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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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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 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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Sustainable Business will lead to Sustainable Earth, effortlessly.


Cover for Sustainable Business Wikibook.

The Corporate world as we all know  is a place where people are over worked and under paid with little or no place for personal life. It’s a pressure cooker for the mind & soul! The only product which every company produces, irrespective of what its Article of Association or Company charter states – is STRESS!

This trend needs to be arrested and already many are whispering solutions to this endemic  problem.  Stress brings into play various emotions, and the worst of them is Ego. The false idea that ones contribution in aggrandizement  of untold wealth for the Company  absolves him/her from the moral path of Sustainable Business practice, especially in the context of saving the Environment from Human induced Climate Change.

‘Production targets’;  ‘achievement of goal’ for promotion of self up the ladder of corporate hierarchy by making a ‘killing’; in the marketing and having a ‘fat bottom-line’ in the corporate graph can be only achieved by destruction of sustainability of self-morals in most cases and harm to the Environment always.

But do the people who are doing such “nasty things” (as the radicals would say  who  you find gathered outside every UNFCCC summit, shouting slogans and waving flags – without actually writing down anything meaningful  in terms of solution in those placards)  really doing this because they have some vengeful reason against Mother Earth?  Are  they really at fault ? My opinion is a resounding NO !

Cover for the Sustainable Business Booklet.

Let’s understand why I say this;  For example – Who decides the production target ? Could it be the managers who are mostly if not all, are  MBA graduates and Chartered  Accountants  along with a few Lawyers? People who have been conditioned through their student years to represent everything as numbers and take the help of lawyers to bulldoze any form of resistance which may assume a life-form? Can they really understand what it means to stand still for a minute among pristine and lush green forest, atop a hill – without thinking how much money they could make by selling the wood of the trees, ripping the heart out of the hill to extract its ore, etcetera ?

And if not why ? It’s because, the very things which is being condemned today, were laudable achievements worthy of high-status and prestige in the immediate past before Climate Change started to threaten the very existence of Homo Sapiens.   Somewhere from Generation Jones of the 50’s  as we crossed  by  the Flower Power Generation of the 1960 to  zip into the Generation X then Y and now Z or M ( for multi-tasking ) Peoples lost the Art of Living…. To stop by the side of the road and smell the flowers swaying in the meadows or just dropping by for tea unannounced in a friends house. Getting up on Monday mornings and diving back into the bed …to reach office 15 min late…yet being greeted by a smile. In the post Y2K era, the more aggressive you were, the more cunning;  better were the chance to climb up the corporate ladder. And this trend was stoked into a roaring flame for generations to come…until it consumed itself in form of the Lehmann Brothers saga. And then Fukushima happened.

Ego is harmful to the Ecosystem .  It is the system which needs a serious revamp. And one of the immediate solutions could be that all stream of education must have mandatory the subject of Environment, Health & Safety;  which one needs to pass with distinction, to qualify for any job. Especially managerial, which has the potential of putting a person as the key decision maker in the future. But what is even far more important than this, is to create a sustainable work environment. While its true that the rhythm of life in the 1960’s and now is vastly different, what is important is to recognize the rhythm – of LIFE  and not that of the V-8 engine of the new fast car bought with a fistful of Dollars.

The disconnect  between  Crony Capitalism  and  Sustainable Capitalism must be surgically clean cut, if we want to see Earth survive into the next century without  injury.  For the wounds of the Earth would heal in a millennia or two but for the Human, it would mean Extinction. And to save ourselves we must  sit back and reflect on what we do. And to reflect on thoughts, one needs time.  Time means,  a break from the daily skullduggery of high-pressure work. It is only then sensible decisions in all sphere can be taken.  It’s time the Human which is a resource understand that  it gets all its life giving resource from Mother Earth which needs to be nurtured.

And for that radical thoughts need to be applied –  I’m ever amazed by the fact that every country has a graph which shows unemployment yet strangely we have also many vacancies in both corporate and public sector which can not find employees ? This is where I find the solution or perhaps a way forward to an Idea which with collective help from all those who can influence  Governance in Nations must pause to reflect upon. In India, for example if we just take the Police force, one would find that every state is woe-fully short of manpower. Starting from the Top job to the Beat Constable position. And those who are in the job are mostly over worked and disillusioned. This leads to corruption in various forms of which, one can point to the shortage of man-power to police the reserve forests leading to poaching and illegal logging.  Turning focus to the corporate sector one again finds over-worked professionals who although have fat pay packets but  no personal time to enjoy. Partying hard in the night -club does not count as having a sustainable life-style.

In both the cases, should one ask the top most management the reason – various half truths come out. But the answer is very simple. If they employ and fill up every vacant position within the Government sector, where would they be able to find the money to pay salaries? Same goes for the corporate sector.  Thus the grind of life continues as is.

Now when this grind enters the infrastructure and service sectors in a big way, pseudo development takes precedence. Wrong decisions which would  harm the Ecosystem either in the short-term or in the long-term  gets decided. As is the case of new Indian Nuclear power plants or Large Hydro dams in case of China.

Cover for Sustainable Business Booklet.

May be its time the member Nations of the UN come together and draft a resolution that for every task there should be 3 shifts and in each shift a new person. With the age of Computers with Artificial intelligence already there, the argument of how to have 3 CEO’s take a singular decision can be easily solved. Program the main-frame server with an Environment safety regulation program and let the collective decisions of the CEO’s best approach considered as the company agenda.

Imagine having one’s Father/Mother come back from work every day on time to share a bed-time story with the children or taking the family out for dinner. What a Sustainable family that would be. And on growing up the children, responsible and sustainability practising  professionals.

As a result we would have a Sustainable Earth!

 

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Green Buildings – How most of them are really made, the inside story.


Reams of paper wasted, air-condition switched on even when there is not a soul in the room designated as the architectural design office attached to the site  –  A Green Building which is pre-certified Gold is being built. Firm which is building it takes pride in announcing that all its buildings are LEED certified and it in now their CSR.

Sound familiar ? Welcome to the real World of building Green.

