Indian metros slated to be future green hubs

Written by Businesswire India | New Delhi, September 30: | Updated: Sep 30 2008, 21:56pm hrs
The growing global environment crisis has fuelled the need to adopt the concept of sustainability sooner than later. Real estate activity, being one of the prime contributors to energy consumption and usage of natural resources, is doing its bit via the development of green buildings.

Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, in its research report titled, Greenomics, states that the Indian construction industry is growing at 10% as compared to the world average of 5.2%, and that the country is expected to develop 110 million sq ft of green space over the next few years. The report focuses on the cost benefit analysis for green buildings. One of the major findings from the analysis is that a green building aiming for LEED (Leadership in Environment and Energy Design) GOLD certification can recover its additional costs in a payback period of 2-3 years.

Anuj Puri, Chairman and Country Head, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, says, The challenges faced inherent in the development of green buildings in India are the extra investment in an unstable real estate market scenario, and the difficulty in sourcing green building material and sustainability consultants. Extra investments can be recovered in the medium-to-long term from the non-sustainability discount, which gives green buildings a higher rental value than conventional buildings in their vicinity, and via the carbon credits that can be earned from the reduced GHG emissions.

In short, sustainable development has a triple impact on bottom-line results, as it considers environmental and social development along with economic development. The tangible benefits of green buildings accrue from the operational cost savings, reduced carbon emission credits and high rentals or capital values. Green Buildings are more energy efficient, consume less water and reduce construction waste. The intangible benefits are generated from a healthy living environment and better working conditions within the building.

Most green buildings in India are coming up in Mumbai and Chennai. Mumbai, being Indias financial hub, is more preferred by large MNCs, especially financial conglomerates. Similarly, Chennai has seen a tremendous influx of IT and multinational manufacturing firms. The concept of green buildings is gradually catching up in other cities like Kolkata, NCR, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Sustainability in the real estate context is not only limited to energy conservation, but also includes resource usage, impact on the neighbouring environment and working conditions for tenants. The overall benefits of green buildings largely depend on the extent to which the sustainable features are addressed during the initial planning and design. Striking a balance between environmental, social and economic performance is the key to achieving sustainable outcomes, said Kumar Ramaiah, Head of Energy and Sustainability Services., Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

Growing awareness on the benefits of green buildings among international and domestic occupiers is decisively driving the demand for green buildings. The green building movement has also catalyzed the emergence of various green rating systems that provide tools to enable comparison of building on their sustainability credentials. Among all these rating systems, Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED) has emerged as the most popular and is followed in 24 countries across the globe - including India.

The Government has launched the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) under the National Building Codes and Standards to promote green buildings in India. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), along with the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and other professionals, is also working to mitigate the challenges green buildings will face, thereby enabling developers to develop and operate green buildings with ease. As the green building industry matures, the green funds industry will also emerge. Therefore, the entire green ecosystem is ramping up in India, opening new investment opportunities for developers and giving them good reason to get involved in developing sustainable buildings.