​Yusuf Turab From InHabit Earns WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) Credential

Post date: Jan 14, 2018 7:30:09 AM


Coimbatore 11/01/2018 – Yusuf Turab, Managing Director from InHabit & BuildScape has earned the WELL Accredited Professional (WELL APTM) credential through the International WELL Building InstituteTM (IWBITM), placing him among a group of leading professionals who are dedicated to supporting human health and well-being in the built environment.The WELL AP credential is the new, leading credential signifying advanced knowledge of health and well-being in the built environment and specialization in the WELL Building StandardTM (WELL).


WELL APs have successfully passed the WELL AP exam, an assessment based on the expertise of leading practitioners in the field of design, health and wellness in the built environment. Developed using GBCI’s rigorous test development best practices, the WELL AP exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and proficiency in building wellness and the principles, practices and applications of the WELL Building Standard. The WELL AP Exam was launched last October and was complemented by a comprehensive educational program.


InHabit now intends to provide consulting services for facilities looking to improve their occupant productivity through improved health, wellness and satisfaction in the built environment.

The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in buildings. WELL is an evidence and performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that impact human health and well-being in the built environment, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.


The WELL Building Standard and more information on the WELL AP is available at www.wellcertified.com.

​Every Project gets Live Performance Metrics & Dashboard

Post date: Aug 1, 2017 12:57:10 PM



Our customers asked for it and we obliged! We have now added a green building performance dashboard feature which provides real time updates on the current green building performance of the project. The dashboard is a visual representation of the current project green building performance and is very useful to share with customers and other project stakeholders. We also have an option of embedding the dashboards in client websites.

Additionally, we offer live performance metrics for every project. These metrics are designed to communicate in the simplest possible manner the various efficiencies in the building compared to base case performance. It also has a table in the centre which shows the approximate annual operational savings per apartment that each home owner can benefit.

​Our project eFacility is the second highest ranking Green Building on the Planet!

Post date: Aug 1, 2017 12:14:28 PM



We are proud to announce that our project eFacility has achieved the prestigious Platinum rating in the USGBC LEED NC Green Building rating system making it one of the greenest buildings on the planet

Coimbatore has added yet another feather to its cap. It is now home to one of the greenest, smartest and the most automated buildings in the world.


The building, eFacility is the headquarters of SIERRA ODC Private Limited, a Coimbatore based enterprise facility management software company.


eFacility has scored a phenomenal 103 points out of the available 110 points in the LEED-NC (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - New Construction) rating system, making it world's second highest ranking green building rated by Green Building Certification Inc in the New Construction category.


eFacility is the highest ranking green building in India by a distance. The second spot in the New Construction category in India was achieved by Centre for Management of Coastal EcoSystems, Orissa scoring 85 points.


YT Enterprises were principal green building consultants and facilitated the "United States Green Building Council's LEED" certification for Sierra ODC Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore. eFacility, located at Kalapatti, Coimbatore has shown exceptional performance in almost every area of design, construction and operations. It is currently operating at Net Zero Energy and is fully Carbon Neutral in overall operations. It is also a zero discharge development with all the rainwater, wastewater and solid waste being processed and reused within the site.


The only resource that leaves the site is the excess electricity that the building produces through its Building Integrated Photovoltaics and Rooftop Solar System.

The development uses environmentally friendly building materials and high perfromance glass. It has set top standards in reducing environmental impact during construction.

The buildings have been designed to provide excellent indoor environmental quality through improved daylighting, fresh air ventilation and thermal comfort. There are many more factors that have brought about this major milestone:


Click here for more information on eFacility's achievement

eFacility truly offers a peak into how the buildings of the future should be. Sierra ODC are in the process of setting up a Green Learning Center at eFacility, where students, social enthusiasts, industry experts, and the general public can learn and appraise themselves on the impacts and ways to go green.



Visit greenestbuilding.com if you wish to learn more about the standout features of this development.

​Look out for our public service hoarding at Coimbatore

Post date: Feb 15, 2016 12:48:05 PM



The new flyer for the new year

​Costs and Benefits of Green Building Design

Post date: Sep 14, 2015 6:00:26 PM


My answer to the following question on Quora: https://goo.gl/S2XRwd

Costs: How much does it cost and what are the benefits of a green building design?

If I understand your question correctly, you seem to want to know what are the costs of designing a green building and not the actual costs of building one.

If that is exactly your question, then yes, designing a green building is significantly more expensive than designing a conventional building. Simply because it is a lot more time consuming and also requires an integrated approach among all stake holders.


Repeatedly bringing all consultants to one forum and analysing building performance vs pre-set goals costs money and time. Various analysis like energy simulations, water balance, ventilations and comfort analysis, daylighting etc can often go on for months before a perfect combination of design, materials and execution strategy is arrived at.


In percentage terms the design phase is by far the most expensive phase of building green compared to building conventional. Contrary to popular belief the actual cost of building the green building may not be significantly higher unless off-course one is trying to create some kind of an environmental show-piece.

If done smartly a good performance building can also be achieved at same costs as a conventional building. In terms of overall project cost any escalation in costs due to usage of high performance materials or systems is small enough to be absorbed well within the profit margins of the property developer or in case of a self use building the return on investment is quite attractive to justify this minor escalation which rarely goes beyond 5%.


The Benefits


Apart from the well known benefits of a green building that have been well discussed on this forum; I think the biggest benefit of green buildings is that it demands the designers to be ahead of the curve.


By their inherent nature green buildings require an integrated approach among project teams which in turn ensures the building plans are frozen well in advance. Knowing a product in and out well before its created improves its marketability and also reduces costs.


No doubt that conventional buildings can follow the approach mentioned above but this almost never happens because conventional buildings have conventional goals which requires conventional management techniques and there is no push for the project teams to get out of their comfort zones. Hence, designs are created as and when required without the involvement of team members working in other areas.


In my experience, costs are rarely a deterrent to practising green building design as there is already a fairly attractive business model in place. But it is the requirement to get out of the comfort zone, working in an integrated manner with other teams, delivering results early, spending disproportionate time finalising materials and systems and other complications that go with designing a high performance building that puts developers and project teams off.

Nobody wants to fix something unless there is unanimous agreement that its broken. Humans are the largest herd on the planet. Very few breakaway successfully and until they do the others have no one to follow.

Article by: Yusuf Turab

Y T Enterprises

​Build Your Own Rainwater Filter

Post date: Jun 28, 2015 8:07:50 AM


Harvesting, storing and reusing rainwater is one of the first steps to creating a resilient built environment. The success of any rainwater harvesting system largely depends on the quality of the filtration mechanism. There are many different techniques to filtering rainwater; the right choice of filter largely depends on the final use of the output water.

Assuming the stored rainwater is going to be used for external purposes like washing clothes or general purpose cleaning, a barrel filter is the most economical, simple to make and easy to maintain option. Here is how we made one:



Step 1: Choose the right barrel and attach a drain fitting

The bigger the barrel, more filtration medium can be added and hence a better quality output. At the same time bigger barrels are harder to manoeuvre and more tedious to maintain. The maximum capacity of a barrel filter should be no more that 250 litres and the minimum capacity should be 50 litres. We have used a 50 litre barrel at our office. Fix a drainpipe such that water is drawn at least 4 inches above the bottom. This allows sediment to settle down at the bottom and also creates a bio-layer around the aggregates at the bottom that removes the pathogens and any traces of nutrient in the water

Step 2: Fill bottom layer of aggregate

The bottom layer until the drainpipe must be filled with 75mm blue metal. Then add a further two inches of 20mm metal. Ensure these are thoroughly washed in water multiple times. This ensures that there is sufficient space for sediment to settle down and also ensures the drain pipe does not clog.

Step 3: The active charcoal layer

Place a piece of 150-200 GSM non-woven geo-textile cloth above the aggregate that is cut as per the diameter of the barrel. Then add about four-five inches of charcoal on top. Ensure the charcoal has been dipped in water to remove any residue from its surface. Active charcoal are most effective at removing chlorine, sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), taste and odour from water.

The geo-textile is non-biodegradable, hence functions as an effective filter medium, it also ensures the contents of the different layers do not get mixed up during use and can also be separated easily at the time of maintenance.

Step 4: Add the sand layer

Cover the charcoal with another layer of geo-textile fabric. Then add six to eight inches of clean river sand on top of the geo-textile. The sand layer plays a critical role in the filtration process, hence maximum possible depth must be provided. Cover the sand layer with another geo-textile cloth.

Step 5: The final metal chips layer

Add about 3 inches of clean 10mm metal chips. Spread it evenly and cover this with another piece of geo-textile. This top layer ensures that the water is sufficiently filtered before it enters the sand layer, thereby ensuring the sand layer is not clogged with sediment. The top most piece of geo-textile will gather the most dirt and must be dusted off whenever required. Place some weight over the top cloth to ensure it does not get blown away in the wind.

Points to be considered

  1. Such a filter will not remove all types of bacteria and chemicals. Further treatment is a must if the output water is used for potable purposes.
  2. Having a rainwater filter is not a replacement for the requirement of having a clean catchment area. The terrace must be kept clean at all times.
  3. No rainwater filter is completely maintenance free. An annual clean up of the filter medium must be done to remove any undigested sediment or sludge.
  4. The filter must be sized as per the catchment area and the expected outflow. The 50 litre filter above is sufficient for no more that 500 SqFt of catchment area during peak rainfall.
  5. A provision for first flush must be given to avoid the acidic content found in the first rain of the season.
  6. A provision for overflow from the storage tank must be added.
  7. If feasible, carry out water tests of the filtered water before using it indoors.
  8. No amount of reading articles on the internet will replace the trial and error method. So go out there and make one yourself and find out how rewarding rainwater harvesting can be.

​What is the general job description of a green building consultant?

Post date: Mar 30, 2015 12:40:02 PM

I have been running this Green Building consulting firm, InHabit and BuildScape for the past Six years. We are doing various projects that are on their way to getting certified through various rating systems like LEED, GRIHA, Well, IGBC Green Homes, Green New Buildings rating and Green Factory.


The basic role of a green building consultant is to help the project team make a better building with features that benefit the final occupants and owners of the building. Most of this has to be achieved with minimum cost escalation.


A green building consultant needs to be technically sound in almost all areas of construction and operations of the building, even more than the architect in most cases because architects do not normally get involved with the nitty gritties of the MEP services. Where as the green building consultant has to provide his stamp of approval in almost all areas of design and planning.


Apart from the technical knowledge about buildings and their environmental performance, the green building consultant needs to have excellent project management skills and marketing skills. Marketing skills are specially important because if you cannot sell the benefits of the green building project to its investors the whole idea becomes economically pointless.



The scope of work of a green building consultant is listed below. I may have missed a few things but at the crux of it all; this is it.

          • Manage entire Green Building rating compliance and documentation process.
          • Current design feedback, project acceptance and then project registration with the certification body
          • Creating a project strategy to save energy and water; recommend eco-friendly materials, optimise indoor environmental quality and create a sustainable site.
          • Conduct water audits, waste water management and rainwater harvesting studies.
          • Regular meetings with all stake holders making it clear well advance the requirement to meet each credit and assigning responsibility for the same.
          • Creating energy models, daylight simulations of all buildings to demonstrate compliance with energy efficiency, IEQ requirements of the Green Building rating program.
          • Performing all measurement and verification of credits as per the Green Building rating program
          • Compiling all documentation, photos, technical specification, various calculations, getting the required authorisation letters and signatures from stake holders and any other write ups and documentation required by the certification body to carry out the assessment of the project.
          • Duly submitting all documentation to the certification body and act as a one point contact for the evaluators and respond to any clarifications they might require.
          • Regular site visits to keep the contractors up to date on the requirements and to ensure the criteria are stringently followed.
          • Identifying and recommending suppliers for green building material and services procurement.
          • Being accountable if any targeted credit is missed due to poor submissions or due to misinformation provided to the responsible stake holder.

The good green building consultant should be able to provide the following deliverables and benefits to his/her clients:


          • Introduce best practises in energy & water management.
          • Provide accurate energy efficiency and water efficiency data.
          • Help minimise waste during construction and introduce best practises in waste management post occupancy.
          • Improving indoor environmental quality to meet minimum daylighting and ventilation requirements.
          • Introduce best practises in improving quality of life and maximising productivity.
          • Compiling a Green Building Owner's Manual complete with green building features, how to lead a green lifestyle, maintenance tasks and other operational information.
          • Staff training and awareness on project green features.
          • Providing any guidance to a stake holder if necessary.
          • Provide assistance in creating a clear marketing campaign and help generate awareness of the GREEN credentials of the project. This includes creating an online presence for the project, writing a case study, blog articles etc.
          • Provide any other sustainability related advice, service and assistance within scope.

The general impression is that a green building consultant simply compiles all documentation required to demonstrate compliance with the various green building rating systems. But the truth is that a good green building consultant should ideally bring a lot more to the table.


Due to the nature of their job, green building consultants are naturally focussed on efficiency in every aspect, even their day to day living. This makes them ideal candidates for handling projects where more needs to be done with less. The project owner should be in a position put his faith in this individual and ideally use him as his right hand man when it comes to making project decisions.

​` ​Green Buildings in India - The GRIHA Approach

Post date: Sep 12, 2014 8:02:23 AM

​Our Brand BuildScape now has a new Identity

Post date: Aug 24, 2014 2:22:51 PM


Our brand BuildScape under which we offer solutions such as Green Roof, Living Walls, Specialised Landscaping, Cool Roof and Building Waterproofing now has a new identity. With some significant investments in personnel and equipment we are now well placed to make our clients' buildings healthy, safe and sustainable.

​GREEN is the new COOL and COOL is the new GREEN

Post date: Aug 7, 2014 5:50:01 PM


Green Roofs and Cool Roofs have become a very important component of sustainable urban development within the last 30 years. Growing environmental awareness and the striking economical and ecological advantages are the driving forces for this great success. Cool Roofs specially are growing at a rapid pace with plenty of research dollars being spent on improving the performance of cool roof products.


At present, Green Roofs and rooftop gardens can be found in most big cities around the world, benefiting the urban environment and their inhabitants. Green roofs are yet to catch on in a big way in India mainly due to the higher upfront costs and the common issues surrounding lack of water or maintenance personnel. One hopes this scenario will change soon with coming in of low cost natural waste water treatment and reuse systems along with automated irrigation.

Green roofs provide unparalleled benefits

Most building design professionals around the world have hugely underestimated the value green roofs add to the environment. Especially in warmer countries like India a well irrigated green roof can provide much higher savings in energy compared to a cool roof (or even an insulated roof in non air-conditioned buildings). The premier green roof industry association, 'Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ has listed all the benefits of green roofs:


Private Benefits

  • Energy efficiency - Through greater insulation offered by green roofs
  • Improved health and well being - The reduced pollution and increased water quality that green roofs bring can decrease demands on the health care system.
  • Urban agriculture - Green roofs can be used to setup small organic food gardens
  • Roof durability - By preventing large temperature variations between climates roofs are less likely to crack.
  • Fire retardation - Since green roofs have a much lower burning heat load in comparison to conventional roofs
  • Reduction in electromagnetic radiation - Green roofs are known to reduce the electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices by 99.4% (Herman 2003)
  • Noise reduction - Green have excellent noise attenuation and can reduce noise penetration by up to 40 decibels
  • Enhanced marketability - Green roofs add value since they are the most identifiable feature of a green building.

