By: Juggy Marwaha
The rate of real estate development is imposing immense pressure on the environment and its natural resources. Such rapid development puts a lot at stake when we look at factors such as energy availability and environmental sustainability.
The real estate sector is a major contributor to global warming due to the extensive pollution during the construction process as well as emission of greenhouse gases during the lifecycle of the resultant buildings. On an average, buildings consume about 20 per cent of the total energy available and this trend is increasing daily.
Mounting concern for the environmental impact of real estate has necessitated the formulation of sustainable solutions. This has led to the advent of the sustainable real estate and related ‘green homes’ concepts. Sustainable real estate is all about using resources sustainably and addressing the demands of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Green housing is an integrated approach towards minimising the adverse effects of construction and its operation on the environment while promoting healthier living for . It has been documented that living in conventional buildings has been working against residents, both in terms of living standards and the costs of excessive energy consumption.
The process that governs eco-friendly homes is limiting the use of water, energy and materials used during construction and occupation. The idea is to incorporate features that make the most of natural resources while reducing heat gain and improving the quality of indoor air. Green buildings not only enhance quality of life but also reduce the cost of living.
Constraints To Faster Growth
The main constraint for the proliferation of green buildings is the lack of information and incorrect perceptions. It is generally believed that green buildings cost more and take a long time to pay back in tangible energy savings. Such a perception leads to lower demand levels. In fact, the additional cost factor is rapidly reducing as more developers get into the ‘green homes’ arena, since there is increased competition. Additionally, green homes result in significantly reduced utilities bills right from the start.
Also, many developers are deterred from adopting the ‘green mantra’ in their projects because green buildings may involve increased construction costs. They may also find it challenging to obtain the necessary technologies, source green building materials and find appropriately qualified architects and contractors in India. Nevertheless, developers are aware that the ‘green wave’ is catching the fancy of many home buyers and want to get on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of residential projects which project themselves as ‘green’ without adhering to mandatory parameters or having obtained the necessary certification.
Know What To Look For
Overall benefits of green buildings depend on the extent to which sustainable features are included during the initial planning and design. In some cases, such features can also be incorporated after the building is complete. But the point is that a few green features do not qualify a building as environmentally sustainable.
With increasing interest in this concept, developers have begun promoting projects under the banner of ‘eco-friendly homes’. While many of these projects are accordingly certified by competent authorities, others are merely seeking to get in to the sector without delivering the goods.
To ensure that a genuinely ‘green’ residential project is not mistaken for one of the wannabes, it is important for their developer to obtain accreditation from the green rating systems followed in India. GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) is one such system which verifies all that a building has adhered to all the prescribed parameters, and that the materials and processes have been used at every stage of construction. Once all the requirements are met, the project is credited as a ‘Green Building’.
Check list for green home buyers:
* Does the project offer ready access to public transportation so as to reduce the need for private transport?
* Does it use have fixtures that facilitate lower water consumption, and are the systems and fixtures used in common area lighting systems certified as energy-efficient?
* Does it use solar water heaters and have sewage treatment plants, rain water harvesting and water recycling/reuse features?
* Does it feature natural ventilation so as to reduce the need for air conditioning?
* Does it have adequate open spaces and green areas?
* Does it offer covered car parking?
* Does it have sustainable waste disposal features?
– The author is Managing Director – South, JLL India