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Saturday, October 4, 2008

in natural and man-made disasters, green homes will play a critical role

In the wake of global warming and increase in natural and man-made disasters, green homes will play a critical role, says Ramakrishnan Iyer

    In the wake of global warming and the increase in natural and man-made disasters, it is green homes which will play a critical role towards averting a major ecological crisis. Green makes business sense and there is no alternative left but to go green - this was the message reiterated by speakers during the recent Green Building Congress at Mumbai from September 25-27, 2008, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).The future wars will not be fought over land or oil, but over water, they said.
    Among other things, the three-day session
focused on the benefits of Green Homes, including enhanced air quality, excellent day lighting, health and well-being of the occupants, safety benefits and conservation of scarce national resources.
    Highlighting the enormous business potential of Green Homes, Dr Prem C Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) said: "India can garner 25-30% of the world wide Green Homes market, which is expected to see about 15 bn US $ investments by 2012". S Srinivas, Principal Counselor, CII - Godrej Green Building Centre said, "The real estate industry in India is one of the largest economic activities and is on a high growth path. 75-80% of the total real estate demand originates from the residential sector. According to the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, there is a shortage of 24.7 million houses in the country. The housing requirement upto 2012 is

estimated at 100 bn US$". He went on to stress on an imminent need to bring this sector within the fold of the Green Building Movement in India.
    "Green building practices adopted in residential buildings can substantially reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts. As an added benefit, green homes reduce operating costs, enhance marketability in case of residential apartments, and reduce health problems resulting from indoor air quality problems," he said.
    Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre emphasised on the need for the government to take initiative in this area, and bring in energy efficiency norms. Both the state and central government should bring in legislation to make it a green market. The Green Business Centre in Hyderabad is a great example of environmental efficiency . Renewable energy would the prime driving force in the context of Global Climate Change, he added.

    Mr. Rick Fedrizzi, President & CEO & Founding Chairman, US Green Building Council, inspired every individual to realise the importance and need of Green Buildings. Taking the example of the building sector as the largest contributor to CO2 Emissions, Mr. Fedrizzi advocated education and awareness among all stakeholders and especially among children. "An independent study has established that children in green schools perform 20% better on tests and and retain 28% more of what they read. "Let's give them clean air and a non-toxic environment and they will build a better tomorrow,"
he said.
    Highlighting the benefits of green building and creating a business case for the concept, Mr. Fedrizzi said green buildings result in increased return on investment, increased savings in the long term, better quality of life, increased productivity and performance and better health for all.
    The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad was the first green building in India. Therefore the need is to take forward this initiative more aggressively and create a Green India, he said.
    Highlighting the intangible benefits of Green Homes, Dr. Kath Williams, Past President, World Green Building Council, observed, "Green homes contribute to the community at large. They are affordable, sustainable, maintainable and healthy homes".
Talking about the traditional Indian homes, Dr. Kath Williams said, "Indian ancestors paid special attention to details like adequate sunlight and solar energy while designing their homes. India's priorities are water and waste management, energy conservation, alternative fuels and valuable resources, amongst others. It is important that we learn from our traditions and build homes which will conserve the natural resources".
    The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) was formed in 2001, and it was realised that one of the priorities for the sustainable building industry was to have a system to define and measure green buildings. Since the CII-Godrej GBC achieved the prestigious PLATINUM LEED rating for its own centre at Hyderabad in 2003, the Green Building Movement has gained tremendous momentum.
    Starting from a modest 40,000 sq ft. in 2003, the volume of green buildings on anvil in India has gone upto over 240 million sqft., said R Parasuraman, Founding Chairman, Indian Green Building Council & Vice Chairman, World Green Building Council [WGBC]. After the initial scepticism in adopting green building practices, it has now been embraced by the developing countries; With 20 members in WGBC as of date, the target is to have 100 members in the next four years. Primarily, the challenges includes availability and affordability of materials, onus of product manufacturing services and products opportunity, commercial value and business opportunity, he said.
    Ajay Mathur -Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency said the economy is growing at a rate of over 9% while the electrical consumption is growing at a rate of over 12.5%. This disparity itself should encourage us to go green. Green buildings focus on lighting, A/C, water related performance and comfort which in turn minimise the energy consumption. Developer Niranjan Hiranandani, guest of honour, said as is evident in the case of the Godrej Building, the ten to 15% increased building costs, are recovered in four years. After that the returns are continuous for the future.
    The session also witnessed the launch of the book "Green Homes", by Dr. Prem C Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Authored by renowned architect Mr. R.K. Gautham, the book elaborates on the design, construction and use of Green Homes and involves readers in environmental conservation.
    The three-day session on Green Building Congress 2008 saw an impressive participation from over 1,000 delegates and all the major stakeholders of the national and international green building movement. The exhibition on 'Green Building Products' saw over 100 green building products/ services on display which attracted over 3000 business visitors. Interesting case studies and presentations on Eco-friendly housing, Green Homes- Energy & Water, Materials & IAQ green building materials, from India and across the world, were shared.


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