Green buildings reduces operational expenses and improve the health and productivity of the residents

Think sustainable

While paving the way for sustainable development, green buildings not only reduce the operational expenses, but also improve the health and productivity of the residents.

The quantum of built-up area envisaged to be urbanised is simply humongous. Therefore, in order to extricate itself from the present scenario, India must follow the principles of sustainability. After all, the construction and operation of buildings have an enormous impact on the local environment, and also on greenhouse gas emissions.

“India has the highest growth rate of ‘building energy consumption’ in the world, so this concern is particularly pressing for corporates as well as for the government. To really tackle the challenge of making sustainable buildings, we need to rethink the way a building is designed and operated. Here, green buildings can surely offer a way to relieve the mounting pressure,” says Andrew Hines, co-founder, CleanMax Solar, a rooftop solar power development company.

See green, see life:

According to the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report, India is expected to see strong growth in the green building sector with nearly 55 percent of all projects likely to pursue green by 2021.

So, what are the top triggers driving the green building activity? Firstly, the clients today (particularly the commercial tenants) are demanding green certified buildings, followed by increased awareness among homebuyers about the advantages green buildings have on the health of the occupants, and lastly, the governmental push and environmental regulations.

The choice is yours…

A green building stands on five main pillars – water, waste, energy, human experience and carbon footprint. So, in line with the growing trend of green building development, the focus on the usage of sustainable products during the construction stage is immense.

“Double-glazed glass is being extensively used by architects in the construction of buildings. So are water-efficient fixtures and energyefficient lighting. Components – free of toxic materials such as chlorine, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium and cadmium – are also being frequently used by builders,” says GopalaKrishnan Padmanabhan, Managing Director –APAC and Middle East, Green Business Certificate Institute (GBCI).

Elaborating on the same line of thought, Harleen Oberoi, Senior Executive Director, Project Management India, Developer Projects Leader, South Asia, Colliers International, adds, “Blocks and concrete, which have a higher ratio of fly ash and blast furnace slag, are preferred by the developers.”

So, when it comes to finishes, “the objective is to use non-VOC emitting and anti-fungal alternatives in adhesives, paints, cladding, and carpets. With technology making big strides, light-weight precast concrete walls, fibre reinforced products as alternatives to conventional pipes, stray bales, compressed earth blocks, and other innovative building blocks for structural construct are also popular options.”

The way ahead:

According to the report (as mentioned earlier), 63 percent of Indian respondents said improved occupant health is the most important benefit of a green building. Additionally, respondents rated environmental reasons such as reducing energy and water consumption, and protecting resources. Therefore, experts believe that India is poised for an upward trajectory.

“Both developers and occupants have come to realise the benefits associated with green buildings. Sustainable products, which pass the acid test of having a positive impact on the environment, are being used in the construction of buildings. Not to forget, the demand by buyers for such buildings is high too,” concludes Padmanabhan.

Shehzin Shaikh, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Go green, be seen to address pollution and global warming

Today, there is an urgency to address issues such as pollution and global warming. And with developers of the residential market pledging to build environment-friendly spaces, green homes are within the reach of home-buyers.

Eco-friendly buildings invite a lot of hype but there are also concrete advantages to ‘going green’ when you build them. From improving indoor air quality to mitigating global climate change, these buildings help people live a more resource-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Keeping these important factors in view, the developers of the residential market have pledged to build environment-friendly spaces.

The green building concept has always been around. Our ancestors had conventional homes with baked red roof tiles and walls made of clay; energy-efficient structures that used to keep the house cool during summers and warm during the winters. Today, we have advanced technologies that create smarter systems to control lighting systems, power, inside temperature, water supply and waste generation. C Shekar Reddy, Chairman, CII-IGBC Hyderabad, said, “In the current degrading environmental scenario, the need of the hour is to design and construct green buildings and communicate their benefits to various stakeholders. Developers are becoming increasingly conscious of the changing environmental conditions and thus working in their capacity to reduce the carbon footprint at every stage of construction.”

Follow the rules

Change starts with an individual, and especially in cities, it is time to act. Kalpana Ramesh, environmentalist, interior designer, director of Kaava, says, “The process should start from following zoning rules in construction to obtaining the necessary legal permissions for sewerage and building within the FSI. People should stop buying apartments, offices and homes built on illegal ground even if it means at lower costs. Directly or indirectly, we are responsible for diminishing natural resources.”

