Green Building

Green Building is defined as any new construction or renovation that is either certified under any recognized global green building rating system or built to qualify for certification under such system. Today more than 60 countries have recognized councils which are working towards progress of green building initiative. In India it is known as Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) established in 2001.

McGraw Hill constructions conducted a study on green buildings with a representation from both developed and developing countries. Some of their study throws light on the progress and vision for this initiative. Early days, the trigger for firms to adopt green buildings was to “bring social changes or create a social impact with desire to be good. Now market forces have come into action. Market demand, customer demand is encouraging to adopt green buildings. Many firms from various countries see this as an opportunity in the long term as there will be reduction in operating cost. The increase in capital expenditure in the initial phase is offset by reduced maintenance cost in the subsequent years. Internationally, a survey by McGraw Hill Construction shows that the firms which are doing 60% of their project green have unlocked the value in much better way  than the ones who are not doing at all.

In advanced countries, top drivers for green building are client demand, market demand, lower operating costs, regulations and corporate commitments. The social factors also act as triggers to turn to green building. The study suggests that the important social reasons for building green are that it promotes greater health and wellbeing and it encourages sustainable business practices. Building green increases occupant productivity. As far as environmental reasons are concerned, reductions in use of energy, water consumption are main reasons. This also reduces the overall cost as there is reduced consumption. Other benefits include improved Indoor air quality also act as qualified reasons. Green building reduces Greenhouse gas emissions and protects natural resources.

There are challenges to increase green buildings. Prominent reason being, initial cost (capital expenditure) involved is high and there is lack of incentives and political support for such initiatives across the globe but particularly in developing countries. Then there is widespread perception that green is costly and high end. This is also because of lack of familiarity or public awareness as well as trained green building professionals like architects, contractors …etc. In order to make strong business case, it is important to stay invested in green project. This will require better measures and performance tracking.  Building operators will need to become involved and educated on green so that they maximize the performance of green buildings. It needs to be noted; even the greenest building also needs to be maintained efficiently in order to yield results.

Government actions can help to drive green initiatives like policies revolving round energy efficiency targets, water efficiency targets, and mandatory energy performance reports, green requirements for new or renovated homes. Policies like mandatory green building certification for government and non-government buildings also plays pivotal role in expanding green buildings. Incentive policy is another trigger which can encourage green initiatives along with statutory requirements.

With the establishment of Green Building Councils (GBC) around the world, green building certification programs have also proliferated around the world. Benefits of using rating system include a) It creates an ability to create a better performing building. b) It provides marketing and competitive advantage c) It encourages us of an integrated design team d) It provides common language in the industry. There are reasons for not using ratings in some developing countries like it is not tailored to regional climatic conditions, it is capital and time intensive and  there are difficulties in understanding the requirements and documentation and procedures.

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India is one of the most rapidly expanding construction markets. Its shift to green can have impacts that reverberate around the world and help accelerate development of green products and services. There has been a slow and steady improvement in India from 20000 sft built up in 2001 to 1.34 billion sft registered with IGBC. There are more than 1800 buildings registered and it’s on the rise as there is better awareness.

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