India Will Have Highest Number of Green-Rated Buildings by 2022


Three green ratings options, volunteerism by industry leaders and apparent savings are resulting in very rapid growth in green-rated buildings in India.

Hariharan Chandrashekar, Co-Chairman, CII-IGBC Bangalore, Chairperson of the National Green Building Congress, and Chairman of BCIL, India’s pioneering green builder, shares some of his insights on the likely rare Indian feat with Benedict Paramanand

How can you say India will have the largest number of green buildings by 2022?

India started with 20,000 Sqft in 2004 with the CII-Indian Green Building Council’s HQ in Hyderabad securing the world’s highest Platinum rating for a green building from the USGBC. In the next 7 years to 2010, the CII-IGBC — with which I have been associated from its inception — we made some progress. By the turn of the decade we were at less than 150 million Sqft, but set a target of 1 billion Sqft of certified Green Buildings to be achieved by 2015.

The target seemed very ambitious but we achieved it by 2014 and exceeded by at least another half a billion. By 2015, India had also established the fastest CAGR for green buildings in the world, outrunning the US on the y-on-y growth rate. Today the US is at 10.2 billion Sq ft. We are at 5.3 billion Sq ft [with 4.66 billion Sqft coming from CII-IGBC alone, and the rest accounted for by USGBC and GRIHA]. CII-IGBC has set a target of 10 billion Sqft for 2022 when India turns 75. That year India will outpace the US on the total number of green buildings per square feet.

Singapore, Australia, France, the UK, UAE are some of the prominent nations that have their own rating systems. There are about 60 nations that have some kind of green rating system, but very little as certified green buildings. CII-IGBC has 21 rating systems for Residential, Commercial, Existing Buildings, Factory Buildings, Green Schools, Green Metros, Affordable Housing, Green Healthcare systems rating, Green Residential Societies, Green Products Certification, and so on. The CII-IGBC has 43 city chapters across India, with architects and corporate real estate professionals volunteering to drive the initiative to make for a Green India. The Indian Green Building Congress is now into its 17th edition. This year it will be held in Jaipur on 4 October 2017. From 50 delegates in the first year, we now have about 4,000 delegates attending the Congress in recent years!

What is the implication of this feat to India and its construction sector?

Every residential building that is certified green under the guidelines and parameters of the rating system, will save a minimum of 15% and a maximum of 35% on energy and water, as against a regular building.

An apartment of 1.0 lack Sq ft and, say, 100 homes, will save up to 12,000 units of power every year @ 100 units saved at the minimum every month. Water consumption saved will be a minimum 2.0 lakh liters @ just 200 liters saved of fresh water consumption with the green protocols. The savings from a range of accessories that are installed from efficient lighting, natural lighting that avoids artificial lighting in day, energy efficient ACs and lifts and common area lighting and pumps.

Water savings come from a combination of water-efficient fixtures, rainwater harvesting, and reuse of treated waste water for gardens, car wash and floor swabs etc. Under effective waste management, there are localized waste treatment systems that ensure that all wet waste can be composted on-campus. On the supply side, the installation of rooftop solar power systems and solar thermal systems for hot water, generates power and cuts demand for power for geysers in bathrooms.

The significance of these things is that India has to look at ‘efficiency as the first fuel’ in both water and energy into the future, if it has to keep its cities livable, sustainable. These are no alternatives. These are absolute imperatives for India 2030 or India 2050. 

With three green building certification bodies – is it helping or confusing the customer?

It is about informed choice. It has created a healthy eco-system with the applicant having an opportunity of understanding who offers what, at what cost, and the effectiveness of systems. However, the other two institutions — GRIHA and USGBC — have mostly been in the commercial buildings segment so far. The consumer and buildings in India are the winners in the range of options and choices that are before the applicants.

It is interesting that GRIHA and CII-IGBC have forged new initiatives to see that we play foil for each other’s strengths. I met the CEO of GRIHA recently and explored the possibility of playing to each other’s institutional strengths and empowering both the government and private sectors. It must be said that all the three are dedicated to the noble purpose of the greening of India, it should not be viewed from within the narrow confines of ‘competition’. The customer — b2b or b2c is the arbiter, and the building wins on energy and water efficiency counts.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the 3 ratings

GRIHA’s strengths is in the government sector because it is a government rating system; USGBC’s strengths is mostly in commercial buildings so far and with India opening up to companies from the US, this institution could win customers from outside India. IGBC has been seen by India Inc as ‘the country’s own system’.

All three have cultural strengths of their own — IGBC is lead by volunteer industry leaders and so brings passion and commitment; USGBC brings the edge of technology efficiency; Griha brings the solidity of the government’s backing. 

What is the average cost of rating and an average payback period?

Depends on the rating you are going for…. If it is a commercial building, the fee would be about Rs 1-1.50 per Sft.  If the applicant seeks consulting help from a growing crop of green consultants, then there would be another 2/sft at the max, but these are commercial things that are negotiated mostly on a lump-sum basis. The cost of installations and project values to conform to the Guidelines of the rating system norms and requirements, will cost about 5%. This has assured payback on the cost savings and the greater energy / water security [which is not easily quantified as price] within 1-3 years, depending on the item of capital cost and installation. Usually a residential builder will demur on spending higher Capital cost for the benefit of the savings do not go to him. However, the irony we have seen over this decade is that nearly 60 per cent of the 4.6 billion Sft is residential! It shows that residential builders clearly see that they either get faster sales or higher sales value if they make a green building.

Will getting individual homes rated help in raising their value? Any rough estimates? (the objective is to encourage widespread green living ethos)

I wish it did! It has not shown such a trend even for powerful pioneers like BCIL. The price is dictated by only one thing in the Indian market – location. The more central the location, the greater the land cost. All other factors pale into insignificance…

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