Public Benefits

  • Increased biodiversity - Green roofs can sustain a variety of plants and invertebrates, and provide a habitat for various bird species.
  • Aesthetic Improvement - Green Roofs are visually enhancing the quality of life in the cities.
  • Waste diversion - By prolonging the service of the HVAC equipment through decreased use.
  • Storm water retention - A 6 inch green roof can hold up to 50 mm of rainfall. It also delays the run off reducing the pressure on storm-water drains.
  • Urban heat island effect - Through the daily evapotranspiration plants cool the city in the hot summer months.
  • Improved air quality - The plants and soil on green roofs can capture airborne pollutants, atmospheric deposition and filter noxious gases.
  • New amenity space - Green roofs can positively affect the urban environment by increasing amenity and green space.

The working of a green roof

Green Roofs are comprised of a number of different layers all of which have different and related functions that have to work in concert with each other to avoid costly repairs in the future. The green roof at minimum must consist the following layers to be effective, durable and safe:

  1. Concrete finish with gradient for water flow
  2. High quality waterproofing
  3. Root barrier
  4. Drainage layer
  5. Geotextile filter
  6. Light weight & water retaining growing medium
  7. Plants (grass, sedums, aliums, herbs etc)

No green roof is maintenance free. It requires regular irrigation and periodic trimming, weeding, fertilising, termite checks etc. The regular irrigation actually provides radiant cooling to the floor below and evaporative cooling to the surrounding spaces. Hence it is important to identify a sustainable water source like treated used water or harvested rainwater so that the green roof can be kept moist at most times without compromising the quantity of fresh water available to the building occupants.

The most common question people ask about green roofs is 'Does it not leak?’. Well, absolutely not, provided the roof has been designed and installed by professionals who understand the interactions the green roofs' have with the building throughout its life. The waterproofing ensures that no moisture penetrates the roof surface. Even if the waterproof layer fails, it may not necessarily be a cause for concern in concrete structures with a good gradient. In a green roof all moisture retention and organic activity is happening an inch above the surface of the roof, separated by the drainage layer. So essentially the root barrier and the green roof are separated by an air gap which ensures any additional water simply flows away through this layer just like it would in a conventional roof. In fact there is lesser possibility of moisture penetration through a green roof as the waterproof layer lasts longer since it is well protected from the fluctuating environment outside. Building owners should be more worried about moisture penetration if they do not have a green roof installed as opposed to having one.

What is a Cool Roof ?A cool roof reflects and emits the sun’s heat back to the sky instead of transferring it to the building below. “Coolness” is measured by two properties, solar reflectance and thermal emittance. Both properties combined together gives us the product's Solar Reflective Index (SRI). The SRI is measured from 0 to 100 and the higher the value, the “cooler” the roof. Any roof with an SRI of above 80 is considered by most building codes as a Cool Roof.

What are the Benefits of a Cool Roof?

A Cool Roof can

  • Increase occupant comfort by keeping the building cooler during hot summer months.
  • Cut costs
    • by reducing the need for air-conditioning, and extending the life of cooling equipment. Studies have shown typical cooling energy savings of 10-30% in cooling energy and an extension in the life of cooling equipment.
    • by decreasing roof maintenance costs (cool roofs are expected to last longer than the average roof).
  • Address air pollution and Global Warming concerns by lowering CO2 and other emissions associated with fossil fuel-generated electricity used for air-conditioning.
  • Reduce the “Urban Heat Island Effect” by reflecting heat back to the atmosphere. An Urban Heat Island occurs when a city is hotter than the surrounding rural areas due to dark surfaces, like roofs and roads that absorb heat from the sun, and less shading vegetation.
  • Help with Green Building Compliance since a growing number of building codes have cool roof requirements.

Cool Roofs are also fairly economical and are well suited for retrofitting on existing buildings. Even for buildings that do not face too much heat gain issues from the roof, it is usually not a bad idea to use cool roof coatings to carry out the occasional roof maintenance. Most Cool Roof coatings last at least 5 years and provide an added benefit of waterproofing as well, which helps improve the durability of the roof.

Drawbacks of Cool Roof

Some of the drawbacks we noticed after installing a large Cool Roof at our home were that soon after installation the roof reflectivity was too high during the day making it very uncomfortable to the eyes. This excess reflectivity goes away in a few weeks as dust settles on the roof. But the dust also reduces the performance of the roof because the dust particles heat up quickly and the reduced reflectivity allows for lot of the heat to conduct through the coating into the slab below. A cool roof has to be kept fairly clean for its performance to remain intact. In many cases, this rarely happens because the roof is the most ignored area of most buildings.

Green roofs on the other hand provide a lot more benefits and also encourage occupants to use the roof for recreational purposes. If cost is no bar and ongoing maintenance is not an issue then a green roof should always be the first choice for any project team.

​Do we need to better define what a Green Building is and what a Green Building is not?

Post date: Feb 17, 2014 10:31:20 AM


The most common definition used to describe a green building here in India is "A green building is one which uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building." Source: IGBC

The issue here is with the term CONVENTIONAL BUILDING. The answer to what a conventional building is too subjective and it largely seems to depend on who you ask. The USGBC (US Green Building Council) has its own set of standards that it uses, the IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) has its own rules & so do the various other bodies around the world that certify buildings based on its environmental performance.


The term GREEN seems too generic and is thrown around way too much. Technically, a building that is even 1% better in all parameters than a conventional building can be called GREEN. This is a little misleading.


What's worse is that many project teams seem to unintentionally misuse the terms GREEN BUILDING. Many project teams take a few environmentally responsible features in a project like renewable energy, rain water harvesting, energy efficient lighting (to name a few) and pass it off as a Green Building. This I think is wrong because Green Building is a holistic approach towards minimum environmental impact and not about just a few environmentally responsible features.

Image source: sgbc.org

Below is my list of areas one should focus on when building green in the order of importance for Indian conditions:

  1. Water efficiency - capture, reduce, reuse
  2. Energy efficiency and Renewable energy (always energy efficiency first)
  3. Site sustainability
  4. Indoor Environment - health, comfort and well being
  5. Material sustainability - reduce, reuse, recycle
  6. Waste management - during construction & post occupancy
  7. Durability
  8. Measurement, verification and action
  9. Make it easy for occupants to be green
  10. Show off (Spread the word)

My contention is that only buildings that show improved performance (compared to conventional building standards) in all the above criteria can be termed as GREEN BUILDINGS. Everything else is NOT.


A net zero energy building with poor water management or problems with the indoor air quality cannot be termed as a GREEN BUILDING unless it meets all the other environmental performance parameters. Such a building should just be termed "Energy Efficient Building" or a "Net Zero Building" but not a GREEN BUILDING.


We need to have a serious discussion on how we can better inform the consumer as to what a green building is and more importantly what a green building is not. At the moment the terms GREEN BUILDING is being misused in many cases and there is a distinct possibility that people will lose faith in the whole concept if this continues.


Most green building certification programs address the focus areas mentioned above but in reality a building can be GREEN with or without the certification. And therein lies the issue that allows misuse and sends the wrong signals to the consumers.


If there could be a formal agreement within the industry that a building cannot be termed GREEN unless its performance has been verified by the a trusted third party institution then this would largely clear the confusion among consumers. Further, the industry could also push for copyright of the terms GREEN BUILDING such that only projects certified by selected third party institutions can be called Green Buildings. All other projects are free to use other terms of choice.

Article By

Yusuf Turab

IGBC AP, GRIHA  CP, WELL AP,  LEED AP, ECBC Mater Trainer

InHabit and BuildScape

Coimbatore, India

​Ideal Planting Strategy for Green Roofs in India

Post date: Oct 17, 2013 5:47:34 PM



Someone raised a question today about what could be the most sustainable planting strategy for green roofs in India?

  1. This is what we think. If maintenance is no problem and a sustainable water source is available (treated used water), we actually prefer to install lawns on a roof. Some might argue it is not a greenest choice due to the water scarcity & hot climate of India, we actually think otherwise. We provide green roof and living wall systems under our brand BuildScape and we have found that there are three main reasons why someone would install a green roof: Aesthetics
  2. Usable Amenity Space
  3. Heat Mitigation
  4. All other benefits are important but not the key drivers in the decision making process. There is no doubt a lawn looks good and allows for building occupants to regularly use the vegetated parts of the green roof. But more importantly, the regular watering that a lawn requires actually cools the roof slab below and provides radiant cooling to the occupants below. The evaporative cooling of the surroundings and the heat island mitigation is also far higher through a high moisture green roof.

    We have also found that using highly drought tolerant species actually has a negative impact. The growing medium acts as a thermal mass which has a negative impact on the energy usage in the spaces below.

    As far as irrigation is concerned there is always scope for automation. Water can be obtained by simply treating the grey water in the building using a small REED bed system. The lawn on the roof does not need high quality water and semi treated grey water is perfect to water a green roof.

    We have a tried different kinds of plants on the roof at our office. Nothing has improved the comfort conditions more than a well irrigated lawn on the roof. We use a small REED bed to treat the grey water and use this treated water to water our green roof and living wall systems. The water smells odd but we have not needed to use even a drop of manure or any other chemical to keep our green roof thriving for the last two years.

    The point I am trying to make is that the value of using drought tolerant species on a roof is over rated, at least in cooling dominated climates like India. Concepts like Xeriscaping are better suited and are the more sustainable method for ground landscaping.

​We Are Going For Gold

Post date: Sep 23, 2013 3:37:22 PM



Our Latest Project Mount RainDrop is Going for IGBC Green Homes Gold Certification

These are times when there is extreme stress on our environment and its resources. Our country needs to tackle the shortages in supply but more importantly we need to curb our longages in demand. It is only common sense to insulate oneself from the resource crunch and strive towards self sufficiency. That is why green buildings are so relevant today. Green Buildings help us become self sufficient, resource efficient and provide for reasonably sustainable smart living.


With this philosophy in our hearts and mind we have completed the design and planning phase of our latest project Mount RainDrop at Kalapatti in Coimbatore, which is the latest green building by Mount Housing Infrastructure Ltd. With the same clients we will also soon complete Mount Royale - Jade Block, which on completion, will be the first SVA GRIHA (Small Versatile Affordable GRIHA) certified green building in the Coimbatore region.

Mount RainDrop is a very affordable, creative and environmentally conscious choice for anyone looking to completely overhaul their lifestyle.


We have put our best efforts to design a development with long term affordability and sustainability in mind. We are now looking for the best people to occupy it.

​Marketing Green Buildings for Property Developers

Post date: Aug 13, 2013 10:22:43 AM



A common grouse among many property developers is that unless the buyers are willing to pay a premium on green developments, building green would be a pointless exercise because all the benefits of the green building are only enjoyed by the occupants and in many cases they may not even realise they are occupying a space that is more efficient than many of the other developments around. In such cases there is absolutely no value creation for the developer in spite of all the additional effort and in some cases, additional expenditure put in to the project. This is where the role of green marketing becomes very important. Green marketing according to me is one of the four pillars of building green, other three being design, implementation and verification & action. All these four pillars are interdependent and a green building project can add value only if all the four pillars are equally strong. Studies have shown that green building space commands a premium of at least 6% in some countries. In the Indian scenario there is no evidence of buyers willing to pay a premium for such a space but this is only because real estate developers have still not figured how to communicate the value of certified green developments to potential buyers who are completely unaware of the concept. In the case of buildings, green marketing essentially means informing the buyers the environmental and economic value of the green building project in question. This becomes easier in case of certified green developments because there is always a third party verified documentary evidence proving the information on performance of the building. In all our projects we have started to provide marketing assistance to our clients through the following measures:


Once a client brings us in to help them design, build and certify their projects, we start off by creating a draft strategy document. This strategy document contains a summary of recommendations on how the project can achieve each criteria with minimum effort and maximum return on investment.


After a few rounds of discussing the strategies with the client and all other stakeholders involved and also doing some performance analysis of our own we get a final project narrative which in principal has been agreed up on by all parties that matter.


Using information in the narrative document we create a owner's manual or home buyer's guide. This guide contains the following information:

  • An introduction to the green home
  • Warranty information
  • Green Building certification achieved
  • How the project achieved (or intends to achieve) the green building certification. This information is listed under various performance areas like energy, water etc. It is always concise and easy to understand.
  • A list of maintenance dos and don't to keep to building performing as per design standards. This may include green cleaning options.
  • How to lead and environmentally conscious lifestyle.
  • How to manage waste and water
  • List of all the paints and chemicals used in the project
  • Important locations like water shut off valve, fuse box, gas shut off valve etc
  • Emergency contacts
  • How to save on energy and water along with renewable energy options buyers could consider.

The list can be as comprehensive as one likes but the information has to be easy to understand and act up on.


This guideline is sent to the marketing department for beautification and distribution among all potential buyers. This gives the buyer an understanding of how the green building is superior and sense of confidence towards the developer. This information when discussed in person without the inclination to make a sale at any cost, always works wonders, if not a sale it at least generates awareness on building performance and the value the developer is trying to create.


Such information is usually ignored in the glossy brochures highlighting all the amenities that only end up costing the buyer more money in maintenance and repair. Maybe for a change if developers started to highlight performance features that save buyers money and make them less reliant on external services, people will be more inclined to pay a premium to buy into green developments.

​"IGBC Green Existing Buildings Operation &     Maintenance" Launched

Post date: Jun 22, 2013 5:40:22 PM



  • There has never been a better time to build & operate certified green developments. People are now fully aware of the resource crunch the country is faced with and are increasingly demanding self sustaining efficient developments that cost less to operate. India has an excellent mix of green building rating systems that serve almost every category of the built environment. IGBC has now launched the much awaited "IGBC Green Existing Buildings Operation & Maintenance" rating system. Some of the unique features of IGBC Green Existing Buildings O&M Rating System are as follows:- Focus is on implementation and results achieved
  • Documentation requirements have been drastically reduced. Instead, it is more of evidence like photos and calculations
  • The rating can be applied to both air-conditioned and non-air conditioned buildings
  • The rating is designed to suit all building types in all climatic zones. Exclusions are residential and Factory buildings.
  • Water being of prime national concern, is given higher weightage.
  • For energy related aspects, Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) or the Energy Performance Index (EPI) as recommended by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), is the reference standard.
  • Buildings are all about people. A separate module called ‘health and comfort’ is included, to address health and wellbeing of occupants in the buildings.
  • Unlike other rating systems where the focus is on integrated planning and construction of new buildings, the IGBC Green EBOM rating system focusses on the sustainable operations of existing buildings along with health and comfort of its occupants. We can help building owners realise the true potential of their building by facilitating IGBC Green Existing Building Operation & Maintenance rating through the following methodology:

    1. Conduct a preliminary review
    2. Project registration
    3. Project audit to determine credits that can be gained without any changes
    4. Project strategy targeting measures with maximum ROI
    5. Oversee implementation of the project strategy
    6. Measure, verify, document and submit the building performance data to the IGBC
    7. Facilitate evaluators review and accept certification.