” ‘Green’ certification has become mandatory for buildings above certain meter square area. So, we are just following the law. How our building following guidelines will help save the World, I don’t understand when so many buildings being built are non-green. It is just another head-ache I tell you” – said the architect I befriended and was having an ice-cream soda with.

“So are you really following the guide-lines, like planting 3 trees to every one you need to chop down ?” – I ask.

“Sure we are’- says he, ‘only we have reported 7 trees instead of the actual 23, else we would be having a jungle instead of a building we need to build you know.

“Could you not have designed something which could have avoided cutting some, thus reciprocal planting could have been avoided?” – I asked.

“I could have,but I’m just an employee. The Bosses want a cost effective design and fast. So if we follow the all the guidelines as written, we would be finished. Say for example we  stack top -soil ; with the project taking 3 years to build do you really want us to maintain the top-soil and follow all those mandatory points and jack up the cost of construction? Get real man.We do what is minimum required for documentation purpose. Can’t follow all the rules all the time. We architects need to deliver, unlike you who have loads of money and don’t have the pressure to work and earn a living” – he said mockingly. Somewhere in his eyes I could see the designer who had visualised  a classic sustainable design, but it got quickly extinguished by the sound of his blackberry phone ringing.

The Client has sent back the good for construction design; they want some changes. It seems that they have just hired a new guy who will be in-charge of this project. Had worked in Dubai on tall buildings. Says the new additions will make the building have more saleable area.” – he said while folding and stacking up a neat bundle of size A-0, fine quality drawing sheets. ” Here take this for your baby daughter to draw, with the changes asked all these drawings are defunct.”

“Could you not have sent them soft copies? I mean, till all the drawings are frozen, why do you guys start building ? Have your client not have heard of 3-D walk through and all the modern design ideas. Buddy, I even wrote an article on it. Green Business Ideas : Virtual World Design can save the real world losses. Did you read it ? – I cried out.

“Ha ha ! You are a very funny guy. Your virtual design ideas are just that – ideas for the virtual world.  Welcome to the real world buddy. Here we still work in the  most practical and economical manner, with high degree of efficiency and work ethics. – He rose to leave, turned and said – “nice talking to you. Don’t mind, you are a good guy but your ideas are a little foolish. There is no such thing as Sustainable construction.”

He walked away. I got up and put back the CD, I had got for him to view the SREX  report and the Stern Review. Which gives the horrifying view of a World hurtling towards destruction of the  life-style we all know and live in. And all due to human induced Climate change.

Yes! there is no such thing as Sustainable Construction….not until we have a Fukushima happening on our very own land. And then perhaps a few more would be required. After all we are a large land mass, with an equally large population. The death of a few thousand …it’s just statistics. Easy to forget.

 

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Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.


Most women & men have an emotional connect with the home they have lived as a child. In India families often live their entire life in one abode for generations. Even as India grows from its rural to more urban setting, the people still like to retain their “ancestral” home while moving into the swanky new home. There are some emotions which no one likes to part with; and childhood memories are perhaps the most important.

Perhaps many around the world  would share similar sentiments. Some want to make a retirement home, some would want a second home. Given a choice nearly every human would want to identify her/himself with something that is familiar.

This gives rise to a super Green Business Idea, which has manifold potential in rescuing Gaia from Global Warming.What if, future towns and cities are made as replicas ? Modern India has done that and, unfortunately forgotten about it. Cities like Rourkela, Bokaro, Durgapur & Bhilai which have almost similar design created by the master architect. If one pauses to think we have in almost all large cities, the state / city development authority housing board, which make ” affordable ” housing blocks. The typology remains the same over different locations. I think its time for a revisit and see it with new light in the context of abatement of climate change. Imagine High rises, commercial districts, row-houses and bungalows all having same or similar design ? Developed by private entities based on market demand, but following Development Rules which have been strictly adhered to. What would be the advantages, lets examine  in brief and re-kindle the thoughts which are perhaps lost in time.

The most exciting part is the CDM ( clean development mechanism ) potential. Every building has potentially two methods for adoption, to earn Carbon Credits. One is to reduce its embodied energy through better management of building materials. And the other is to reduce its Water and Electrical energy consumption. While the latter is comparatively easy and ‘meth’ AMS-III AE is recognised by the CDM Board. It is the embodied energy reduction that  has greater potential in terms of actually reducing GHG  as building related activities account for 40% of the Emission and 60% of waste is construction related.  However it is difficult to map it  and manage the MRV.( Monitoring – Reporting -Verification.) especially in the Building industry within the Construction sector in India. And this is precisely where I see a solution, should we make ‘replica townships’. We already have the datum to compare. The planned steel townships were made just after Indian independence. It has as any township should have – residential blocks, commercial blocks and infrastructural blocks such as schools, hospitals, cinemas,  police station, post-office , bus and railway terminals. So a major portion of the township plans would be available along with records of construction process; which would be archaic as per today’s construction methods (barring the A- centres of India, tier -II & III along with most rural setting still follow the old method of construction) but the layout plan is excellent. So with foresight and statesmanship, ( wishful thinking does not attract punitive punishment under any law ) should the Indian government both at Union and State level want to pursue its own stated Nation Mission for Sustainable Habitat under NAPCC; they should pass laws under Urban Planning which can make this thought into reality. As the Union government has already created the fantastic Mission, all it needs is to rise above political compulsions and address the issues at the Federal level, by becoming the facilitator in creating sound policies for the States, which then follows the path towards sustainable development.  And the benefits would be several.

First the  Urban Planning will be made easy – The biggest challenge the Urban planners face is the assumptions one needs to take into account, while proposing a new township. What would be the population density? What would be  the amount of water and energy requirement ? How will the municipal requirements met?  How best to accurately calculate cost of development. Where-all would the failure of oversight be, causing unplanned growth or breed corruption? Because post the master layout plan, the State development authority has no control { which is correct to an extent } over what would be the look and size of the building which would come up within the designated zone of the master plan. All such issues would become more streamlined and thus decision making more easy as the learning process gets more refined with each replica township coming up every-time.

