Green Building

Green Building

Peter Riddoch, CEO, DAMAC Properties, Dubai

“Green” or “sustainable” building involves the use of building practices and materials that use resources as efficiently as possible, while constructing healthier, more energy-efficient, and environment friendly buildings.

Green Building
The practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources such as energy, water and materials, while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better design, construction, operation and maintenance is the focus of all real estate developers globally this decade.

The reason for building greener homes is really quite important. We need to live more lightly on the earth, because the degradation of our environment is compromising not only our survival, but the survival of most other living beings on this planet. We can no longer ignore the impact we have on the earth’s ecosystems. The way we live, the choices we make in providing for our needs, will have an enormous influence on the quality of life of those who will follow us. Now is the time to take responsibility for the consequences of our life styles!

How we build our homes, both in design and choice of materials, is one of the most significant ways that we can affect our future. Much of the concern boils down to the use of energy. How much energy is embodied in the building materials themselves, in their transportation and assembling? Then once the home is built, how much energy does it consume to keep its inhabitants comfortable? Consumption of energy has a direct influence on environmental quality, because of the inherent pollution through greenhouse gasses and other emissions. Then there is the loss of natural beauty, ecosystems and basic resources associated with the extraction of fossil fuels and building materials. The combined effect of this is staggering.

Quite a bit of attention has been focused on the issue of green building materials. What makes a given product “green”? How do you evaluate the relative greenness of different products? How do you find green products? More important, perhaps, manufacturers are asking, “How can we make our products greener?”

Green Building
An article in the Harvard Business Review predicts that green construction will become a mainstream technology in the next 5 to 10 years, as a growing market helps to drive down the cost of green building products, and building owners become increasingly aware of the economic, health, and environmental advantages of green building. The impact of green building going mainstream will be as profound on commercial real estate as the invention of central air conditioning in the 1950s and 1960s, or elevators in the 19th century, according to the article.

A natural building is usually on a smaller scale and tends to focus on the use of natural materials that are available locally. Other commonly used terms include sustainable design and green architecture.

Green Building
The related concepts of sustainable development and sustainability are integral to green building. Effective green building can lead to i) reduced operating costs by increasing productivity and using less energy and water, ii) improved public and occupant health due to improved indoor air quality, and iii) reduced environmental impacts. Practitioners of green building often seek to achieve not only ecological but also aesthetic harmony between a structure and its surrounding - natural and built environment.

With the IGBC having indigenized the LEED rating called as ‘LEED India,’ Green Building in India is poised for a major growth; the visible impacts and investments in this direction has moved up distinctly over the years. The Indian Government has also launched a massive project called the ‘Indian greening project’ to increase the green cover in India to over 33 percent by 2012.

After posting an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% through 2006, the market for green, or environment friendly, building materials is expected to continue growing from almost $2.2 billion in 2006 to $4.7 billion in 2011, although at a slightly slower rate of 17%, according to Green Building Materials in the U.S., a new report from market research publisher SBI.

Green building bring together a vast array of practices and techniques to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of buildings on the environment and human health. It often emphasizes taking advantage of renewable resources, e.g., using sunlight through passive solar, active solar, and photovoltaic techniques and using plants and trees through green roofs, rain gardens, and for reduction of rainwater run-off. Many other techniques, such as using packed gravel for parking lots instead of concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of ground water, are used as well.

Green Building
Building materials typically considered to be ‘green’ include rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, lumber from forests certified to be sustainably managed, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable. Building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally to the building site to minimize the energy embedded in their transportation.

Effective green buildings are more than just a random collection of environment-friendly technologies. They require careful, systemic attention to the full life cycle impacts of the resources embodied in the building and to the resource consumption and pollution emissions over the building’s complete life cycle.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) plays an active role in promoting sustainability in the Indian construction sector. The CII is the central pillar of the Indian Green Building Council or IGBC. The IGBC has licesensed the LEED Green Building Standard from the U.S. Green Building Council and currently is responsible for certifying LEED-New Construction and LEED-Core and Shell buildings in India. All other projects are certified through the U.S. Green Building Council. There are many energy efficient buildings in India, situated in a variety of climatic zones. Many architects from India are adopting green building techniques.

Green Building
Green Building offers a range of economic and environmental benefits such as 30 to 40 per cent reduction in operation cost, green corporate image, healthy and safety of building occupants, enhances occupants’ comfort, improves productivity of occupants, incorporates latest techniques and technologies, and so on.

Considering the tremendous potential available for green materials and equipment, India would be the destination for several manufacturers; helping real estate developers like us go green. This has, of course, coupled with favourable policies of the government that provide the right impetus for advancing the Green Building movement in India.

NBMCW April 2009

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