Buildings have extensive direct and indirect impact on our environment. This is due to the fact that during their construction, occupation, renovation, and demolition, buildings use energy, water, and materials, generate waste, and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. These facts have prompted the creation of green building standards, certifications, and rating systems aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on the natural environment through sustainable design.
A green building is a structure that makes efficient use of natural resources like water, energy, building materials and other resources for sustainable development of environment. In short, a green building is one that makes minimal impact on the environment. It’s a building with climate responsive design, built with utmost care to ensure minimum negative impact on the environment and is operated in such a manner that it utilizes all natural resources efficiently.
Green building rating system is a certification system of a building that rates it on a green scale on the basis of sustainable performance in several areas like site development, resource utilization, selection of material, maintenance and environment quality of predefined rating systems. Building rating systems are becoming more popular tools to confirm green credentials as office and retail tenants demand sustainable space to fit into their global environmental policies.
Rating System in India
In India, there are three primary rating systems, namely:
GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment): Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Council is an independent, not-for-profit society jointly set up by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India to promote and administer green buildings in India. GRIHA rating works on the underlying principle of ‘what gets measured gets managed’. It consists of 34 criteria divided in four sections namely site selection and site planning, conservation and efficient utilization of resources, Building operation and maintenance, and Innovation.
IGBC (Indian Green Building Council): IGBC is a non-profit research institution formed by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2001. IGBC has licensed the LEED green building rating standard from USGBC. LEED-INDIA approach for green building is divided into five key areas namely, 1) Sustainable site development, 2) Water saving, 3) Energy efficiency, 4) Material selection and 5) Indoor environment quality.
BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency): BEE has developed a rating system of its own. It gives rating on a scale of 1 to 5 stars on the basis of energy efficiency of a building. The unit of Kilo watt hours per square meter per year is the Energy Performance Index (EPI) for rating any building.
However, our Green Rating systems suffer from certain drawbacks.
Our main rating systems like LEED and GRIHA are suitable only for high budget large sized projects. These rating systems may fail to give efficient results when small scale housing projects of less and very less built-up area are considered. This drawback of the rating systems limits their utility as most of the constructions in India are small in size which may not be covered under the system.
Best suited to larger cities
The rating criterions of these systems take into account metro cities and surrounding areas which have already reached saturation levels in terms of construction activity. Tier II and smaller cities and towns will be the future growth centres and therefore, the rating systems have to consider the factors which are applicable to such urban areas too. Also, both LEED (8.69%) and GRIHA (12.5%) give less preference to water usage whereas in small cities water is given prime importance.
Old buildings ignored
Existing rating processes are designed for new buildings only which are either under construction or newly constructed thus neglecting large number of old buildings which are still in use consuming lot of resources.
‘One Nation, One Rating’ may not work
Different rating systems apply differently in different climates and geographical conditions. For example, oil conservation and erosion are concerns in Taiwan so that is specifically addressed in thir rating scheme. The Japanese system takes into account rehabilitation of displaced people; accessibility for the old or people with special needs. North American LEED is designed for climates with cool winters and rates buildings with energy efficient heating systems which is not relevant in most Asian markets.
India is a vast country with different regions having different climatic conditions. For example, North East region sees rainfall almost throughout the year while North West like Rajasthan have dry climate for most part of the year. While southern region has comparatively moderate climate Northern part is exposed to extremes of climate. Keeping diverse climatic conditions in mind which in turn affect the way people live, we need to re-think whether it is advisable to have a system like ‘One Nation, One Rating.’
Therefore, its wrong to adopt one hat suits all theory in as vast and diverse country as India and the rating agencies need to make amends to their rating system accordingly. Rating system should suit the projects of any scale and any location. The system should also give preference to innovation in construction industry which can be encouraged by giving special allowances of recognition to the particular building. Also, in the light of recent outbreak of COVID-19, the rating system should consider the factors concerning people’s, including potential occupants and the labour working on the site, safety and security as well.