Green Buildings - Essential for Environmental & Human Wellbeing

Mili Majumdar
The construction sector in India can make a significant contribution to the country's target of reducing its carbon footprint by retrofitting buildings for enhancing efficiency and minimizing resource consumption. A green economy is one that leads to improved human well-being and social equity

Mili Majumdar, MD, GBCI India & Senior VP, USGBC
The pressure on the world's resources is rising by the hour. Growth aspirations of nations coupled with rising global population project a bleak future with severe constraint on natural resources. Yet, all is not lost. Every adversity is an opportunity in disguise. There is immense potential for countries, especially developing nations, to transform into green economies and ensure sustainable development.

A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially-inclusive, as defined by the United Nations. A crucial step towards this goal would be adoption of green technology in the construction sector, considering buildings consume over 40% of global energy and comprise one-third of the global greenhouse gas emission. Besides, the construction, operation and deconstruction of buildings consume about 15% of the world's freshwater resources.
There is a huge scope for enhancing efficiency and minimising resource consumption if green building concepts are adopted by the construction industry

India's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and moving towards efficient measures has gained global recognition. The country is on a growth trajectory and construction is one of the largest economic activities here. It is requisite for India to adopt green buildings for a more green and sustainable economy.

In simple words, a green building is a sustainable and energy-efficient structure which ensures optimum utilisation of resources and minimum wastage. The construction sector in India can make a significant contribution to the country's target of reducing its carbon footprint. There is a huge scope for enhancing efficiency and minimising resource consumption if green building concepts are adopted. It is estimated that the energy savings in green buildings could range from 20 to 30% and water savings between 30 to 50%.

Green buildings are estimated to decrease operating costs by 10% over a year while, retrofitting reduces costs by 11%. The payback time for green investment is just four to five years. Additionally, green buildings ensure overall wellbeing of their inhabitants and the environment at large. They eliminate wastage of resources, enhance health and environmental well-being and, in turn, contribute to economic growth. They also shatter the myth that profitability and sustainability cannot go hand in hand. Rather, green buildings support sustainable profitability.

While opting for green certification, the construction sector must also ensure that the building is fully certified and not merely pre-certified. Pre-certification denotes the developer's commitment to build green while full certification ensures compliance of that commitment. Retrofitting buildings is another measure to enhance their efficiency and ensure optimum utilisation of resources. According to the World Green Building Trends 2016 Smartmarket Report, India reports greater decreases in operating costs for retrofits than the global average. This strengthens the case for green retrofit in India.

Though the Indian market shows good growth, there are still miles to go to achieve a fully green construction sector. Collaboration, coordination, and concerted efforts from all stakeholders are required to achieve this goal.
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