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At home with the planet

delhi Updated: Jun 05, 2010 01:25 IST
Vandana Ramnani
Vandana Ramnani
Hindustan Times
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Architect Sanjay Prakash practises what he preaches: His house in Gurgaon city, south-west of Delhi, has bamboo railings instead of wood, steel or plastic; a rain harvesting tank; the less damaging mango wood in place of prime forest timber; and a roof garden that cools the rooms below.

When Prakash built his green bungalow in 2005, such homes were a novelty. But with environmental awareness growing, recent launches of green apartments are finding eager buyers in metropolitan India.

Vikas Kapoor (45) paid a little more than the cost of an ordinary flat when he booked a house in Noida, a city on the eastern flank of Delhi, two months ago.

The flat, which will be ready in two years, promises to have walls and roofs made of insulated material, and use low-VOC paints that have reduced levels of smog-producing VOC (volatile organic compounds).

Kapoor, an executive in an engineering firm, is among a growing number of Indians who want to invest in environmental-friendly, energy-saving homes that are airier and filled with natural light. “It’s my way of contributing to the green cause,” he says.

“In a green development, the whole idea is to reduce the carbon footprint,” says Vidur Bharadwaj, director, The 3C company, which has launched three green projects in Noida. “It’s not about getting a garden or a manicured lawn.”

In Mumbai, Abhishek Lodha, managing director of leading builders Lodha Developers, says all the group’s buildings boast of rainwater harvesting, solar heating systems, compact fluorescent lighting in common areas, sewage treatment plants and organic paints.

The green fixtures usually make these buildings 15 to 20 per cent costlier than conventional ones. But, builders say, buyers don’t mind as they get long-term benefits such as 25 per cent savings on energy consumption. The resale value of such houses is also 10 per cent higher than conventional homes.

There are banking benefits too. The State Bank of India has a Green Homes scheme that offers a softer interest rate with zero processing fees. The interest rate is also 0.25 per cent lower than the card rate.

Buyers of houses rated by the Indian Green Building Council, one of the two agencies in the country that rate green homes, have to pay only 15 per cent of the loan amount upfront instead of the usual 20 per cent.

Till date, 120 million sq ft of homes are registered with the council across India. This is expected to increase to 650 million sq ft in three years.