The master-plan need not be a monotonous one. India has 5 – climatic conditions and design guidelines based on these are already incorporated in the National Green Building certification program – GRIHA. Therefore Master planners can create guidelines which conform to region and state specifically. However, within that area the designs can remain similar. Further, the best practices followed in other climatic zones and states would be available for record to plan better Climate Resilient cities, which is the underlying purpose of this article too. Imagine the potential, should a developer choose three typical design and develop different projects, in 3 different cities within one climatic zone. While the town-planing would differ in layout and scale, the buildings built therein being the same, would reduce cost of construction to a great extent. Design inputs required would reduce, while scope of improvement increase with every project thus designed. As every project has some amount of wastage, knowing the quantity to a more sure approximation, would help in planning for Reduce – Reuse -Recycle as enshrined within the Green Building methods both LEED & GRIHA.

Further a brand identity would be built. A building design can be copy-righted so to speak. And what an emotional connect it would be for the newly wed Bride, who has sadness in her heart for having left her ‘Babul ka aangan’,(fathers home) finds that her ‘Pia’ (husband) has the same bungalow she grew up in. Familiar setting instils confidence and a confident and happy new Bride can do wonders in settling herself well into the new life, she would be beginning.  That it would earn the builder/developer a permanent costumer (extremely difficult in this era of multiple choices), is another happy story. And if we speak of men,  I’m a member of an on-line group which was created by my childhood school mates and friends. We all lived in a gated township of a multinational company, where our fathers worked. Today of the 300 odd members, 51% would surely buy a home, should I design the replica of the town we all grew up in !

And the final winner would be my Countrymen, most are laymen when it comes to understand the importance of town-planning and Sustainable Urban development.  By providing them with standardized product, they would have more informed choice to take the right decision, as they do while buying their refrigerator or car. And most importantly it perhaps would become easier to decongest the future Megalopolis. For why would one not move into a newer town for better prospects while still be able to live within similar surroundings ? And why would people migrate to a particular city when similar ones are next door offering similar opportunities ?

And the final thought would be, the Urban planners should consider bio-mimiciry in their town planning. As technology would allow us to make higher sky-scrapers, rules must define low rise zones to be closer to coast and high rise more inland, this simple thought would allow for more natural wind flow pattern, which will help limiting air  pollution.

While no one can make another New York, Hong Kong  or Mumbai in similar form, potential or opportunities the new ones at least would have a future of their own making and who knows better the best that is in offer today.

Moreover Climate Resilient Cities which I am proposing would be offering a more prettier skyline than what any present day modern megalopolis has to offer. To underscore my point, which from all the above images posted in this article would you choose first for a postcard ?

I rest my argument !

 

 

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Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy.


The Economy is on a slowdown due to negative growth in all sectors in India. Some of it can be attributed to the Global mayhem. To be honest, it could be seen as  a good news. Especially for the Environment and advocates for Sustainable living. World over, humans follow one simple rule. When the going is good, why bother to stop and listen to saner voices ? However, post the Stern Review & SREX report, thing seem to be going towards a better direction. The road to Rio+20 may turn out to be a happy one, should this downtrend in economy continue till the Rio summit, as more and more Economists would advocate to overhaul the present Crony Capitalist model and turn it into Eco-Capitalism and the benefits of Green Business would come to fore. Although the RET (renewable energy technology) industry would wish me luck, most trade guru’s would laugh at my opinion. It would be challenging to prevent a roll back on gains made till date, at Rio+20. As because this is precisely the argument which would come forth -‘The World economy can not afford to go Green’, would be their argument laughing at any new idea brought forth. But they were also laughing at various other predictions of world-class economists and other saner voices before the Lehman Brother episode. It is the most foolish presumption and many, far more intelligent than me, would also agree.

The World Economy needs a review. A fresh approach, when unprecedented Climate change threatens all; institutions like CAN-International, Green Peace, WRI  and all others must grow and spread their influence of good-sense across Nations.  In the UNFCCC‘s Durban summit their stellar performance was evident in getting something out of nothing at all.

America has come up with a new way of conducting Business – ” Benefit Corporation“; I loved the word and the meaning therein – A company for profit of self through Sustainable practices benefiting the environment and  thus the community as a result. And Europe; when unprecedented economic hardships threaten the fabric of society they have come of with wonderful thoughts like  OPEX -Solar. With German and French companies leading the way. Their presence in India will be felt soon.

In my avatar as a Energy Efficient Building consultant, popularly known as Green Building consultant, (and fashioning my firm as a “benefit corporation” henceforth) crossing that last hurdle of having Renewable Energy or Green Power installed, which is not Solar Thermal but Solar PV always proves to be a challenge. While exploring potential in other RE formats, other than wind, has not truly taken off yet.  This led me towards a Green Business Idea. Solar PV in OPEX RE format in all  Certified Green Buildings projects .

India practices two certification programs. One is GRIHA, born out of the NAPCC’s  Mission on Sustainable Habitat and guided by the international think tank TERI. The Eight stated missions of NAPCC is the best hope of India standing tall in the Climate change negotiations at UNFCCC. GRIHA takes into account the Union governments commitment to sustainable habitat across all sections of society both Urban and Rural.

The other is by the business people for the people. CII’s  indigenous version of USGBC’s LEED. Guided by IGBC from its headquarters in Hyderabad, India’s first LEED Platinum Certified building, various certification programs have been dished out.

Both rating system have many common goals but with divergent approach. Let us first identify the common ground each rating possesses with regards to RET   ( renewable energy technology ).

Under Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment one requires –

Commitment: Meet energy requirements for a minimum of 10% of the internal lighting load (for general lighting) or its equivalent from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, fuel cells, etc). Use renewable energy sources in buildings to reduce the use of conventional/fossil-fuel based energy resources.

Commitment: Ensure that a minimum 50% of the annual energy requirement for heating water (for applications such as hot water for all needs, like for canteen, washing, and bath rooms/toilets, except for space heating) is supplied from renewable energy source.

Under Indian Green Building Council we have many subdivisions, but energy from RET is more or less common, let’s briefly look at the various certification programs and what they say on RET under LEED.

