Enhancing Efficiency in Indian Building

“The GRIHA rating system takes a holistic approach toward sustainable action intended to mitigate climate change, a significant aspect of which is: reduction in GHG emissions from the construction and operation of India’s building stock”, asserted Sanjay Seth, CEO, GRIHA Council in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW SmartCities World. Excerpts below:

Would you please share with us on what role the government policies play in promoting sustainable development and growth of green building movement in India? In this context where does GRIHA council fit in?

Several government policies have come into play in recent times that encourage, incentivize and, where necessary, mandate the implementation of sustainability principles and practices in the construction sector. The Energy Conservation Act led to the formation of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), which formulated the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC). It targets building energy efficiency and covers minimum requirements for building envelope performance as well as for mechanical systems and equipment in order to achieve energy efficiency in the different climatic zones across India. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and clearance. This is a mandatory requirement for all buildings with a built-up area exceeding 20,000 square meters. Such projects have to be appraised by the MoEFCC’s Environmental Appraisal Committees (EACs) and the State Environmental Appraisal Committees (SEACs). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has initiated several programs focusing on the utilization of renewable energy sources in buildings. 

The Sustainable Habitat Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change was launched on 30th June 2008. It encompasses an extensive range of measures to be pursued as key components for sustainable development and proposes strategies aimed at promoting efficiency in residential and commercial sector through various measures such as changes in building bye laws, capacity building, research and development in new technologies, education and awareness, management of municipal solid wastes, and promotion of urban public transport. 

BEE has several programs to set labels and energy efficient standards for appliances. In a move to manage energy demands, it has made it mandatory for a host of electrical appliances to have a star rating for energy efficiency. As India’s only indigenously developed rating system completely tuned to the climatic variations, architectural practices and existing practices of construction, the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) rating system considers the provisions of the National Building Code, the Energy Conservation Building Code and other IS codes as minimum benchmarks that must be met. 

With the recent trend and development on Climate Change in India, which is posing as a major challenge, please share with us how is GRIHA attempting to mitigate climate change and controlling GHG emissions in the country?

The GRIHA rating system takes a holistic approach toward sustainable action intended to mitigate climate change, a significant aspect of which is: reduction in GHG emissions from the construction and operation of India’s building stock. The construction sector, while it is one of the significant contributors to the nation’s GDP, is also responsible for about 22% of the total annual emission of carbon dioxide generated in India. The Government of India, in response to Conference of the Parties’ (COP) decisions 1/CP.19 and 1/CP.20, recognized GRIHA as a national tool to evaluate GHG reduction from habitats. Given India's commitment under the Paris Agreement and the Kigali Agreement, the surge in the usage of HVAC systems in India needs to be coupled with the potential to embed energy efficiency features and use of cost-effective low-GWP refrigerants. The National Building Code has requirements on the use of zero-ODP and low-GWP refrigerants. GRIHA makes this mandatory. In addition, GRIHA projects, on average, target 30–50% reduction in energy consumption during the design phase and up to 40% reduction in end-use energy consumption, enabling massive subsequent reduction in carbon emissions.

What are the current trends and developments that are coming up in modern days green building? 

With greater awareness and sensitization, major strides are being made in terms of technology that has the potential to change the way we design and operate green buildings. Communicable smart metering and monitoring systems capable of tracking energy and water consumption through web-hosted portals are becoming increasingly prevalent. These systems can report hourly data reporting in near-real-time; illustrate energy mix breakdown and consumption patterns; establish water consumption patterns from various sources; set consumption limits; and draw comparisons with historical trends and benchmark data. In keeping with GRIHA’s motto “What gets measured gets managed”, this increased availability of real-time consumption data has engendered a growing emphasis on the operations and maintenance aspect of green buildings. No matter how sustainable a building may have been in its design and construction, it can only remain that way if it is operated responsibly and maintained at optimum functionality. The O&M phase involves practices such as recycling and air quality enhancement. There has been a marked shift toward educating building operators and occupants in the effective implementation of sustainable strategies. Other trends that are coming to the forefront include Life Cycle Cost (LCC) and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). 

What regulation and policies are newly laid in this context, which has in a way brought in ease of doing business in the sector?

