Interview with Mr Sundaresan Raghupathy, Executive Director, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)
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Q: What is the present status of green buildings in India?
> The journey of green building movement in India has all through been exciting and inspiring. 21st century national green building movement was triggered off when CII-Godrej Green Building Centre building in Hyderabad-Indian Green Building Council’s (IGBC) headquarter became India’s first Platinum rated green building in 2003. Earlier in 2001, CII-Godrej GBC building was conceived, designed and constructed as a Platinum rated Green Building. Since then, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), with the support of all the stakeholders and by adopting a multi-pronged strategy, has ushered in a green building movement in India. With a modest beginning of 20,000 square feet of green built-up area of the IGBC headquarters in 2003, today, India with over three billion square feet is the second country in the world with largest green building footprint. IGBC is facilitating about 90 percent of the Indian market. This phenomenal growth has been made possible by involving all the key stakeholders including – the Government, architects, designers, builders & developers nodal agencies corporate, institutions, product manufacturers, suppliers, facility managers, since the inception of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) in 2001.
Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) within a short period of time has clearly demonstrated that constructing green buildings are technically feasible and economically viable. This important proposition is encouraging stakeholders to adopt the IGBC Green Building Rating System.
Today, the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has fully indigenised all the following 10 green building rating systems and is well poised to develop world class green building standards & practices.

1. IGBC Green Homes
2. IGBC Green New Buildings
3. IGBC Green Schools
4. IGBC Green Existing Buildings
5. IGBC Green Factory Buildings
6. IGBC Green Townships
7. IGBC Green Mass Rapid Transit System
8. IGBC Green Landscape
9. IGBC Green Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
10. IGBC Green Interiors

In days to come, IGBC will play a more important role in further accelerating the green building movement in the country. IGBC aspires to facilitate 10 billion square feet of green building floor space by 2022 (75th year of independent India).

Q: What types of projects are leading the way in green building and construction in India?
> Today, every building type in India is going the green way. When CII-Godrej GBC building became India’s first Platinum rated green building in early 2000, it was the Corporate & IT sectors that initially adopted and promoted the green building path.  As the green building movement progressed and with IGBC’s steady engagement with all the stakeholders, today various types of buildings – Airports, Banks, Commercial Buildings, Government Buildings, Homes, Hospitals, IT Parks, Metros, Malls and Schools are adopting IGBC Standards.
Residential projects with over 1,345 green building projects are leading the way, followed by other types of projects. Over 900,000 dwelling units amounting to 1.2 billion square feet are adopting IGBC Green Homes Rating System. Furthermore, infrastructure projects like Airports and Metro Rails are going green with IGBC. IGBC has launched ‘Green Mass Rapid Transit Rating System’ – world’s first comprehensive rating for rail based MRTS System, aiming to promote safer, cleaner and healthier transit for millions of commuters. Metro Rail projects in Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad are adopting IGBC rating. Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) could facilitate stakeholders to incorporate innovative and futuristic technologies, as well as design structures which are ecologically superior and economically viable. Indian GBC aspires that the places we live, study, work, commute and play – all should go the green way and in the process to facilitate a greener and healthier India.

Q: What are the major drivers and barriers to green building development in India?
> In the early stages of green building movement, challenges were many. However with the active participation and support of all the stakeholders, IGBC could showcase how challenges can be converted into new growth opportunities.

Awareness and Capacity Building
With the educational and training programmes conducted by IGBC, now India has excellent professionals deeply involved in the design of green buildings. Thus far, IGBC has trained more than 25,000 professionals and this happens on a monthly basis, spread all over the country.

Availability of Materials
The green building movement has enabled a wonderful market transformation in the country. Most of the materials are today available within the country. However, India needs more manufacturers involved in green building materials. It is estimated that by the year 2025, the market value for green building products and technologies will be about USD 300 billion dollars. There is a great opportunity for those involved in design and construction. A host of green technologies and materials like – waterless urinals, CO2 sensors, VOC paints and coatings, high performance glass, wall and roof insulation, High CoP chillers, etc., are today widely accepted and being manufactured locally.

