Green building is not a new concept. In fact, techniques of natural ventilation and natural lighting have been used for ages. Technological progress has helped in producing various kinds of building materials and techniques that ensure sufficient interplay of the natural elements. Leading real estate builders in India have a list of green projects they have built and are building.
What is a green building?
A green building is indicative of an eco-friendly construction procedure. It uses materials that are environment-friendly and is designed in a way to ensure the optimum utilisation of natural elements like sunlight, rain water and wind. Dr. Madhumita Roy, Professor of Department of Architecture, Jadavpur University, told BE, “The concept of green buildings started since ancient times. With the development of civilisation, people started to move here and there for work and they started to explore different types of natural materials that could be used to build dwellings. However, with the advancement of civilisations, natural materials were slowly disregarded. However, there is now a renewed focus on green buildings and people are looking to explore natural materials and are also looking to use natural resources to conserve energy.”
Why are green buildings needed?
Buildings have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. During their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing, and demolition, buildings use energy, water,and raw materials. They generate waste and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. These facts make the renewed focus on green buildings timely and necessary.
There is lot of inward movement towards urban centres. The demand for newer buildings is increasing. Such extensive demand for construction of buildings is bound to put a lot of pressure on the environment. Green buildings are a viable alternative as their environmental footprints are much less. Green buildings come with sustainable environmental considerations that focus on its design, construction, operation, and maintenance. It emphasises on the use of renewable re-sources like sunlight through passive solar, active solar and photovoltaic equipment, and also uses plants and trees through green roofs and rain gardens.
A green architecture ensures minimal damage to the ecological balance. It highlights the use of rainwater, reed beds for sewage and wind or solar power sources for renewably generated energy. Energy efficiency becomes more relevant to developed countries like India where large amounts of energy are utilised to heat and cool buildings. Use of proper architecture that focuses on the use of natural elements such as wind and sunlight can minimise the need for artificial
heating or cooling.
Cement is one of the key building materials. Dr. Madhumita Roy informed BE, “Bricks and woods are easily biodegradable elements whereas cement is not.” She said that a cost-effective alternative to cement is needed.
There are a lot of myths associated with green buildings. A prominent one of those is that the cost of construction of a green building is higher compared to a normal building. A global survey in 2007 found that most property professionals overestimate the cost of constructing energy-efficient buildings by up to 300%. Dr. Roy said, “It is not that green buildings are very costly to construct. It is a wrong concept.” On the other hand, green buildings can effectively pull down the energy costs of the inhabitants, making it a more affordable option.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available virtually for all buildings, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-efficient green buildings. LEED certification is globally recognised. The CII- Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad designed by architect Karan Grover was the first building outside the US to be awarded the LEED platinum rating.
India is now the second largest market for green buildings. The ITC Gardenia Hotel in Bengaluru is the world's largest LEED platinum rated green hotel building. The new Tamil Nadu Assembly building is the first such building in the world to be designed and constructed as a green building.