    Please call me on 0422 - 4368896 if you wish to discuss your project, the costs involved, the process and anything else you wish to learn about green buildings. I look forward to hearing from you. We also provide green building facilitation services for the following rating systems:

    • IGBC Green Homes
    • IGBC Green Existing Buildings O&M
    • TERI GRIHA
    • TERI Small Versatile Affordable GRIHA
    • LEED New Construction and LEED Core & Shell
    • IGBC Green Factory

    Our other services that tie in with our Green Building Facilitation services are

    We believe that we have an excellent mix of services and products that ensure a smart, high performance and sustainable built environment.

Building Green makes Business Sense

Post date: Feb 22, 2013 11:07:12 AM



  • There has never been a better time to build certified green developments. People are now fully aware of the resource crunch the country is faced with and are increasingly demanding self sustaining efficient developments that cost less to operate. One of the best and perhaps the least technically challenging method of judging a development is to check if the project has been certified GREEN. Today any developer/promoter has the option of getting their project certified GREEN from the Indian Green Building Council or The Energy Resources Institute. These certifications come with varying slabs which inform a home buyer how energy & water efficient the home really is. These certifications also require the project to have sustainable site planning, enhanced indoor environmental quality, use of non toxic environmentally friendly materials and onsite waste management. All these aspects are well documented and can be made available to the home buyers to ease the painful process of choosing the best home. There is nothing to say that a project that does not have a certificate is not high performance, the fact is that there are many uncertified developments that take a stronger approach towards environmental performance than certified one's but who is to check this? This is where we come in. We help developers and architects device the best strategies to build green at the lowest cost possible. Through passive solar design, enhanced water management, smart system and material choices we can help projects score maximum points within the preset budget. Most projects can go green for no more than 2% to 5% cost escalation. We provide green building facilitation services for the following rating systems: IGBC Green Homes
  • TERI GRIHA
  • TERI Small Versatile Affordable GRIHA
  • LEED New Construction and LEED Core & Shell
  • IGBC Green Factory
  • Our other services that tie in with our Green Building Facilitation services are

    We believe that we have an excellent mix of services and products that ensure a smart, high performance and sustainable built environment. Please call us on 0422-4368896 if you wish to discuss your project, the costs involved, the process and anything else you wish to learn about green buildings.

​Cool Roof for Cool Buildings

Post date: Feb 22, 2013 11:02:41 AM



The long and hot summer is now up on us. This is the time we crank up our air conditioners and this is also the time when we face highest power shortages. A large part of this heat comes from the sun's energy falling on the roof. The heat energy gets stored in the roof slab, walls and other high thermal mass items within the building. This energy is then transmitted indoors throughout the day and in the evening making us feel uncomfortable at the same time increasing the load on the air conditioning systems. One of the quickest and the most economical way to mitigate this additional heat from entering our building is to install a cool roof (roof with high reflectivity and emissivity). We use specialised ceramic paint coatings with Solar Reflective Index of 84%, which essentially means that 84% of the heat falling on the roof surface in reflected or emitted back to the sky. We provide a seamless finish to the roof by repairing gaps, cracks and any moisture problems. The expandable nature of the coating provides a dual benefit of heat reduction along with waterproofing that too with an 8 year guarantee. The cool roof reduces the indoor temperature by up to 5 degrees thereby providing a payback of less than two years through energy saved on cooling. When factoring the cost of waterproofing and roof repair the payback is less than one year. In a factory setting the cool roof can help improve worker productivity and equipment life. Please follow the links below to learn more about cool roofs and how it can keep you cool and comfortable for the next eight summers.

BuildScape - Cool Roof


Please note: We are not paint manufacturers, we are contractors that take up cool roof projects on turnkey basis using the best products in the market and provide 8 year guaranteeagainst damages.


Our other services that tie in with BuildScape - Cool Roof are:

We believe that we have an excellent mix of services and products that ensure a smart, high performance and sustainable built environment. Please call me on 0422-4368896 if you wish to discuss your project, the costs involved, the process and anything else you wish to learn about cool roofs.

​Green Roofs: Ideal for Green Building in India?

Green roofs have become a very important component of sustainable urban development within the last 30 years. Their striking economical and ecological advances, along with growing environmental awareness, are the driving forces for this great success. At present, green roofs and rooftop gardens can be found in most big cities around the world, benefiting the urban environment and its inhabitants. Green roofs have yet to catch on in a big way in India, but hopefully this will change soon.


The Benefits of Green Roofs

Many building design professionals around the world have hugely underestimated the the value of green roofs. Especially in warmer countries like India, a well-irrigated green roof can provide greater energy savings compared to a cool roof or even an insulated roof. According to the premier green roof industry association, "Green Roofs for Healthy Cities", the benefits of green roofs are:


Private Benefits:

  1. Energy efficiency - Through greater insulation offered by green roofs
  2. Improved health and well being - The reduced pollution and increased water quality from green roofs can decrease demands on the health care system
  3. Urban agriculture - Green roofs can be used to set up small organic food gardens
  4. Roof durability - By preventing large temperature variations, roofs are less likely to crack
  5. Fire retardation - Green roofs have a much lower burning heat load in comparison to conventional roofs
  6. Reduction in electromagnetic radiation - Green roofs are known to reduce the electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices by 99.4% (Herman 2003)
  7. Noise reduction - Green have excellent noise attenuation and can reduce noise penetration by up to 40 decibels
  8. Enhanced marketability - Green roofs add value since they are one of the most identifiable features of a green building

Public Benefits:

  1. Increased biodiversity - Green roofs can sustain a variety of plants and invertebrates, and provide a habitat for various bird species
  2. Aesthetic Improvement - Green Roofs are visually enhancing the quality of city life
  3. Waste diversion - By prolonging the service of the HVAC equipment through decreased use
  4. Storm water retention - A 6-inch green roof can hold up to 50 mm of rainfall. It also delays the runoff, reducing the pressure on storm-water drains
  5. Urban heat island effect - Through daily evapotranspiration, plants cool the city in the hot summer months
  6. Improved air quality - The plants on green roofs can capture airborne pollutants and atmospheric deposition, as well as filter noxious gases
  7. New amenity space - Green roofs can positively affect the urban environment by increasing amenity and green space

How Does a Green Roof Work?

Green roofs are comprised of a number of different layers, all of which have different and related functions that have to work together to function properly. The green roof must consist of at least the following layers to be effective, durable and safe:

  1. Concrete finish
  2. Waterproofing
  3. Root barrier
  4. Drainage layer
  5. Geotextile filter
  6. Light weight & water retaining growing medium
  7. Plants (grass, sedums, aliums, herbs etc)

No green roof is maintenance-free. It requires regular irrigation and periodic trimming, weeding, fertilizing, termite checks, etc. The regular irrigation actually adds to the general cooling of the surrounding and the building. Hence, it is important to identify a sustainable water source, such as treated waste water or harvested rainwater, so that the green roof can be kept moist without compromising the quantity of fresh water available to the building occupants.

The most common question people ask about green roofs is "Doesn't it leak?". Well, the answer is absolutely not, provided the roof has been designed and installed by qualified professionals who understand the relationship between the green roof and the building.

The waterproofing ensures that no moisture penetrates the roof surface. Even if the waterproof layer fails, it may not necessarily be a cause for concern in concrete structures. In a green roof, all moisture retention and organic activity is happening an inch above the surface of the roof, separated by the drainage layer. So essentially the waterproof layer and the green roof are separated by an air gap, which ensures that any additional water simply flows away through this layer just like it would in a conventional roof.

In fact, there is a smaller possibility of moisture penetration through a green roof, since the waterproof layer is well protected from the fluctuating environment outside and lasts longer. Hence, building owners should be less worried about moisture penetration if they have a green roof (compared to a conventional one).

My Own Experience with Green Roofs and Living Walls

In 2010, we installed a green roof at our office in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Its purpose was only to add a unique feature to our building. Soon, we noticed that the green roof had improved the comfort conditions in the office far beyond our expectations. We also noticed that this improvement in performance was achieved by keeping the roof well-irrigated. The moisture kept the building cool even when the temperatures outside were close to 40 degrees Celsius.


We decided to do more with this idea, and after more than a year of trying different plants, growing media, filter geotextiles, and finding the best drainage layer and waterproofing, we created the right formula. We then launched our green roofs products with the brand name BuildScape. BuildScape now undertakes projects offering green roofs, living walls, bio-walls and auto-watering pots for the Coimbatore market.


I soon found that birds and squirrels loved the roof and often quarrelled with each other for their share of the green space. I then found myself taking evening naps after work on the grass on the roof. Now, whenever the weather allows it, I take my laptop out to the roof and work from my own private garden.

I then realized that I loved spending time on the green roof, so maybe I could start gardening. So, I relieved my gardener of his duties and took the maintenance of the roof into my own hands, which includes composting all our kitchen waste to create manure and the other activities listed above.


I am now a part-time business owner, a part-time green building consultant and a part-time gardener.

​Indian Green Building: The Top 7 Green Building Professional Credentials in India

Post date: Feb 11, 2013 7:13:14 AM

The most relevant and recognized credentials in the Indian green building sector are listed in order of relevance below. I would recommend taking exams in the order below if you are serious about working in the Indian Green Building sector.

    1. IGBC AP
    2. GRIHA Trainer
    3. GRIHA Evaluator
    4. LEED AP
    5. LEED Green Associate
    6. PMP (Project Management Professional)
    7. BEMP (Building Energy Modeling Professional Certification)

IGBC AP

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) Accredited Professional exam is administered by IGBC and can be given at any of the Meritrac on-line test centres around the country.

I recommend attempting the IGBC AP exam first because the IGBC green building rating systems are the most popular in the country. IGBC also provides the LEED India ratings through an understanding with the USGBC. Hence your IGBC AP credential will be of maximum importance in the coming years.

The IGBC AP exam will require you to have good knowledge of sustainability in the built environment along with basic understanding of the LEED India rating system.


GRIHA Trainer and Evaluator: Green Ratings for Integrated Habitat Assessment

GRIHA (Green Ratings for Integrated Habitat Assessment) Trainer & Evaluator is administered by an organization called ADARSH which is a subsidiary of TERI (The Energy Resources Institute).

GRIHA is the preferred rating system among government projects and is increasingly becoming popular in the private sector due to the government sponsored incentives on GRIHA certified projects.

The GRIHA Trainer credential allows you to provide training services to people interested in learning the rating system and will also give you basic knowledge of the GRIHA rating system and its requirements. As a GRIHA Evaluator, one can be invited by ADARSH to evaluate GRIHA project submissions.

The GRIHA Trainer exam is very similar to the IGBC AP exam, whereas the GRIHA Evaluator exam requires you to have thorough knowledge of one specific field. It could be energy, water, site, materials or indoor environment. You can only pick one area of expertise at a time.

You will have to attend one of the GRIHA Evaluators' and Trainers' program if you wish to appear for these exams. The schedule for these GRIHA training programs is available at their website.


LEED Green Associate and LEED AP

The LEED Green Associate and LEED Accredited Professional (AP) are part of USGBC suite of credentials administered by the Green Building Certifications Institute (GBCI). These are by far the most popular green building professional credentials in the world, but they are not an absolute necessity if you only plan to work on projects within India.

I would still recommend becoming a LEED AP as it is the best way to demonstrate a through understanding of the LEED rating system. One cannot become a LEED AP without first passing the LEED Green Associate (GA) exam and having some proven green building experience. The LEED GA exam is not very different from the IGBC AP exam and can be given at any of the Prometric online test centers in the metro cities.

Once you have passed your LEED GA exam and gained sufficient experience by working on at least one LEED project, you can then apply for the LEED AP exam. A bit like GRIHA Evaluator exam, you will have to choose your area of expertise from building design & construction, interior design & construction, homes, operation & maintenance and neighbourhood development.


PMP: Project Management Professional

The Project Management Professional (PMP) is administered by the Project Management Institute and the exams can be taken at any Prometric test centres in the country.

The PMP credential is not very popular in the green building sector but in my personal opinion, it is the most relevant. Most work that green building professionals do requires top project management skills.

Facilitating green building ratings becomes a difficult task when the teams lack the project management expertise and go about handling tasks as and when they come up instead of having an integrated plan. My suggestion to you would be look to become a PMP as soon as you are comfortable with your knowledge on green building rating systems.


ASHRAE Certification: Building Energy Modeling Professional

Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP) certification program is administered by American Society of Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The purpose of this program is to certify the individual's ability to evaluate, choose, use, calibrate, and interpret the results of energy modeling software when applied to buildings' and systems' energy performance and economics. It also certifies the individual's ability to model new and existing buildings and systems with their full range of physics.

Energy analysis is an integral part of green building and if energy modeling is something you are interested in you should aim to become a BEMP at some point in your career.

Please note that achieving the above credentials will require at least two to three years of continuous work and study in the field of sustainable high performance buildings. This is a good time to start working towards this goal as there are only a handful of professionals in the sector who hold all the above credentials.

​LEED and Green Building in India: Past, Present and Future

Post date: Feb 11, 2013 7:11:42 AM


Shivang asks: When did the green building trend start in India? What is the scope of the green building trend in India, and what are the reasons for its growth? Also, what is the future of green building in India?

Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises

Hi Shivang, thanks for sending in your query. I seem to have answered some of your questions in one of my older articles, LEED India: What is the Market Size and Growth Rate?. For the rest of your questions, I have included explanations below.


When Did Green Building Start in India?

The Green Building movement was pioneered in Great Britain with the rating system called BREEAM, which was first launched in 1990. This system was later adopted in the United States when the U.S. Green Building Council was formed.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was loosely adopted from the BREEAM system and came into existence sometime in March 2000.


LEED India

In India, this movement was adopted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the early part of this decade. They formed the Indian Green Building Council, which is actively involved in promoting the green building concept in India.

The LEED green building rating system is a nationally and internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in key areas:

          • Sustainable sites
          • Water efficiency
          • Energy efficiency and renewable energy
          • Conservation of materials and resources
          • Indoor environmental quality
          • Regional Priority

LEED India was launched in India in 2003 and since then has grown exponentially. This has created a large network of smaller stakeholders, which includes the construction industry, corporate, governmental & nodal agencies, architects, developers, builders, and product manufacturers. Most interestingly, this network also includes green building consultants, which was a profession almost unheard of a decade ago.


Why are Green Buildings Relevant in India?

There is no debating that the human race is growing faster than the planet earth can sustain. This unsustainable growth is clearly causing certain environmental changes that need to be reversed, or at the very least, slowed down.

Now, there are many different things we can do to correct our ways and minimize environmental degradation. However, green buildings seem to be the lowest hanging fruit in this quest to achieve reasonably sustainable growth.

Buildings are responsible for a large portion of our emissions, especially in a country like India where the sector contributes significantly to GDP, is a huge employment generator, energy consumer, water consumer, wastewater and waste generator. Yet green buildings are easy to design and build. Additionally, green buildings do not cost much more to build than non-green buildings, and they are not prone to political disagreement, unlike other clean development measures. These factors make building green a very attractive option for governments to pursue.

The global environmental factors aside, I believe it is only common sense to build green in India. India is a large country with a large population and huge developmental challenges.

It is practically impossible for even the most efficient government machinery to supply water and electricity for 1.3 billion people. Aside from that, they cannot manage the waste generated by the people and these processes at no additional cost.