LEED India NC Rating :

7.5%  RE onsite Assess the project for renewable energy potential including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, and bio-gas strategies. When applying these strategies, take advantage of net metering with the local utility.

Green Power Demonstrate that the company has installed green power equivalent to 50% of the total energy requirement of the building, anywhere in the country. This investment should come because of the rated building and should be 50 % of the building consumption.

LEED India CS Rating:

1 -35% RE onsite Engage in at least a 2-year renewable energy contract to provide at least 35% of the core & shell building’s electricity from renewable sources, as defined by the Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e Energy product certification requirements. Supply a net fraction of the building’s total energy use (as expressed as a fraction of annual energy cost) through the use of on-site renewable energy systems. Use on-site renewable energy systems to offset at least 1% of the building energy costs. Substantiate the project’s compliance on this aspect by expressing the cost of energy produced through renewable sources as a percentage of the building’s total energy cost, annually.

Green Power Demonstrate that the company has installed green power equivalent to 50%of the total energy requirement of the building, anywhere in the country. This investment should come because of the rated building and should be 50 % of the building consumption.Estimate the energy needs of the building on annual basis. Install green power plants in the country, which meets the 100% of the total energy requirement of the building. Green power is derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, or low-impact hydro sources.

Green Homes Rating:

On site RE Install renewable energy systems for at least 5% of the total connected load of the building.

Green Township Rating:

On Site RE Install renewable energy systems to generate power through solar, wind, bio-mass, bio-gas, biodiesel or any other forms of renewable energy so that their installed capacity is at least 20% of the annual energy consumption in areas under the developer’s scope.

Green Power Demonstrate the project has invested in off-site green power for at least 50 % of the total annual consumption in areas under developer’s scope. Estimate the energy needs of the project on annual basis. Install off-site green power plants which meet at least 25 % of the total energy requirement of the project. Green power can be derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, or low impact hydro sources.

Green SEZ Rating :

On Site RE Install renewable energy systems to generate power through solar, wind, bio-mass/ bio-gas, or any other forms of renewable energy for at least 5% of the annual consumption (in  developer’s/ co-developer’s scope).

 Green Power Demonstrate the project has invested in off-site green power for at least 25% of the annual energy consumption in developer’s scope for at least 2 years. Estimate the energy needs of the building on annual basis. Install green power plants offsite which meet the 25 % of the total energy requirement of the building. Green power can be derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, small hydro power plants, etc.,

Green Co Rating :

 On Site RE both Electrical & Thermal To develop concrete action plan for increasing the share of renewable energy generation / utilization of the company. Install on-site renewable energy systems to generate electrical energy through solar, wind, biomass, bio-gas, bio-diesel, or any other forms of renewable energy and / or generation of thermal energy (expressed as an equivalent of electrical energy) to cater to the total energy requirement of the company. Availability of renewable energy resources is to be assessed and feasibility studies conducted before deciding on on-site installations. Green power can be sourced from solar, wind, bio-mass, bio-gas, bio-diesel or small hydro sources or any other accepted sources of renewable energy.

As one can see, the potential of bringing in RET was enshrined, it was only the crazy economics we all follow that makes RE unaffordable. Frankly I could never understand this business of applying RoI selectively. I have argued this in my earlier post in detail, so I will concentrate more on the Green Business Idea here.

English: PS20 and PS10 in Andalusia, Spain

In OPEX -SPV or operational expense on solar photo voltaic; the RESCO (renewable energy service company) is contemplating  to sell the power generated, directly to the client instead of routing it though the established Energy distribution companies as was mooted in the NVVM Scheme . Although the generation through SPV is still costly, the RESCO are looking at covering part of their expense via the REC Schemeand raise money through standard market driven investments. Hoping to breakeven through economy of scale. A bold move which needs to be lauded, yet treated with caution.

Lets now examine the advantages and pitfalls the model has.

OPEX Solar would create the economy of scale which any venture requires. This  I recommend, should happen by attempting to pick up the lowest hanging fruit. That is by becoming the Utility provider to the Green Buildings which are already registered in India. As shown above almost all the certification types require RE or Green Power. As the commitment is already made to build green and with the criteria already in place, the RESCO’s  effort remains only to do the math and give a viable PPA model.

As the rating covers almost all sectors the foot-print is huge. However, in each of the ratings there would be possibilities and problems unique to it.

Let us start with Green Homes –

Residences are the lowest hanging fruit. Already a firm  “Mera Gao Power” providing roof-top model at a very economical rate to rural India which the large power utilities find unfeasible. {Large Hydro dams and Thermal Power  plants are set up displacing 100’s of villages; that they find the very same villages resettled ( if at all ) beside it, to be too remote to be provided power with, is perhaps a unique Indian policy many of us with low intelligence find hard to understand.} However what has been the curse now can be a boon to the villages and RESCO’s especially the ones which can provide power in OPEX model. Simply because the Carbon Credit it would generate over and above the REC would not only make this system of business viable, it will create a resurgent India. Perhaps this can be done in other countries too.

Now what if this is brought into the residential blocks within town & cities?Many face power-outages during summer. It would work perfectly against the diesel abatement policy India has in place.  But if roof-top Solar is provided in OPEX model, the problem could be administrative. How would the RESCO collect the tariff, should a housing society not pay its utility bill on time, or a member fails to pay his/her utility bill ? Would the RESCO have the authority and immunity from harm / legal persecution the Municipal authorities have, to initiate disciplinary action? The same problem could be from commercial centres too.

Further, large housing societies need high amount of power, however the present solar PV modules have low plant efficiency thus require large amount of space and are heavy too. Therefore the required amount of power may not get generated via-roof top and off-site green power may be needed.

In this the problem is open access to the grid, which the state owned power utility companies find difficult both in business model and technically to provide. In some states like Gujrat it has been allowed, others are to follow soon.

