You Cannot 'Go Green' Without Proper Support

Many reports have pointed out that India will continue to be a pioneer in sustainable living for the next few years. But this should quickly percolate to all sectors of real estate for which political support and environment regulations are needed

Published: 16th April 2016 03:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th April 2016 03:40 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Building green is trending in India. A report was conducted by the US Green Building Council to identify the major trends worldwide in the green building industry. Sustainability in buildings has seen a huge traction as India accounts for 37% of the study respondents. This number is growing rapidly and India is expected to be second in the world by 2018 with a score of 57%.

Globally,. the green building boom began around the 1990s. Many rating systems were launched to benchmark and recognise buildings that paid attention to principles of sustainable design. These systems were developed in the UK and USA and then fine-tuned to be re-launched in India at the beginning of the new millennium. The movement has now grown so large that we constantly feature among the countries with the largest footprint of ‘sustainable buildings’ around the world.

India as a nation is inherently sustainable as we are frugal in our usage of energy sources, and tend to manage with as little as possible and/or extract as much as possible! From our vehicles being amongst the most fuel efficient to our buildings being extremely resource-efficient, we are the first to jump at an opportunity to get more ‘bang for our buck’.

It is not surprising that we are close to leading the pack as far as the sustainable building industry goes. All of these ideals of being resource conservative and savings oriented tie in closely with our innate Indian values.

But here is where the data from the report gets interesting — the sectors with maximum anticipated growth are the mid-rise and high-rise residential, and commercial buildings. We are poised to outdo the global averages on these two sectors, but are lagging behind global averages for institutional and existing buildings. This suggests that building sustainably in India is largely driven by the private sector. 

In fact, one of the biggest obstacles to building green in the country is attributed to the perceived lack of political support for doing so. Amongst the top triggers for the green buildings movement are environmental regulations. The more we start seeing policies in place that encourage green practices in the industry, the more adopters we will have of sustainable best practices. Many recent policies in the country emphasise the recycling of waste from construction and demolition, solid waste management etc. Surveys show that 28% of people feel that ‘healthier neighbourhoods’ are important. It explains the trend of residential neighborhoods boasting of larger than required open spaces, smart technology and connectivity to public transportation.

The bottom line is — as a society we always have been sustainably oriented. We will continue to be the pioneers of sustainable building and living as far as the data and reports can tell for the next few years. How quickly this percolates to all sectors of real estate will depend on the political support and environmental regulation. On your part, start with segregating your plastic, metal and paper waste, and start composting your kitchen wastes. 

 (The writer is an architect,  urban designer, dancer and  chief designer at Shilpa  Architects)

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