Green is the most fashionable color these days. Everyone wants to go green. Just that some people wonder how to do that. So we thought of writing articles on going green and we start with green buildings. The concept of green buildings, in simple words is reduced footprint on environment during the whole lifecycle of building and its use. A building’s lifecycle is from construction to stay period (operation) to demolition. Maintenance and renovation activities are also considered sometimes. Environmental footprint is reduced by three broad ways, one by increasing water and electricity efficiency, two by reducing the amount of wastes coming from building and three by making sure that the construction material is environmentally preferable, non toxic and the overall indoor air quality is good. All of this has to be accomplished without compromising on comfort and living conditions.
Why Green Building?
Green choices are pretty much similar to investments; it gives short term as well as long-term returns. In short term there are savings in energy bills, better availability of water and cleaner living environment. In long term it can contribute to human health, better global environment and the country’s economy. As per epa.gov, the benefits of green buildings include:
1. Environmental benefits
- Enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems
- Improve air and water quality
- Reduce waste streams
- Conserve and restore natural resources
2. Economic benefits
- Reduce operating costs
- Create, expand, and shape markets for green product and services
- Improve occupant productivity
- Optimize life-cycle economic performance
3. Social benefits
- Enhance occupant comfort and health
- Heighten aesthetic qualities
- Minimize strain on local infrastructure
- Improve overall quality of life
Benefits of green buildings far exceed, as they are great for the environment and also for our health. According to capitalmarketspartnership.com, green buildings in USA have resulted in not only 13% savings on energy bills but also increase in 27% people satisfaction. Green buildings movement is deeply embedded into the solutions to few of the biggest problems of modern society.
How to achieve Green Building?
There are 5 things that need to be taken care of to achieve green building:
- High Energy Efficiency: Increased energy efficiency means lower electricity bills with similar comfort levels. Increasing energy efficiency simply means making 1 unit of electricity work harder. It also means using renewable sources of energy. This results in electricity bills running much lower for similar comfort levels. For a country with perennial energy deficit, saving one unit is simply equivalent to generating one unit extra. When everyone saves energy, nation is saved from creating an extra coal power plant. There have also been studies; primarily in US that suggest that energy efficient buildings enjoy higher resale value.
- High Water Efficiency: Increased water efficiency means lesser dependence on tankers during summers. By making efficient use of water you can potentially achieve 24 hours water supply all throughout the year. Water efficiency is very similar to energy efficiency in meaning. One of the definitions on wikipedia states, “To do tasks with minimal amount of water required”. Increasing water efficiency means lesser dependence on tankers during summers. We can achieve potentially 24 hrs supply throughout the year, if everyone increases the water efficiency in the city. As the impacts of climate change are becoming evident, it is becoming more important to reduce our water usage.
- Better Waste Management: Better waste management means cleaner surroundings and some energy generated through it. Not only does it make surroundings look good, any energy generated through it can also be used. Better management of e-waste and toxic waste also protects the environment. It is important to segregate waste into organic and recyclable waste.
- Environmentally Friendly and Non Toxic building material: Although this is an important aspect that needs to be looked at while constructing a building, it can be important even if one has purchased an apartment and is trying to set it up. It is important to use non-toxic, recyclable and reusable material while setting up a house. Using non-toxic paint, bamboo, recycled stone and metal, etc adds to the green value of the building.
- Indoor Air Quality: As per Wikipedia: “Indoor Air Quality seeks to reduce volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and other air impurities such as microbial contaminants”. This can be achieved by proper ventilation, controlling indoor moisture and using non-toxic construction material.
And finally no building is green enough without enough tinge of green color around it. So plant as many plants and trees around the building to actually make it look green.
Green Building Codes and Certifications available in India
For benchmarking and standardizing green buildings, various ratings have been developed and codified into standards. Here are some of them:
- LEED: developed by US green building council is one of the oldest. They rate buildings as certified, silver, gold or platinum.
- IGBC (Indian Green Building Council): IGBC is responsible of LEED ratings in India. List of Buildings in India with LEED ratings is here, alongwith the rating each has received.
- TERI Griha: GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) is another rating system completely developed in India by TERI. It rates buildings on various criteria and aggregates these scores as one to five stars.
About the Author:
Abhishek Jain is an Alumnus of IIT Bombay with almost 10 years of experience in corporate before starting Bijli Bachao in 2012. His passion for solving problems moved him towards Energy Sector and he is keen to learn about customer behavior towards Energy and find ways to influence the same towards Sustainability. More from this author.