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The Green Mile – Green Buildings

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Green Buildings

 

Although several IT buildings are gradually joining the green brigade,the longevity of these buildings depends,to a large extent,on its maintenance.The big question then is: if sustainability is the way forward,how can a green building retain its character in the long run Radhika Ramaswamy explores

The words green and sustainable have come a long way in the context of real estate in India.Several large corporations and IT buildings across the country are realising the need to consume less energy and develop energy-efficient systems and processes.The challenge,however,lies in the sustenance of these processes in the long run.As Deepa Sathiaram,a city-based green consultant points out,”Right from efficient light fixtures,air-conditioning systems and sensors to metering equipments,green buildings use a lot of technology and sophisticated equipments.”These systems are adopted in the construction phase,as per the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) guidelines.If all the guidelines are met at the design and construction phase,the building receives LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.”Designing a green building is not as difficult as maintaining it.In the initial stages,green consultants are directly involved in the design and implementation of the processes;but after a year,everything is handed over to the facility managers of the building.This is when we face problems with respect to sustainability in operation and maintenance as well as occupancy usage,”says Deepa.
Builders should look beyond just certification and start seeing value in energy-efficiency and power consumption.Ajit Chordia,Managing Director,Khivraj Tech Park,the first green building in Chennai,says,”One shouldn’t rest in the laurels of having received LEED certification.There is a need to constantly upgrade and bring in new technologies to the fore.This will also e n – sure constant occupancy in the building.”

According to S Raghupathy,Director of IGBC,Hyderabad,”Since the concept of green buildings is a choice rather than a compulsion,only people who really see value in it come forward to invest in a sustainable project. This is why 99% of the green buildings have proposed requests for re-certification.We conduct regular audits and have installed monitoring systems in all the IT buildings that are LEED-certified.”The challenge for IGBC,as Raghupathy points out,is in ensuring that skilled people are roped in,to take this movement forward.”We are looking at roping in over 5,000 skilled developers and architects;we also plan to reduce the cost of the construction of green buildings by 5%,”adds Raghupathy.What architects and builders sometimes forget is the fact that sustainability has always been integral to the ancient architecture of the country. Kishore Pannikar,a citybased architect says,”There are so many elements from traditional Indian designs that can be incorporated in the modern-day construction of IT buildings.Instead,in the name of opulence and sophistication,several modern machineries,processes and equipments are being built across large IT spaces which are hard to operate and maintain.That apart,glass,that takes in a lot of heat (and which is unsuitable for Indian climate),is used haphazardly across IT spaces.In many ways,we are creating problems and then solving them. Instead,intelligent and sensible use of materials and equipments can facilitate maintenance of systems.

Absence of policies and lack of government intervention in the green building domain is another reason for disinterest among builders in terms of construction or maintenance.Rajkumar Reddy,Managing Director,Vishranthi Homes,that has built around four IT parks in the city,says,”One of the projects that I have built is green in every sense of the word but somehow I do not want to apply for certification,simply because it does not make any difference to me.Unless green buildings become a policy or a regulation initiated by the Government,it will never go forward.The Government should provide premium and subsidies;otherwise,green buildings will never see the light of day in IT spaces.

Times of Inida, property times, 13 Novermber 2010