Does India Need Green Buildings?

Before we begin to answer this question let us first make a serious attempt at understanding the concept of Green Buildings. Green building is a narrowed down term given to two elements of creating a sustainable housing solution. It is used interchangeably for the structure itself and for the process which leads to building such structures. In fact, the green building is a term used for defining the entire process which is environmentally safe, responsible and for the entire life cycle of the building.

Since we are into providing integrated facility management services to our clients we do feel responsible for their health and environment altogether. Pollution is growing by leaps and bounds everywhere. India is no different in fact we might be a global leader when it comes to pollution. This needs to stop. The problem is that when people hear the word pollution they often associate it with plastic and burning of fuels whereas the fact is that even buildings are a big contributor to pollution.

I am sure every one of our readers must have heard the term Global Warming, well spoiler alert our air conditioning are a big factor which contributes to this phenomenon too.  Efforts to make industry environmentally sustainable include: increasing the use of renewable, energy, decreasing the use of fossil fuel, designing facilities with substantially reduced exhaust gases, recycling resources from manufacturing by-products, and so forth.

Until recently, the Indian construction industry has paid little attention to environmental sustainability; that is now changing. It has to change because if our workforce is not healthy then automatically our production efficiency decreases. Apart from the business angle we also have to think about the future of generations that are yet to join the workforce.

Now coming back to the basic question that we were attempting to answer. Do we need Green Buildings in India?

The answer is a big yes, just observe the image that we have put below. Its a snip from The Telegraph article which shows that we are the 8th most polluted country in the world. In fact, just read the quoted text from the same information source.

Delhi is in a league of its own, as this reporter can attest to; half an hour of sightseeing is enough to leave you with a sore throat. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the average concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the Indian city is 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air. PM 2.5 refers to fine particles (2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter) produced by combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, forest fires, and some industrial processes. By comparison, London’s average is 16.

Do we have to wait for gunning to number position or should we start working on improving things as this is one global race which we really don’t want to win.

The building construction industry produces the second largest amount of waste and greenhouse gases in the country. If the studies are to be believed the traditional construction industry of India produces close to 40% of greenhouse gas. Later on, when the building is complete at occupied the air conditioning and other appliances contribute to consuming more and more electrical and other forms of energy hence raising the pollution levels even further. A building constructed traditionally also does not have any plans for the conservation of water too. The occupants of the building generate huge amounts of solid and water waste also.

Read the above paragraph carefully you would understand why we as facility managers are so concerned about the Indian scenario. That’s because every day we see pollution on the rise with a feeling of being handicapped. There is a little we can do when it comes to saving the environment as facility managers when the building or the property is traditionally constructed without Green Planning.

If India opens up to Green Building phenomenon then we could expect the following to happen.

  1. Water Conservation
    Green building design helps in preserving the natural water sources. The emphasis is more on recycling the water for maximum efficient use. This also helps in preserving the sites hydrological ecosystem. The quality of water hence available also increases. A green building would also be equipped with rainwater harvesting systems.
  2. Energy Conservation
    India should start using the IEC standards for building construction. The builders should at least aim for meeting the minimum compliance levels. This will ensure that eco-friendly materials are used while construction and provisions are made for natural lighting and thermodynamic stability of the building.
  3. Interior Environment Quality
    The green building convention has procedures which utilize the best possible and eco-friendly implements to provide superior indoor air quality and climate control. Use of solar air conditioning is an example of it. The goal here is to provide the best possible environment without destroying the nature.
  4. Site Design
    The focus would be more on creating a sustainable site design. It would have the population concentrated on logically designed urban centers with lots of surrounding open space for the nature to flourish. This way we have a system which is more efficient and at the same time, we cut greatly on the pollution levels.
  5. Material Selection
    Green building guidelines focus on using materials which are recyclable and bio-degradable. The focus is more on using the materials which can be recycled as it helps save the environment and also is more economical.

This is the part of our two edition blog post. Please stay tuned for the next post.

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