Cost of Green Buildings/Payback Period
At the initial stages of the green building movement (2003-2006), the incremental cost to incorporate green building features was 12 to 18 percent. Today, the incremental cost of a commercial green building has come down to 3 to 5 percent. The additional costs get paid back in about 2 to 3 years with substantial reduction in operational costs. This important proposition is encouraging stakeholders go the green way. This in the process has also opened new market opportunities for green building products and technologies. As a result of concerted efforts, the majority of the stakeholders are convinced that green buildings make good business sense and are embracing green as a way of life. A clear testimony is the significant spread and growth of green buildings across the five climatic zones of the country.

Q: In what ways is the local government promoting ‘green’ building construction in India?
> CII-Godrej GBC Building – India GBC’s headquarters is an excellent success story of Public-Private Partnership. It has received excellent support from the Government in conceiving, designing and constructing the headquarters as a Platinum-rated green building. India GBC adopts a multi-pronged strategy in working with authorities at different levels – central, state and local governments. IGBC works closely with the government to provide policy incentives to adopt green buildings and build capacity of government personnel. As a result of concerted efforts, the following incentives are also offered to IGBC green building projects:

• Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India provides faster environmental clearance to projects pre-certified by IGBC

• Additional FAR (Floor Area Ratio) are offered by the following Urban Local Bodies:

Jaipur Development Authority (JDA)
• Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA)
• New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA),
• Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA)
• Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA)

• Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is offering 10 percent of additional FAR to IGBC pre-certified projects

• Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is offering concessional interest rate for IGBC – rated green buildings in the MSME sector

Policy incentives offered by the Government are encouraging stakeholders to raise the bar of performance and design structure which are more innovative, people-friendly and ecologically superior. Today, over 100 government projects are adopting green building rating systems. Government buildings including Indira Paryavaran Bhawan of the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi; New Paryavaran Bhawan of Gujarat Pollution Control Board; IGP Office in Gulbarga; and Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation (KSPHC) are going the green way.

Q: What kind of future do you see for the green buildings in India over the next five years?
> In the days to come, India will witness exponential growth in the building sector. There will be growing needs for office space, housing, infrastructure, etc. Furthermore, IGBC foresees that the next 10 to 20 years will be the decade of integrated sustainable built environment. This presents an excellent opportunity for designing all urban habitats as green from day one and influence the way of life of people who live in such cities. We in IGBC foresee a tectonic shift in the way buildings are conceived, designed and constructed. Upcoming buildings will be a perfect blend of ancient architectural practices of India and modern technological innovations. India will successfully demonstrate buildings where tradition and modernity co-exist and in the process offer world-class green buildings.  IGBC with the support of all the stakeholders will continue to play a more important role in accelerating the green building movement in the country. It aspires to facilitate 10 billion square feet of green building floor space by 2022.

Some of the trends which India would witness include:

'Green, Smart and Healthy Cities’

'Green, Smart and Healthy Cities' would soon be a reality. It would be a perfect combination of modern technological innovations and sustainable practices. Green Smart City will facilitate the following:

• Enhanced quality of life
• Efficient use of resources
• Efficient land use planning
• Habitat preservation & restoration
• Efficient mobility management

Green Schools
IGBC’s Green School initiative will facilitate and promote green practices among young people and raise awareness about the planet earth. IGBC would be working closely with the corporate to adopt schools in their vicinity and support schools in implementing the Green School Process.

Green Affordable Housing
IGBC aspires that every Indian should find his shelter in a green home, where there is better quality of life, enhanced ventilation, etc. As part of this initiative, the Council is working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India in developing a rating system for affordable green housing. This in turn will facilitate designing building structures, which are not only affordable but also sustainable.

As the famous quote goes: “The best way to predict the future is to design it”, in the coming decades, over 40 to 50 billion square feet of green building footprint would be added. In light of this, all the upcoming structures should be designed in the most environment-friendly way, which in turn will go a long way to ensure a greener and healthier planet earth.

Mr Sundaresan Raghupathy is a speaker at the upcoming Main Conference of the WorldGBC Congress 2015 Hong Kong (29-30 Oct). He will talk about Green Affordable Houses – Indian Experience at the plenary session themed on Housing Design for Sustainable Community.