Green homes within reach

Due to slightly higher cost, green homes are generally targeted at the upper middle class and luxury home-buyers. Property consultant Shridhar Rao says, “Among such buyers, awareness about the benefits of green buildings tends to be quite high, so acceptance of a sustainable way of life is also high. However, one cannot ignore the fact that there is still a lack of awareness about green building practices and its long-term benefits among a large section of Indian users. A majority of users are under the impression that green building practices are expensive and not financially-feasible. But even middle-class buyers are now environment-conscious and would not mind paying a higher price if the project’s benefits are explained. At present, amenities that are being offered by developers have been made mandatory under government regulations.”

Cost of a green home versus a normal home

Green buildings provide financial benefits that conventional buildings do not. Mayank Saksena, MD – land services and head – South India, ANAROCK Property Consultants, explains, “Green building practices can improve the environment’s ecology in numerous ways. They reduce energy consumption by 20-30 percent and water usage by 30-50 percent as well as significantly reduce waste generation by extensive recycling. Apart from the obvious protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity, the use of green building practices leads to better air quality, enhanced daylight (leading to lower electricity consumption), superior health and overall well-being.”

Industry experts are of the view that although the initial costs of a green building may be higher (up to 15 percent depending on various factors) than conventional buildings, there are many long-term benefits. Reddy explains, “Anyone buying a house should keep in mind that it will stand for at least 50 years or so. And even if, for a moment, we agree that the cost of the house increases, it doesn’t matter if you invest an additional amount because in the coming years, you would be able to enjoy benefits such reduced electricity bills, better comfort, and good health at lower operating cost. And the payback period is hardly two years. Also the incremental cost of these buildings has come down to about two to three per cent over a conventional building at present.”

Vibha Singh, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Keeping your house Cool

You can adopt many ways to avoid heat transfer from the roof to your living spaces.

The flat roofs of buildings are exposed, for the maximum duration of the day, to the scorching heat of the summer sun. It is but natural that the roof gets badly heated. The rooms below them also become unbearably hot as the heat gets transferred below. How can we avoid or reduce this heat?

Here is the logic of the cause, and the remedy. Concrete is a very dense material. When concrete gets heated, it retains the heat for a very long time. This heat is radiated into the rooms at night when the surroundings are getting cool. Due to the stillness of air below the roof, the air in the room also becomes hot. The ceiling fan revolving below the roof pushes the warm air down. Needless to describe the discomfort.

The remedies are:

Avoid the roof getting heated

Insulate the roof from above

Insulate the roof from below

Avoid the heat transfer from the roof to the room

Cool the roof with some means

Extract the hot air collected below the roof

Extract the heat from the roof before it gets transferred

Shade the roof

If the sun’s heat is unbearable, we stand under a tree or open an umbrella to shade ourselves. We have also experienced that the temperature inside houses shaded by trees are very low and pleasant, in summer also. We park the car under a tree to avoid the car getting heated. Similarly, if the sunlight is heating the roof, shade it with a lightweight roof made of GI Sheet, Mangalore Tiles or canvas. The shadow prevents the roof slab from heating. The shelter can also be used for gatherings.

The roof can also be sheltered by having shading features like pergolas. Creepers can be grown over the pergolas to increase the shade.

High walls or trellises along the perimeter of the roof can also shade the roof. However, it will be a costly affair.

Plants are the best material to shade a roof. Unlike a tin roof, the plants do not get heated. They absorb heat and light. Place potted plants on the roof, shelter the roof and enjoy the vegetables they yield. Make a terrace garden.

The topmost floor of an apartment is the service floor which contains the overhead tank, pressure pumps, lift machine, electric panels, CCTV camera recorders, access monitors, fire safety equipment, water tanks etc. It does not matter if this floor gets heated. It definitely prevents the last habited floor from getting heated.

Top insulation

Terrace gardens will prevent heat absorption. The plants and grass shade the roof. The earth will insulate the roof. Wetness in the mud will certainly cool the roof. However, consult your structural engineer if the roof can carry the garden load and a landscape architect to design a maintenance-easy garden.

