Sustainable real estate: Net-zero projects define new landscape for realty in India

Focus on green buildings with reduced carbon footprint an industry imperative now.

rooftop solar
The spotlight is on developers and occupiers to deliver sustainable and net-zero projects for a reduced carbon future.

Solar rooftops, wind turbines, water management, composting, waste recycling. These are the buzz words when it comes to real estate projects currently. The spotlight is on developers and occupiers to deliver sustainable and net-zero projects for a reduced carbon future.

A recent study by JLL ‘Sustainable real estate: India’s response to a greener future’ also points out that a majority of occupiers (93%) agree they will proactively prioritise locations that help them reduce carbon emissions in the future and investors (65%) agree that they would prioritise investing in cities that are climate change progressive. As many as 57% occupiers have achieved green building certification and 40% aspire to have market-recognised sustainability certification for their portfolio by 2025. As many as 34% of respondents say they are paying 7-10% premium rents for sustainability certification and 32% are paying 4-7% premium.

The figures walk the talk too. The real estate arm of Mahindra Group, Mahindra Lifespaces, has launched net zero energy homes called Mahindra Eden in Bengaluru. The project incorporates climate responsive design and smart interventions to reduce energy demand by 33%, and will generate 5% of the energy requirement onsite with solar rooftop PV and small wind turbines.

Buildings with SRI paints on roof and exterior walls for high heat reflectivity, high-performance glass on windows and balcony to reduce heat ingress and energy-efficient lighting and equipment are just some other features. The project also reduces water demand by 74% through low-flow water fixtures, rainwater harvesting and sewage treatment. Additionally, waste segregation, composting, and waste recycling will divert 90% of waste away from the landfill. E-waste management will divert 100% of the annual e-waste away from landfills, making it a zero e-waste project. “To achieve net zero energy usage, interventions must be inherently woven into the design right from the inception,” says Sunita Purushottam, head, sustainability, at Mahindra Lifespaces. Max Estates, the real estate development arm of Max Group, has an upcoming project on Noida-Greater Noida expressway called Max Square designed to be IGBC Platinum Certified. It is NGT-compliant and promotes resource circularity by ensuring zero liquid discharge in operations besides treatment of greywater and wastewater for various operations. “With an increasing awareness of environmental issues, the demand for energy-efficient offerings is increasing. Customers, particularly Grade A office occupiers and high-end luxury property buyers, are willing to pay a premium for it. The demand is currently outweighing supply of sustainable buildings,” says Rishi Raj, COO, Max Estates.

Similarly, Godrej Construction is minimising the adverse impact of construction on the environment and has recycled over 25,000 metric tonne of concrete debris. “The construction sector is progressing towards achieving net-zero impact by adopting sustainable business practices such as using renewable energy and low embodied carbon material, while ensuring material circularity across the supply chain,” says Anup Mathew, senior vice-president and business head, Godrej Construction. “Assessing and imbibing environmental, social and governance (ESG) into real estate and construction is paramount for all countries,” says Anshuman Magazine, chairman and CEO, India, South East Asia, Middle East and Africa, CBRE, a global leader in commercial real estate services and investments. CBRE’s analysis of the certified built environment in India shows the past five years (2017-Q3 2021) have seen a pronounced push towards green buildings; the period saw a 37% increase in the supply of certified buildings, with the addition of ~ 78 million sqft of certified stock, compared with the previous five years (2012-2016). Green real estate assets in India have grown dramatically over the previous decade, with total office stock expanding to 31% as of September 2021 from 24% in 2011. Since 2011, certified stock has increased at a CAGR of 10.7%, compared to 7.7% for total stock. This demonstrates that the real estate sector is becoming increasingly cognisant of the sustainability concepts.

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