Sustaining the Greens
Mar 08, 2012

Real Estate construction and operation has extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. It uses resources such as energy, water and raw materials, generates waste (occupant, construction and demolition) and emits potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. Over the last few months, the real estate business has realised the importance of ‘sustainable design’, where an integrated and synergistic approach is adopted in order to deliver better projects to consumers. Developers are beginning to have an increased commitment to environmental stewardship and conservation that would eventually result in an optimal balance in terms of cost, environmental, societal, and human benefits while meeting the mission and function of the intended facility or infrastructure.

The main objectives of Sustainable Green Design is to avoid resource depletion of energy, water, and raw materials; prevent environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure throughout their life cycle; and create surroundings that are liveable, comfortable, safe, and productive. The Real Estate community is increasingly realising the importance of Sustainable Development and are applying and adapting good practices demonstrating an ability to bring social, economic and environmental benefits in a holistic way to communities.

Green responsibility can be demonstrated by providing urban developments that offer a sustainable environment and lifestyle to residents. With a balanced mix of buildings and open spaces, properties must be constructed as sustainable green developments, under the guidance of authorities in green design such as the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), and certified for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED). Many developers have adopted these design principles, prominent among them being Tata Housing Development Company Ltd. The company’s first green development executed under this motto is Xylem, which is also Bengaluru’s first LEED Gold-certified green IT park. The company’s other properties such as Aquila Heights in Bengaluru and Raisina Residency in Gurgaon are also IGBC pre-certified green developments. The company follows the principle of green development and hence all its projects including affordable township projects are green developments. 

The key initiatives and strategies for the creation of Sustainable Green Developments

  1. Applying good planning principles and processes / practices to develop attractive, quality sustainable urban environments with a strong sense of place
    1. Concentrating on one developmental aspect will be rendered useless unless a multi dimensional approach is adopted. It is for this reason that an integration of a variety of elements such as Schools, Residences, Recreation areas, Hospital, Landscaped gardens has been adopted
    2. Creating and maintaining a cohesive, endearing and involved community
  2. Encouraging resource-efficiency (in terms of the use of land, air, water, raw materials and energy) through activities Horticulture, Vermiculture - to make eco-friendly natural fertilizer, etc.
  3. Conserving and protecting natural resources (e.g. greenery and biodiversity) and built heritage like Rain Water Harvesting, All buildings are Green buildings – saves our environment and  reduce operational costs for the residents as they can save upto 20% of their maintenance cost.
  4. Being economically viable and bringing economic benefits to the city, region or nation e.g. revitalisation / rejuvenation projects, slum removal, developing economic sectors successfully (e.g. tourism industry)
    1. Extended opportunity for employment for the spouse – Plantation, household work in adjacent housing complex, etc
  5. A mix of factors including the physical environment, the mix of facilities, and the opportunity for social interaction
  6. The designing of the master plan done carefully in terms of building orientation, layout design so as to maximize natural virtualization and layout. 

Residences such as these move beyond merely providing homes with their concept of ‘neighborhood and community development,’ and giving customers a sense of place and community life. It offers an unparalleled range of amenities and experiences such as a balanced mix of buildings and open spaces, best quality lighting and ventilation for all apartments, large, centralised and accessible open spaces, recreational facilities, hospitals, schools and community halls, among others. This mix of factors—including the physical environment, the mix of facilities, and the opportunity for social interaction—together acts as a strong differentiator thereby increasing opportunities for healthy, well-rounded living and community interaction.  

We recommend a Standard/ Code to regulate the creation of Sustainable Green Developments

In order to regulate and structure the Developers approach and processes towards the development of Sustainable Green Buildings, there needs to be a Standard/ Code that covers all new and existing buildings in India. The Code should be an overarching framework, which makes it easier for industry to understand policy and regulatory requirements and implement them effectively, throughout all stages of a building’s lifecycle. The Code should set out the trajectory and stretching targets for a zero carbon, sustainable built environment – including carbon, energy, waste and water performance. All new and existing buildings would have to undergo environmental impact performance checks at regular intervals throughout their life. Minimum standards would be progressively raised over time. Further, this Code should be owned by government, but represent a shared vision with the industry. This will require collaborative working, both across the industry and in partnership with government. The Code should ensure consistency of approach between all policies, tools, guidance and initiatives. It should set the standards, metrics and targets that all sustainability tools should be aligned to and compliant with. The government should provide subsidies for making Green developments, so that it would encourage Developers to go Green.  

The subsidy needs to be in two fold where the developer needs to get tax benefit and the consumer needs to get lower registration fee for green projects. Few banks have already taken initiative to charge lesser interest rates on home loans for green projects.


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