The problem of electrical transmission over long distance is the “drop” it faces, ie., some power is lost in transit, due to simple laws of physics. Whereas this loss can be calculated and that much extra power fed at the supply end to compensate it in case of traditional power supply, for Solar PV it becomes a problem because currently the technology is dependent on Sunshine and therefore erratic to precisely pin down how much power would be generated per minute. This creates problem for evacuation and  steady stream of transmission. Perhaps when grid parity does take place, the investors could use the model devised by Gemasolar in Spain to store the extra  power and compensate the loss in transmission. Or other innovations would make this possible.

The other problem is should a RESCO sell a PPA model to a client which is off-site and wheels the power to the client, during planned load-shedding by the Municipal authority / State power company; the transmission would not happen. Banking that power is a economic solution but not technically sound because the client had agreed to the PPA ( power purchase agreement ) precisely to avoid power outages and avail the benefits of Diesel abatement.

Another issue is the time frame. Not many would like to sign a PPA of 25 years for roof-top models or even offsite because all business policies are dynamic in nature. Requirements change over time. Planing for 10 years can be done with reasonable permutation combinations, but not having flexibility for 25 years would be a non-starter for some sectors. Next, vintage of technology. No one would like especially when the investment is not theirs to be stuck with an asset which does not perform optimally with time. When I wrote another article on Solar PV, as how to make cheap solar power, I was just learning about OPEX solar, but some of the ideas given there could come to the rescue for OPEX solar.

Overall OPEX Solar model is here to stay and I already have plans to propagate it as much as possible to make this World a better place to live in.

Note: Courtesy to the owners of the images posted in this blog.

 

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The Gen Next will demand a Green Building


Awareness on Climate change is profound in Urban Indian schools. This I found when, invited by the district Rotary president of the area I live in Mumbai, I gave a lecture on Green Buildings in a school & a law college. During the short question and answer session, I was amazed at the grasp and depth of understanding many possessed about ” Global warming”. It was encouraging.

In my earlier article I had shown that by simply recycling steel jotter pens one can Reduce the impact of mining for iron-ore. ( Green Business Ideas –  CDM methods for Steel Production ) What if we can inculcate the idea of Reduce – Recycle – Reuse to the school children across all schools. Especially in the Urban  areas ? According to the UNICEF data the total number of school children in India were 113.8 million in 2000-01; Which in the last ten years has increased. Say if we just take into account 50% of these schools which would be imparting basic knowledge of Global Warming, we have a huge youth population which by the year 2025 be the next “consumer” of all product and produce the market has to offer.

The World business better gear up for all things green. It is the only alternative they would have especially in the Urban centers of India. Further India along with China are predicted to grow phenomenally, and growth by default means high carbon growth. Actually if you read an article by atradersrant – It is not the CO2, it is the waste heat that goes with every kiloWatt of electricity produced, which is the real cause of global warming. This actually helps rest the climate skeptic arguments that CO2, being a natural gas can not harm Earth, but at the same time proves that because we have not yet perfected the art of energy manufacturing and consumption, the waste heat is in fact coming from inefficient burning of fossil fuel – thus carbon.

Global Warming 1/2

Global Warming 1/2 (Photo credit: lamazone)

An article stated – “Asia has been responsible for over two-thirds of the growth in global energy demand over the past two decades. As, above all, China and India race towards prosperity, they will burn coal in huge volumes. The resulting emissions of carbon dioxide will be among the biggest hurdles in the way of a global agreement on limiting climate change …Where China leads, India lumbers behind, also burning an awful lot of coal, and hungry for more electric power. Some 70% of its electricity comes from coal. The national grid has expanded hugely in recent years. But it still leaves about 300m people without a connection. In projections of increased energy demand over the next 25 years, India is second only to China…Like China, it is ploughing resources into nuclear power, oil-and-gas exploration and imports, and renewable energy. Like China, too, however, India finds coal the obvious option. It is something it has plenty of—already the world’s third-largest producer, it has the world’s fifth-biggest coal reserves. But it cannot exploit them fast enough to meet demand. In fact, output has not increased for two years. Coal India, the state monopoly, blames the difficulty of securing mining permits. So India may soon become the world’s biggest coal importer.On current trends, as estimated by McKinsey, India’s carbon emissions will increase by about two-and-a-half times by 2030, by which time its power industry alone will account for about one-tenth of the total rise in global emissions. Like China’s government, India’s points out that, per head, its people will still be producing far less carbon dioxide than Americans or Australians (though China is rapidly catching up with some European countries in pollution per person). And, in India’s case, total emissions (at 5 billion–6.5 billion tonnes) will remain well below China’s. “

Well below China does not mean that we shall be having a pollution free Country. With health -care still out of reach of millions and cultural propensity of not adhering to any civic sense, the massive pollution would only spell disaster for the country if not arrested. Alternative energy sources and energy efficiency  for continued development is the need of the hour. If we do what the article predicts the intense global pressure the UNFCCC members would be bearing upon us, would make trade difficult. And it is the youth of today who would face the hardships of trade embargo, which is sure to follow as man-made related Climate change problems rise.

Yes, while everyone knows that it is the Developed Nations which have created this mess,it does not give sanction to any other Nation to follow the foolish path of high carbon development model.

So coming back to the point, India must follow the full course it has set out under NAPCC and not get derailed by “smart economics” enshrined in crony capitalism. It is a superb Green Business Idea and the coming generation of young Indians will want India to follow this path as it would surely make our Nation First among equals. And it is logical, because the youths are more aware of the problems they would be facing – In 2010, climate-related extreme events and disasters affected some 300 million people, most often in countries which have little capacity to cope.

Young India is aware of this and  the disaster of Fukushima brought home by the TV has left an impression even on the minds of Rural India. Moreover the youth today are connected by social media and many have seen the video which shows how disaster has struck USA in the past year, while this video  was suggested by a young student to me, it is a bit dramatic but overall it has captured some of the worst disasters, which people around the World have faced in 2011. These events coupled with the increased awareness of Climate change, has been shifting the dynamics of thinking. Climate Resilient cities which the UN proposes becomes more and more acceptable idea, then it would have been 25 years ago. And to those youths on whose shoulders the future of this Nation would eventually rest, and are still skeptic about the effect of Humans activities on Climate , below  is a thought to ponder upon –

While it is very common, World over for young people to say ” I can’t live without my – car; dog; cell phone, shoe or fancy clothes etcetera. An Oxfam report suggested that by 2030, climate change could push food prices up by 50-90 percent more than they would otherwise be expected to rise. And then many would just seriously not be able to live. Because if there is one thing Human’s can’t live without – its food & water. It is the way all living things are, all need sustenance. So its time the “intelligent living beings” we like to call ourselves – learn about Sustainable living. And what could be better than “the smarter generation” which youths like to call themselves leading the way!


