Tag Archives: Energy and Resources Institute

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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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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The Merits in GRIHA & LEED

India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

In a free market economy the stimulus to growth is competition. An idea is brought forward and soon someone else comes up with a better one which prospers. The original idea is revisited and improved to compete with the new one and this cycle continues.

With every new idea the society benefits and thus people & Nations grow stronger. But this very free market economy which allows for both domestic & foreign ideas to live side by side at times creates a quandary of a situation. Which product or idea is better? Who can decide with absolute certainty that one idea or product or service is better than the next one?

This same argument is valid in the case of the certification systems to be followed to have a building audited for its “green” factor.In India we follow two type of Energy Efficient & Sustainable Design rating system or rather “Green Building” rating system as is  popularly known.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design advocated by CII [confederation of Indian Industries] formed  Indian Green Building Council and in short is known as LEED -India  and the recently established National Green Building rating system, which came into fore keeping in mind the National Action Plan for Climate change, the ECBC guidelines, the BEE guidelines and the NBC codes. This was named GRIHA [ Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment ].

I have been advocating and practicing both these rating system and in the following paragraphs I would attempt to show the merits in both, as I see it. Let me begin by asking a simple question – what would you like to wear in the evening? A heavy tweed suit or a cotton “kurta -pajama” ? I’m sure the answer to this would be somewhat similar to – “depends on the occasion and the weather, my friend ! “Now if I ask you which is a better attire, Western or Indian?  your answer would more or less be the same or if you have strong preferences you would choose one over the other.

The same logic must apply when one chooses a Green rating system.It must reflect the building typology, the climate zone and the economics.

Should you be choosing to do an IT park or a BPO or a star Hotel which needs to cater to the international standards & aesthetics and where FDI is tied to the project, choosing LEED has a marginally better benefit as the foreign Bankers would understand the documentation proving reduction in Energy & Environment safe guards slightly better as it more or less would conform to the western standards.And even the end-user would find it “closer to home” which by every measure a very big USP for sale of your project.

Whereas should you be looking at building residential complexes and your sphere is right from metropolis to tier 1 to 3, GRIHA is the perfect choice. From high-end palaces to a humble cottage built by the local mason, all of them can be dealt with across 5 climatic zones. One can surely design commercial complexes, hospitals, institutions etcetera in GRIHA there is no denying that, but they are not as important whether they get designed in LEED or GRIHA.  As long as it is designed under a green rating. Why? one may ask !

Simple for every green commercial building which gets occupied by say 100 occupant in the least to 1000 + or more on the higher side , each and every occupant and the visitors & the service men  who work there require a home to live in!  So the ratio is 1: 1000+.

There is no denying that to design a true LEED building it has to achieve the Platinum Certification, because it is only at the apex level all the points necessary to call the building truly green can be met. Same can be said for GRIHA.

Now if one follows the LEED certification matrix; to achieve this level, the rating system is designed in a manner wherein it becomes more product oriented. So for example, if you want to achieve top points in HVAC you need to have your product which is rated 5-star and above in performance. Now every high performing product which uses cutting edge technology would obviously cost higher than normal. This then becomes true for your paint, your woodwork, your controls, plumbing, lighting and then the BMS to check all these for optimum performance. There is absolutely nothing wrong in that. HVAC is one of the biggest energy guzzlers and its only through LEED certification process we have understood the way to reduce this high energy consumption. The technology to have a lead-free paint would have costed a lot in R&D to the company and thus it is justified in collecting its expense form the consumers. And there is absolute documented evidence that this initial cost gets paid back and the building becomes cost negative in the long run.

But, how many home owners can afford in India, to have their buildings/ individual homes dealt with such high-end sustainability solutions which has a high initial cost? India is not limited to the megalopolis which compares and at times surpasses (only in certain sections of the city) the  per-capita income of the developed world. Then are we to deny sustainable building to the rest of the population? Whose lifestyle and economic strength are different? Knowing fully well that 40% of the Global emissions occur due to building related activities?

GRIHA is the answer. No other rating system in the world I know of, allows a simple village mason to walk-up to an institution of building excellence and can ask his building to be rated for sustainability. This is principally because GRIHA was designed from the grass-roots upwards. It leans heavily on the age-old wisdom of vernacular design. The use of product is made complimentary to the perfect use of proper architectural & interior design of spaces. Whether you design a bungalow, flats, non -A/c or low-cost housing, GRIHA can rate them with equal ease as it would a high-end A/c edifice.

topographic map of IndiaYet there is a lot to be done. As I have pointed out in the beginning, competition is a great stimulus for excellence. Today in LEED one can rate Factories, Neighbourhoods, Commercial Interiors, Existing buildings and many other. The Indian Green Building Council [IGBC] is adapting most of these U.S.A rating matrix to the Indian scenario. GRIHA has to catch up to it. Simply because it is Economic opportunities which would drive the market towards Ecological best practices.

At the end I would say that it is entirely up-to our individual choices as to which rating suits us most, as long as we continue to believe and promote sustainable living and become true Earth Patriots!


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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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