Traditionally, “Surkhi”, a mix of brick bat, lime, maravajra (natural adhesive) and Antvalakai (gum fruit) was used as weather proof layer to protect the roof from getting heated. It is not popular nowadays because of lack of skill and know-how. Weather proof clay panels are commonly used for insulation. Each clay panel comes with three tube-like holes.

This void helps to avoid heat transfer. Besides, clay does not absorb and retain heat too much. It is laid over the concrete roof with cement mortar.

Foam concrete panels can be used instead of clay panels mentioned above, in a similar manner. The sponge-like perforation in the lightweight concrete block prevents heat transfer to the roof slab.

A layer of 40 mm gravel (railway jelly) laid on the roof can effectively prevent the roof from getting heated. The gravel shades the roof by day. The polygonal surface of the gravel makes minimal contact with the roof. This prevents heat transfer. At night, the gravel gives out the heat to the cool air. The disadvantage of this remedy is that we cannot walk comfortably on the roof to use the terrace.

In Jodhpur, Rajasthan, roofs are painted white with lime. White lime reflects a great deal of heat that will otherwise be absorbed by the roof. However, the top will have to be painted almost every year.

Many manufacturers use the same technology and offer roof coatings that will last for many years. While some coats are white the others are silver in colour to enhance reflectance. The vendors claim 5 degree reduction of heat.

Bituminous sheets with silver coating on one side are available for top insulation of the roof. They not only reflect heat and insulate but also protect the roof from water leakage.

They are about 8 mm thick and have a silver coating on the exposed side. They are glued to the roof with bitumen liquid. Silver coating reflects the heat and the bitumen insulates.

In-built insulation

In buildings under construction, insulation can be built into the roof. Hollow clay panels and light weight foam concrete panels are available to be used as infills in the roof. Such roofs are called ‘filler slab’ roofs.

The technology has 3 benefits. The concrete consumption is decreased, the load on the structure is reduced, and the heat gain in the roof is controlled.

Source The Hindu

Plot summary: Constructing your own house

Plot summary: Constructing your own house

Chennai

V S Rajasekaran talks about how buying a plot near Medavakkam in 1994 and building a house on it, has benefitted him.

While buyers today mostly have the option of apartments or villa to choose from, not many will have the luxury of choosing a plot to build their house upon. But for those who bought homes in Chennai a few decades back, they had the option of buying an empty land and constructing their house on it.

V S Rajasekaran, a government employee, is one among those who bought a plot. “I bought a 2,178 square feet of land near Medavakkam, in 1994. And in 1995, we constructed a 2-BHK house there and moved into it. We have been living there ever since,” he says. The fear of buying a plot or its encroachment always existed. Recounting this struggle, he further adds, “We ensured that the land came with proper patta (legal document for land ownership). Besides, we immediately started construction, which also helped. So, there was no fear.”

Having lived in Chintadripet, as a tenant in a rented house, he was glad to have moved into his own independent house. Medavakkam was far away from the bustle of the city. “It was considered a back of beyond area. There was just one bus-51H, which would ply between Saidapet and Tambaram, which would stop at a bus stop in Medavakkam. Travelling to other parts of the city was difficult. Thankfully, there are innumerable buses today, which help the residents here commute to many parts of Chennai. Also, there are good amenities that have come up in the area, like good hospitals, schools and shopping malls,” he says.

The plot and the construction together did not exceed Rs 3 lakh. Overall, he is glad to have made the investment.

Ranjitha G, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Chennai Metro Rail: Track work on Anna Salai underground line nearing completion

Chennai Metro Rail: Track work on Anna Salai underground line nearing completion

Laying of tracks in the underground section on the Anna Salai has reached the final stages.

Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has floated tenders for the final finishing of track works from AG-DMS to Thousand Lights. The remaining 10km section of phase-1 between Washermenpet and AG-DMS is expected to be ready by December 2018.

While the laying of tracks has been completed, CMRL is now looking for a company to do finishing work on the downline for a stretch of 1.7km.

“Track work is still underway between Central Metro and Government Estate. We are likely to begin trial run by September,” an official said.

Metro trains are operated on ballastless tracks.

Construction of the stations and its entry structure is in full-swing between Government Estate and AG-DMS. One of the entry structures of stations Government Estate and AG-DMS is being integrated with the existing pedestrian subway.