Multiple initiatives by the Central and State governments have encouraged and incentivized the construction of green buildings.  On the policy side, the MoEF&CC recently notified new Solid Waste Management Rules to replace ones which had remained unchanged for many years. The new rules have mandated source segregation in order to channelize the waste-to-wealth efforts by recovery, reuse and recycle. Large generators are required to prepare an environment management plan detailing the environmental issues that can stem from the storage, transportation, disposal and reuse of construction and demolition waste. They must also get a waste management plan approved by a local authority before starting any construction, demolition or renovation work. Furthermore, they are required to pay a stipulated charge to service providers for the collection and transport of waste and to a facility for processing and disposal. Local authorities in turn are required to use 10-20% material obtained from construction and demolition waste in municipal and government contracts, and provide incentives to waste generators who process and recycle their waste in-situ.

What are the major challenges that emerge in the growth of green building development in India? What methods of mitigation do you adopt in such case?

A major challenge is the lack of awareness about sustainability and about the precarious implications of unabated climate change. General apathy, industrial inertia and the unavailability of sustainably sourced materials are also major obstacles toward changing the way things are done. Greater, coordinated efforts in spreading awareness and further strengthening of policies and mandatory adoption of “green” initiatives can help address these issues.  GRIHA Council conducts extensive training programs to educate professionals working in the green building sector. It has initiated the Paryavaran Rakshak program with the intent of sensitizing and educating citizens on ways to minimize resource wastage and optimize consumption of natural resources. Paryavaran Rakshak focusses on increasing engagement through short games on energy efficiency, water and waste management, and environmental sustainability. In order to assist building professionals in selecting the products which help meet the GRIHA parameters, the GRIHA Council, in association with TERI, launched the GRIHA Product Catalogue with the intention of providing information about products which meet GRIHA requirements to architects, engineers, builders and other professionals for use in their green-rated buildings. This has helped in increasing the availability of green building products and provided clarity to building professionals, who are often unsure about whether a certain product meets GRIHA requirements or not. 

Would you elucidate to us about GRIHA’s partnership with corporate and local government bodies/institutions for green ratings and how has it impacted its year-on-year growth?

Many State Governments have announced benefits for adopting the GRIHA rating. These benefits range from additional FAR, discounted development premiums, fast-track environmental clearance, reductions in permit fee, subsidies on capital investment, and property tax rebate. 

  • Urban Development & Housing Department, Government of Jharkhand: 3%, 5% & 7% additional FAR shall be awarded to all building uses (except plotted residential) for achieving a 3-star, 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating respectively.
  • Housing & Urban Planning Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh: Free-of-cost 5% additional FAR for projects for complying with 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating
  • Building Code 2017, Government of Haryana: 3%, 6%, 9%, 12% or 15% additional FAR shall be awarded to all building uses (except plotted residential) for achieving a 1-star, 2-star, 3-star, 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating respectively
  • Department of Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal: 10% additional FAR for green buildings
  • Jaipur Development Authority: Free-of-cost 5% additional FAR for projects for complying with 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development, Government of Punjab: Free-of-cost 5% additional FAR for projects for complying with 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating
  • Town & country planning department, Himachal Pradesh: Free-of-cost 10% additional FAR for projects complying with 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating 
  • Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC): 5%, 10% and 15% discounted development premium for achieving a 3-star, 4-star or 5-star GRIHA Rating respectively
  • Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC): 5%, 10% and 15% discounted development premium for achieving a 3-star, 4-star or 5-star SVAGRIHA rating respectively
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Government of India issued a memorandum to facilitate fast-track environmental clearance for GRIHA pre-certified projects.
  • Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation: Discount of 10% on property tax for homeowners in GRIHA-rated green building projects
  • Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation: Discount of 5%, 8%, 10%, 12% and 15% on property tax for home owners of 1-star, 2-star, 3-star, 4-star and 5-star rated SVAGRIHA green building projects respectively
  • Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department, Andhra Pradesh: 20% Reduction on Permit Fees for all GRIHA-rated buildings
  • Industrial Development Policy 2015–2020 by Government of Andhra Pradesh: 25% subsidy of total fixed capital investment of the project (excluding cost of land, land development, preliminary and pre-operative expenses and consultancy fees) for the industries which will obtain green rating as per GRIHA with a ceiling of Rs 50 crore 

In the private sector, GRIHA has signed MOUs with major players such as Vatika Group, IREO and Conscient Group to ensure that all their upcoming constructions are GRIHA-rated. These partnerships have helped GRIHA establish a sizable footprint across the country with over 1,733 registered projects and 52,502,869 square meters of sustainable built-up space.