We are a water-deficient country and the energy crisis seems to be perennial in nature. Moreover the unsustainable energy and water policies are not helping the cause.

Hence, I believe it’s only common sense to insulate oneself from the resource crunch and strive toward self-sufficiency and smarter living. This realization has contributed immensely to the growth and promotion of green building.

Apart from that, green buildings offer the developers, builders and architects an opportunity to avoid lack of differentiation in their projects. Green building has become the "something new" that has not been done before. Developers are trying hard to leverage their green building credentials for branding purposes and tapping into the new niche market.


The Future of Green Building in India

As of 2012, there are close to 2500 buildings registered for green certification with over two billion square feet of built up space. The green building market is expected to touch $50 billion by the end of 2012, creating thousands of jobs in the process.

I am extremely optimistic about the future of this sector in India. Green buildings and the concept of smarter living offers tremendous opportunity for overhauling an average Indian's lifestyle.

As the general public becomes more aware of the benefits of green buildings, developers will get creative and find new ways to brand, market and sell green buildings, hence creating a conducive atmosphere for the sector to grow exponentially. One only hopes this frantic activity remains clean and green the way it was envisioned to be.

​LEED and Green Building in India: What Are Typical Fees for Indian Green Consultants?

Post date: Feb 11, 2013 7:10:17 AM


Kekhriezhalie asks: How and on what basis is the consultancy fee for green consultants decided in India? What are the fees for the green consultants in India?

Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T EnterprisesYusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises

Hi Kekhriezhalie, thanks for your question. It is a good time to raise this question, as I have noticed at my company’s sales pitches that there is usually a large gap between what a client is expecting to pay and what consultants are hoping to get paid for their services.


Green Building Consultants: Scope of Work

The scope of work for a green building consulting firm can be any one or all of the following:

  • Green building design and architecture services
  • Energy modeling and analysis services
  • LEED or any other green building ratings facilitation services
  • Sustainability consulting
  • Design services for rainwater harvesting, wastewater treatment systems, green roofs, etc.
  • Training services

Each category above is a vast area and covers a range of smaller services within them.


Consulting for LEED India

When consulting on a LEED project, each category of work represents the time and effort that someone has to put into compiling and submitting the LEED documentation and managing the compliance process. This requires the establishment of a tracking and reporting system (often performed by a LEED consultant, rather than the design and construction team itself) and the tracking down of information for specifying or sourcing systems and materials.

This additional effort is not common practice for green buildings – it is specific to LEED certification projects.


This is a big project for someone not familiar with the LEED rating system. Hiring a third party consultant who has experience with the LEED process and has created or purchased effective tracking systems is always recommended.


It helps if the contractors and designers working on the project are familiar with LEED, which would mean that they wouldn’t need too much coaching to provide their pieces of documentation. The scope of work also depends on how many credits you’re trying to achieve, and, to some extent, which ones you’re trying to achieve.


A few hundred hours to pull everything together for a big, complicated project is not out of the ordinary; simple and small projects should take less time and effort.


Green Consultant Fees in India

There are many different factors that influence a green building consultant's fees and most of these factors vary from one project to the other.

Hence, I cannot make a single estimate for consulting fees, but I can tell you that a good rule of thumb for green building consulting fees is Rs.1000 per hour of work. Typically, the range of fees charged is between R.s.400,000 - R.s.1,000,000 per project.


(I would like to clarify that these estimates are from my personal experience working the green building consulting field over the last three years and may not reflect the fees charged by all consulting firms in the country.)


In most cases, the fees are quoted in advance based on the amount of time the consultant expects to spend on the project. Based on my past experience, an average of 400 - 500 work hours was required in order to complete all of the LEED documentation necessary for certification.


These hours of work are put in towards design, documentation, modeling, meetings and site visits.


The higher side of that fee range is usually charged when energy modeling simulations are used to influence the design of the project (which requires lot more time and input), and not just done to demonstrate savings for LEED compliance purposes. In most cases, architects take care of the designs and the green building consultants provide design input only if something is horribly wrong with the architect's work.


A very low quote may mean that the consultant has underestimated the time needed to complete the job. A very high quote could mean the consulting firm doesn't have systems and processes in place to execute the job efficiently or that they’ve added a contingency to allow for a lack of green experience on the design team.


I hope this helps.

​Green Building Products in India: Who Are the Best Indian Green Builders?

Post date: Feb 11, 2013 7:08:49 AM



Ivan asks: It came to my attention that one of the main challenges being faced by developers in India is the availability of green raw materials, is this true? Also, can you list the top 10 green building developers in India?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Hi Ivan, thank you for your question.


Indeed, one of the main challenges developers in India face is the limited availability and the higher cost of green building materials compared to ordinary materials. However, the situation isn't so bad that one must source materials from other countries. There are enough low impact raw materials available in the local markets to construct highly efficient green buildings.


India does not currently have a large enough number of green material manufacturers to create healthy competition, which would force the manufacturers provide better quality and value to customers. However, this scenario is rapidly changing and I am certain that this statement will no longer be accurate within the next few years.


Challenges in Selecting Green Building Products in India

The primary challenge when constructing green buildings is to design and build using systems and materials that have probably not been designed and produced with sustainability in mind. Many products currently available in India tout their environmental benefits, including recycled, renewable and regional content.


However, it is important to verify these claims. The following are valuable tools for verifying materials’ environmental benefits:


1) Third party certification: Currently, there is no third party environmental certificate system for building materials in India.

2) Energy modeling: There is a serious lack of very good energy modelers in India, which increases the cost of procuring such services.

3) Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs): A few American companies operating in India, such as Interface, provide EPDs. I cannot think of any Indian company that follows such best practices.

4) Life cycle data: There is no mandate or requirement for such data and I do not see Indian manufacturers providing this information in the near future.

Therefore, it seems like the real challenge in the coming years will be verification of environmental claims for green building materials as opposed to availability of green raw materials.


Best Green Builders in India

India is a large country with almost too many people, and therefore, it has a never-ending appetite for commercial and residential developments. There are thousands of developers in the country. Moreover, construction in India is a very regional business with many small players catering to the niche requirements of people in their own region.

There are very few developers that have a pan-India presence and even fewer have been successful in meeting the diverse regional tastes of the Indian people. Hence, there is no official list containing names of top green building developers in India. It would be very difficult to compile one as well as every day, hundreds of projects are launched, delayed, abandoned or completed and most of them do not opt to certify their projects through one of the green building rating systems.

Off the top of my head, I can list a few top green building companies. Knowledgeable readers can add to the list in the comments section below if they know of any developers who are genuinely committed to building green:

  • ITC Ltd.: Building green is an integral part of their corporate strategy. They now run the greenest chain of hotels in the world.
  • Godrej Properties: They are one of the pioneers of green building in India and have developed many well known green buildings in India.
  • Marg Group: They are currently developing India's first green township near Chennai.
  • Covai Property Centre (India) Pvt Ltd.: They are one of India's largest developers of green retirement and comfort communities for senior citizens. All of their projects aim to achieve Platinum-level certification from IGBC Green Homes.
  • Akshaya Homes: All of Akshaya's new projects have been certified by IGBC with the LEED India green building rating system.
  • Hiranandani Group: They are one of India's largest developers and have a solid commitment to building green.
  • Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL): BCIL has created some of the most energy-efficient residential homes in India.

Databases of Green Buildings in India

You can also use databases of green building projects to find their developers.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has listed all the IGBC certified green buildings on their website.

ADaRSH, Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats has listed all the buildings that have been certified through the GRIHA rating system.


I hope this helps!

​Green Building Products in India: Who Are the Best Indian Green Builders?

Post date: Feb 11, 2013 7:08:49 AM



Ivan asks: It came to my attention that one of the main challenges being faced by developers in India is the availability of green raw materials, is this true? Also, can you list the top 10 green building developers in India?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Hi Ivan, thank you for your question.


Indeed, one of the main challenges developers in India face is the limited availability and the higher cost of green building materials compared to ordinary materials. However, the situation isn't so bad that one must source materials from other countries. There are enough low impact raw materials available in the local markets to construct highly efficient green buildings.


India does not currently have a large enough number of green material manufacturers to create healthy competition, which would force the manufacturers provide better quality and value to customers. However, this scenario is rapidly changing and I am certain that this statement will no longer be accurate within the next few years.


Challenges in Selecting Green Building Products in India

The primary challenge when constructing green buildings is to design and build using systems and materials that have probably not been designed and produced with sustainability in mind. Many products currently available in India tout their environmental benefits, including recycled, renewable and regional content.


However, it is important to verify these claims. The following are valuable tools for verifying materials’ environmental benefits:


1) Third party certification: Currently, there is no third party environmental certificate system for building materials in India.

2) Energy modeling: There is a serious lack of very good energy modelers in India, which increases the cost of procuring such services.

3) Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs): A few American companies operating in India, such as Interface, provide EPDs. I cannot think of any Indian company that follows such best practices.

4) Life cycle data: There is no mandate or requirement for such data and I do not see Indian manufacturers providing this information in the near future.

Therefore, it seems like the real challenge in the coming years will be verification of environmental claims for green building materials as opposed to availability of green raw materials.


Best Green Builders in India

India is a large country with almost too many people, and therefore, it has a never-ending appetite for commercial and residential developments. There are thousands of developers in the country. Moreover, construction in India is a very regional business with many small players catering to the niche requirements of people in their own region.

There are very few developers that have a pan-India presence and even fewer have been successful in meeting the diverse regional tastes of the Indian people. Hence, there is no official list containing names of top green building developers in India. It would be very difficult to compile one as well as every day, hundreds of projects are launched, delayed, abandoned or completed and most of them do not opt to certify their projects through one of the green building rating systems.

Off the top of my head, I can list a few top green building companies. Knowledgeable readers can add to the list in the comments section below if they know of any developers who are genuinely committed to building green:

  • ITC Ltd.: Building green is an integral part of their corporate strategy. They now run the greenest chain of hotels in the world.
  • Godrej Properties: They are one of the pioneers of green building in India and have developed many well known green buildings in India.
  • Marg Group: They are currently developing India's first green township near Chennai.
  • Covai Property Centre (India) Pvt Ltd.: They are one of India's largest developers of green retirement and comfort communities for senior citizens. All of their projects aim to achieve Platinum-level certification from IGBC Green Homes.
  • Akshaya Homes: All of Akshaya's new projects have been certified by IGBC with the LEED India green building rating system.
  • Hiranandani Group: They are one of India's largest developers and have a solid commitment to building green.
  • Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL): BCIL has created some of the most energy-efficient residential homes in India.

Databases of Green Buildings in India

You can also use databases of green building projects to find their developers.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has listed all the IGBC certified green buildings on their website.

ADaRSH, Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats has listed all the buildings that have been certified through the GRIHA rating system.


I hope this helps!

​Green Building in India: Is There a List of Green Building Materials for LEED?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:23:10 PM


Vellaiappan asks: Is there LEED recommended certified list of green building materials in India?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Hi Vellaiappan, Many thanks for your question.


The following points should answer your question:

  • The IGBC or the USGBC does not recommend or certify any products or manufacturers.
  • LEED is an environmental performance rating system for building projects. It does not certify people (people are accredited), products or companies. However, the LEED India guide books do have examples of material types that might help to meet particular criteria.
  • LEED is a rating system and not a standard. It does not mandate building strategies or the use of any particular materials. It simply awards points to projects if they meet certain pre-determined environmental, health and social criteria.
  • There is no single product that can help a project score points for LEED. Material selection is a holistic process where the project team chooses various environmentally sound materials, which when combined may score points for different criteria.
  • There is no environmental certificate system for products in India. It is up to the manufacturers to have their products tested against the relevant American, European or Indian standards. Manufacturers should make this technical information easily available so that project teams can make their material choices according to their requirements.

Source : http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Greenbuilding/Materials/

IGBC: List of Green Building Materials for India


Most green building consulting firms, including mine, create an extensive material list for each project. This list contains the material type, its application, minimum technical requirement to meet the LEED certification criteria, the LEED credit it relates to and recommended manufacturers. The project sponsor provides this list to their suppliers and procures materials accordingly. If you are looking for such a list, I may not be able to help you because our lists are very client and project-specific.


One thing you can do is purchase the IGBC directory of green building material and service providers. This directory has a comprehensive list of green building materials and suppliers. Material selection can be a confusing and complicated task because there are many factors to analyze before zeroing in on the final product. I usually find such directories a good place to start.


Green Products: “LEED Certified” Product Labels in India

I am glad you raised this question because I have recently noticed that many manufacturers in India are incorrectly labeling their products. If you attend any of the construction-related exhibitions in India you will find that there are many product manufacturers who will say that their products are LEED certified. Some manufacturers even include the phrases LEED Certified, LEED Accepted, LEED Recognized, LEED Compliant, etc. on their logos or product brochures. It is also quite common to hear claims from product manufacturers that using their products will give your project a certain number of points toward LEED certification.


On one of my visits to an exhibition I learned that many manufacturers simply go through the LEED checklist. They find the criteria that apply to their product. If their product meets these criteria, they simply assume that their product is LEED compliant or claim that their product will earn you a certain number of points.


All of these claims are invalid, because LEED’s credit requirements are for the combination of all the materials used in a project, rather than for individual materials. In fact, these manufacturers are in danger of facing legal consequences for providing false information and making exaggerated claims.

I personally think that a green product certification system is highly desirable. It would improve transparency and make the process of choosing materials much easier. However, such a green product certification system should not stifle innovation in any way.


Currently, purveyors of steel, aluminium, concrete, plastic, glass, bamboo, or any material other than wood do not have an incentive to create green materials because of the lack of a green product certification system. They are not motivated to demonstrate environmental and social responsibility in management or resource extraction, despite the fact that substantial environmental and social impacts are associated with production of all of these materials.


Change is long overdue. The responsibility for initiating that change lies squarely with the leaders of green building programs, executives of the largest building materials distributors, environmental organizations, and environmentally concerned citizens.

​Green Building in India: Is There a List of Green Building Materials for LEED?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:23:10 PM


Vellaiappan asks: Is there LEED recommended certified list of green building materials in India?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Hi Vellaiappan, Many thanks for your question.


The following points should answer your question:

  • The IGBC or the USGBC does not recommend or certify any products or manufacturers.
  • LEED is an environmental performance rating system for building projects. It does not certify people (people are accredited), products or companies. However, the LEED India guide books do have examples of material types that might help to meet particular criteria.
  • LEED is a rating system and not a standard. It does not mandate building strategies or the use of any particular materials. It simply awards points to projects if they meet certain pre-determined environmental, health and social criteria.
  • There is no single product that can help a project score points for LEED. Material selection is a holistic process where the project team chooses various environmentally sound materials, which when combined may score points for different criteria.
  • There is no environmental certificate system for products in India. It is up to the manufacturers to have their products tested against the relevant American, European or Indian standards. Manufacturers should make this technical information easily available so that project teams can make their material choices according to their requirements.

Source : http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Greenbuilding/Materials/

IGBC: List of Green Building Materials for India


Most green building consulting firms, including mine, create an extensive material list for each project. This list contains the material type, its application, minimum technical requirement to meet the LEED certification criteria, the LEED credit it relates to and recommended manufacturers. The project sponsor provides this list to their suppliers and procures materials accordingly. If you are looking for such a list, I may not be able to help you because our lists are very client and project-specific.


