Research shows that the occupants of green buildings are happier, healthier, and more productive, compared to people in conventional buildings
Green buildings are the need of the hour, to conserve resources and to protect the environment from further deterioration. Depleting natural resources and rapid development have led to a damaging effect on the environment. The implementation of green building technologies and materials can reduce the carbon footprint of real estate properties.
What is a green building?
A green building is an environmentally sustainable structure, in sync with nature, which makes efficient use of land, materials, energy, and water while costing less in terms of maintenance charges. A green building enhances energy efficiency, limits water consumption, and makes maximum use of recycled, recyclable, and non-toxic materials. It also generates as little waste as possible during the construction process. A green building involves methods, resources, and skills which are cohesive during construction, with the sole aim of reducing the negative impact on the environment.
What are the features of green buildings?
Green buildings optimize sustainability, not only in their construction but also in their functioning and maintenance. Green constructions integrate knowledge and expertise in making walls, roofs, waste management, rainwater harvesting, and thermal comfort, aimed at saving energy and reducing environmental risk.
Green buildings are energy and water-efficient
Energy efficiency is one of the most prominent features of a sustainable building. A green building should be self-sufficient, in terms of power and water, through renewable energy sources and rainwater harvesting. Apart from solar panels and energy-efficient lights, the building’s design should make optimum use of daylight and have efficient ventilation and enough thermal mass, to regulate internal temperatures. All this reduces the need for artificial lighting and air-conditioning, thereby, reducing the building’s energy consumption.
Connects with nature
Most green buildings have space for greenery, which helps people to connect with nature. Moreover, trees can improve the air quality by removing atmospheric carbon dioxide, absorbing pollution, and producing oxygen. Trees in the surroundings can also lower the temperature. Green buildings can integrate spaces for farming and growing food within the building complex, through kitchen gardens, rooftop gardens, or backyard gardens.
Green building and sustainability
Green buildings make use of local and renewable materials, such as clay, sand, stone, bamboo, etc., to minimize the carbon footprint. Waste materials generated during development are recycled into new materials or composted for reuse. Efficient solid waste management during and after construction is a must. Even after occupation, green buildings offer efficient waste management systems, such as segregation of wet and dry waste, to further reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Advantages of eco-friendly house
Green buildings are beneficial to the environment, to their occupants, and the society at large. Real estate development is one of the biggest consumers of natural resources (water, energy, and raw materials) and generates huge amounts of waste and pollutants. Studies show that real estate consumes 40% of global energy, annually. Green buildings eliminate the brunt of the environment by consuming fewer natural resources. Due to its sustainable design, construction and operations, eco-friendly homes reduce carbon emissions, energy consumption, and waste generation, while conserving water and lowering exposure to toxins.
Low maintenance and operation cost
The designs for green homes are created with energy and water conservation in mind. This helps the owners to save on their water and energy bills. Eco-friendly homes are much cheaper to manage in the long run and over the building’s entire life cycle since they significantly lower water requirements and energy consumption from lighting and air-conditioning.
People who live in green buildings enjoy many health benefits, as materials that are harmful are not used in their construction. For example, eco-friendly construction companies avoid products that release toxic materials. So, the indoor air quality is often much better, as compared to conventional buildings.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), respiratory and lung diseases linked with poor indoor environment quality are three of the top five causes of death. The features of green buildings have a positive impact on health and well-being. A healthy house in a green building offers a natural defense against respiratory illnesses. Research also shows that people who work in green buildings are happier, healthier, and more productive, compared to people who work in conventional buildings. Incorporating the natural environment into buildings has a positive influence on occupants’ psychological, physical and social wellbeing.
Green building council and certifications
When buying a green home, ensure that the building has been certified under one of these systems.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating is a globally recognized system for certifying green buildings. In India, the rating systems that endorse green buildings are the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
Green building concepts in India
The market for green buildings in India is currently at a nascent stage of development, with only 5% of buildings being classified as green. The Indian green buildings market is expected to double, to reach around 10 billion sq ft by 2022, valued between USD 35 billion and USD 50 billion.
According to the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), India has achieved 7.17 billion sq ft of ‘Green Building Footprint’. It says that there are almost 6,000 green projects and over 5.77 lakh acres of large development projects in the country, helping to achieve the 75% of the green building footprint target, two years before the actual target date.
According to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-GBC India survey, Maharashtra ranks first in green buildings in India, followed by Karnataka, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
Increased awareness about green buildings and their long-term benefits, will surely boost green building construction. The COVID-19 pandemic has made people aware of health, well-being, and comfort and homeowners are increasingly preferring to live in buildings that have better ventilation systems, ample daylight, and freshwater.
Under the Paris Climate Agreement, India is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% and carbon by nearly three billion tonnes by 2030. The ‘Housing for All’ plan in India can provide an opportunity to assimilate affordable and green housing and thereby, create a sustainable change to India’s residential market.
To increase green buildings, India needs standardization of norms, attractive incentive schemes and adequate skilled and knowledgeable manpower for green buildings’ construction.