Green Buildings Need & Benefits
In news: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has called for the launch of a mass media campaign on the advantages of building green homes, saying the Green buildings movement should become a people’s movement.
- Virtually inaugurating the 12th Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment Summit, the Vice President said that India has the potential to lead the Global Green Building Movement and emphasised the need to promote green building concept by both the private sector and the government.
- He also appealed to the Finance Commissions and local bodies to encourage green buildings through various measures including tax incentives, and urged states to create online portals to provide single window clearance to green buildings.
According to the World Green Building Council data, buildings and construction account for 39% of energy-related CO2 emissions in the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need for concerted and coordinated efforts to ensure that the buildings are environment-friendly and energy & resource-efficient.
A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.
There are a number of features which can make a building ‘green’. These include:
- Efficient use of energy, water and other resources
- Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy
- Pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling
- Good indoor environmental air quality
- Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable
- Consideration of the environment in design, construction and operation
- Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction and operation
- A design that enables adaptation to a changing environment
Any building can be a green building, whether it’s a home, an office, a school, a hospital, a community centre, or any other type of structure, provided it includes features listed above.
Several benefits –
Environmental: Green buildings can not only reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the environment, by using less water, energy or natural resources, but they can – in many cases – have a positive impact on the environment (at the building or city scales) by generating their own energy or increasing biodiversity.
Economic: Green buildings offer a number of economic or financial benefits, which are relevant to a range of different people or groups of people. These include cost savings on utility bills for tenants or households (through energy and water efficiency); lower construction costs and higher property value for building developers; increased occupancy rates or operating costs for building owners; and job creation. Post-Covid, there has been a consensus to “build back better” and invest in those sectors of the economy that can generate jobs as well as fuel green growth. Green buildings provide an ideal avenue to support this goal.
Social: Green building benefits go beyond economics and the environment, and have been shown to bring positive social impacts too. Many of these benefits are around the health and wellbeing of people who work in green offices or live in green homes.
Given the pandemic and its aftershocks, the appeal of green buildings has increased for the occupants of residential houses as well as workspaces. Post-Covid, individuals are expected to become all the more cautious about their health, well-being and comfort, and would want to live in buildings that have a better ventilation system, ample daylight and fresh water availability.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), respiratory and lung diseases associated with poor indoor environment quality are three of the top five causes of death. The features of green buildings have proven to have a positive impact on health and well-being. Green homes and offices optimise natural light in the construction design and limit the usage of artificial lighting.
Research shows that natural daylight helps in reduction of stress levels, provides psychological comfort and increases employees’ productivity by approximately 15 percent in an office environment. Therefore, by investing in green designing and development, companies can ensure better returns on their most valued assets — employees.
GRIHA is an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment. GRIHA is a Sanskrit word meaning – ‘Abode’.GRIHA , the green rating system developed by The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), is promoted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) as the National rating system.
Given India’s commitments to Paris Summit, it has become all the more important to reduce GHG emissions and improve the environmental friendliness of every economic activity. Construction activities contribute a significant chunk to the Pollution level. Further careless building designs add onto the urban heating phenomena, which is on rise due to rising population and migration. The need to make constructions compliant to such codes are as follows:
- Reduced energy consumption without sacrificing the comfort levels.
- Reduced destruction of natural areas, habitats, and biodiversity, and reduced soil loss from erosion etc.
- Reduced air and water pollution (with direct health benefits)
- Reduced water consumption
- Limited waste generation due to recycling and reuse
- Reduced pollution loads
- Increased user productivity
- Enhanced image and marketability
- Optimize energy performance of building within specified comfort limits
The Way Forward
- The Finance Commissions and local bodies to encourage green buildings through various measures including tax incentives.
- States to create online portals to provide single window clearance for green buildings
- The implementation of Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) has not been uniform across the nation
- The roof cooling should be an area of priority for all. In India, over 60 per cent of roofs are made from metal, asbestos, and concrete – thus trapping heat inside buildings and contributing to heat island effect in urban areas. Cool roofs offer a simple and a cost-effective solution that can lower indoor temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius as compared to traditional roofs, especially in low-income households and slums in urban areas.
Given the ongoing recession, green buildings can become a strong driver of economic growth and the prerogative to “build back better,” by providing nine million skilled jobs in both the renewable and construction sector by 2030. The government, in collaboration with the banking sector, can together provide fuel to the green construction sector and help India achieve its potential in this regard.
Our civilisation teaches us to live in harmony with nature. We need to revisit our traditional house designs refined over thousands of years. Unfortunately, our modern structures are such that no sparrow can come and make a nest in our house. This is not our culture.
Connecting the Dots:
- Green buildings movement should become people’s movement. Discuss.