Civil and track work between Washermenpet and Central Metro stations are nearing completion and installation of signal systems have begun.

U Tejonmayam, The Times of India, Chennai

Registration of properties may soon need Aadhaar

Property registrations in Tamil Nadu may no longer be facilitated without Aadhaar card as the state government is mandating the 12-digit unique identification number for the purpose. The move stems out of a recent fraud involving creation of forged Power of Attorney (PoA) for a plot worth Rs 4 crore at Madhavaram of a city-based resident currently residing overseas using impersonated identity proof with the alleged connivance of the sub-registrar.

Registration department officials told TOI a proposal has been sent to the government to make Aadhaar card compulsory for land registrations. “Once Aadhaar is mandated, people should provide their Aadhaar card as an identification proof. Our biometric devices would be linked to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) central server to authenticate that the seller is the real owner of the property,” a registration official said.

It is learned that the proposal is in the advanced stage with the government as it has to amend the Tamil Nadu Registration Rules to make authentication through Aadhaar card for land registrations. Registration department sources said that mandating Aadhaar would help eradicate fraudulent registrations.

According to data available with the state government, Tamil Nadu has a 95% Aadhaar coverage. Of the 7.65 lakh population in the state, 7.27 lakh have Aadhaar cards. “In the cases, where people do not have Aadhaar cards, the procedures of the UIDAI would be followed to facilitate the registrations,” the source said.

In a recent case of fraudulent registration at Madhavaram sub-registrar office, a fake document was created in the name of the original owner of the 4,200 square feet vacant plot such that she has given the PoA to another person. “The forged PoA came to light when encumbrance certificate was applied to sell the property, whose market value is worth Rs 4 crore,” the official added. The case is under central crime branch police for investigation and an FIR has been registered, in which four persons, including George, the sub-registrar of Madhavaram, have been named as accused.

Yogesh Kabirdoss, The Times of India, Chennai

Chennai district likely to expand to 426 sqkm

Chennai district likely to expand to 426 sqkm mid-July

More than seven months after the state announced the expansion of Chennai district, the city’s boundaries are set to get wider by mid July. Areas falling under the purview of Greater Chennai Corporation would be part of the expanded Chennai district to facilitate better coordination between the civic body and district administration for executing various administrative activities.

Revenue department sources said that the procedure to elicit the view of officials on choice of district has been completed in Kancheepuram district. “Government servants have provided their preferred option to either work in Chennai or stick to Kancheepuram district,” a revenue official said. But, the process is still under way in Tiruvallur district. According to plan, 67 revenue villages from Alandur and Sholinganallur Taluks in Kancheepuram and Ambattur, Madavaram, Maduravoyal and Tiruvottiyur taluks in Tiruvallur district would be merged with Chennai district, taking the total number of revenue villages in the expanded city to 122.

Official sources said that the state is expected to make a notification regarding the merger of the urbanised neighbourhood revenue villages mid-July. “It is likely to be on July 15,” a senior revenue department official said.

This expansion would increase the size of Chennai from 176sqkm to 426sqkm covering all 15 zones of Greater Chennai Corporation. The city will have an additional revenue divisional officer from the existing two. The state had missed its April 1 target for issuing the notification due to delay in completing the task of getting the views of government staff working in these taluks on their preferred place of work.

Yogesh Kabirdoss, The Times of India, Chennai

Online registration of properties nets Tamil Nadu 19% more revenue

Online registration of properties nets Tamil Nadu 19% more revenue

There has been a 32% increase in the number of registrations of properties and documents and 19% increase in registration revenue in Tamil Nadu during the period from February 13, 2018, to June 20, 2018, when the registration process went online, over the corresponding period last year.

While the overall number of registration of documents went up from 6.43 lakh to 8.51 lakh, revenue increased from Rs 2,234 crore to Rs 2,660 crore during the last four months when the system went online. The hike in registrations is primarily being viewed as a positive fallout of computerisation of the registration process, introduced on February 13, 2018, said IG registration J Kumaragurubaran.