One thing you can do is purchase the IGBC directory of green building material and service providers. This directory has a comprehensive list of green building materials and suppliers. Material selection can be a confusing and complicated task because there are many factors to analyze before zeroing in on the final product. I usually find such directories a good place to start.


Green Products: “LEED Certified” Product Labels in India

I am glad you raised this question because I have recently noticed that many manufacturers in India are incorrectly labeling their products. If you attend any of the construction-related exhibitions in India you will find that there are many product manufacturers who will say that their products are LEED certified. Some manufacturers even include the phrases LEED Certified, LEED Accepted, LEED Recognized, LEED Compliant, etc. on their logos or product brochures. It is also quite common to hear claims from product manufacturers that using their products will give your project a certain number of points toward LEED certification.


On one of my visits to an exhibition I learned that many manufacturers simply go through the LEED checklist. They find the criteria that apply to their product. If their product meets these criteria, they simply assume that their product is LEED compliant or claim that their product will earn you a certain number of points.


All of these claims are invalid, because LEED’s credit requirements are for the combination of all the materials used in a project, rather than for individual materials. In fact, these manufacturers are in danger of facing legal consequences for providing false information and making exaggerated claims.

I personally think that a green product certification system is highly desirable. It would improve transparency and make the process of choosing materials much easier. However, such a green product certification system should not stifle innovation in any way.


Currently, purveyors of steel, aluminium, concrete, plastic, glass, bamboo, or any material other than wood do not have an incentive to create green materials because of the lack of a green product certification system. They are not motivated to demonstrate environmental and social responsibility in management or resource extraction, despite the fact that substantial environmental and social impacts are associated with production of all of these materials.


Change is long overdue. The responsibility for initiating that change lies squarely with the leaders of green building programs, executives of the largest building materials distributors, environmental organizations, and environmentally concerned citizens.

​Green Building in India: What Are the Challenges Facing Sustainable Architecture?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:20:59 PM


Minu asks: What is the condition/state of sustainable architecture in India? What are the factors responsible for failure/success of Sustainable Architecture in India?

Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises

Hi Minu, many thanks for your timely question. There is a great deal of information on the state of the Indian Green Building market. In fact, I have written a few articles myself, which you can find here:


LEED India: What is the Market Size and Growth Rate?

LEED and Green Building Incentives: Promoting Sustainability in India and the World


In regard to your second question, I think it is important to address sustainable architecture because the practice is almost non-existent in Indian cities. Also, there seems to be some ambiguity on what exactly constitutes sustainable architecture.


What is Sustainable Architecture?


In his enormously successful book Design with Nature, published in 1969, Ian McHarg argues that:

"If one accepts the simple proposition that nature is the arena of life and that a modicum of knowledge of her process is indispensable for survival and rather more for existence, health and delight, it is amazing that how many apparently difficult problems present a ready solution".


The key to architectural sustainability is to work with, rather than against, nature; to sensitively exploit and simultaneously avoid damaging natural systems. Architectural sustainability mirrors the view that it is necessary to position human activities as a non-damaging part of the ongoing ecological landscape, with a belief that 'nature knows best'.


Any green building architect should identify places with intrinsic suitability for agriculture, forestry, recreation and urbanization. Designing with nature at a building level is about recognizing sun paths, breezes, shade trees and rock formations that can be used to create something that people can inhabit comfortably, while recognizing that natural features such as trees, animal tracks, habitats and natural drainage systems must be 'protected'.


For example, if one were to choose a device with high shading coefficient in the summer and a low shading coefficient in the winter, a vine may be used in place of a mechanical system. The vine shades the building when (and only when) it is needed, and the building provides a home for the vine. Thus both the building and the 'component' of nature are sustainable. By adding rainwater collection, reed beds for sewage and perhaps wind or solar power for electrical energy, the building can be independent of imported service and exported waste, keeping its environmental footprint within the footprint of the site. The final archetypal visual image is one of an isolated, self-sufficient building dominated by its surrounding landscape.


Green Building in India

It goes without saying that the version of architecture that I described above is rarely practised in India, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The latest market-driven surge in green building has had some success at bridging the gap between current building practices and true sustainability.


As stated in some of my previous articles, India is now the second largest market for green buildings. This trend is completely market driven and has been achieved with very little government support.


While this sounds fantastic, there is an urgent need in India to extend the technological understanding of sustainable architecture and to incorporate socio-cultural aspects in its production. The need emerges from the fact that Indian architects have failed to recognize the significance of the social dimension in facilitating the sustainable development.


One challenge to India’s acceptance of sustainable architecture is the gap between technology and economic status. On one end, sophisticated technology-based solutions have been developed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, but they require a high initial investment that very few can afford. On the other end, affordable, low-cost technologies, such as mud architecture, are already available; however, these do not fit in with the aspirations of the upwardly mobile urban population. Affordable technology-based solutions are thus seen as the only means of addressing environmental degradation.


India and Energy Efficiency

In India, environmental agendas and green buildings are often based on the precedents of developed countries. The 2004 draft for the National Environmental Policy of India received heavy criticism for this reason.


The issue of energy efficiency is more relevant for developed countries where one-third of the total energy is utilized for heating or cooling of buildings. When energy efficiency is used as the main criterion for green buildings in India, several critical issues tend to be ignored. For example, the issues of water and sanitation are more critical than energy efficiency in India. Studies indicate that at current rates of population growth and consumption of water per capita, there will be a shortage of drinking water in Indian urban centres within the next decade.


That being said, the western model of sustainability works very well and has measurable benefits. However, economically speaking, I am not entirely convinced it is the best solution for India. Instead, I believe that we need home-grown solutions that propagate self-sufficiency and contemporary regionalism while maintaining decentralized approach to sustainability.


My personal view is that the debate on sustainable architecture cannot be restricted to quantitative environmental sustainability. It is essential that relationship between social, economic and environmental sustainability should become a critical consideration for the design of India’s built environment. There is little sense in spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green buildings if very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford.


Deepika Mathur of the University of Melbourne has rightly pointed out that:

"By limiting itself to sustainability that is dependent on technology for solutions, sustainable architecture in India fails to incorporate the critical dimension of social and cultural sustainability without which it may not work in the Indian context. To be environmentally sustainable, architecture would need to also register the social, political, economical and cultural context of India and offer solutions that are sensitive to its particularities. This precludes universal technological solutions in the form of models of environmental sustainability derived directly from the West".


Good Luck!

​Cost of Green Building in India: What is the Payback Period?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:19:09 PM



Surendran asks: I am a student doing final year architecture in India, I am interested in practising sustainable architecture. i would like to know about the details of the extra cost incurred and the pay back period for residential projects. is there any minimum built-up area so that the sustainability can be practised in residential level?

Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Hi Surendran, thank you for your question. “What is the cost of green building?” is one of the most common questions asked of green building professionals.


First of all, congratulations on making the smart decision of pursuing green architecture. I think that this term is more accurate than “sustainable architecture”.


A building requires a great deal of materials and processes to meet it’s most basic function, which is human comfort. No building can truly be sustainable unless we go back to the Stone Age.


The idea of green building is to limit the impact on the environment without compromising human comfort. Green building aims to achieve more with less, which is what makes this sector so interesting. I have been consulting for just over a year now and it is very satisfying to see that some of our ideas make a meaningful difference.


The Growth of Green Building

I recently received the following statistics from a World Green Building Council mailer. It says, "In 2003, only 24% of construction firms worldwide were significantly involved with green building. In 2013, 94% of the firms are expected to be significantly involved with green building; more than half of the firms will be largely or exclusively dedicated to green building”.


While this is great for the sector, it also means that there will be increased competition, copying, green washing and lack of differentiation in projects. Therefore, one’s success in the industry will depend on how one can differentiate him or herself and the pace at which he or she innovates.



Costs and Payback Period of Green Buildings

Since this question is asked often, most green building professionals will simply state that most green buildings have an added cost of 5% - 15% (compared to a conventional building) and that the payback period is usually 3 - 5 years.


While this is true in many cases, I personally believe the cost of going green is relative and cannot be accurately quantified. I know developers and building owners who always use high performance building design and materials, efficient lighting and HVAC, wastewater treatment, rain water harvesting, waste management and other green building materials and techniques. They simply believe that it’s common sense to build that way. For such builders, the cost of going green is minimal or nonexistent, since they would have spent this additional amount anyway.


That being said, many developers do not automatically incorporate green building strategies. The following list indicates some of the features and building practices that might require an investment that is significantly greater than those for conventional buildings practices in India:



This list is based on my personal experience and I am sure there are many points that I’ve missed. I chose not to mention green building practices that do not increase costs significantly. Readers can add to this list the comments section below.


If the project is aiming for a green building certification, there might be other non-environmental expenses such as disabled friendly facilities, basic facilities for workers and commissioning for MEP systems. I only call these “expenses” because they are not standard practices in India (though they really should be).


With this focus on costs, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that many of the additional investments in green buildings pay for themselves over time. Almost all the above features and practices pay for themselves well within 5 years. The exception is renewable energy installations, which might take between 12 - 15 years to pay back. It is important to balance the discussion of costs with an understanding of the benefits.


Green buildings have also been shown to improve worker productivity due to better office conditions, such as controllable lighting and better air quality. Additionally, the building owner can market the green building for its quality, efficiency and minimal carbon footprint.

​Carbon Footprints for Green Building Materials: Is It Common Practice in India?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:16:24 PM



Vellaiappan asks: Is there any practice of calculating the carbon footprint of green construction materials in India to make buildings more eco-friendly and technically sound?

Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Hi Vellaiappan. Many thanks for this question.


To answer your question in short: No, there is no practice of calculating carbon footprint information for building materials in India. It would be useful to have this information because customers would be able to make purchasing decisions based on how much energy the material consumed. However, there is no market-driven demand for publishing this information. I believe that this is because carbon footprints for materials are especially difficult to measure and are not always the best tool for identifying eco-friendly materials.


Carbon Footprints Are Difficult to Measure

Carbon footprints for building materials are difficult to accurately measure because they require a great deal of data. Some sectors, like transportation, only require a few variables – such as fuel burned per passenger. Building materials are especially difficult to evaluate because they are composed of many different raw materials and are made by various manufacturers who operate under constantly changing conditions.

For example, say you manufacture electric cables in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. During peak season, 20% of Tamil Nadu's electricity comes from wind energy. That means that there is always a possibility that electricity demand in your factory is met partially through a renewable source, which has a much smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuel. However, there is no way for you to retrieve the data on the percentage of renewable fuel you’re using at any given moment or in any given season. Therefore, the carbon footprint for an individual electric cable will never be entirely accurate.


Carbon Footprint Tools for Building Materials

Measuring carbon footprints of building materials is not common practice, though some carbon footprint calculators do exist on the market.

I have heard that Australia has a program that measures the carbon footprints of the building materials harvested and manufactured within the country. (Perhaps someone can clarify this in the comment section below.)

Similarly, the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management (ECCM) has developed a tool called the Building Materials Carbon Indicator, which can be used to calculate the embodied carbon dioxide in building materials.  I have never used such a tool, but I assume the accuracy of the calculator's output depends on how much data you provide on the energy used to create the material.


Carbon Footprints and Environmental Impact

Carbon footprints are never a reliable environmental performance indicator when used alone. Many factors determine a material’s impact on the environment and the energy used to manufacture the material is only one of them. Therefore, carbon footprint information may not add much value to the environmental credentials of a building.


Let’s take lumber for example. The carbon footprint of regionally harvested lumber might be very low, nearly making it a carbon-neutral building material. However, the carbon footprint does not measure the other effects of cutting down trees, such as the loss of habitat, soil erosion, loss of carbon sink, heat island effect, etc. In some cases, a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Wood will be better than another type of lumber with less embodied energy.


LEED and Carbon Footprints

Rating systems like LEED and GRIHA do partially address the embodied energy of building materials. They encourage contractors to use locally harvested and reused materials while discouraging the use of raw virgin materials. However, there is no real market-driven mandate that would encourage manufacturers to add embodied carbon dioxide to their products’ technical specifications sheets.


It would be useful if readers can share their experience in measuring carbon footprints of building materials in the comments section below.

​LEED and Green Building Incentives: Promoting Sustainability in India and the World

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:14:53 PM


Hasnain asks: Dear Mr. Turab, Thanks for the explanations which you give regarding each query. I am a student at Great Lakes Institute of Energy Management & Research. I have been reading about green buildings since 2 weeks, mostly from your website. But still I am not clear about the exact incentives given to different stakeholders. Like, I have read about the incentives given by MNRE for getting your building certified under GRIHA, but what about CII-IGBC, LEED India certification? Are there some incentives for LEED registered buildings also? I searched for it but could not get it. Also, are there any state government incentives for green buildings? If yes, then what are those? Are they Similar to the Central MNRE incentives? What are those incentives?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Dear Hasnain


Many thanks for your timely question. I think it is highly relevant for the current times when it seems like the green building industry is slated to grow exponentially but only requires that little push from the government in order to get into top gear.


Green Building Incentives

You might have already read about the incentives that Ministry of New and Renewable Energy offers to the developers and architects taking up the GRIHA rating for their projects. There is no data available on how many projects have taken advantage of these incentives. My guess would be, not many because there are not many certified projects under the GRIHA rating at the moment.

As far as the Indian Green Building Council is concerned, there are absolutely no incentives on offer from their side. I raised the question of incentives at the launch of the Coimbatore Chapter of the IGBC. The response was that, there is no evidence that such an incentive actually attracts developers and also they are averaging more than one project registration a day hence there is no immediate need to lure in more projects. Secondly, IGBC is a private sector body and cannot dole out cash the way MNRE can.


At the state level I understand that there is plenty of policy framework going on but there have been very few concrete announcements.

Mumbai seems to have taken a lead according to this article; How govt plans to make Mumbai greener; but I think the guidelines are yet to be framed. The Andhra Pradesh government made some announcements a couple of years ago and the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Agency also has a very informative website for architects and designers looking to build green.


The environment ministry recently said that green buildings would be given priority in the environmental impact assessment process. This is a welcome step that would not only reduce the time taken for such clearance, but also add value by quantifying environmental benefits that are measurable and can be monitored. In every conference that I have attended in the last two years, there has always been a government official who has assured that a certain incentive will be brought in. So I assume its only a matter of time before we start hearing of more local bodies offering cash and non cash incentives for green buildings.


Categories of Green Building Incentives

The main categories of green building incentives world over are:


1) Expedited Permits: Priority in building permit processing and plan review, sometimes with a requirement for posting a bond to guarantee the result.

2) Tax Treatment: Tax incentives, particularly property tax abatements, for projects achieving LEED Silver/GRIHA 3 star or better certification.

3) Increased FAR: Increased Floor-to-Area (FAR) ratios or FSI, which allow a developer to construct more building area than allowed by applicable zoning.

Developers need to research what each local jurisdiction offers and make sure that they are “at the table” when such incentives are being discussed and adopted.


