Being rated ecology-friendly is both needed and profitable.
Green ratings were a no-no for most Indian companies till a few years earlier. But the ratings have now graduated from just being an initiative of non-government organisations to something both the government and industry would like to embrace fast.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency under the Union ministry of power announced a green rating program for companies based on their consumption of energy. That followed a similar initiative from the Confederation of Indian Industry, which announced earlier this month that it will rank companies on the basis of their environment friendliness.
The organisation to have taken the lead was the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which started its green rating project way back in 1997 covering a sector every two years. The next ratings are due in March. CSE deputy director says the ratings take into account the entire life cycle of a product, right from the source to the consumer. So far CSE has rated companies in the automobile industry, paper and chlor- alkali.
The CII program is still in the works and the head of the CII Godrej Green Business Centre based in Hyderabad. The pilot will be carried out in July next year, when questions would be sent to a few companies. The companies would be rated on resource conservation, energy and water efficiency, waste management, procurement, green supply chain.
But the CII initiative has already started drawing the attention of its detractors. CSE, for example, claims superiority for its ratings, based on the fact that it does not charge a fee from companies and also does not get companies to sponsor the ratings. Besides, it gets the claims of companies verified.
CII is also a partner of the Carbon Disclosure project, one that rates companies based on disclosures made by them about their carbon impact on the planet. It also plans to do an annual audit of the companies rated to verify the claims made by them in their websites and annual reports.
One of many reasons why green ratings are in vogue is that they pay off quite handsomely. In his research project, titled ‘Go green, garner greenbacks’ Frost & Sullivan says along with the social incentives of a cleaner environment and positive public relations, the biggest draw for green buildings will be to make big bucks through carbon credits. According to an estimate made, ‘green’ buildings in India have increased from 20,000 sq ft area in 2004 to 275 million sq ft in 2009.
And the trend will only increase. Just as Batra’s paper suggests interest benefits on loans by banks for green projects, more incentives and regulations are likely to push the acceptance of green buildings. Carbon credit earnings have also become a big incentive for companies, as low-carbon emitting businesses exchange, buy, or sell carbon credits in international markets at the prevailing market price.
Regulations not sufficient for ‘green buildings’:
Highlighting the role of green buildings in reducing energy consumption as well as awareness among architects, regulations alone will not boost the concept.
It has become extremely important today to look at building through the prism of energy. Energy consumption and its reduction needs to be seen as the key to sustainable future. As far as green buildings are concerned, regulations alone are not sufficient to promote green buildings. Awareness and discretion among architects will also play a pivotal role.
The commercial space in India has grown by nine per cent in this decade whereas the commercial sector energy consumption increased by 13 percent reflecting the fact that newer buildings consume more energy. The symposium also saw presentations on traditional methods of green building constructions and usage of latest technologies in construction industry for environment sustainability, among others.
As architects, we are persuading state governments to go as much green as possible. Gujarat, in that sense, has taken a lead by setting up a separate department for climate change. If we can make the most of the climate and environment, it will make much better sense. Air circulation of building, narrower building construction, and green roofs, are some of the most viable means of green buildings. We don’t necessarily have to invest in high-end techniques, said a Vadodara-based architect.
Meanwhile, Varun Kohli, associate – Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP talked about usage of latest technology in buildings. There is latest technology available for sustainable development of buildings. For instance, there has been latest eco-tech simulation software that has been used in Hyderabad. Since, green buildings consume 40 per cent less energy than conventional ones, such technology would make them more efficient. —