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Building A Green Home

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With energy efficiency and conservation being the new buzzwords, there has been an increasing focus on bringing down energy costs as well as being environment-friendly. Customers - whether residential, industrial or commercial - are increasingly looking at the return on investment on a project and reducing energy consumption.

Real estate is responsible for about 30 per cent of the total electricity consumed in India. According to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle, real estate in India is expected to grow at about 30 per cent every year, to touch $90 billion by 2015. This points towards an immediate need to undertake energy conservation tactics to sustain in the long run. The need of the hour is to reduce expenditure related to energy and scale down its consumption. Green buildings, a fast emerging concept in the country, are seen as a solution to this problem.

Green Buildings: The Answer For Energy Conservation
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) defines a green building as one which ‘uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste, and provides healthier spaces for occupants as compared to a conventional building’. According to the handbook on green practices published by the Indian Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), every one million square feet of commercial green buildings can save about 15 million kWh per year and reduce carbon emissions by about 1,200 tonnes per year. This represents the huge underlying potential of green buildings in conserving energy in the coming years.

Efficient lighting, an important aspect of green buildings, plays a very critical role in addressing the need for energy efficiency and certifying buildings green.

Efficient Technologies Will Play An Important Role
Energy conservation, in terms of lighting, means reduced usage of halogen and incandescent lamps, since they consume a lot of electricity, while dissipating more heat, making them a very inefficient choice of lighting. Besides, the lack of a safe method of disposing these lamps also makes them an environmental concern. Green buildings are required to adopt efficient lighting, and thus use newer and eco-friendly technologies like LED technologies. The Government of India has recognised this factor and brought out safety and quality standards for LED lighting, as part of the phase out of inefficient lighting.

Similarly, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems in green buildings cannot use refrigerants and ozone depleting gases, which have a negative impact on the environment. Thus, end users have to install CFC-free HVAC systems / unitary air-conditioners. Since air-conditioning is an integral part of running costs, this leads to a large cut in the operating costs of the user as well. Green Boulevard, a 900,000 sq. ft. commercial complex in Noida, has seen a 33% reduction in HVAC running costs ever since it was certified a green building in 2009.

The potential for adoption of eco-friendly technology in green buildings is huge. By 2020, IGBC expects that green buildings will account for 16 billion square feet in the real estate space; and by 2030 it will make up about 20 per cent of all the construction in the country. But there are a few deterrents which might lead to a bumpy ride.

The Challenges Of Adopting Green Technology
In order to be certified as a green building, there are various upfront costs involved while switching to eco-friendly technologies. LED, for instance, is at least five to six times more expensive than conventional lighting such as incandescent lamps. In the long run, the return on investment is definitely higher since there are virtually no replacement costs and power consumption is lower.

However, cost is still not the biggest challenge for the propagation of the ‘green building’ concept. Stakeholders in the industry in India reveal that awareness about green building design, and how various choices including lighting and HVAC can impact it, is sketchy at best. Incorrect perceptions are compounded by the fact that there are very few experts or consultants who can create awareness. Spreading knowledge and creating awareness about green buildings is the quickest way of getting this concept adopted and will be a key determinant of how quickly this market picks up in the next 5-7 years.

The Road Ahead…
In an effort to go green, manufacturers and consultants are realising the importance of spreading the knowledge, and manufacturers are doing their bit to make end-users aware. Philips Lighting University, for example, has joined hands with GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment), the national rating system for green buildings in India, to offer a course on the lighting tools required for green building assessment in India.

End-users especially depend on EPCs and project consultants to make their energy choices for them, and the latter have to be enablers in this process. This is particularly important in the case of residential and commercial spaces since these will see the largest addition in terms of square feet. With 16 billion sq. ft. worth of green buildings to be added by 2020, green buildings are the way to go. For increased energy conservation, end-users will have to give eco friendly technologies the 'green' light.

(Namita Adavi is a research analyst at ValueNotes (, a provider of market intelligence, research and consulting. She has been involved in market assessment studies and formulating India-entry strategies for companies in the lighting industry).