What are green buildings and how they can help Indian Economy

What are green buildings and how they can help Indian Economy

Green buildings are structures that are designed, constructed, and operated in a way that minimizes the negative environmental impacts and maximizes the positive social and economic benefits. Green buildings use less energy, water, and materials, generate less waste and emissions, and provide better indoor and outdoor conditions for the occupants and the surrounding community.

Green buildings can help in mitigating and adapting to climate change by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector, which accounts for more than 40% of India’s total energy consumption and is increasing at 8% annually.

1) According to a report by UNEP’s Sustainable Buildings and Construction Initiative (SBCI), green buildings can reduce energy use by 30% to 80% and water use by 25% to 50% compared to conventional buildings.

2) They can also enhance the resilience of buildings and communities to the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events, heat waves, floods, and droughts.

3) Green buildings can also contribute to the overall green economy of India by creating new opportunities for employment, innovation, and investment.

4) According to a report by IFC, the green building market in India has the potential to grow from $1.4 billion in 2020 to $35 billion by 2030, creating over 8 million jobs. Green buildings can also improve the health, well-being, and productivity of the occupants and reduce the social costs of air pollution, water scarcity, and energy insecurity.

How green buildings can impact the overall green economy of India by 2030?

India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, facing multiple risks such as rising temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns, sea-level rise, and frequent disasters. To achieve its development goals while addressing its climate challenges, India needs to pursue a low-carbon and climate-resilient growth path that balances economic, social, and environmental objectives.

Green buildings can play a key role in this transition by reducing the carbon footprint of the building sector, enhancing the adaptive capacity of the built environment, and creating co-benefits for the economy and society.

Some of the ways that green buildings can impact the overall green economy of India by 2030 are:

Reducing energy demand and emissions: Green buildings can help India meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 levels. According to a study by TERI, if all new buildings in India adopt green building practices by 2030, they can save up to 3,200 MW of power capacity and avoid up to 25 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy: Green buildings can help India achieve its target of installing 450 GW by 2030. Green buildings can integrate renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, wind, biomass, or biogas into their design and operation. They can also participate in demand-side management programs that enable them to adjust their energy consumption according to grid conditions and price signals.

Improving water security and quality: Green buildings can help India address its water crisis, which is expected to worsen due to climate change, population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Green buildings can reduce water consumption by using efficient fixtures and appliances, rainwater harvesting systems, greywater recycling systems, or low-water landscaping. They can also improve water quality by preventing runoff pollution, treating wastewater on-site or off-site, or recharging groundwater aquifers.

Enhancing health and well-being: Green buildings can help India improve its human development indicators, which are still lagging behind many other countries. Green buildings can provide better indoor air quality, thermal comfort, natural lighting, noise control, and access to green spaces for the occupants. These factors can reduce the risk of respiratory diseases, allergies, asthma, headaches, fatigue, stress, depression, and other ailments. They can also improve cognitive performance, learning outcomes, productivity, creativity, satisfaction, and happiness.

Creating jobs and income: Green buildings can help India generate employment and income opportunities for various segments of society. Green buildings can create direct jobs for architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, certifiers, and facility managers who are involved in the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. They can also create indirect jobs for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and service providers who support the green building value chain. They can also create induced jobs for workers in other sectors who benefit from the increased spending and income of the green building workforce. According to a report by IFC, the green building market in India can create over 8 million jobs by 2030, with 80 percent of them being semi-skilled or unskilled.

What India is doing currently in terms of green buildings?

India has made significant progress in promoting and implementing green buildings in the past decade.

Some of the initiatives and achievements that India has undertaken in terms of green buildings are:

Establishing green building rating systems: India has developed several voluntary green building rating systems that provide guidelines and benchmarks for assessing the environmental performance of buildings.

1) Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) rating systems,
2) Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) system,
3) Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) star rating system, and the
4) Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)

These rating systems cover various types of buildings such as residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and public buildings, and address various aspects such as site selection, energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.

Increasing green building footprint: India has witnessed a rapid growth in the number and area of certified green buildings in the past decade.

1) According to IGBC, India has over 7,000 registered green building projects with a total area of over 8.82 billion sq. ft. as of October 2020.
2) India ranks third in the world in terms of green building area, after China and the US. Some of the notable examples of green buildings in India are the CII Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad, which is the first LEED Platinum rated building in India; the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan in New Delhi, which is the first net-zero energy building in India; and the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, which is one of the largest LEED Platinum rated buildings in the world.

Incentivizing green building adoption: India has introduced various incentives and policies to encourage and support the adoption of green buildings by different stakeholders.

1) These include fiscal incentives such as tax benefits, subsidies, rebates, grants, loans, or fee waivers for green building developers, owners, or occupants;
2) Non-fiscal incentives such as additional floor area ratio (FAR), fast-track approvals, preferential allotment, or recognition awards for green building developers or owners; and
3) Regulatory incentives such as mandatory compliance with ECBC or other green building norms for certain types of buildings or sectors. These incentives are offered by various levels of government such as central, state, or local authorities, as well as by other agencies such as utilities or financial institutions.

Building capacity and awareness: India has invested in building the capacity and awareness of various stakeholders involved in the green building sector. These include training and certification programs for green building professionals such as architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, or auditors; education and curriculum development for students and faculty members in academic institutions; research and development for innovation and advancement in green building technologies and practices; outreach and advocacy campaigns for sensitizing and mobilizing the public and private sectors, civil society, and media on the benefits and opportunities of green buildings.

Green buildings are not only a necessity but also an opportunity for India to achieve its development and climate goals. Green buildings can help India reduce its energy demand and emissions, increase its energy efficiency and renewable energy, improve its water security and quality, enhance its health and well-being, and create its jobs and income.

India has taken several steps to promote and implement green buildings, but more needs to be done to scale up the green building movement and make it mainstream in the country. India needs to adopt a holistic and integrated approach to green buildings, involving multiple stakeholders, sectors, and disciplines, and addressing multiple dimensions, such as policy, finance, technology, culture, and behavior.

India also needs to learn from the best practices and experiences of other countries and regions that have successfully implemented green buildings, and adapt them to its own context and needs. Green buildings can be a game-changer for India’s environment and economy, but only if they are done right.