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The basic prerequisites of an ideal green home

India’s Impetus Towards Sustainability

India is witnessing a paradigm shift in green building design and construction.

The burgeoning importance of constructing buildings that are less detrimental to the environment has never been more pronounced than now. There is a worldwide trend towards building sustainably and reducing a building’s ecological impact not just in its construction phase, but throughout its lifecycle.

Developing economies are investing in the green building industry and India too has found traction in this global upsurge – with 1.8 billion sq.ft, India has one of the largest green building footprints in the world. Historically speaking, India’s construction methods were always green; rural typologies, clay, bamboo orrural typologies, clay, bamboo and palaces, British colonial architecture, etc., they all had excellent design sensibilities, with meticulous planning and admirable use of local resources.

However, with the onset of urban sprawl, Indian cities have today become like concrete jungles. It was only in 2001 when the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) formed the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) that things started to perk up. In fact, the headquarters of CII in Hyderabad is the first LEED Platinum Rated Building outside the US. Thus, CII and IGBC are the pioneer organisations in promoting green concepts in India.

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IGBC holds seminars, training programs and publishes guides to impart knowledge about green building concepts and technologies. It annually organises the Green Building Congress, one of Asia’s largest green building conferences and exhibitions. The Green Building Congress is held in different parts of the country to facilitate the spread of the concept across India. The event provides a unique platform for stakeholders to share, network and explore newer opportunities, which in turn will facilitate the spread of the green building movement in the country.

Due to IGBC’s endeavours, some state governments have even come up with incentives for green development – such as providing fast track approval of building plans, subsidies for using renewable energy, etc. In the case of Maharashtra, the government offers fast track clearances to green buildings from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Yet, there is a lot more that can be done. Governments need to be far more pro-active and offer plenty of encouragement for the widespread adoption and promotion of green buildings throughout the country. This is a win-win for all stakeholders.

To create a benchmark for all green buildings in India, rating systems such as LEED, GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) have been introduced. IGBC has been licensed to provide LEED India certifications which targets new constructions and rented or leased properties. IGBC also has different rating systems for different kinds of buildings like residential homes, SEZs, factories, townships, existing buildings and landscapes. Also, GRIHA has developed a rating system specific to suit the variable climatic zones of India.

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The general attitude of Indians towards a sustainably built environment has now evolved; we have realised the benefits of going green; myths related to green buildings have been busted. Architects, designers, builders and developers are increasingly incorporating green building materials and systems into their projects. A majority of the people no longer think that green buildings are expensive and complicated, or that this is a passing fad.

This new found momentum in green building design and construction has created a new market for green materials, products and technologies. Around a decade ago, India imported these materials which raised the cost of construction. But now since we can locally manufacture a lot of these products, it has led to a price reduction which in turn makes construction cheaper.

IGBC claims that the Indian green building market is expected to grow to over $100 billion by 2015. The rate at which things are progressing currently, this figure doesn’t seem to be too far-fetched.

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