and international climate change policy and frameworks, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and India’s National Action Plan on climate change, to open new markets.
  • Success means tackling climate change
    Four banks rated climate change as ‘very important’ and in the ‘Top Ten Priorities Critical to Success’. However, public sector banks are less involved in voluntary initiatives and appear to be postponing action until regulation is in place.
  • Leadership role
    Seven of the eight banks believe that commercial lending banks in India can play a leadership role in the business community in addressing the challenges of climate change. Banks indicate that integrating sustainable development into the organization’s policies and management approach improves morale of employees and provides a strong and confident long-term relationship with stakeholders.
  • Financial incentives
    Banks are increasingly aware of the opportunities that are available to stimulate investment – such as through low carbon funds. However, the correct financial incentives are essential to make this a reality and the banks need to proactively engage with the Government in India to ensure that the right incentives are in place.

This report is intended as a resource for illustrating the existing scope of climate change activities by banks.

Courtesy: theclimategroup

 

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Indian Green Building Council: Green Building Demystified


The word “Green” building although heard by almost all people within the Construction & Building Industry, not all understand what it means and what the word LEED & GRIHA certification signifies.
To make this easy to understand one has to understand certain basic facts of Environmental degradation and the advancement of civilization. The reasons for Environmental degradation are many in an industrialized nation and primary among them is the Building Industry. It alone is responsible for 40% of energy related Green House Gas emission and 60% waste come from the building industry.

One must bear in mind that the building industry is the largest consumer of all other sectors of the industrialized world, it consumes steel, cement, sand at the basic level and wood, aluminum, glass, textile, leather, paint etcetera and the finishing level. What is most striking is that almost all materials used in a modern building is mined, extracted or harvested for the Earth natural resources. This natural resource in its pristine form usually has a GREEN cover, there is usually a lush green forest or meadow full of beautiful green grass & flowers swaying in the cool breeze before the Bulldozer comes in and rips it apart to extract – iron ore, or axes chop down the trees and huge hydro-power dams flood the region and the beautiful scenic valley is under water, never to be seen again. So we destroy this green.

Why does it happen? Simple! We need the materials to build ourselves a home. So every-time we buy or sell a home we are responsible for the degradation of the planet. While no one can advocate that we must then go back to living in caves, taking a little responsibility would help a long way in preserving this planets natural resources for the future generations and give them a healthy Environment to live in. Therefore when buildings are designed sustainably and are energy-efficient, they consume less electrical power and less water, it also reduces by almost 20% the use of building material & waste. In this process it saves more materials from being extracted and thus helps in preserving the “green”. Therefore sustainable and energy-efficient buildings are called “Green” buildings.

The environmental movement might be said to have begun centuries ago as a response to industrialization. As universal concern about the healthy and sustainable use of the planet and its resources continued to grow, the UN, in 1972, convened the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm.

While many laws have been passed over a time for industrial pollution, vehicular pollution etcetera, it was soon recognized that the construction activity also needs to have its act cleaned up. The United Kingdom came up with a sustainable building rating system called BREEAM, the United States of America created the LEED and recently India has its own National rating for buildings known as GRIHA.

In 2001 the Confederation of Indian Industries {CII} under the great foresight of Godrej brought in LEED { Leadership in Energy and Environment Design } to India and it was called LEED -India Green Building rating system. With time, great Indian minds of the business & industry came together to fashion the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) which today has many building rated all over India under its certification.

The Government of India too under its National Action Plan for Climate Change, understood the need for an indigenous sustainable building rating system, as not all type of buildings especially in the smaller towns and cities of India, where need & life style are different from in the bigger metropolis, could be rated properly under the LEED rating system which is based on foreign climate & life-style and the IGBC is still evolving. This rating system is called Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA).

Today in India the awareness in Green Building is increasing day by day, with the tireless efforts of the councilors of IGBC and GRIHA. Many young architectural and other engineering students today are applying for the examination to become LEED / IGBC -AP and GRIHA – Trainer & Evaluator. As the Climate change awareness increases its domain to all sectors of industry, this added knowledge shall put the future managers in good steed.

 

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MoEF: Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)


Union minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh recently announced that real estate developers will no longer have to get the mandatory Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)  study for residential and commercial complexes if their constructions adhere to green norms as prescribed by international agencies.

It could be one of the best news for the EEB {Energy Efficient Buildings} as I prefer to call them; primarily because the word “green” has a lot of scope for information asymmetry.

However, there is need for caution and one must have an in-depth knowledge of all that goes into an EIA. Any EEB rating in the world works primarily on a matrix which concentrates on the Building design & product features which would make the building an Efficient Building in terms of water and electrical energy it saves. Some attention is given towards the site sustainability but herein lies the challenge. I do not think it addresses all the Environmental goal as would be stipulated under an EIA act, and this must be taken into consideration.

Benchmarking here would become very important. What is the building typology, what are the sensitivity to the site conditions etc.
EEB rating should become a part of the processes of an EIA so that it reduces the time it takes, especially in India to get the Environmental nod. Through benchmarking  an EEB  Assessment tool can compare buildings within certain geographical area and see if they match to the stipulated norms and reduce the time it takes to get the Environmental nod.

I have as a stake holder in GRIHA forwarded it to the ADaRSH team and would want this to come out as a notification at the earliest.We must wait and see what is the final outcome of this press release.

 

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