Among the sub-registrar (SR) offices that saw an exponential growth in revenue are Mylapore – Rs 39 crore to Rs 72 crore – and Saidapet I – Rs 54 crore to Rs 70 crore. In some sub-registrar offices, especially those in and around Chennai like Thiruporur, Anna Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Sembium, Saidapet I and Pallavaram, there is a considerable fall in the number of registrations after the online system was introduced. Developers are of the opinion that the fall in registrations in some sub-registrar offices could be owing to man-made glitches, aimed at showing that the online system was a disaster.

“We find a lot of resistance among SR office staff to the online system. Blaming poor net connectivity for the delay caused in registration of documents, the staff subject customers to untold hardships,” said a developer.

Computerisation of registration process has brought in automation on a large scale. Apart from online booking, even the back office operation is done online at present, said Kumaragurubaran. The department has engaged 500 data entry operators through a contractor to handle the additional workload like scanning images and documents, he said. “Introduction of the online system has increased transparency in administration and accountability of registration department staff. We are keeping a close watch on SR offices that perform below par and from where lots of customer complaints emerge. Wherever people are found wilfully delaying the procedures, strict action will follow,” said Kumaragurubaran.

Though the overall revenue trend looks positive, it is too early to project the growth for the financial year, he said.

The slashing of guideline values across the state a year ago could have played a major role in boosting real estate transactions and registration revenue, said Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India Chennai chapter Vice-President S Sridharan.

Source: Economic Times, Chennai

Demand for retirement homes in Chennai goes up

Demand for retirement homes in Chennai goes up

Chennai

There has been a sudden spurt in the number of enquiries for senior citizen homes in and around Chennai. The growing realisation that it would be better to relocate to a senior citizen community than living alone has been attributed to this surge in demand. Moreover, the number of developers who focus on retirement homes continues to remain limited. The demand from both residents and NRIs is predominantly from the affluent category. The demand for senior citizens homes has been estimated at 5,000 units in the city alone but only less than 10 developers are currently involved in development in the entire state of Tamil Nadu.

Availability of facilities, specifically food service and nursing care in case of emergency are major determinants. Fool-proof security, social infrastructure, ambience and neighbourhood are also tilting factors that nudge people to shift to retirement homes.

The market is predominantly driven by end users and price appreciation is not a major criterion for investing in a retirement home, said a developer involved in the development of such homes.

The sluggish growth in the sector has been attributed to the social stigma that society and relatives may demean the children if the parents shift to senior citizen homes. Delay in delivery is yet another reason as the time span to use the retirement home is short (around 10-12 years only) when compared to buying a regular home. Continuity of services for life by Retirement Community Management Company is cited as yet another reason for the tepid growth. This is because of unavailability of service provider in a retirement community that makes life difficult to live.

“We have come across buyers from the affluent class in the society in our project above SEC A class,” said Ramesh Kumar KAV, CEO & Director, Harmony Eldercare Pvt Ltd.  The retirement community home industry is evolving and will become one of the SBUs for all major real estate companies in a decade, he added.

According to Kumar, retirement home community is a hybrid product of real estate with essential features like facility management, food service and basic healthcare. Hence this has to be marketed differently from the regular real estate projects with trust and credibility as corner stones.

“Innovation is the key to boost the development as well as marketing,” say developers. Deferred management fee model may be adopted for acquisition of retirement homes wherein some part of the building cost will be paid upfront and remaining in a span of ten years. Banks should be involved by using reverse mortgage scheme to take care of increase in monthly maintenance charges due to spiraling inflation. Involvement of residents’ association and integrating with a larger regular residential gated community would further enhance the demand for retirement homes, according to industry sources.

Limited developers undertaking such projects is yet another reason for the surge in demand as stringent criteria are involved right from site location and neighbourhood amenities. Availability of good health care facility within a 5-km radius, good ground water, commuting facilities to nearby markets/temples, designing the buildings with features like same level flooring, wide doors for toilets, ramp at entrance, more lighting level in rooms, rounded corners for all walls, etc. are major criteria to be taken into consideration by the developers, said Kumar.

On the government front, it is felt that there is a need to encourage development of retirement homes by providing fiscal sops on the lines of affordable housing. One of the deterrents is GST. The rate of GST for construction of senior citizen homes should be at par with EWS housing schemes. Similarly, GST at 18% on services provided is very high, say developers considering the limited income at their disposal.

Source: V Nagarajan, Magicbricks Bureau