What is a Green Building ?
A green building can be defined as any building that is sited, designed, constructed, operated and maintained for the health and well-being of the occupants, while minimizing impact on the environment.
A green building is a structure whose environmental responsibility and resource-efficiency spans its entire
life-cycle. It enables the efficient use of resources, protection of occupant health & improvement of productivity and reduction of waste, pollution & environment degradation.
The aim of a green building design is to
- Minimize the demand on non-renewable resources
- Maximize utilization efficiency of these resources when in use
- Maximize the reuse, recycling and utilization of renewable resources
Why Green Building ?
An extensive amount of energy is consumed to heat and power our buildings. This energy is mainly generated from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas that let out huge amounts of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the most widespread greenhouse gas. There are also other ways in which buildings emit Greenhouse Gases (GHG), like construction debris in landfills generating methane and manufacturing of building materials causing GHG emissions.
In India, the construction sector is growing at a rate of 9%, causing a rapid rise in energy demand in urban areas where buildings alone contribute about 40% of the total GHG emissions. Hence it becomes imperative to reduce the energy use and GHG emissions produced by buildings so that the pace of global climate change has a slowdown.
Energy efficient buildings or green buildings, address the above concerns and save energy by about 40%.
- Enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems
- Improve air and water quality
- Reduce waste streams
- Conserve and restore natural resources
- Reduce operating costs
- Create, expand, and shape markets for green product and services
- Improve occupant productivity
- Optimize life-cycle economic performance
- Enhance occupant comfort and health
- Heighten aesthetic qualities
- Minimize strain on local infrastructure
- Improve overall quality of life
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choose Green Products for green buildings
Green buildings too are constructed using a variety of materials. The only difference being that – The materials come packed with a great deal of energy-efficiency. Therefore, green buildings not only minimize the use of non-renewable resources, but also maximize the reuse, recycling and utilization of renewable resources.
The opportunities to reduce the environmental and health impacts of our homes span from big decisions, like location, to seemingly small decisions, like paint and light bulbs. The products we use to clean, light, furnish, renovate, and build our homes must be a part of the greening process. Reducing our environmental impacts requires thinking and learning about not just how we use products, but where they came from and where they’re going. Consider factors like:
- Energy used to make, ship, and use a product;
- The product’s contents and the sources of its raw materials;
- Emissions during manufacturing the product and the level and type of toxins in the final product; and
- The product’s durability (lifespan) and recyclability.
These are just some of the impacts a product has on the environment from “cradle to grave” during its “lifecycle.” The five main stages in the lifecycle of a material or product are: raw material acquisition, manufacturing, distribution, use, and end-of-life management. Attributes of a product at different stages of its lifecycle to consider may include:
Waste and materials:
- Reduced waste
- Biobased content
- Recyclable or reusable components
- Energy efficient
- Low embodied energy
- Uses renewable energy
- Water efficient
- Water reuse and recycling
- Responsible stormwater management
Other environmental & health impacts:
- Enhanced indoor environmental quality
- Reduced environmental impact over the lifecycle
- Reduced or eliminated toxic substances
- Sustainable development, smart growth
Recycled-Content Building Materials
Buying recycled-content materials helps ensure that the materials collected in recycling programs will be used again in the manufacture of new products. Examples of construction materials that can be readily found with recycled content include:
- Drywall (many utilize recycled paper and post-industrial gypsum)
- Insulation (including cellulose, mineral wool, fiberglass, and recycled cotton insulation)
- Plastic lumber
- Kitchen countertops
- Glass tiles
- Landscaping materials
- Carpet and carpet padding
The labelling of electrical appliances has helped in making energy efficiency people centric and aided in propagating the concept. Moreover, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has been working towards taking the sector to a new level and is promoting super efficient appliances in this regard.
SWITCH TO: Efficient Electrical Appliances
Presently, the market is flooded with a wide array of electrical appliances, prominent among them being air conditioners, refrigerators, tubular fluorescent lamps and televisions. With a surge in energy consumption, it is imperative to use super-energy efficient models which would help in reducing the electricity bill.
It is estimated that in the next decade, with an increased use of super efficient appliances (SEA), there would be a three-fold reduction in the electricity bill. An energy efficient appliance is indicated by the number of stars (in colour) on the product, ranging from one star to five-star.
BENEFIT: Some of the advantages of purchasing star labelled electrical appliances are that it helps the consumers reduce energy bills, causes a decline in the capital investment in energy supply infrastructure, strengthens competitive markets while meeting climate change goals and reducing urban/regional pollution.
According to the National Productivity Council, the star rating has boosted the sale of efficient electrical appliances in India.
Sustainability should be the bedrock of fulfilling the ever increasing demand for housing in urban India and this can only be ensured through green buildings.
SWITCH TO: Green Buildings
Burgeoning population, cluttered cities and metropolitans leading to an increase in the waste of natural resources prompted the government to give a serious thought to the concept and construction of green buildings in the country.
Despite the global economic slowdown and sky rocketing demand for energy, experts believe that the need of the hour is to construct smart buildings, which from their very inception, help save energy, environment as well as money.
Market-driven building rating systems such as the Leadership in Energy &Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), “would motivate leading developers and companies to strive for eternal improvement and in the process, gain extensive advantage in terms of saving energy.”
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) vision for 2025 has aimed to create a sustainable environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the world leaders in a sustainably built-environment.
HURDEL: Despite the growth in the green building movement, there are certain hurdles which are obstructing its pace. Since the laws are not mandatory, the builders do not follow the regulations and allied guidelines.” one of the major hurdles in the implementation of the ECBC is that there is no uniform and practicable building energy code, especially for those with passive and solar designs and due to a lack of knowledge, many architects and builders in India consider green building as time consuming and expensive vis-a-vis the conventional ones.
BENEFIT: Procuring the building materials and re-using them would help in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as there would be a drastic decline in the need to extract, process raw materials and then transport them. The re-used building material helps in reducing the adverse impact on the economy as well as on the environment from waste disposal such as greenhouse gases produced from decomposition and negates the need for new landfills.
Among the old buildings, which received a facelift and have become greener than earlier are Mahindra Towers in Mumbai. Moreover, the Planning Commission is mulling for a major retrofit of the Yojana Bhawan in New Delhi to save energy and cost, apart from setting an example for government building retrofits.
SWITCH TO: Green Homes
Apart from commercial spaces, the concept of greener homes is also gaining ground in the country. The need is to integrate green buildings in the larger framework of water and sanitation infrastructure, wherever possible.
The need to start with a fact-finding mission to understand the needs of the communities, identify suitable technologies to fit those needs, calibrate a policy mechanism to encode it into law and finally, implement that law. “The Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) and Co-operative Housing Societies could be useful tools in the propagation of Green Building concepts”.
While a Bill to regulate the real estate sector has already been placed in the Parliament, to enable an impressive and cohesive Act, its impact would be felt in a significant way not before a decade, even if it were to be implemented most efficiently.
“Mass awareness could enable major competitiveness in the green building sector”