We live in the information age, and our generation is defined by hyper-connectivity and rapid urbanization. Soon there will be more fuel and energy consumption than the non-renewable energy industry can handle. Meanwhile, Climate Change – a byproduct of the world’s increasing carbon footprint, poses the largest looming threat to life as we know it. But, amidst this darkness, there are bright sparks of environmental initiatives the world over, not excluding the construction industry. Construction worldwide, consumes roughly 40% of Earth’s material sources and 30% of its energy. ‘Green Buildings’ are poised to change that by consuming less and giving more.Sustainable Construction or Green Buildings define the ways in which science, governments and construction professionals collaborate to make less of a negative impact on the environment. It uses renewable sources of energy, and promotes biodiversity and recycled local materials that cost less to transport and help curb CO2 emissions. Its biggest task is building ‘Management Systems’ that help to optimize the value of a structure throughout its life-cycle; from site selection, design, construction, operation, and maintenance, to renovation and demolition.
The responsible disposal of C&D (Construction and Demolition) waste material is key to implementing effective sustainable processes. India has often overlooked this by simply dumping construction waste in large landfills or illegally in water-bodies. However, in 2012 the first C&D Waste Processing Plant in Burari, New Delhi was established and its subsequent success has ignited an evolution in the way waste material is treated. The recycled materials also aide infrastructural development by being readily available and economically beneficial.
The Indian government has made considerable strides on its path to sustainability. Agencies like GRIHA – Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (2007), adopted as the national green building rating system, and the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC, 2001), were brought about to support energy efficiency and conservation in construction. According to the IGBC, India holds the second largest registered Green Building footprint (3.59 billion sqft), second only to the USA. India has also joined the UN Paris Agreement for Climate Change and in 2016 announced its first 20 Smart Cities, pledging to propel the country in the direction of sustainable and smart development. The government has also incentivized going green for builders and consumers by offering discounts on premium building charges and property taxes. Additionally, 1-5% extra ground coverage and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) are amongst the benefits available for constructive efforts to be green.
New, innovative materials are launched every day. Some are recycled like sand, aggregate and RMC from recovered materials, while others are new concepts in construction altogether. They include Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum Panels and Monolithic Concrete Construction using Aluminum Formwork, which are more efficient and eco-friendly methods, using less cement, steel and water. Photovoltaic panels and solar tiles are used to harness the sun’s energy, keeping the future bright for construction materials. And with the large batteries being developed at Tesla, it won’t be long before renewable energy can be stored over long periods of time.
Vrindavan Tech Village (now Embassy Tech Village), which is home to international and domestic corporations, is one of the world-class IT tech parks in Bangalore developed by Assetz, which is also India’s first Platinum LEED certified IT SEZ. India stands as an energized, developing economy and a growing committed community, set to reach its ‘green’ targets and go beyond, hopefully inspiring the developed world to do the same, if not more.