Developers go green with sustainable design, tech in commercial buildings
Payoffs include lower operational and construction costs.
After green homes, it’s now green office spaces. Amid rising concerns over climate change, real-estate players such as K Raheja Corp, Godrej, Tata Realty, Mahindra and Kalpataru are expanding their green footprints with sustainable office complex designs.
K Raheja Corp already has millions of sq ft of green commercial space in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, certified by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) since 2003, and is expanding in Hyderabad, Navi Mumbai and Pune.
In 2018, Godrej was ranked 4th in Asia and 8th globally by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, an organisation which assesses environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of real estate companies globally.
“Becoming water-positive and carbon-neutral are our primary goals,” says Anubhav Gupta, head of sustainability and CSR for Godrej Properties. “Foreign companies are particularly keen to lease green workspaces in the country. Domestic demand is yet to grow.”
The operating cost for a green office building tends to be less than for a conventional one, adds Shabbir Kanchwala, senior vice president at K Raheja Corp. “Consumption of water and electricity are less. We design as per the climate of a city. So our buildings allow more sunlight but not heat.”
A green office is also easier to maintain than a green home. “A home setup may have more maintenance issues and buyers have to be educated about the functioning before they move in, whereas in the offices, we hire people in operations who already know about the systems,” says Aditya Kedia, managing director of developer Transcon Group.
The next step, says Sanjay Dutt, CEO and MD at Tata Realty, will be for the government to have uniform policies that benefit green building projects across India. “Currently, developers in a few cities can avail of subsidies or benefits for constructing such buildings. For example, only Pune and Pimpri-Chinwad in all of Maharashtra provide additional floor area ratio (FAR) for certified green projects. Some states, like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, have benefits in all cities, but the extent of benefits varies.”
There is also currently no third-party certification method for materials used. And the undersupply of green construction materials makes it difficult, developers add.
P Gopalakrishnan, managing director of the Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI) for the APAC and Middle East markets, adds that the council hosts regular technical workshops for developers, to educate and guide them on the green path.
Over the last decade green buildings have gained momentum in India and developers are increasingly committing themselves to the sustainability movement, says Pallavi Shrivastava, an associate director at realty consultancy Cushman & Wakefield.“They offer lower operating costs and 5% to 6% more in rentals.” Environmental-friendly buildings overall have enhanced asset value that could range from 8% to 10 % more than corresponding conventional property.”