 

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Coal corporations helping India’s Clean tech aspirations is becoming successful – a model more nations need to follow.


Renewal Energy Distribution Companies find it so difficult to work and grow.The primary reason being denial of open access system by the power supplying companies the unquestioned rulers. The resistance is natural although national policy says in time open access must be allowed to level the playing field and bring grid parity. These companies have spent a lot of money and effort into developing the infrastructures and letting the new RE guys piggy-back on them is not something which sound business policy advocates. Yet, these powerful “Goliaths” would fall and the “RE Davids” would rise. Sustainable Energy requirements is the call of the hour.

For Humankind, the preservation of self is the most supreme and any event or cause which would stand in its way would have to perish. Today the desperation for survival of small island nations and mountain states, being mostly small in size and economic might; not really being heard by the mighty nations and the supporting fossil-fuel corporation. But as the effect of Climate change is being felt and the associated business risk gets recorded within the mighty nations, along-with more businesses understanding that their economic salvation lies in marketing and manufacturing ecologically sustainable products, the fossil fuel led lobby’s influence and foot-print is bound to shrink.

And no one can stand against the might of the collective. History has proved it time and again. And when an idea whose time has come also gets the support of the powerful United Nations, crony capitalism and narrow national interest will lose. It is the writing on the wall.

But Indian ethos teaches compassion. Those who have provided energy to the world for the last 300 years must not be thrown out unceremoniously but shown the light. Just as it is difficult and confusing for a one mighty ruler to accept defeat and face uncertainty, so is the case of these Energy Czars. Redundancy is not a polite word.

So India has devised a way out. The solution although complex, the logic is simple – channel the oil / coal profit into R&D of Renewable Energy solutions.This is the reason why in India we have the NVVN .  In Mumbai, India; BEST ( Birhan mumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking ) draws 10% of its Electrical power for supply from RE as mandated for development & support of RE.Such mandate is more or less followed by all states.

Moreover, no one imagines that in the next 50 years, oil / coal would vanish from our economy. While its use begins to diminish ( hopefully ) it would be wise for the companies to diversify and invest from now into the clean-tech. And in the present economic situation, buying could be cheap.Further they should help in easing the entry of roof-top solar / wind in the immediate future. This would free up their power for industrial use, while residential, school & malls could draw their power from the RE industry.

A win-win situation for all. Hope the model is adopted by Nations sooner than later.

 

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Renewable Energy is viable..period.


The preamble

The power of raw sunshine at midday on a cloudless day is 1000 W per  square meter. We can turn this raw power into useful power in four ways:

1. Solar thermal: using the sunshine for direct heating of buildings or water.

2. Solar photovoltaic: generating electricity.

3. Solar biomass: using trees, bacteria, algae, corn, soy beans, or oilseed to make energy fuels, chemicals, or building materials.

4. Food: the same as solar biomass, except we shovel the plants into humans or other animals.

David JC MacKay

With the run-up to Rio+20 Summit and the UNEP driven Future Cities program the use of RE especially Solar becomes more and more important.

With the tremendous pressure all Nations are facing over Environmental Impacts from their citizens, who are getting more and more aware about the disasters non-sustainable living; Bangkok would be a very recent example; RE in all form would have to be accepted and assimilated main-stream. Let there be no confusion that the Economy of the world are driven by three basic needs from time immemorial – Food, Clothing & Shelter. I will deal separately the issues of Energy -Water in detail later.

Food – Requires energy, from plantation to processing to cooking.

Clothing – Textile industry are considered one of the high energy usage sector.

Shelter – About 40% of GHG (green house gas) comes from building related activities.

In many countries Sustainable Building design have been adopted in form of BREEAM, LEED, IGBC etc. Nations have committed to the UNFCCC agenda of keeping the world temperature from rising another 2°c. All that requires tremendous dedicated effort from all sectors.

And most importantly, busting the myth of negative Return on Investment (RoI) put forward by the fossil fuel industry.

The Argument

In my opinion, if the home I live in sinks under the sea because I refused to pay a little more now to avail RE sources for my energy needs over coal/oil, I don’t think myself much of an economist.

An economist is a person who plans for the welfare of generations to come, albeit his own. Given the fuel lobbyist are pandering to this very self agenda, however there is a small flaw – their path would just sink the landmass; not much of an economic playing field will be then left, for the future generation !

Having said that, let’s see if we can still make a case of RoI with using RE in its present economic form. Today the cost of generation of power is “compared to” the cost of generation of power via fossil fuel. This in itself is a flawed argument. As I’m not an economist, my examples would be simple. Also I would perhaps not be 100% accurate in my assessment.

Now to begin with my theory – Fossil fuel has been used as a primary source of energy since man learned to control fire; however it was during the industrial revolution with the advent of steam engine did the consumption of fossil fuel jump exponentially. But if documents are researched, energy from fossil fuel driven carts would not have been cheaper than horse driven carriages in the then predominantly agrarian era. Neither was flying over ship when its time came!

It was only by economy of scale that these things became “cheaper”. Also because they became popular, flying though costlier than travel by ship saved time, thus the merchant could do more business within the allotted time, than waste more of it via land/sea travel. So even if flying (even today) is costlier than sea/land travel, the business person calculates his RoI in the form of time saved! Now if for some reason the venture fails, then the RoI becomes bad. So for a successful business person air-travel is good RoI and for the other bad! So in lay-man terms RoI is a subjective matter. It depends on what is the datum of your argument. I have as yet to see any person who buys a fuel guzzling car ever calculate RoI. Therefore RoI is a concept which needs to be researched better.

