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- Monika Prasad
Introduction to Green Building
A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.
Green building is a design and construction approach that aims to minimize the negative impact of buildings on the environment and human health. It involves using materials and techniques that are energy-efficient, sustainable, and non-toxic, as well as designing buildings to maximize the use of natural light and minimize waste. Some of the key principles of green building include energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and the use of renewable materials. Green building can be applied to new construction as well as to the renovation of existing buildings.
In India, there are several green building certification programs available for architects and builders to certify their buildings as sustainable. These include:
- LEED India: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system is one of the most widely recognized green building certifications in the world, and it is also available in India. LEED India certifies buildings based on their performance in key areas such as energy efficiency, water usage, and materials selection.
- GRIHA: The Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) is an Indian green building certification system that was developed by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in partnership with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. GRIHA evaluates buildings based on their environmental performance, including energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, and materials selection.
- IGBC Green Industrial Buildings: The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) Green Industrial Buildings rating system is meant for industrial buildings. It evaluates industrial buildings based on their energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, and materials selection, among other factors.
- BREEAM India: BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is another global rating system that is also available in India. BREEAM India evaluates buildings based on their environmental performance, including energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, and materials selection.
- Green Homes: Developed by the National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), the rating system is based on a star rating system, where a building can achieve a rating of one to five stars based on its environmental performance.
These certification programs are intended to provide architects and builders with a roadmap for creating sustainable buildings and also to give the public a way to identify and choose environmentally friendly buildings.
There are several features that can make a building ‘green’. These include:
- Efficient use of energy, water, and other resources
- Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy
- Pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling
- Good indoor environmental air quality
- Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical, and sustainable
- Consideration of the environment in design, construction, and operation
- Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction, and operation
- A design that enables adaptation to a changing environment
The environment and sustainability domain stresses various domains ranging from environmental issues such as Air Emissions, Water Contamination, Waste Management, Materials Selection, governance, Social Inclusion, Diversity, etc. In terms of the construction sector, some of the environmental issues that are applied give form to Green Building. Green building is a terminology used for new construction, existing buildings that incorporate design and construction that are environmentally sustainable. In the current scenario of India, various certification bodies list out factors to be incorporated in the design, construction, operation, and/or renovation else as applicable; to be deemed fit as Green Building. Some of the certification bodies are – Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), etc.
They might have different rating systems however some of the determining factors remain the same such as:
1. Site Management.
2. Life cycle assessment.
3. Energy efficiency.
4. Water efficiency.
5. Materials Selection.
6. Indoor environmental quality enhancement.
7. Operations and maintenance optimization.
8. Waste reduction
The major verticals where the financial implications are majorly reduced are Water and Energy Efficiency.
Green building Advantages
The world over, evidence is growing that green buildings bring multiple benefits.
They provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.
Highlighting these benefits, and facilitating a growing evidence base for proving them, is at the heart of what we do as an organization.
The benefits of green buildings can be grouped into three categories: environmental, economic, and social. Here, we provide a range of facts and statistics from various third-party sources that present these benefits.
One of the most important types of benefit green buildings offer is to our climate and the natural environment. Green buildings can not only reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the environment, by using less water, energy, or natural resources, but they can – in many cases – have a positive impact on the environment (at the building or city scales) by generating their energy or increasing biodiversity.
At a global level:
- The building sector has the largest potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to other major emitting sectors – UNEP, 2009.
- This emissions savings potential is said to be as much as 84 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) by 2050, through direct measures in buildings such as energy efficiency, fuel switching, and the use of renewable energy – UNEP, 2016.
- The building sector has the potential to make energy savings of 50% or more in 2050, in support of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C (above pre-industrial levels) – UNEP, 2016.
At a building level:
- Green buildings achieving the Green Star certification in Australia have been shown to produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings, and 51% less potable water than if they had been built to meet minimum industry requirements.
- Green buildings certified by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) results in energy savings of 40 – 50% and water savings of 20 – 30% compared to conventional buildings in India.
- Green buildings achieving the Green Star certification in South Africa have been shown to save on average between 30 – 40% energy and carbon emissions every year and between 20 – 30% potable water every year, when compared to the industry norm.
