In India, many people dream of buying a home. However, one must also consider the low air quality index (AQI), which reaches severe levels due to high pollution, especially in metro cities. The country's reliance on fossil fuels and lack of environmental regulations have contributed to this problem, with air quality levels often exceeding safe limits. However, the real estate industry believes that green buildings aren't only a solution but will ultimately be the only real solution for countries like India.
What Are Green Buildings?
Green buildings are designed and constructed using environmentally friendly technologies and processes. The goal of green buildings is to minimise environmental impact throughout their entire life cycle, from construction to operation and maintenance.
According to Anarock data, green buildings can reduce energy consumption by 20-30%, water consumption by 30-50%, and significantly reduce waste generation through extensive recycling.
Apart from the obvious benefits to the ecosystem and biodiversity, the use of green building practices leads to lower electricity consumption, better health and overall well-being, and enhanced productivity in the case of commercial buildings.
How Are Green Buildings Different From Regular Buildings?
A green building and a conventional building may not look very different from the outside. However, the parameters used to award green certifications are the best way to differentiate between green and regular buildings. It includes:
Pradeep Aggarwal, Founder and Chairman, of Signature Global, says, "Green buildings substantially increase savings through 32% energy savings, 52% water savings, and 53% less embodied energy in materials. The use of toxin-free materials and the design of green buildings are such that energy consumption gets reduced without compromising the occupant's comfort. These buildings will have better ventilation, natural light, and lower indoor pollution."
The Scenario of Green Buildings in India
The US Green Building Council's annual report ranked India third in the world for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) of green buildings in 2021, with 146 certified buildings and spaces totaling nearly 2.8 million gross square metres.
China came in first with more than 14 million gross square mt., while Canada certified more than 3.2 million gross square mt.
LEED is the most well-known green building rating system in the world. LEED in India is supervised by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which aims to accelerate the implementation of green buildings throughout India.
There are several programs and agencies across different countries that define, categorise, and certify green buildings, such as LEED (the US), BREEAM (the UK), CASBEF (Japan), and DGNB (Germany). In India, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) are at the forefront of promoting green building programs and certifications.
Is it Financially Beneficial to Buy a Flat in a Green Building?
In India, the price has always been an important consideration for first-time homebuyers; many do so even today. According to Anarock's data, green homes cost at least 10-15% more, depending on various amenities and factors. Therefore, green housing still remains an elitist concept and option in India rather than a necessity. The price differences between certified green homes and non-green homes are significant for budget-conscious first-time homebuyers.
However, this additional cost is an investment toward future savings. Green homes save between 30-40% on energy and water bills. According to real estate experts, the higher costs associated with developing green buildings are a major disadvantage for developers of affordable and mid-range projects, as these costs are pushed onto buyers. That's why the current demand for green housing comes more from financially settled buyers instead of first-time homebuyers.
The Reality of Green Buildings in India
In January-October 2022, India recorded four silver-certified buildings, 49 gold-certified buildings, and 82 platinum-certified buildings across the top seven leading markets.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, fast-tracks environmental clearance for green building projects that have been pre-certified and/or provisionally certified by IGBC.
Some state governments like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal offer additional floor area ratios. While other state governments offer discounts on property tax, provide subsidies on fixed capital investment, etc.
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