Further warming up to this argument, how does one say that the cost of generation from Thermal power is cheaper than Renewable Energy? Does it factor in the destruction – ecological, social & physical (pollution leads to host of diseases)? Moreover, it can but consumed only once. You burn the coal or oil, it would not come back to you, and you can’t replenish it via any natural process. It can be argued that the paradigm of Business is different from literally logic which perhaps is what I’m professing. However with “Eurocracy” in serious danger perhaps all business models need to be restructured.

The Solution

Now, having vented my exasperation on the fossil fuel lobby’s clever wining technique, let us dwell on the subject of improving the reach of Sustainable energy production. Just as any new technology in its infancy faces teething trouble, so is the RE industry.

Amongst all, Solar is the most promising and perhaps therefore faces most challenges. Its plant efficiency factor is very low, it uses large surface area and the present technique of trapping the solar rays are perhaps cumbersome. But given dedicated research and analysis, it is perhaps the best bet. Because there are two things one can bet his last dollar on, the Sunshine and the Breeze. As long as the Earth is there these two would be available for sure.( so would geothermal & wave, but that’s another story) Having understood that, what can we do to make this industry stand on its own? For that we would need changes in mass thinking. Once that is achieved the political class would seal the deal.

To change the mass thinking we need to bring RE into their everyday lives. In India we have the Prime Minister driven Nation Action Plan on Climate Change. Through these the Government is trying to make at first the 9 Industry sectors energy efficient. However the Building Industry is untouched at the moment. Even then if amongst the 9 sectors (Aluminum; Cement; Chlor-alkali; Fertilizer; Iron & Steel; Pulp& Paper; Power; Textile & Railways) have role of the Building industry; as each need their HQ and other Administrative blocks for operations.

 If 10% of energy use for these industries on their above mentioned assets is made mandatory along with offsetting another 5% of energy use by their respective employees residence, we will begin with a massive program, which will truly bring in the scale required to make RE viable. Most importantly, it would act as a compromise. A compromise between the Government who would want NMEEE and PAT to be viable as soon as possible and the said Industrial sectors which is putting forth their argument of the trails & tribulations.

India should lead the SAARC nations in providing  Solar -RE for its rural and most importantly Tier-II, III & IV towns and cities. This is because, availability of roof-top to pattern of consumption; is complementary to each-other. That is, most of the residential buildings are single owner 1-3 storied buildings with ample roof and land area. Along with it the residents are yet to be “spoilt” by the crass consumerist life-style which the mega-cities of India have taken to, in its quest to become more “western”. They by default consume less energy and this itself becomes an advantage to put small systems on their roof-tops to amply fulfill their energy needs.

Already most countries are familiar with “Green Building” concepts through LEED / GRIHA / BREEAM etc. Energy efficiency is becoming important to sustainable living and the concept of “Green Power” is getting introduced by these rating systems. Here too through local legislation or voluntary CSR 25% of a residential complex (min 100 flats) power needs could be through Solar PV. This would translate to the power consumed by the lift, gate/boundary lights and other common space lighting. Though the need for space to power the demand may not get fulfilled by the roof-tops alone, innovative and practical ideas are available! In sustainable terms if say each & every society of say, a city like Mumbai, more importantly the affluent districts in the city adopt the Solar roof-top solution the State of Maharashtra can better manage its Energy problems.

Translate this concept to New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore or Hyderabad and we can already see RoI of solar extremely practical.

Perhaps it can also inspire other countries to love Ra – the Sun God, as Civilization did when it began its journey!

 

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Green Business Ideas : Tall Buildings made from waste plastic is possible & its LCA is cheap – a builders delight and boon to Environmentalist


Business all over, in every Country is in flux. The fine tuning between Economic growth with least Environmental damage, while maintaining the modern life-style is challenging to say the least. But it is precisely during these challenging times, the World should go back and re-look at inventions – ignored during the ‘gold rush’ days in every sphere and bring forth into light others which are perhaps thriving in isolated pockets, but need the urgent attention to be brought out into the limelight and popularize it among the masses.

Thermo Polymerized Rock;  I did not even have the slightest idea that when I would sit down to write this article, every thing I would be asking the Green Building councils around the World to mull over, is already a ‘ open packet and serve’ solution. Affresol Modular Buildings are made from an innovative new structural product called TPR™ (Thermo Polymerized Rock).  It can be used to make the “Modular Buildings” and “Sectional House Frames” which have a Compressive Strength range 22 KN/mm2 to 38 KN/mm2. And perhaps there would be many more companies around the world doing the same. Its their time now. In India we have a Company Damanganga, which manufactures roofing and flooring sheets from waste, even some furniture, but I have not yet met a company which is making product like TPR.  Yes! the common people in the streets must know about it, not the intelligentsia discussing it in Five Star Hotel seminars.

BASIC countries (red) and other G20 countries ...

Image via Wikipedia

And if discussion indeed need to happen then it should be on how Tall Buildings in Asia can be made modular. And more so in the ever growing cities of South East Asia. Every one knows that in this economic gloom and doom period, the rising stars are the BASIC countries. India being one of them, would be having a revised projected growth of 5% to 6%  instead of 9%. And according to the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, this can by no stretch of imagination be called ‘recession’; slower growth maybe. Therefore The European Union which is facing an economic crisis can harbinger overall growth by exporting their technology and expertise on TPR, help stave plastic pollution and earn some goodwill along with money. It could be the beginning of a great green business idea.

Because, as the South East Asian Cities grow, they bring with them problems, many of which have been addressed in my earlier articles ( http://wp.me/p1xbzq-a0http://wp.me/p1xbzq-7i; ). Mumbai and New Delhi both are signatories of C40 Cities program. In fact all over cities are looking to become Climate responsive. In this back drop, it would be one of the finest engineering goals for the Construction industry to devise about how Tall buildings in India can be built with TPR.

Imagine – 50 years down the line, all one has to do is dismantle section by section a whole sky scraper  and pack it of for recycling. No construction debris, no brown-field sites filled with plastic. Having popularized the method, one can just start mapping the embodied energy saved, from limiting the use of cement  & concrete, paint and other conventional building materials. Also, the basic being plastic, one can have thinner walls which are both sound proof as well as lighter in weight. This would surely reduce the structural steel and make more carpet area  to wall space  ratio .