You will find that in most cases developers are aware of these, but don’t always use them. One reason is that the timing of development decisions and the response time of local government don’t always mesh together. In a nutshell, developers need to make quick decisions, and governments prefer to move more slowly to observe “due process.”


The most significant barrier to the rapid growth of green buildings is perceived cost increase. In some developers’ opinions, the second highest barrier is the lack of knowledge of how to build green. In light of these I would encourage the government and the certification bodies to follow these recommendations that were coined by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.


NAIOP Recommendations

1) Encourage developers to have a greater say in the incentive process. They will be more likely to buy-in to the programs and use the incentives.

2) Increase awareness in selected towns and communities of the benefits of green building so that there is a pull by political supporters of progressive local officials.

3) Continue to talk to developers in their language: business and finance. Work with other green building organizations to accumulate project cost and benefit data. Show hard numbers and statistics. They will be more convinced to build green.

4) Increase awareness among developers that there is a change in values within the development community and among consumers to support the rapid growth of green building construction and energy-efficient operations.

5) Start creating language for specific incentives that we know the development community wants:

  • a) Property tax reductions or abatements for significant periods of time.
  • b) FSI bonuses and entitlement assurances.
  • c) Accelerated building approval processing (this of course works best in cities where the permit process is convoluted and slow!)
  • d) Expedited permitting

I am not a developer but I would imagine the most desired incentives would be expedited approvals, tax reduction, FAR/FSI bonuses and reduced-cost building permits.


All in all in India, there is much that can be done to promote green building at the local level – actions that are not insurmountable by any means.

​Green Building In India: Who are the Important Stakeholders?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:11:02 PM


Syed asks: What is the market for Green Buildings in India? Who are the most important stakeholders? Which companies/government bodies are key investors in green buildings?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Dear Syed

Thank you for your question. You must be at least the 7th person on-line and off-line who has asked me a question along these lines in the last month.

I think one of the reasons behind this might be the major green building marketing push that is happening in the country at the moment. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is aggressively launching chapters in every city possible. The Energy Research Institute (TERI) has started to offer generous incentives to developers and architects who build buildings that are 5 star rated. So ambitious entrepreneurs want to know more about this sector and rightly so.

Before I get in to answering each of your questions I suggest you read my response to another reader. This should sufficiently answer your first question relating to the Green Building market in India.


Green Building in India

The Green Building movement was pioneered in Great Britain with the rating system called BREEAM. BREEAM is the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 200,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million registered for assessment since it was first launched in 1990. This system was later adopted in the U.S when the USGBC was formed. LEED was loosely adopted from the BREEAM system and came into existence sometime in March 2000.


In India this movement was adopted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the early part of this decade. CII, which happens to be the top industrial body in this country is also the biggest stakeholder in the Indian Green Building sector. They formed the Indian Green Building Council which is actively involved in promoting the Green Building concept in India. IGBC is based at the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad. This was the first LEED (USGBC LEED Platinum) rated building in India, built to house the activities of CII’s Green Business Centre. It was decided to do a demonstration project by constructing a ‘GREEN’ building. The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre is to be the main centre of consultation for ‘Green’ activities in the construction and manufacturing industry.


LEED India

LEED India was launched in 2003 and since then has grown exponentially as you might have seen in the article mentioned above. This has created a large network of smaller stakeholders which includes the construction industry comprising of Corporate, Government & nodal agencies, architects, developers, builders, product manufacturers and most interestingly Green Building Consultants which was a profession almost unheard of a decade ago. There is a marginal premium attached to building green but this is only because there are not many product manufacturers in India that make truly green products. But this situation is improving rapidly.


The other major stakeholder in this sector is TERI along with MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy). TERI has conceived - GRIHA, an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, the National Rating System of India and has jointly developed it with MNRE (Ministry of New & Renewable Energy). It pertains particularly to the Indian context and is suitable for all kinds of buildings in different climatic zones of the country. ADaRSH, Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats, is mandated to promote development of buildings and habitats in India through GRIHA. ADaRSH is an independent platform for the interaction on scientific and administrative issues related to sustainable habitats in the Indian subcontinent.


So there are two major organisations that offer sustainability based certifications for buildings, one represented by the industry and the other by the government. Both organisation in principal do the same thing but only the rating systems differ and one must choose the rating that is the most appropriate for their project in a marketing stand point.


IGBC offers multiple ratings for different kinds of building for example IGBC Green Homes, LEED India, Green Factory Building, Green SEZ and Green Townships. TERI offers only a single rating system, GRIHA with a version for smaller buildings called Small Versatile Affordable GRIHA. Both organisations offer developers an option to pre-certify their projects.


The most committed corporates in this sector are Godrej and ITC. Both these companies certify every new building they build and environmental sustainability feature very prominently in their corporate policy. All in all this sector is on the move and more and more businesses are taking up Green Buildings as part of their physical expansion plans. I recently attended a conference where the distinguished panel mutually agreed that 60% of India is yet to be built. This massive shortfall is expected to be overcome in the next four decades, so there is a huge opportunity and at the rate the awareness is growing, one can safely assume a large portion of the 60% is going to be Green and hopefully Certified.

​LEED India: What is the Market Size and Growth Rate?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:09:20 PM



Sudhir asks: What is present market size of LEED buildings (all) in India and what it will be within next 5 years?

Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Sudhir

Many thanks for your question. I might have been able to answer it better if you were more specific about your purpose; i.e. are you simply researching or are you looking to get into this field in some way?

In either case I will try to give some information that can help you get started.



Green Building India: Ranked #2 Globally

In recent years, India has emerged as one of the world’s top destinations for green buildings and has implemented a number of home-rating schemes and building codes, which open up a wide range of opportunities in construction, architecture and engineering design, building materials and equipment manufacture.

To give you some numbers (which I obtained from the IGBC website), "India has 1140 registered buildings, 153 certified buildings and 761.93 million sqft of Green building footprint". This puts India firmly on the 2nd spot only behind the U.S in total Green Building footprint. Mind you this is only figures for certified buildings. I know of many projects that are green to platinum levels but did not opt for certification to save costs.


According to the Indian Green Building Council:

  • The market for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-rated green buildings in India is projected to increase to $5 Billion by 2012
  • The total market for green building materials and equipment in India is estimated to be more than 10 times the size of the LEED-rated green building market in India.
  • India’s green building footprint has grown from 20,000 sq ft in 2003, to projects covering 761.93 million sqft by mid-2011.
  • A variety of green building projects are planned or have been completed, including exhibition centres, residential complexes, hospitals, IT parks, educational institutions, laboratories, airports, corporate offices and government buildings.
  • National shortages of water and power are significant factors encouraging India’s focus on green building.

The major drivers for the green building sector in India are coming from the private sector, spurred by the introduction of the Indian LEED rating system along with other rating systems by IGBC and The Energy Resources Institute of India, and investor and occupier demand for more amenable and efficient living and working space.



Growing Market for Green Buildings in India

These trends suggest significant and growing market opportunities for green buildings in India. It is apparent that the market is large and is expected to grow exponentially. Hence there is going to be a serious dearth of experienced professionals, material manufacturers and service providers in this area. This gives plenty of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs in this sector.

Opportunities in India for green building services include:

  • Architectural and engineering services for high-rise structures, theme parks and hotel
  • Urban planning and design
  • Other niche architectural services like creating designs inspired from the traditional Indian architecture
  • Energy efficiency consultancies.

There is also significant demand in India for green building materials and equipment including:

  • High-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Low-emission window and day lighting technologies
  • Affordable green building materials, with consideration for the life cycle perspective of building costs
  • Water saving, water efficiency and non mechanical treatment systems
  • Fire and safety systems and other intelligent building systems, and
  • Other environmentally friendly green building materials and equipment that help score points under the various IGBC and GRIHA green building rating system.

Just like any other sector in India this sector too has its own challenges relating to greenwashing, lack of awareness, non availability of green product certifications, poor practices among builders, inadequate project management skills and many others. But in spite of all this I have found, most buildings that have attempted to be Green have usually proven to be more efficient than what they would have been had they not even made the attempt.


Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them; by my personal experience I can tell you that most developers have now started to realise this and are willing to go an extra mile. All this augurs well for the future of the Indian Green Building movement.

​LEED 2011 for India: When Should we Register Our Hostel Project?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:05:42 PM



Manoj asks: We a pioneer organisation in India planning to get LEED certification for our training student's hostel which is under construction. At what stage do we have to register for certification? I mean after finishing the building and interiors and other needs or even during the construction process since its a hostel, we have to register under LEED Indian NC/CS, is it right? and finally is there any eligibility criteria need for getting green certification?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Manoj

Many thanks for your question, I just wish you raised this question at an earlier stage in your project. In any case I will try and answer each of your questions in the correct order.


Green Building Rating System and Eligibility

Since your project is a students' hostel, the rating system you should apply for is LEED 2011 for India for New Construction and Major Renovation.

This is the most recent update in the LEED rating system and as per the information provided within the guide; "LEED 2011 for India - NC is designed primarily for new commercial office buildings, but it can be applied to many other building types by LEED practitioners. All commercial buildings, as defined by standard building codes are eligible for certification as a LEED 2011 for India - NC Building. Commercial occupancies include (but are not limited to) offices, retail & service establishments, institutional buildings (libraries, schools, museums, places of worship, etc.), hotels and residential buildings of four or more habitable stories".


LEED Project Registration

It does not really matter when you register your project with the IGBC, though it is recommended you register your project immediately after your site plan, building layout and floor plans are ready.


What really matters is if your design, construction, choice of materials, systems and policies will enable you to meet all the mandatory requirements for LEED 2011 NC. This process should have been initiated in project planning stage well before the design was initiated.


The developer should ideally hire the LEED consultant at the same time as the architect and other contractors so that everyone has an input on the design and is well aware of their respective responsibilities. This helps keep the cost of greening the building low and also improves your chances of gaining the certification in a smooth manner.


In your case, depending on what stage of construction you are in, you may or may not be able to meet the criteria required to fulfill the mandatory requirements under each category.


There are two things you can do:

1) Contact an experienced LEED consultant or the IGBC itself. Provide them with all details of your project along with information about the construction that has already taken place. They will be able to tell you whether or not your project will qualify and what changes might be required to get it on track for certification.

2) Go through the LEED 2011 for India Abridged version thoroughly and check if your project might still be able to meet the criteria for mandatory requirements and hence qualify for certification. For your convenience I have uploaded the LEED 2011 for India Abridged version on my website.

If your project is still able to meet the eligibility requirements stated above and the mandatory requirements under each of the categories then go right ahead and register your project with the IGBC.


Cost of LEED India

The cost of registration is R.s. 35,000 for non members and Rs.25,000 for members. The minimum fees payable to IGBC for certification is R.s. 350,000 (including registration) for projects with a built up area of less that 5000 Sq Mts and will increase at the rate of R.s. 5.30 per additional Sq Mtr of built up area.


All in all it is an excellent idea to build a students' hostel with green building principles and getting it certified. But just ensure all the features of the building are well highlighted to all the students with hard data on the building performance. This will instill environmental consciousness and the knowledge of green buildings in all students that occupy the building which I am sure will augur well for their future.

​IGBC AP Exam and LEED GA: What is More Appropriate for Green Building in India?

Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:03:03 PM



Akhileshwar asks: I am very interested in doing certification course in green building but I am unable to select the right course for me. I am currently working with Tata Consulting Engineers and we are providing consultancy to Bangalore Water Supply And Sewerage Board for 550mld Water pipeline project but thats is not a green project. So in all I don't have any green project exposure so far. I have done Btech Civil engineering fron NIT Nagpur and currently pursuing my post graduation degee in Infrastructure Developlment and Management (already completed my one year in this course, total duration 2 year and will be completing this course by july '11). Can you please suggest a course for me asap?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises


Dear Akhilesh,

Many thanks for your question. If you are sure you want to give this field a try, I suggest you start off by reading up on green buildings, what attributes make a building truly green, what is the meaning of the term green, what is sustainability etc. Once you feel this is your thing, I suggest you attend one of the Advanced Training Programme on Green Building offered by the Indian Green Building Council or ADARSH.


IGBC AP Credential

If you find that Green building rating systems are of interest to you, you can go ahead and apply for the IGBC AP certification exam. Getting an IGBC AP accreditation is fairly straight forward and the exam itself is not the most complicated you will ever see. The first step is to register for the IGBC AP exam online. You will be asked your preferred date and examination centre. The exam itself is conducted by a company called Meritrac and they will send in the examination pack which will contain all the information you need once IGBC receives your examination fee.


Over 60% of the questions will come from the LEED India NC reference guide. For the remaining you will have to polish your general knowledge on green buildings, sustainability, impact of buildings on the environment and other general subjects related to the environment. I do not recommend taking any paid classes to prepare for the exam but I suggest you take some sample tests before you take the actual exam to learn where you stand.


GRIHA Trainer Credential

The GRIHA trainer credential is again quite similar to the IGBC AP credential exam. Except here you will have to be thorough with the GRIHA Manual Volume 1. The tests are given in the traditional pen and paper format post the three day training programmes that GRIHA India organises throughout the country. You can also opt to test for the GRIHA Evaluator exam in the same session. There is no eligibility criteria for this but you will have to have thorough technical knowledge of the area of expertise you are opting to give your exam in.


Once you have attained your IGBC AP or GRIHA Trainer credential, you will soon begin to realise that certain aspects of the Green building rating systems can get highly technical. You might have to take your learning a step further by taking up a course on advanced simulation for energy and lighting consumption in building designs. This will be the single biggest asset on your CV. Inability to carry out building simulations in-house and having to rely on expensive freelance energy modelers is the single biggest reason for the current high cost of providing LEED facilitation services in India. Find courses that can help you gain this knowledge and practice till you can perfect it. I have included a link to the one that I know of but I am sure there are many more.


LEED Green Associate Credential

If you want a more internationally recognised accreditation you also have the option of taking up the USGBC / GBCI LEED Green Associate exam. The LEED GA is not too different from the IGBC AP exam and you can take this exam in India itself. Here are two places you can get answers and learn how to apply.


I recommend completing the IGBC AP certification first before attempting the LEED GA exam because if you are working on IGBC rated projects in India, IGBC AP is what you need. Once you have these credentials and you can start looking for work experience on green building projects that have applied to be rated by the LEED system. Professionals with a LEED GA accreditation and sufficient green building project experience can then go on and take up one of the LEED AP exams. You have some way to go before you can be eligible for the LEED AP exam so I will keep that for later.


So these are the options available to you but before you take on any of my advice, I suggest you do your own research. Try reading as much as you can on sustainability, the need to go green and the value associated with it. Find a way to get motivated about playing an active role in conserving the environment and you will find that this passion will ensure that most of these certifications and credentials follow. One can become a good green building professional only if he/she is truly passionate about the natural environment. Good Luck.

​Cost of LEED Buildings in India: 6 Ways to Control Costs



Post date: Feb 10, 2013 4:12:52 PM



Madalam asks: Sir, i am a civil engineer working in State Bank Of Hyderabad. We are proposing to construct a new head office complex (project) at Hyderabad with 2 lakh built up area in 5 acres of open plot. It is commercial building for head office departments of state bank of Hyderabad with mixture of various types of offices like --Bank branches and ATMs (15% area ), corporate training units(15%), supporting back office departments in corporate office (40%), guest house (10%) , recreation facilities (10%) and parking garages etc (10%). now my question is -- What is the estimated cost of construction(for all civil works excluding interior works) per sft of green building of platinum rated)? what is the cost/sft of construction of same project in case of gold rated building? What are the differences in parameters of platinum and gold rated buildings? For approving the project in principle, top management of the bank needs this information? Detailed answers are requested?



Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Madalam,

Many thanks for your question and congratulations on the initiative taken by your bank.

First of all I would advice you to refrain from making proposals based on sq ft costs as they are very relative and can never be the same from project to project. There are many different strategies that can be employed in making a building green and complying with the targeted LEED credits and each one requires a separate cost benefit analysis. So it is almost impossible to come up with sq ft costs.

I have provided some general information on the cost of getting a LEED India NC certification and I suggest you prepare a proposal for your managers based on this information as opposed to sq ft costs of a green building which is unlikely to be accurate.

Introduction


LEED Certification in India

Earning a LEED certification for a project involves several different types of costs, and you have to consider each separately to get an accurate picture.


1. LEED Certification Fees

The most direct cost is also the smallest: the fees you pay to the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) to register and then to certify your project. These are roughly Rs.350,000 to Rs.500,000 for a New Construction.

IGBC Members Rs. 25,000 Non-Members Rs. 30,000



- Parking areas need not be considered as part of the built-up area.

- Fee is inclusive of service tax.

- Registration and Certification fee are non-refundable.

- Membership discounts can be availed only if the project owner is a member of IGBC



2. Cost of Documentation: Time and Effort

Next up the cost pyramid is the time and effort that someone has to put into compiling and submitting the LEED documentation and generally managing the compliance process. This requires the establishment of a tracking and reporting system (often performed by a LEED consultant, rather than the design and construction team itself) and the tracking down of information that otherwise is not standard practice in specifying or sourcing systems and materials.

This cost could be for an outside consultant hired just for that task, someone on the staff of the design firm, the contractor, or the owner. This is a big project for someone not familiar with the rating system, and I recommend hiring a third party consultant who has figured out the process and created or purchased effective tracking systems.


A LEED consultant will base their fees on the number of hours expected to complete the project. Based on past experiences an average of 400 - 500 work hours was required in order to complete all of the LEED documentation necessary for certification. A very low quote may mean that the consultant has underestimated the time needed to complete the job. A very high quote could mean they don’t have systems and processes in place to execute the job efficiently or they’ve added a contingency to allow for a lack of green experience on the design team.


It helps if the rest of the contractors and designers are familiar with LEED and each one doesn’t need too much coaching to provide their pieces of the documentation. It also depends how many credits you’re going after, and, to some extent, which ones. A few hundred hours to pull everything together for a big complicated project is not out of the ordinary; simple and small projects should take less time and effort.



3. Cost of Extra Research and Design

At the third level, your baseline starts to become very relevant.


If your baseline represents the costs to have a design team create a variant on their last few non-LEED projects, then designing to meet LEED standards will take some extra effort. But these added costs shouldn’t be attributed just to LEED—they are the costs of getting a better building.


To realize any high-performing building the team has to develop a range of scenarios, run simulations to determine how they will perform and prepare cost estimates to price them out. They also have to investigate alternative products and materials and explore the feasibility of new technologies. All these steps take time and effort—how much depends a lot on how experienced the team is and how aggressive the performance goals are for the project.


Using the base design, the design team should run multiple simulations trying different ECMs (Energy Conservation Measures) and suggest certain changes to the design (e.g. finding the right balance between introducing day light to save on the lighting load and introducing too much day light causing heat gain and putting additional load on the cooling system). This can be a time consuming process specially doing a cost benefit analysis of each of the ECMs and calculating the payback period. Only some ECMs may have incremental cost attached to them, consider a 3 year payback to be good and anything above 7 years is usually not recommended.


It needs to be appreciated that this service is not directly linked with the LEED facilitation and in some cases may be charged separately depending on the complexity and quality of the base design.



4. LEED Commissioning and Modeling Costs

LEED introduces a few requirements that add costs if they are not already part of the scope of the project. The most obvious of these is commissioning.

Commissioning involves an outside team of individuals that is not part of the design and construction team. In general, the cost of commissioning new buildings can come up to 0.5 percent of the total construction cost for relatively simple projects such as office buildings like yours.


Commissioning may seem like a big investment, but it’s cheap compared to the cost of call-backs, fixes, and inefficiencies that are likely if you don’t do it. For this reason, many large owners, including some departments of the Government of India, require commissioning for all of their projects, so for them it is not an added cost.


Energy modeling is trickier. While energy modeling should be used to inform the design process for every building, they are most useful during early design phases (as mentioned in the previous point). The models that have to be run for LEED documentation, on the other hand, are an added step, done late in the design process and often with different parameters.


The LEED-specific model does represent an added cost that starts at Rs 2,00,000–4,00,000, depending on the complexity of the project. For small projects it is possible to earn a few LEED energy points using the prescriptive path without doing such a model. Energy modeling is the most important part of the LEED facilitation process as it is the best way to demonstrate energy efficiency in a building. It is also the most complicated and is prone to errors.

The above four categories contain most of the soft costs, which are effectively the overhead costs of the LEED process. While these costs do not yield any direct benefits, they represent the price that must be paid to get into the LEED system and to fulfil its requirements.



Measurement and Verification Plan

Another LEED-specific action—tied to an optional credit, EAc5 in LEED-NC—is to create a measurement and verification (M&V) plan and install monitoring devices needed to track performance. If you wouldn’t be doing this, then the monitoring equipment and writing and implementing the M&V plan require cost premiums. Like commissioning and energy modeling, M&V brings benefits—it’s the only way to know if your high-performance building is really performing as designed. I recommend hiring experienced energy auditors to carry out the M&V work.



5. The Cost of Construction

Finally, we get to the top of our inverted pyramid, and what might be the biggest part of the cost picture: the hard costs of construction and the cost of greening the building.


This cost represents the premium over traditional construction that a green building would have embedded in its construction costs. The elements of these costs vary as widely as the LEED certification criteria. They may include additional site work and structures; additional infrastructure costs related to transportation; different heating, cooling, and ventilation systems; roofing; lighting; water use; recycling services at the site; and sourcing specific construction materials (from regional sources, recycled content, or certified forests).


If the design team is experienced and the goals aren’t too aggressive, there may be no overall added cost because every cost premium has been offset with savings somewhere else. (For example, a smaller HVAC system resulting from a more efficient building envelope).


We know this is possible because lots of projects achieve LEED certification on budgets that were set before LEED was introduced as a requirement. However, various case studies have targeted a typical premium for LEED projects at 2%–15% in India, with the high end including a lot of on-site renewable energy generation.



Managing Costs of Construction

To manage those costs you have to know, at least roughly, the price of a range of specific measures. It helps to know the following for example (this is only a small list for your reference):

  • Demand-controlled ventilation adds about R.s.50/cfm to the cost of a standard ventilation system
  • Bike racks will cost about Rs.300 per full time occupant.
  • Showers and changing rooms will cost about $400 per full time occupant.
  • Cool roof paint can cost up to Rs.30 per sq ft excluding labour cost
  • High performance glass is at least Rs.30 per sq ft costlier than regular plain glass.
  • Solar energy systems can cost close to Rs.1,50,000 per KW capacity
  • Branded Eco-friendly furniture has at least a 15% premium attached to it.
  • There is a cost attached to training contractors and workers to ensure they track waste generated on site.


LEED Cost Management and Conclusions

We know that these extra costs can be contained to a large extent at the design stage by following the six (6) basic principles as listed below:


1) Nail down and document the functional requirements of the building early. Make room for early input from the mechanical, electrical, and LEED consultants even before the site plan is prepared.

2) Make sure everyone on the design team understands their responsibilities with respect to the LEED process and is committed to an Integrated Design Process.

3) Insist on very systematic and professional management at the design stage as well as the construction stage. Online collaboration and project management tools are an excellent aid.

4) Keep the mechanical / electrical systems as simple as possible.

5) Avoid complex technologies that have little chance of being operated correctly once the building is occupied.

6) Keep the owner engaged and informed, understanding the nature and impact of decisions being made to achieve competing goals.


More effort on the design will lead to fewer problems and lower costs overall. Buildings at the higher end of the cost scale will be those that didn’t follow these fundamentals of green building design.


With our focus on costs, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that many of the investments made to earn points under the LEED system or to green a building pay for themselves over time.


We have not analyzed the benefits of LEED as part of our scope, but we believe it is important to balance the discussion of costs with an understanding of the benefits.


These building improvements are also credited with enhanced working conditions and productivity for building occupants. Promoters of green buildings attribute massive benefits to projected reductions in sick time and improved productivity resulting from better office conditions such as lighting and air quality. A green building certification like LEED India can also offer the building owner and his business excellent opportunities to market the building for its quality and efficiency along with its reduced carbon footprint.


If Bank of Hydrabad wants to show its customers that it is an environmentally conscious bank, then a LEED India Certification might be a good place to start.

​LEED Certified Buildings Aren't Perfect: But They Were Never Meant to Be



Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:53:31 PM


Ram asks: LEED places no restrictions on the size of the building, home etc, relative to a person's needs. Say, that we need a 2000 sq.ft place for X people. Then LEED should not give any points for buildings over 2000. First allowing a person, an organization to build an unrestricted building. Then asking them to be energy efficient. Means what? It is like asking a V8-Ram Charger to be a Hybrid. Just pull out the spare tire and get better mileage. For instance, everybody in the rest of the world uses a daily water requirement per person as 150 litres. In the US, it is like 150 gallons. And then you ask someone here to be conscious of water usage. Imagine using chlorinated and flourished water for gardening. This is drinking water. In most material usage, US with a 5% of the world population uses 25% of world raw materials. And in some cases, it uses 64% of the world materials. If someone uses 64%, and agrees to use 60%, looks like LEED will award some points for that. I would arrest that person for robbing world resources. Should we coin 2 terms - Restricted LEED and Unrestricted LEED. In my Rural projects in India, I have always used Rainwater harvesting, Recycling of waste, using bricks with fly-ash, making 5% cement bricks using sun-dried bricks. All parking lots with gratings to allow water percolation. By this token, I should get a LEED diamond rating. But it means nothing. Please Google these 2 - Auroville Earth Institute and an architect named Laurie baker - both from India. Common on, let us take LEED a few more steps higher and real?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Ram


You raise some fair points and they have been raised a few times before. The issues you have raised are related mainly to politics, culture and economics of a place and its people.


Firstly, you have to appreciate the fact that LEED or for that matter none of the Green building rating systems are perfect. They have never claimed to be and will probably never become in the future either. But they are the best we have got and I believe every project does have to go beyond rating systems to truly deliver value to stake holders and protect the environment along the way. This is already happening in many projects in India where promoters have brought in the concept of Green living within plain old LEED certified Green buildings. I recently wrote a blog on what I believe is the true difference between the term Green and the term Environmentally friendly. 


Coming to your point about restricting the space based on the expected number of full time occupants; this is already happening as building is an expensive exercise and no one wants to build more that what they need.


In some cases it is always better to build a little bit extra as it is almost impossible to predict exactly how many people will use the building and how the building will be used 10-15-30 years down the line. Many have tried and failed miserably. A promoter is always required to plan for the future and it is also better for the occupants if a building can absorb changes without any additional construction.


Secondly, it is not the job of a rating system like LEED to teach one moral ethics or tell how much one should build, this should be done by the government planning authority when any plan is sent for approval. LEED was never designed to teach people how to live more responsibly, how to consume smartly or how to make a positive impact on the environment on a daily basis. Such things require high levels of awareness and a massive cultural change and do not happen overnight. The purpose of LEED is to inform the building owners, users, occupants and other stakeholders that the building has been built in an environmentally conscious manner and has taken account of their health, comfort and well-being.


The point about over consumption in the US is a separate issue. Over the last century the US economy has been built around consumption using cheap credit and this model has been tremendously successful in economic terms. The world is a little different now and this is changing slowly with people consuming more responsibly. The change is going to take a few decades and the emissions in the US will eventually come down to at least the European levels.


Your point about restricted and unrestricted LEED might require more deliberation. But at this point I do not see why a customer would want to buy space in a restricted LEED building over an unrestricted LEED building specially when they might be priced exactly the same. The more important change LEED needs right now is of combining its rating systems. USGBC needs to consider making it mandatory for all LEED New Construction buildings to go in for a LEED EBOM rating after every 5 - 7 years of occupancy. If buildings do not comply they should lose their LEED NC rating all together. Maybe there could be other incentive attached like paying only half for the LEED EBOM certification. This will ensure that a building remains green through out its life and the promoters do not keep bragging about their building's green credentials well after it is all the technology within it is completely outdated.

Let me know what you think.

​Commercial Energy Audits in India: What are the Steps Involved?



Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:51:19 PM


What are the steps involved in getting a commercial building energy audit in India?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Many thanks for your question, I am glad you asked this one. Since your question is not very specific I will just suggest a few steps that will help your research and keep the details for later.


I recently spoke at an awareness seminar on Green Buildings for the Public Works Department Engineers here in South India. At the end of my speech, the first question I received was, what do we do about our existing buildings. My answer to them was the following:


First you need to bring about a change in occupant behaviour wherein you conserve, preserve, reuse, recycle and bring about a smart work culture where nothing gets wasted and where everyone realises that everything one uses has some value attached to it.


The second thing I asked them to do was to get an energy audit. An energy audit done professionally is one of the most important steps in greening a building. Many buildings have managed to save up to 30% on their energy bills as a result of a professional energy audit.


If your question pertains to the Indian context, I must warn you that commercial building energy auditing is not a common practice as of yet. In fact I do not know of a single commercial building around me that has got a professional energy audit done. Almost all energy audits done in India are under the industrial category. There are many firms in India that examine various industrial machinery and provide reports on their energy performance but I do not know of any recognised firms that do building audits, at least here.


Since you are looking for a commercial building energy audit, I would recommend using the Bureau of Energy Efficiency Website. The BEE conducts exams every six months to certify energy auditors and energy managers. You could contact all the certified energy auditors in your area and find out if they provide energy auditing services professionally. Please note: These candidates are only certified energy auditors and are not accredited by the government of India. So there is no guarantee that they have the knowledge to carry out large scale commercial energy audit. That is for you to find out if they work in a professional organisation that is in the business of providing energy audits for commercial buildings. Whoever you talk with, make sure you ask them to provide at least 3 work references before you employ any of them.


I have also uploaded an article from the WME magazine that will help you understand what are the various types of energy audits, what are the steps involved in getting an energy audit, how the audit is performed, how the results are presented, how the results are to be reviewed and lastly how one is supposed to act on those results.


I would also recommend getting a copy of "Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits" from ASHRAE. This is an excellent guideline providing all the learning you might need on the data one should expect to get out of a desired level of audit.


Hope this helps

​Green Building Consulting Goes Hand in Hand with Corporate Social Responsibility



Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:49:32 PM



Muhammed asks: Hello, I am a business development manager in a company that provide building materials to Africa from Dubai and china. Part of our CSR we would like to consider the environment when building. So our company wants to expand its horizon to start providing consultancy services about LEED and green buildings to respective people in Africa. So I am asking the requirements and steps to be a company that provide consultancy to contractors, architects and all.