- Green buildings achieving the LEED certification in the US and other countries have been shown to consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water, than non-green buildings.
Green buildings offer several economic or financial benefits, which are relevant to a range of different people or groups of people. These include cost savings on utility bills for tenants or households (through energy and water efficiency); lower construction costs and higher property value for building developers; increased occupancy rates or operating costs for building owners; and job creation. Since the publication of WorldGBC’s groundbreaking 2013 report, The Business Case for Green Building, we have sought to strengthen the link between green buildings and the economic benefits they can offer.
At a global level:
- Global energy efficiency measures could save an estimated €280 to €410 billion in savings on energy spending (and the equivalent to almost double the annual electricity consumption of the United States) – European Commission, 2015.
At a country level:
- Canada’s green building industry generated $23.45 billion in GDP and represented nearly 300,000 full-time jobs in 2014 – Canada Green Building Council / The Delphi Group, 2016.
- Green building is projected to account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs by 2018 – US Green Building Council / Booz Allen Hamilton, 2015.
At a building level:
- Building owners report that green buildings – whether new or renovated – command a 7 percent increase in asset value over traditional buildings – Dodge Data & Analytics, 2016.
Green building benefits go beyond economics and the environment and have been shown to bring positive social impacts too. Many of these benefits are around the health and wellbeing of people who work in green offices or live in green homes.
Workers in green, well-ventilated offices record a 101 percent increase in cognitive scores (brain function) – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health / Syracuse University Center of Excellence / SUNY Upstate Medical School, 2015.
Employees in offices with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night – American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2013.
Research suggests that better indoor air quality (low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants, and high ventilation rates) can lead to improvements in the performance of up to 8 percent–Park and Yoon, 2011.
How can we make our buildings Green?
There are several ways to make a building green. These include:
Taking an intelligent approach to energy
- Minimizing energy use in all stages of a building’s life-cycle, making new and renovated buildings more comfortable and less expensive to run, and helping building users learn to be efficient too.
- Integrating renewable and low-carbon technologies to supply buildings’ energy needs, once their design has maximized inbuilt and natural efficiencies.
Safeguarding water resources
- Exploring ways to improve drinking and wastewater efficiency and management, harvesting water for safe indoor use in innovative ways, and generally minimizing water use in buildings.
- Considering the impact of buildings and their surroundings on stormwater and drainage infrastructure, ensuring these are not put under undue stress or prevented from doing their job.
Minimizing waste and maximizing reuse
- Using fewer, more durable materials and generating less waste, as well as accounting for a building’s end of life stage by designing for demolition waste recovery and reuse.
- Engaging building users in reuse and recycling.
Promoting health and wellbeing
- Bringing fresh air inside, delivering good indoor air quality through ventilation, and avoiding materials and chemicals that create harmful or toxic emissions.
- Incorporating natural light and views to ensure building users’ comfort and enjoyment of their surroundings, and reducing lighting energy needs in the process.
- Designing for ears as well as eyes. Acoustics and proper sound insulation play important roles in helping concentration, recuperation, and peaceful enjoyment of a building in educational, health, and residential buildings.
- Ensuring people are comfortable in their everyday environments, creating the right indoor temperature through passive design or building management and monitoring systems.
Keeping our environment green
- Recognizing that our urban environment should preserve nature, and ensuring diverse wildlife and land quality are protected or enhanced, by, for example, remediating and building on polluted land or creating new green spaces.
- Looking for ways we can make our urban areas more productive, bringing agriculture into our cities.
Creating resilient and flexible structures
- Adapting to our changing climate, ensuring resilience to events such as flooding, earthquakes, or fires so that our buildings stand the test of time and keep people and their belongings safe.
- Designing flexible and dynamic spaces, anticipating changes in their use over time, and avoiding the need to demolish, rebuild or significantly renovate buildings to prevent them from becoming obsolete.
Connecting communities and people
- Creating diverse environments that connect and enhance communities, asking what a building will add to its context in terms of positive economic and social effects, and engaging local communities in planning.
- Ensuring transport and distance to amenities are considered in the design, reducing the impact of personal transport on the environment, and encouraging environmentally friendly options such as walking or cycling.
