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Eco-friendly buildings catching on in India

india Updated: Sep 22, 2008 12:58 IST
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How about living in a 'green building'? The popularity of such eco-friendly 'green buildings' with their own water harvesting and solar power systems is catching on in India and the high price is no deterrent.

Green buildings also have their own water re-cycling system. More than 50 per cent of the building is covered with glass - making it reflect away the sun's rays and helping to keep the inside cool and save on electricity among other eco-friendly measures.

Starting with a modest 20,000 sq ft green building in 2004 in Hyderabad, green buildings on Monday account for over 235 million sq ft spread across India.

Now there are 315 green buildings in India, including 250 commercial. They include IT parks, hospitals, airports and educational institutions.

Of the 315, as many as 60 green buildings or nearly 20 per cent have come up in Mumbai alone. The remaining are in other cities of Maharashtra. The important buildings in the city are the Hiranandani BG Building, K. Raheja group, Enercon India Pvt Ltd and Kalpataru building.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), a part of the Confederation of Indian Industry-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (CII-Godrej GBC), Hyderabad, is credited with spearheading the green building movement in India since 2001.

The CII-Godrej GBC was India's first certified green building spread over 20,000 sq ft in Hyderabad.

"It is growing in popularity in a big way. By 2010, we expect about 1,000 green buildings, with over one billion sq ft to come up all over India," S. Raghupathy, senior director and head of CII-Godrej GBC, told IANS here.

He said an average investment of Rs.500 million has to be made per building to make it 'green', and the total investment in green buildings would be a whopping Rs.500 billion by 2010.

Green buildings cost 3-8 percent more than conventional buildings. However, the higher cost is recovered within two-three years by the handsome savings in maintenance costs, making the concept extremely popular.

Explaining the benefits, Raghupathy said that since such buildings use natural light and air, energy savings could be up to 35 per cent, while water savings can be up to 40 per cent and productivity benefits up to 15 per cent.

Raghupathy said the day is not far when green buildings offering water conservation, energy optimization, use of recycled products, and renewable energy, all of which ensure environment protection would be the accepted norm of the construction industry.

The concept, currently implemented in 75 countries, has also spurred a heavy demand for many new construction materials, equipment, systems and services, leading to a transformation of the market.

"There is a huge demand for green building materials and equipment like high performance glass, wall and roof insulation, low VOC paints, adhesives, sealants, CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute)-certified carpets, specialised wood, roofing material, fly ash blocks, eco-friendly chemical waterless urinals, high performance chillers, carbon-dioxide sensors, root zone treatment plants, wind towers, and other things," Raghupathy listed.

"We estimate the market potential for all such green building materials to be about US$40 billion by 2012. This clearly testifies the growing popularity of green buildings and their acceptability among people," he pointed out.

On Sep 27, the CII-Godrej GBC is holding the sixth Green Building Congress in Mumbai, which will include an exhibition and an international seminar on green buildings.

Among other things, the congress will discuss how the IGBC can usher in a 'green building revolution' in India and help make it one of the world leaders in the field by 2010.