Green buildings are gaining ground in the real estate market. Soon, there is every possibility that such buildings would become a norm one day. According to a recent study, India has emerged as a leading destination for green buildings. The country has implemented a number of home-rating schemes and building codes, which has opened up a wide range of opportunities in construction, architecture and engineering design, building materials and equipment manufacture. The concept of green buildings is not just a simple trend that’s gaining momentum in real estate construction but it is also an approach and its importance would only continue to rise. The benefits of green buildings are immense for the end users in the long-run with the net energy savings being 20-30%, water savings being 30-50% in both landscape and bathrooms, better air quality in the surroundings, excellent day lighting due to design features, image enhancement of the project and reduced carbon footprint.
If home buyers do adequate research they can understand that the maintenance cost of Green buildings are less than normal flats. Green buildings are usually constructed to build healthier and safe environment. Green buildings incorporate several sustainable features such as efficient use of water, energy-efficient and eco-friendly environment, use of renewable energy and recycled/recyclable materials, effective use of landscapes, effective control and building management systems and improved indoor quality for health and comfort. According to Rajat Malhotra, COO (West Asia) IFM, Jones Lang LaSalle India, many developers are incorporating sustainable features in their projects to get them certified. Rating systems provide a tool to enable comparison of buildings on their sustainability credentials.
Looking at the current scenario it can be said that that smart, sustainable green buildings have become a necessity in today’s life to protect our environment. Though green homes are little expensive they end up saving money in the long run.
Proper planning can help to reduce the cost of green buildings. As costs for sustainable materials and products drop, building green is really the most cost-effective tool of design and construction.
The biggest energy decision in a new building is the building shape and orientation. The building must be oriented to take advantage of day lighting, passive heating or cooling, and naturally ventilated spaces, to name a few. With the right orientation, better energy efficiency is achieved right from the design stage.
Before constructing the right building architecture and building products, one should keep in mind that an accurate construction plan could help save energy and water efficiently. At a time when climate change and high energy prices pose some of the greatest challenges, it is critical that construction of buildings be done taking into account a systems-based approach to meet the goal of energy efficiency and a healthy environment.
Roof gardens help reduce overall temperature of the building which in turn reduces energy consumption. The primary cause of heat build-up in developed areas is due to the absorption of solar radiation by built structures and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Studies indicate that plant surfaces as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than 4-5 degrees Celsius above the ambient and are sometimes cooler. This then translates into a cooling of the environment.
Further, many people are of the opinion that green buildings are expensive. “The incorporation of basic green features, if done right at the preliminary design phase, will not impact the overall initial project costs by much. Typically, the increase in cost will be between 5-15 %. Some project developers claim no increase in initial project cost because of diligent planning.
Benefits of green buildings can be realised fully if two points are understood in depth. The first being that the returns must be calculated on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) ie. initial cost plus recurring O&M costs, rather than only on the ‘initial costing’. Typically more than 90% of the TCO of a building is attributable to its operating and maintenance cost. Energy accounts for 50 % of the O&M cost. Green buildings help reduce energy spends significantly. This itself ensures that the initial investment is recovered within a typical period of five years. The second being that some of the green building benefits like improved indoor environment quality, improved productivity are intangible, which affects the ROI. These should be accounted for while formulating the cost and benefit analysis.
The author is a Real Estate Professional