- Exploring the potential of both ‘smart’ and information communications technologies to communicate better with the world around us, for example through smart electricity grids that understand how to transport energy where and when it is needed.
Considering all stages of a building’s life cycle
- Seeking to lower environmental impacts and maximize social and economic value over a building’s whole life-cycle (from design, construction, operation, and maintenance, through to renovation and eventual demolition).
- Ensuring that embodied resources, such as the energy or water used to produce and transport the materials in the building are minimized so that buildings are truly low impact.
Case Study of Green building in India
An upcoming commercial office building (Ground + 5 floors) in NCR was going for the GRIHA Certification. The Energy Efficient particulars included were:
- During Design – The structure was east-west inclined with buffer spaces occupying the east and west orientation such as staircases, washrooms, and service facilities.
- For Envelope – since exposure in east and west orientation was least, therefore, Single Glazed Unit was incorporated in the orientation. Also, to ensure useful daylight from the north orientation, overhangs were incorporated into the windows. However, in the south orientation, DGU (Double-glazed Units) was used. The same was done after successive iterations in energy software. Additionally, AAC Blocks were used on walls, and under deck insulation, along with rooftop high SRI tiles were incorporated.
- For Cooling – Since the project lies in a composite climate therefore after simulation and considering the design parameters water-cooled chillers were recommended COP 5.5.
- For Equipment and Lighting – LPD (with the usage of the LED) and EPD in compliance with the Energy Conservation Building Code were recommended.
- Renewable energy – Solar PV was recommended which was in line with the connected load.
Thus, on further ROI calculations; the cost for the design building incorporating the green measures was more than the base case building with conventional measures. However, after six months period of time considering the electricity consumption cost on a real-time basis; the energy cost savings were observed in the project. Similarly, water consumption can vary from buildings to building however as per NBC for an office building approximately 45 lpcd is the requirement. Based on occupancy and project area; during the design stage, an STP was recommended along with Dual Plumbing. This made sure the treated water was utilized in restrooms and in landscaping. This brought down the requirement for fresh water from municipalities by a considerable amount. Additionally, outdoor water use reduction was done by incorporating the native species and using micro-irrigation in landscaping. It is very often said that what gets measured gets controlled therefore in line with the same building level metering was done for water as well energy (smart metering). Thus, this particular project incorporated & implemented the green building design measures and brought down the project cost as well.
Green building examples in India
India has several examples of green buildings that incorporate sustainable design elements to reduce their environmental impact. Some notable examples include:
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) Green Building, Hyderabad: This building is the headquarters of the IGBC and is designed to be a model for green buildings in India. It incorporates features such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and a green roof.
Godrej One, Mumbai: This is a LEED Platinum-certified building which is the largest green building in India. It features a green roof, rainwater harvesting, a greywater treatment plant, and solar panels.
The Wipro Corporate Office, Bangalore: This building is designed to reduce energy consumption, with features such as solar panels, green roofs, and a building management system that optimizes energy use.
The Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) R&D Centre for Alternative Energy, Faridabad: This building is designed to be a model for energy-efficient buildings, incorporating features such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and green roofs.
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay: This campus has several buildings with green features such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and energy-efficient lighting.
The Bharatiya City, Bengaluru: This is a mixed-use development that incorporates sustainable design elements such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting, and solar panels.
These are just a few examples, there are many other buildings in India that are designed to be more sustainable and reduce their environmental impact. The Indian government is also promoting green buildings through various policies and initiatives, such as the “Green Building Rating System” which certifies buildings that meet certain environmental standards.
This paper briefly discusses how a green building can be eco–friendly and at the same time, it can add cost-benefit and energy and water-efficient. In a different section of this paper, it has been discussed that how the concept of green building has become a center of interest from its quality and service point of view. It minimizes waste, maximizes reuse, and provides optimum use of water. In today’s world efficient and multipurpose use of all things is highly recommended and green building is one of the best examples of recycling, reuse, and optimum use. green buildings include more than that such as enhanced occupant productivity and health, cost savings from waste; lower operations and maintenance costs, etc. Building green is more cost-effective when starting design early in the process.
Hence we should focus more on building this and adding the latest technologies to serve better.
All views are expressed by the author. The pictures are from the website unsplash.com