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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pune goes green

Pune is actively promoting the concept of eco-housing on a large scale, encouraging developers to expedite their green housing programmes, says Archana Sinha

    Pune, which has always been conscious of bringing down the effects of global warming, by promoting the concept of eco-friendly constructions, has another reason to stand proud among the modern cities of India. Going green with housing projects in Pune has now received a tremendous thrust from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) after it awarded the Eco-housing Certificate to two well known developers' projects. The programme to promote environment-friendly buildings in the residential areas on a priority basis started a year ago and only recently, they have finished with awarding the two projects.
    Nyati Environ, Tingarenagar, by Nyati Group along with Kumar Sublime, Kondhwa, and Kumar Sankul by Kumar Builders, have been awarded provisional certificates with five-star ratings as per the norms laid down by PMC. The final award will be given on the completion of the projects. The awards encourage all other builders too to expedite their green housing programmes.
    Speaking on the selection of his project for certification Nitin Nyati says, "I am very happy because I was working towards this for quite some time. We are among the first builders to have complied with the criteria of green buildings laid down by the Central government, which has been adopted by the PMC. In Pune we are conscious of keeping our city comfortable for citizens and almost all my projects, including commercial ones,
will be made on eco-friendly parameters."
    With most cities working towards rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, global warming is an inevitable fallout, if people are not conscious of reducing the carbon emission and toxic effluent by plants that are so closely located to the residential areas. At a recent seminar conducted by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, experts have laid em
phasis on the urgent need for eco-friendly homes. Says Naushad Panjwani, executive director, project facilities management, Knight Frank India, "More than 12 million homes are required in the next five years and the about one-sixth of the world's fresh water is used by buildings alone, along with one-fourth of its wood harvest and two-fifth of its material and energy flows. If the use of these are reduced and recycled then the reserves of the world's energy and water will continue for a longer time, postponing global warming, which is threatening the very existence of mankind. Most advanced countries have already made construction of these buildings mandatory "
    The certification programme, launched with technical assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), calls for compliance with some eight parameters, which have been developed by the Science and Technology Park (STP) - University of Pune, International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC) and the Energy Resources Institute (TERI).
    Says Rajesh Jagdale, director STP, "To encourage developers to adopt eco-friendly techniques, under the 'Eco-Housing Certification Programme', the PMC is offering 50 per cent pay back in the premium charges incurred by developers while granting building permission. Twenty five per cent rebate will be granted at the permission levels on verifying the documents and site visits, the remaining will be given after completion of the project."
    He adds, "Out of the 88 parameters the eight focal areas we have considered are: site detail which concentrates on location of the project, its nearness to civic amenities, top soil condition and if it has been reused for gardening after the building has been made, energy and water conservation techniques that has been planned by the builder, water heating system by using solar energy, solid waste management system that has been designed and implemented, building material which includes fly-ash bricks and other material used that has consumed low energy. We have also allotted some points for any innovative techniques used by the builder. A project has to get a minimum of 500 points to qualify for eco-housing rating. The assessment and monitoring procedure is rigorous. A detailed tracking sheet of the entries is made. Some parameters are assessed before commencement of the project and the remaining have to be followed during the project on progress."

    Speaking on the felicitation, the PMC commissioner Pravinsingh Pardeshi urged developers to implement and take advantage of benefits given by the civic administration to eco-housing projects. Besides providing discounts to developers the PMC also provides subsidy in property tax, based on the certification given by the STP to the projects to the eco-house owners. So it is a win-win situation for both.
    "There are not many developers taking advantage of the eco-housing policy despite the benefits being offered," Pardeshi said, stressing on the aim behind implementing the scheme, which is to promote behavioural changes to reduce carbon footprints. The energy requirement of buildings can be reduced if these norms are followed. Compliance with the norms will go a long way in creating a healthy environment." Pardeshi was proud of the fact that Pune is the first city to launch such a plan at that large a scale.
    Lalit Kumat Jain, chairman, Kumar Builders says, "It is indeed an innovative programme launched by the PMC. Though there is cost attached to the eco-friendly projects, it has a long-term advantage. As president of Promoters and Builders Association of Pune (PBAP), I have taken upon myself that all my future projects have to be 100 per cent ecofriendly projects. Besides this I have also started this drive to influence builders to actively use eco-friendly materials for their housing projects. We are working hard to create awareness and inform builders about the benefits. The STP and PMC is also joining us in the drive."
    With these initiatives Pune, which boasts of huge green cover and initiation of maximum number of environment friendly housing projects, is expected to remain eco-friendly despite rapid industrialisation, leading from the front, showing the way to other cities as well.


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