A winner in every way, for now each plastic bag, article which was discarded without a thought would be a valuable article to be segregated and sold. Perhaps enterprising companies would trawl the ocean floors near the countless beaches and gather the plastics which as of now are cause of Environmental hazard!

 

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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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Building A Low Carbon Economy with Energy Efficient Buildings


GHG emissions from building construction, reno...
Image via Wikipedia

The building sector can and should play a role in achieving the deep GHG reductions that science tells us are necessary to combat the threat of global warming. The building sector contribution to GHG emissions is mainly driven by its end use of, or demand for, electricity. This is a key difference from many other sectors where the main issue is emissions from the supply of energy. The building sector as a whole could reduce its share of GHG emissions by 30-35 per cent whilst accommodating growth in the overall number of buildings by 2050. This can be achieved by using today’s technology to significantly reduce the energy needed by residential and commercial buildings to perform the same services. For example, by replacing equipment with more energy-efficient models, at the natural replacement rate, and upgrading the performance of the building shell.

Detailed ‘bottom up’ analysis of energy efficiency opportunities suggests that net cost savings can be achievable in the medium to long-term. Rather than a cost per tonne of GHG abatement, many energy efficiency options have a positive financial payback in addition to providing abatement benefits. The payback period, can vary from a matter of months to many years. This finding is consistent with a large collection of case studies within the Country and overseas. When coupled with a broad-based GHG abatement target and a supporting policy environment, additional energy efficiency investments by the buildings sector would reduce the costs of change for the building sector and the economy at large.

Despite being cost neutral in the medium to long-term, achieving the additional GHG abatement action from the building sector faces challenges as well as opportunities.

1.Adopting energy efficiency strategies requires upfront investment by businesses and households to become more energy-efficient.

2.The benefits, or payback of these investments, are gradual, accruing over the medium to long-term, as savings on energy bills.

3.The building sector will need some additional incentives to overcome the impediments to change. These need to address a range of issues, such as the need to spur behavioural change, particularly to encourage adoption, and to offset the required upfront, direct capital expenditures.

4.Essentially, there is a need to encourage the rebuilding of our current building stock to upgrade the energy efficiency of assets within buildings to deliver a more   sustainable outcome.

5.The pay-off from investing in the energy efficiency potential of the building sector would flow through the entire economy by reducing the cost that others would face to  achieve their reduction in GHG emissions.

It is vital for government and the community at large to recognize the evidence showing the valuable role that demand side management and energy efficiency in the building sector can play in GHG abatement. Significant gains are available now without the need to invent and apply new technologies. They do not involve substantial risk or uncertainty and would provide significant gains now and into the future.

THE BUILDING SECTOR

The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements:

Residential buildings — housing the population; and

Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two-thirds of national employment.

Component parts of the building sector are noted in chart

Residential Building Commercial Building
Detached housesAttached dwellingsBuildings containing two or more soleoccupancy units Wholesale tradeRetailAccommodation, cafes and restaurantsCommunication servicesFinance and insuranceProperty and business servicesGovernment administration and

Defence

Education

Health and community services

Cultural and recreational services

Personal and other services

The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:

1.  the amount of energy consumed;

2. the mix of fuels used;

3. the average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and

4.upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions.

A larger proportion of GHG emissions are attributable to the building sector than its share of energy use because the building sector uses greenhouse gas intensive energy. Notably the building sector energy end use is dominated by electricity consumption which is dominated by coal fired generation located at the end of long transmission networks.

Emissions from the building sector are broadly of the same scale as emissions produced by the entire transport sector.

THE ABATEMENT POTENTIAL

The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economical basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

The potential for increased energy efficiency in the building sector has been estimated through a bottom up analysis to identify energy efficiency opportunities in the building sector. The analysis:

1.Examine like-with-like replacement of energy inefficient appliances and building services with more energy-efficient equivalents;

2.focus on additional application of existing technologies;

3.take into account the costs of change and the expected benefits from reduced energy costs; and

4.factor in expected population growth and sustained economic growth which tends to bring pressure for increased energy use.

For the potential energy efficiency investments a much wider range of options exits. This set, however, generally represents the diversity of existing, mature technologies.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through:

1. substitution for more energy-efficient light fittings;

2. greater use of natural light;

3.substitution for more efficient refrigeration;

4.adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible;

5.adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use;

6. the introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by:

1. improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles;

2.use of natural ventilation where possible;

3. the use of more efficient office appliances;

4.better insulation;

5.improved heating and ventilation;

6.the use of efficient light fixtures;

7.upgrading to more efficient water heating systems; and

8.where possible use of co-, and tri-generation (that is, using heat discharged from on-site power generation for water heating, and for absorption air-conditioning etc).

Energy efficiency measures would take time to be adopted by households and business. Analysis of the technical possibilities suggests the potential for GHG abatement is between 57 Mt and 66 Mt per annum by 2030. This would increase to between 86 Mt and 98 Mt by 2050.

Facts

• Buildings’ share of final energy consumption: 30-40%

• Global CO2 emissions from energy in buildings (2005): 9Gt

• Estimated growth by 2050 in all 6 EEB regions: 76%

• Growth in global population by 2050: 2.7 billion or 42%

Many energy efficiency projects are feasible with today’s energy costs. At energy prices proportionate to oil at US$ 60 per barrel, building energy efficiency investments in the six EEB regions (Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US) studied, totaling US$ 150 billion annually, will reduce related energy use and the corresponding carbon footprint in the range of 40% with five-year discounted paybacks for the owners. A further US$ 150 billion with paybacks between five and 10 years will add 12 percentage points and bring the total reduction to slightly more than half.

There are three key elements to

achieving progress:

– Use less energy

– Make more energy (locally)

– Share surplus energy (through an intelligent grid).

The most significant, long-term gains will come from using less energy.

Note: The data has been collected form various noted publications and condensed for easy understanding.

 

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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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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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