In the heart of one of Mumbai’s poshest colonies, a house is being built without bricks, gravel or stones.
Raheja Vistas, an upcoming multistorey in Powai, is being made up of fly ash blocks and earth dug up from its foundation.
“The building will absorb less heat,” explains the site in-charge. His name has been withheld in keeping with the media policy of the company he works for.
The residents of Raheja Vistas — one of the few certified green homes coming up in Mumbai — will benefit from more natural light and need less air-conditioning.
According to the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Mumbai has 103 certified green buildings — the most in any Indian city.
One fifth of these are green homes. The rest are corporate offices. “Government sops for green home buyers could spur demand,” says Shabbir Kanchwala, Vice-President, (project co-ordination), K Raheja Corps. The Pune Municipal Corporation offers a 50 per cent rebate on property tax for every green home bought. A similar proposal is pending with the state government for green homes in Mumbai. In an overvalued reality market such as Mumbai, such sops can go a long way in convincing people to invest 10 per cent more when they buy a house.
En3, a Chennai-based green building consultancy firm, is opening an office in the city to tap the increasing ‘green awareness’ among homebuyers. “We are now working on over 30 million sq ft of green homes across India and with several corporate developers such as TATA Housing, Embassy group, Essar Group, Oberoi Constructions and BCIL,” Deepa Sathiaram, executive director, En3.
The trend is catching up nationally. The number of registrations with the IGBC has also increased from 465 in 2009 to 614 (until May 2010). While most of these structures are either under-construction or switching to green technology, 97 of them are already functional.
Recycled construction material and eco-friendly glass make green homes cooler compared with conventional buildings. They also consume 25 to 30 per cent less energy.
That automatically cuts down on your air-conditioning needs. A significant fact considering, more than 6 lakh out of Mumbai's 37 lakh residential and commercial consumers have air-conditioners at home; over 1,200 larger establishments use centralised air-conditioners.
Green buildings also save water by 30 to 50 per cent. This when the city is known to waste 112 litres of water due to leaking taps, excess flushing and shower bath every day.
In a green building, an inbuilt sewage treatment plant that treats waste is good enough to use it for drinking purposes