Are Green Buildings A Solution To Aspiring India’s Rising Pollution?

Green buildings could be a probable solution to counter India’s rising pollution levels and low air quality index. But while the prohibitive prices seem to be a deterrent, the long-term benefits of saving on energy costs and better living, along with the government’s initiative, could lead to an increase in their demand in the coming days
real estate
real estate

In India, buying a home is a dream for most. But then one has to also consider the low air quality index (AQI), especially in metros like the Delhi national capital region (NCR), which reaches severe levels because of high pollution, especially in winters.

Recent data shared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that Delhi was the most polluted city in India in 2022 with PM2.5 levels at more than double the safe permissible limit and PM10 at the third-highest average concentration. So, amid the rising pollution, are green buildings the effective solution? The real estate industry is of the opinion that green buildings are not only a solution but will eventually be the only tangible solution for countries like India. That said, the response for green buildings aren’t very encouraging at present. At present, only about 5 per cent of the total buildings in India are certified green. There lies a tremendous potential for further penetration of green building technology in India,” says Santhosh Kumar, vice chairman, Anarock Group, a property consultants firm. 

What Is A Green Building? How It Is Different From Normal Building?

A ‘green building’ involves the practice of using processes and technologies which are environmentally friendly and energy-efficient throughout the building’s lifecycle, starting from design, construction, operation, maintenance, and renovation.

According to data shared by Anarock, green buildings can reduce energy consumption by 20-30 per cent and water usage by 30-50 per cent, and significantly reduce waste generation through extensive recycling. 

Apart from the obvious protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity, the use of green building practices lead to better air quality; enhanced daylight, leading to lower electricity consumption; superior health and overall well-being, and enhanced productivity in the case of commercial buildings.

How Are Green Buildings Structurally Different? 

The differences between green and regular buildings are best identified by the parameters on which green certifications are granted. These centre around the building’s water conservation and efficiency measures, how energy efficient it is vis-a-vis regular buildings, the types of building materials and resources used, the indoor environment quality, health and comfort they provide, and also how sustainably the site has been developed and the degree to which sustainable facility management has been implemented.

Says Pradeep Aggarwal, founder and chairman, Signature Global: “Green buildings significantly increase savings through 32 per cent energy savings, 52 per cent water savings and 53 per cent less embodied energy in materials. The use of toxin-free materials in green buildings and the design are such that energy consumption gets reduced without compromising the comfort level of occupants. You will find these buildings have better ventilation and natural light and lower indoor pollution.”Besides, a green building and a conventional building may not appear significantly different from the outside. 

Situation Of Green Building In India And Their Requirements 

With 146 certified buildings and spaces, or almost 2.8 million gross square metres, India was placed third in the world for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of green buildings in 2021, according to the US Green Building Council’s annual report. 

With more than 14 million gross sq. mt, China came in first, and Canada certified more than 3.2 million gross sq. mt.

The green construction rating system LEED is the most popular worldwide. Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which has been aiming to hasten the implementation of green buildings throughout India, oversees LEED in India.

Across different countries, there are several programs and agencies that define, categorise, and certify green buildings, such as LEED (the US), BREEAM (the UK), DGNB (Germany) and CASBEF (Japan). In India, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and GRIHA are at the forefront of promoting green building programs and certifications.

Is Buying A Flat In Green Building Financially Beneficial? 

Price is always a critical factor for first-time homebuyers, and even today, a significant number of them focus on price. Green housing is still something of an elitist concept and option in India, rather than an imperative. 

The price differences between certified green homes and non-green ones are significant for budget-conscious first-time homebuyers. 

According to a data shared by Anarock, green homes cost at least 10-15 per cent more, depending on various facilities and factors. 

That said, this added cost is an investment toward future savings. A green home results in 30-40 per cent savings on energy and water bills. Real estate experts believe that the higher costs involved in developing green buildings are a deterrent for developers of affordable and mid-range projects, as increased costs must be pushed on to buyers. 

“It is because of the price factor that the current demand for green housing comes more from financially settled buyers rather than from first-time homebuyers for whom such a price difference for what is essentially the same amount of space makes a considerable difference,” says Kumar.

Yashank Wasson, managing director, Royal Green Realty, who has a developed property by the name of Royal Green Heights in Gurugram’s Sector 62, and which is certified by IGBC, says that the construction of a green building adds 20 per cent to the overall cost of construction. 

“Residential and commercial buildings account for one-third of electricity consumption. One can easily reap gains of at least 25 per cent, whether with regard to water or electricity,” he says. 

Ground Reality of Green Buildings in India 

According to a survey by Knight Frank India, LEED certified buildings across seven cities was recorded at 39.59 million sq. ft. during the January-October 2022 period. Delhi-NCR recorded 9.85 million sq. ft. of the gross floor area of LEED certified buildings, the highest among the top-7 Indian cities during the same period. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) recorded 4.88 million sq. ft. of the gross floor area of LEED certified buildings. 

India recorded 82 platinum certified buildings, 49 gold certified buildings and four silver certified buildings across the top-7 leading markets in the Jan-Oct 2022 period. NCR registered the highest platinum certified buildings accounting for 22 buildings. 

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, provides fast-track environmental clearance for green building projects which are pre-certified and/or provisionally certified by IGBC. 

Some state governments, like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana and Maharashtra, offer additional floor area ratio). Some state governments are also providing subsidies on fixed capital investment. Some states are also offering discounts on property tax, etc.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Business & Money