For nearly eight years now the CII Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Goa is trying to encourage the construction of green buildings. Here Bharat Kamat, chairman, IGBC-Goa, talks on the progress. He says to Serilda Coutinho that, there is a promising future for industries and commercial establishments if they go green. The positive fall-out from green construction is in terms of increased customer footfalls and enhanced employee performance, says Kamat
- How did you get associated with the green building concept?
I got interested in the green building concept after attending a CII program on the topic in 2004. Soon I started reading up on magazines related to green constructions and realized that we need to change the way buildings are constructed. I was attracted to the IGBC system that, considers the entire eco-friendly process of construction on the basis of a graded kind of certification.
- What is the groundwork needed for a green certification?
The whole process requires team work that involves the owner and the architect. They need to discuss and chalk out the requirement on the parameters laid down by IGBC. A disjointed planning culture discourages the growth of green projects.
- How many projects have been certified green by IGBC in Goa as of now?
About three projects, of which one is a completed project. The Acron Vincent Greens, Socorro is a residential development that is certified with a gold rating by IGBC. The other two upcoming projects in Goa are pre-certified, one at Sanquelim and the other at Arambol. It is common trend among builders to apply for pre-certification of the structure. Sometimes green design acts as a marketing tool for builders as it adds value to the projects and clients are eager to invest.
- What is the response to the concept of green building certification in Goa?
Compared to the other states the response in Goa is very low. There is no demand for green building as no developers find it a necessity to invest in this type of construction. However with the energy rates shooting up and the problem of water shortage builders have stated to feel the pinch to conserve the environment and save some money. Now builders partially invest in green building to cut on operational cost depending on their capacity. They use green technology like rainwater harvesting, solar energy and LED lighting. The only challenge arises in the final certification as the costly investment and necessity to acquire the required points for the certification makes developers take a back step.
- Is there sufficient awareness on building green in the state?
There are a number of programs carried out by CII to create awareness but it is the lack of government incentives that discourage the developers from adopting these standards. In other states builders investing in large green projects. They are given benefits like additional floor area ratio (FAR) and reduction in infrastructure tax. In the absence of such benefits in the state, residents as well as companies feel burdened to invest about Rs 30-40 lakh extra compared to the conventional project cost to go green.
- What is the investment that goes into green certified projects?
It is usually one to three per cent higher than the normal building cost. But developers can save largely on the operational coat post this investment. For example opting for five star rated equipment and LED lights reduces your electricity bill. While using aerated water fixtures and recycled water for domestic use can also reduce the excess usage of fresh water. Another important area that green building certification touches upon is sustainable architecture and designs that includes the usage of eco- friendly materials such fly ash bricks for construction.
- What are the challenges faced in this certification?
Building green requires discipline as it makes use of eco-friendly material and is costly. In the absence of the required material for green construction if the builder is ready to keep the construction on hold and incur the labor cost to stick to its design only then the project is a success. Green buildings also focus on human comfort and indoor environment, one way is by switching to double glazing glass for the to improve the lighting and cooling capacity of the structure. These minute details are difficult for residents and smaller organizations as they come with an addition cost which is beyond their budget.
- Who are the potential clients for green structures in Goa?
Hotels and industries are now picking up the initiative as it adds value to their business. Also retrofitting existing structures to convert them to green is much easier for self occupied building beneficial as it is easier to incur the desired cost. Banks have also started considering environment footprint for funding businesses.
- When is the right time to go in for green building?
It is better if the developer goes green in the planning stage so that the construction material and structure features can be planned according to the requirement stated in the IGBC guidelines. There is no problem if you go in at a later stage of the construction or in an existing structure but the investment at this point will be higher and you might not get the desired green certification rating.
- In what way has your company Kamat Infratech contributed towards the green initiative?
I provide consultation to clients who want to opt for green structures. At present three clients from Porvorim, Arambol and Sancoale hailing from commercial and residential background have approached our company. We also have started with a B3 awareness program to encourage planting of trees in order to attract birds, butterflies and bees to bring back the culture in the locality.
- What would you suggest those who want to go in for green buildings in the state?
I would suggest industries and commercial establishments including hotels to go green as it enhances their corporate image and gives you savings in terms of energy and water. Going green will also lead to higher employee performance and in the case of hotels increased footfalls and higher occupancy.
What is green building?
Green buildings are constructed to make efficient use of energy and water fixtures, recycled products and renewable energy. The buildings should also be constructed in sustainable site that is well connected with basic amenities like roads, water supply, stores, hospitals and public transport to reduce the carbon footprint. Another aspect of green building is to keep up to the human comfort and indoor environment. Any structure ranging from a school, hotel, hospital, shopping centre, airport, residential complex to tenant occupied buildings among others can apply for a green certification.
In Goa there are only two green certifying authorities- the IGBC and the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA). If the builder wants to opt for green certification he has to attain the desired points that range from 50 points for certified projects, before moving up to silver, gold, platinum and finally super platinum at 100 points.
The certification process starts with registering on the IGBC website and submitting a preliminary documents for review by the team. Once reviewed by IGBC, third party assessors it then moves on to the advanced level where the final documentation is presented. This is followed by site visit and final review to decide on the rating to be given to the project. Next step is the acceptance of rating by the builders during which an appeal can be made to IGBC within a period of 30 days if not satisfied with the rating. In the final step IGBC presents the project a plaque and certificate indicating certification. A similar procedure is followed for the pre-certification of projects with the exception of the site visit and the validity of the certification that is restricted to duration of 3 years. Ground level information reveals that, due to arduous process of certification builders are discouraged to invest in all the aspects of green building. The IGBC Goa chapter was launched in March 2011. According to CII, India ranks second after the US in terms of the number of green buildings. Of the over 5.2 billion sq. ft of buildings registered about one billion sq.ft has been certified for green norms.