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Guest Column

Published on: Nov. 8, 2021, 7:05 p.m.
How green is your building
  • IGBC-rated green buildings match world-class benchmarks and showcase India’s leadership in Green Built environment

By V Suresh. The author is chairman, Indian Green Building Council

As COP26 meeting is around the corner where all the 193 countries would discuss on the issues on temperature rise and climate change. Many of us are already experiencing the problems due to climate change like intense rainfalls, severe cyclones, disastrous landslides which are occurring frequently. 

At COP26, the agenda of initiating decarbonisation by bringing down the emissions, construction sector has an important role to play. A major thrust should be given on wider adoption of environmentally sustainable technologies to further enhance integrated management of water, energy and waste, from buildings to built environment, to showcase the tangible results. 

While many might look at buildings and see only an inanimate structure, the green and net zero buildings consider the physicality and the process by which the buildings create opportunities not only to save significant energy, water and carbon emissions, but to increase awareness, create green jobs, strengthen communities, improve health and wellbeing, and much more. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), formed by CII, has been spearheading the green building movement in the country since 2001. T

he vision of the council is to enable sustainable built environment for all and India to be one of the global leaders in sustainable built environment by 2025. IGBC is the only green building council representing India at World Green Building Council (World GBC). WorldGBC is a global influential organisation on green built environment with over Seventy-Three countries as members from across the globe. 

IGBC is making all efforts to imbibe India’s 5,000-year-old heritage along with modern innovations and technologies, to facilitate in development of greener and healthier spaces. The greatest strength of IGBC lies in rediscovery of the Pancha Bhutas  (five elements of nature) aligning them with Green concepts viz. Site management with Prithvi, Water conservation with Jal, Energy efficiency with Agni, Air Quality with Vayu and Day light with Akash. 

IGBC gives high importance to the correlation between occupants’ health, well-being and performance of the built-environment, emphasising that people-centric design is an integral part of green buildings. 

To accelerate the adoption of Green Concepts, IGBC has developed 29 rating guidelines with National consensus to cover various forms of built environment. IGBC rating systems are highly relevant to the Indian context and climatic conditions. The IGBC guidelines have seamlessly integrated National codes & standards like National Building Code (NBC), BEE’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), MoEF’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) guidelines, etc. as reference baselines. 

The activities of CII-IGBC are fully aligned with the Government of India programmes & initiatives – Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Swachh Bharat Mission, Make in India, Digital India, Vocal for Local. These rating guidelines are also in-line with UN Sustainability Development Goals. 

IGBC encourages the projects to adopt green principles and address the national priorities such as energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, increased use of clean energy and reduction in carbon emissions. For example, IGBC certified projects have relatively lower energy consumption as compared with the baseline energy consumption of similar buildings, resulting in reduced load on the National grid. Further, many green buildings use onsite and offsite renewable energy sources to offset the energy requirement, which reduces the intensity of carbon emissions. 

Market transformation 

Highly scientific tools like energy simulation, lighting analysis and building management system were introduced in India by IGBC. Until early 2000, these tools were not so popular in the Indian building sector. Additionally, many innovative and sustainable building materials, products and technologies have been introduced to the building sector by IGBC, since 2001. Some of these include high efficiency chillers, high performance glass, large scale use of fly ash blocks, solar photovoltaic panels, waterless urinals, eco-friendly paints, CO2 sensors, building insulation and many others.

To accelerate the uptake of green products and materials, CII has launched the ‘GreenPro Rating System’, under the stewardship of the Green Product and Material Council, for certification of green products. Thus far, over 2,500 building products have been certified by GreenPro based on a life cycle approach. GreenPro is recognised by the international non-profit body, Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN), which is a world-wide association of ecolabelling organisations. 

As on today, more than 6,800 projects in the country have adopted IGBC green building ratings amounting to 7.86 billion sq. ft. This has elevated India to one of the top three countries in the world in terms of green footprint. Over the course of two decades of service to the nation, IGBC has also advanced into newer sectors of built environment like cities, villages, data centres, logistic parks, railway and metro stations, healthcare, petrochem retail outlets and many more. IGBC-rated green buildings match world-class benchmarks and showcase India’s leadership in Green Built environment. 

This green building movement has been possible with the collective efforts of all the stakeholders. IGBC has long term association with many industry bodies such as CREDAI, NAREDCO, IPA, IIA, IIID, ISHRAE, ASHRAE and many others to work collectively towards the promotion of green building concepts, net zero concepts, health & wellbeing aspects and many such initiatives. In addition, IGBC collaborates and partners with these associations to jointly advocate the importance of green policies, release technical journals & papers and conduct various awareness programmes. 

IGBC mission on Net Zero 

IGBC has set a focused approach and vision for the net zero movement in India i.e. India to become one of the foremost countries in transforming to net zero by 2050. In this context, IGBC has launched ‘Mission on Net Zero’ on Earth Day on 22 April, 2021 towards achieving India's commitment on climate Energy Savings, Water Savings, CO2 Reduction – 15.3 billion units per year; 47.2 billion litres per year; 12.5 million tonnes per year change.

The mission includes various initiatives such as facilitating organisations to develop roadmap for achieving net zero status and setting up intermediate targets for every 5 years starting from 2025. As part of the mission, IGBC also extends support related to monitoring & verification and reporting achievements. The ‘Mission on Net Zero’ initiative is encouraging the industry and the stakeholders to design & construct all new buildings and built environment to become net zero by 2030 and all buildings – both new and existing to become net zero by 2050. 

Conclusion 

The first few years of this decade are very critical to India for defining and shaping the environmental sustainability efforts in our country. What we do now will define where we will be by 2050.

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