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