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Climate Change Prompts Urgency on Green Homes written by Kailash Babar, published in The Economic Times. March 3, 2019

We live in a world where the air is polluted, our natural resources fast depleting and the threat of climate change is no longer just a warning but a stark reality. However, what is encouraging that there is also increasing awareness of the situation across the globe and all stakeholders are taking steps to improve the scenario.

 

Energy efficient, environment-friendly Green homes and commercial structures is the new buzz word from homebuyers and office occupiers. In last one year, there has been rising number of homebuyers showing interest in buying not just homes, but green homes.

 

About 10% of buyers are enquiring about homes are now checking if the project offers green homes and has any certification to support the claim, showed an industry study. The Indian green buildings&rsquo market is expected to double and may reach around 10 billion sq ft by 2022, valued between $35 billion-$50 billion. After US, India ranks second in terms of the number of green technology projects and built-up area.

 

Green building involves the practice of using environment friendly and energy efficient processes and technologies throughout the building's lifecycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.

 

Certified green buildings usually results in energy savings of 40-50% and water savings of 20-30% compared to conventional buildings in India. There is an increase in effort to consciously construct homes that are better for the environment, cheaper to operate and also more comfortable and healthier for the families who live in them. These are the new age green and sustainable homes.

 

In such homes, the developer makes a conscious effort to use energy efficient material so that the customer gets more value for this investment and at the same time assists natural conservation. The concept of green home is not based on green environment, but it is related to the effective use of environmental resources such as power, water and pollutionfree garbage.

 

A power resource should be natural either solar or windmill. Constructed Wells, Rivers, and Dams are the major water resources in village areas, which supply the water to metropolitan cities. So rainwater harvesting and recharging are the techniques used to keep water level adequate. Pollution free garbage means the use of garbage for composting, power generation or for active carbon generation. Control of heat will be done by proper insulation method in Green Homes and focus will be on the plantation, optimum utilization of natural and local resources.

 

All this makes green home viable and cost-effective being the sustainable ones. It is important to protect the environment and preserve natural resources for future hence Green Buildings is the need of the hour.

 

Countries like India, which are experiencing record-breaking levels of urbanisation with over 900 million new urban residents expected by 2050, have significant challenges on two frontsswiftly developing necessary infrastructure while minimising the ecological impact of such development.

 

India&rsquos nationally determined contributions to the Paris Climate Accords require a decrease of up to 35% of her annual CO2 emissions by 2030. In the context of development, construction and its allied sectors are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Since the scale of development cannot be reduced without imposing significant social burdens, the only route forward involves a swift mainstreaming of sustainable&mdashor Green&mdashmaterials, techniques and principles into the construction and real estate industries.

 

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group has developed EDGE, a tool that empowers developers and builders to quickly identify the most cost effective ways to reduce energy use, water use and embodied energy in materials.

 

Green construction, measured with ratings systems like IFC&rsquos EDGE, significantly reduces the resource requirements of buildings and the embodied energy of construction, which reduces Green House Gas (GHG) emissions directly through lower embodied energy costs, and indirectly via reduced resource requirements and generation costs.

 

In cities like Mumbai, the civic administration too offers incentives to such projects by way of cheaper property tax. In certain cases, they are known to offer a rebate between 2.5% to 5% of the property tax. Allowing the rainwater to percolate into the ground can also help gradually increase the water table in the area.

 

Instances like these need to be emulated as the government needs to take ownership to create awareness and be an enabler in the process by creating policies like these to enhance demand for green homes.

 

Convened by the IFC, Sustainable Housing Leadership Consortium (SHLC) is a unique consortium, the first across the globe, which has taken up this initiative. This is a first-of-its-kind, voluntary, private sector-led initiative working towards mainstreaming green homes in India.

 

IFC has convened the consortium under the Eco-cities program supported by the European Union, in 2016. SHLC has support and participation of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

 

SHLC is collectively committed to making 100% of its new housing portfolio green, thus contributing 110 million sq ft of green housing by 2020. For the citizens of India, this will translate into an estimated saving of 198 million kWh per year (which could potentially power over 1 lakh additional households) and 108 billion litres in water savings. It would also reduce India&rsquos carbon footprint by around 0.2 million metric tons of CO2, helping in making progress towards the national goal of becoming a burgeoning low-carbon economy.

 

To achieve its aims, SHLC is identifying scalable, efficient technology that brings down the costs of going green. SHLC is also working closely with the government to create a supportive policy environment.

 

Though, initial expenses for a green home are marginally high but in long run it turns out economical as your ongoing maintenance charges like water and electrical charges are drastically reduced. The biggest advantage is conservation of nature and environment and the legacy that we will leave for our next generation.

 

Green building benefits go beyond economics and the environment, and have been shown to bring positive social impacts too. Many of these benefits are around the health and well-being of people who work in green offices or live in green homes.