Green Building Movement in India

India is witnessing tremendous growth in infrastructure and construction development. Reports state that the construction industry in India is one of the largest economic activities and is growing at an average rate of 9.5% as compared to the global average of 5%. As the sector is growing rapidly, preserving the environment poses lot of challenges and at the same time presents opportunities. The construction sector therefore needs to play its role and contribute towards environmental responsibility. The Green Building Movement in India is a step in this direction-to minimize the negative impact of construction activity on the environment.

Green Architecture is a term used to describe energy-saving, environment-friendly and sustainable development. On the aesthetic side of green architecture or sustainable design lies the philosophy of designing a building that is in harmony with natural features and resources surrounding the site. By using the traditional practices of sustainability and marrying them with contemporary applications we can create architecture that can be humble, stylish and green all at once. Among the world recognized Green Building rating system is US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. India (IGBC) and Canada are the only two countries that have a USGBC affiliated, yet indigenized LEED rating system. India has also launched a green rating system TERI-GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) in August 2008 which evaluates building on a green scale.

In today’s times of world-class marketing and cut-throat competition, it is important that the developer is almost voluntarily forced to build green buildings. Hence we must not just use regulations, but provide incentives in the form of faster and easier approvals, quantifiable tax benefits, carbon off setting, and thus encourage use of discounted green and local techniques. It is important for them to understand that practicing green could be an added marketing tool for better property investment, increased leasing rates and improved well-being from quality living. They will then realize the value of green rated buildings.

There is a tremendous potential for green building materials since a lot of those were being imported for a few years. This could open up a plethora of opportunities for several stakeholders like architects, material and equipment manufacturers and vendors. All these industry professionals need further incentives for extensive material research, manage inventories and use local resources. They need special discounts and tax breaks for the products. The adoption of green building materials is increasing over the years. There is also a change in the mindsets of the stakeholders. Earlier, there was a general perception that materials with recycled content were inferior in quality. However with increased awareness on green materials and their advantages the trend is rapidly changing.

A much talked about idea to deal with greenhouse emissions is Carbon credits or offsetting. Offsetting can be done in a myriad of ways; one is by buying shares in a company that will offset your gas emission by planting the required number of trees. The idea could be applied both at a company as well as an individual level. There is now a need for skilled and knowledgeable professionals who have deep understanding of sustainability and energy systems. The main objective is to enable faster reach of green concepts to wider sections of stakeholders and to provide a platform for networking at all levels.

It’s important that we now ‘Walk the Talk’. The key to change is making people behave differently, to consume more wisely and thus leave a smaller footprint on the planet.