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Muhammed


Thanks for your question. Since you have provided limited details on the kind of materials you trade in, I will try and keep this response as general as possible and not talk about green building materials.


Firstly, you need to be careful not to mix up your CSR (corporate social responsibility) message. While being environmentally responsible in your projects is a valid CSR initiative, providing LEED related services is a multi-billion dollar business today and has very limited CSR value.


Green construction industry alone is going to be worth $60 billion this year and a lots of people are becoming very rich while claiming to save the environment, so any such CSR message has to be very carefully planned so as not to send the wrong message to your customers.


Secondly, in my personal opinion environmental consideration in business is a little old fashioned way of demonstrating CSR. Environmental consideration is more on the mandatory side of things these days.


Green building consulting has proved to be a lucrative business model and it has worked brilliantly for many architecture and building contracting firms around the world. In your case you need to first examine if the LEED standard is accepted in the markets you work in. I know South Africa has a a rating system called Green Star SA but I do not think any other African nation follows any particular green building standard. This makes it very hard to market or command a premium on green buildings in the continent.


In any case to provide Green building consultancy, an organisation needs to have through understanding of the rating systems they plan to work with. Assuming you plan to work with LEED, your organisation needs to train its staff in the LEED NC rating system and then maybe branch out to the other rating systems within the LEED suite. You can also employ experienced LEED Accredited Professionals. Most LEED APs have thorough understanding of the standard and usually come with sufficient project experience to start taking up projects immediately. LEED APs also tend to have a good understanding of various building products and are good judges of what is considered to be a Green material and what is not. There is also plenty of paper work involved in filing submittal documentation for each credit attempted. So you will also need admin staff with some understanding of the rating system.


Once you have such a team in place, your company needs to start concentrating on learning latest green building practices. Try to gain knowledge of the latest building materials, fixtures and their environmental credentials along with latest technologies in the form of lighting, controls, automation, renewable energy, greywater systems, green roofs, glazing, heat pumps, HVAC etc. You will also need to create strategic partnerships with manufacturers so that you can source these materials for your clients easily. Just ensure you carry out a very strict evaluation of these manufacturers and their products before you recommend it to your customers.


Along with all this your organisation will need to have the ability to carry out advanced simulation for energy and lighting consumption in building designs. Find courses that can help your staff gain this knowledge and encourage them to practice till they can perfect it. Or you can also simply outsource this part of the job to freelance energy modellers, whichever suits your business model.


None of this is going to happen overnight, it can take many months to a year until you can create all the above and claim to be a full service green building consultancy. Once you have achieved this, you only need to do these three things, marketing, marketing, marketing.

​Life After LEED: What's next after I earn my LEED AP?


Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:47:47 PM



Shilpi asks: I am a Graduate in Architecture and I have immense interest in pursuing the certification Course in LEED. I have over 8 years of experience in Designing-Architectural as well as interiors of commercial ,residential & ITPArks. I would like to know what is next after earning my LEED Accreditation. I live in India.


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Shilpi,


Thanks for your question. There are many architects, civil engineers and young professionals having the exact same question in their minds. So what happens after you get LEED accredited? There is no straight answer to this.


For starters you can congratulate yourself, give yourself a pat in the back and go out for a celebratory drink. One of the most important things preparing for LEED and similar accreditation can give you is the understanding of sustainability and help you clear all the myths surrounding sustainability and Green Buildings. You will gain the ability to differentiate between what is truly GREEN and what just claims to be GREEN. You will find yourself to have a better knowledge of what constitutes a Green product, Green service or a Green process.


On the career side of things, yes LEED accredited professionals are highly sought-after worlwide and in India. The Green building market is only set to grow! I am assuming you work at an architect's firm. After passing your examination you can continue doing what you do but maybe you add a Green feather to your hat by following some of the best practises in the Green building industry. You will also have the knowledge to help manage the compliance process for buildings to be LEED certified. Being an architect you also have a distinct advantage of influencing certain design decisions and hence contribute more to the buildings Green credentials. So you can help your firm carve out a new service offering in the form of LEED facilitation or environmentally conscious design services. Right now you may not have clients asking for LEED certified buildings on a regular basis but it is always better to be prepared for the expected spurt in demand.


Before assuming that this will be the next big leap in one's career, one must understand that just getting a LEED accreditation will not teach one enough to start planning, implementing and commissioning Green buildings.


You will have to continue your learning process in the field and keep up to date with the latest green building design practices similar to the Passivhaus standard. Try to gain knowledge of the latest building materials, fixtures and their environmental credentials along with latest technologies in the form of lighting, controls, automation, renewable energy, green roofs, glazing etc.


Along with all this the single biggest asset in your CV would be the ability to carry out advanced simulation for energy and lighting consumption in building designs. Find courses that can help you gain this knowledge and practice till you can perfect it. Inability to carry out building simulations in-house and having to rely on expensive freelance energy modelers is the single biggest reason for the current high cost of providing LEED facilitation services in India.

On the other hand if you are willing to put in a lot more effort, you can also start your own Green building consultancy providing services such as LEED facilitation, consulting for Bureau of Energy Efficiency's star ratings, Environmental design services, Eco-interiors along with plain old architect services. Once you complete you examination you will begin to realize that there are plenty niche opportunities within the relm of Green Building industry that you might have the skill to tap and create a workable business model out of it.


One word of advice for the Indian market, avoid calling your firm a consultancy or yourself a consultant. The Indian business culture does not reward intelligence and nobody will pay you for your knowledge. So always make it sound like you are delivering a product or a valuable service even though the fact is that you are mainly bringing your knowledge to the table.

​India Green Building: What Standards and Codes Exist for Building Materials?


Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:45:20 PM



Argha asks: I would like to know about the standards and the code of references which are accepted for the following green building materials used in India in the green building construction: 1) Green roof 2) Any other Water proofing material which is being extensively used in India 3) Shading coefficient value in double glazed window and the accepted value according to the standards based on the green building construction in India 4)Terazzo flooring according to the construction based in India 5) PVC pipes according to the construction based in India 6) Aerated light weight concrete blocks according to the construction based in India 7) Ceramic tiles according to the construction based in India 8) Out door paving materials according to the construction based in India?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Dear Argha


Thank you for your question.


Before I start answering your question you need to understand that many of the building materials mentioned below do not have any standards as such, specially when it comes to classifying whether a product is really green or not. The answer to the below questions depends on whether your project is applying for a green building certification and how each of these products might help a project comply with the requirements of the rating system or the standards used within it.

The two certifications available in India are:


1. LEED INDIA along with other IGBC rating systems administered by the Indian Green Building Council (http://www.igbc.in)


2. Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, or GRIHA conceived by The Energy Resources Institute and developed jointly with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. (http://www.grihaindia.org/)


LEED requires projects to comply with ASHRAE standard 90.1 for energy, ASHRAE standard 62.1 for indoor air quality and ASHRAE standard 55.1 for thermal comfort. You need to have an understanding of these standards to check if the products facilitate compliance to these standards.


I am not sure what standards GRIHA uses and the only way to find out is by attending one of their training courses which are not very frequent.


An important development in the Indian building industry has been the development of the ECBC (Energy Conservation of Building Code) brought out by the Ministry of Power, India. This standard provides guidelines for construction of energy efficient buildings in India and is similar to the ASHRAE standard 90.1. There are talks of making the ECBC standard mandatory for all buildings within the next 5 years. I noticed it is not easy to find the ECBC user guide and standard on the internet.


Once you have an understanding of the two green building rating systems along with the compliance standards mentioned above you will be able to learn what it takes to call a product GREEN. Most dealers in India will not have the knowledge to provide you with information like the recycled content, use of rapidly renewable material, place of origin of the product and the raw material, potential for recycling etc. Project teams are usually required to get this information from the manufacturers directly.


I am going to try and answer some of your specific queries:


1) Green roof and

2) Any other Water proofing material which is being extensively used in India


There are no standards for green roofs in India as of now. The only organisation I can think of on top of my head that is in the forefront of research in this subjects is The Research Society for Landscape Development and Landscape Design based in Germany. You might be able to purchase their standard and guideline from their website http://www.fll.de/.


These guidelines can include: building technique (e.g. load bearing capacity, wind uplift protection, fire protection, temperature, noise protection, etc); and the roof technique (waterproofing material and installation, upstands, slope, drainage, etc.). You could also use http://www.greenroofs.com/


3) Shading coefficient value in double glazed window and the accepted value according to the standards based on the green building construction in India

Refer to the ECBC guidelines mentioned above


4)Terazzo flooring according to the construction based in India

Terazzo is just a brand that makes laminate flooring in India. As far as I know they do not have any Green product claims. Generally how green a laminate floor is differs from manufacturer to manufacturer but my guess is it is not very GREEN.


5) PVC pipes according to the construction based in India

PVC pipes must follow the ASTM (International) D1785 or the IS (Indian Standard) 4985:2000. I do not think any of these standards have anything to do with Green Building material.


6) Aerated light weight concrete blocks according to the construction based in India

AAC blocks have many environmental and other benefits like Excellent thermal resistance, Proven Strength, Lightweight, Sound Insulation, Workability, Excellent Fire Resistance, Sulfate Resistance, Proven Frost Resistance, Prevents Damp Penetration. AAC can eliminate the need to be used in combination with insulation products, which increase the environmental impact and cost of construction. Again, there is no international or Indian standard that I can think of.


7) Ceramic tiles according to the construction based in India

I know that Nitco tiles follows the EN standards which is a European standard which tests various different properties of tiles but again I do not think there is a life cycle analysis taking place to assess the environmental impact of these tiles.


8) Out door paving materials according to the construction based in India

I do not know of any standards for paving materials

You need to appreciate the fact that having Green standards for building materials is not practical and introduction of any such standard may only stifle innovation.


Hope this helps.

​LEED AP: Does IGBC Project Experience Count Toward Eligibility?


Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:42:24 PM



Ruchi asks: Criteria for LEED AP Speciality Exam: I have worked on USGBC registered project in 2009 and 2 Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) registered projects this year. Does USGBC accept IGBC registered projects experience or is it required to have USGBC registered project experience only?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Hi Ruchi, thanks for your question.


In short, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) does accept experience attained through IGBC projects. So, if your are already a LEED Green Associate, you can go right ahead and apply for the LEED AP with specialty exam.


USGBC vs. IGBC: LEED and LEED India

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that administers the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems.


The LEED rating systems are used to certify building projects that are high performing in the following areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.


The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is a part of CII-Godrej Green Business Centre, which promotes green building in India. The IGBC develops the IGBC rating systems, which include Green Homes, Green Townships, and Green SEZ.


The IGBC is also licensed by the USGBC to administer LEED India, which is the indigenized version of the LEED rating system.


LEED AP vs. IGBC AP

USGBC, in partnership with the Green Building Certification Institute, offers the LEED Green Associate and LEED Accredited Professional (AP) credentials for green building professionals. These credentials demonstrate the professionals' knowledge of sustainable building principles and the LEED rating systems.

The IGBC also offers a professional credential for Indian green building professionals called the IGBC AP. This demonstrates a professional's knowledge of the IGBC rating programs and general green building principles.


Since both the USGBC's LEED rating systems and IGBC's rating programs are used in India, many Indian green building professionals like to earn both LEED credentials and the IGBC AP credential.


LEED AP Eligibility: Does IGBC Project Experience Count?

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) administers the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams and determines a candidate's eligibility.

To be eligible for LEED AP with specialty exams, a candidate must have both (1) experience on a LEED project and (2) the LEED Green Associate credential.

GBCI accepts experience attained through IGBC projects as LEED project experience. Therefore, if you are already a LEED Green Associate, you should be eligible for the LEED AP exam.

​LEED India vs. GRIHA: What Is the Cost of Green Building Certification in India?


Post date: Feb 10, 2013 3:32:38 PM



Piyali asks: I am from a management educational institute in Kolkata. We are going to establish a new building in Rajarhat, New town area. Its a new construction and we prefer to construct it as green building. Please inform what would be the initial cost to register it as green building. Except life cycle analysis , what would be our initial benefit as green building? Is there any local benefit, like tax saving etc.? I suppose, there are two rating system , LEED and GRIHA. So, which one is applicable here?


Advice provided by: Yusuf Turab, Y T Enterprises



Hi Piyali, thank you for your question.


Green Schools and Universities: A Good Green Building Choice

Let me first tell you that it is always a good idea to construct any institutional building as green building irrespective of the tangible benefits. Students form long-term opinions from what they learn and see at their educational institutes. Institutional buildings are generally accessible to a large number of people and are talked about more in comparison with large corporate offices.

The Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, which has both its campuses LEED Platinum certified, is a prime example. Students here have known to be proud of their campus and its environmental credentials. From a couple of personal experiences, I can tell you some of them can talk endlessly about the superior environmental performance of their campus.


Cost of Green Building Certification in India

Not too long ago I wrote an article on the cost of green buildings certification, "The Cost of LEED Building in India". I would recommend you read this, since it details 6 ways to control costs on an Indian green building project.


You can also get the latest certification costs for LEED India rating on the IGBC website, and the latest costs for GRIHA rating on the GRIHA India website.

You will find that the costs are similar and will usually range between Rs.350,000 to Rs.550,000 depending on the size of the project.


LEED India vs GRIHA India

I personally like both green building rating systems, LEED India and GRIHA India, and would recommend either.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is well established and internationally renowned. It is also the most favored rating system among the private sector.


On the other hand, critics call it "too American" as the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has not allowed it to be indigenized enough for it to work well in the local context.


For example, water is a critical resource in India but LEED offers far fewer points for water conservation in comparison to GRIHA. Also, building commissioning is a mandatory requirement in LEED, but this is not a common practice in India, and is usually considered an unnecessary expense. These are a only some of the issues that one might find frustrating when working with LEED in India.


GRIHA on the other hand is made in India, for India and thus has many criteria that make total sense in the Indian context. Compliance criteria for worker safety and well being is one such example.


But at the same time, since the rating is fairly new it needs further improvement. Specifically, the material and resource sustainability criteria are poorly defined and the energy criteria can be too stringent for some projects to comply.


The bottom line is, both LEED India and GRIHA are applicable to your project. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the project team to choose which rating system suits your initial design and specifications. Additionally, you may consider which rating system is likely to provide you with a higher rating and which rating system is more likely provide you with the desired press coverage.


Green Building Incentives in India

The West Bengal government does not offer any incentives for green buildings at the moment. However, it is likely that this might change in the coming years.

If your project requires Environmental Impact Assessment clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, then GRIHA offers a pre-certification which ensures a fast track environmental clearance. This process can reduce the time line of a project by at least 3 months.


Marketing Your Green Building in India

The initial benefit of a green building will also largely depend on the quality of marketing. If you manage to pre-certify your project and and hire a smart marketing team who can leverage these credentials to create interest, awareness, and curiosity among potential students and members of the public, you might find yourself in an excellent position even before the institution begins functioning.


Marketing green buildings in India has been at best mediocre so far. Very few green building developers have managed to create any interest in the sustainability of their projects. Everyone seems to use one-liners like "gold rated building", "5 star building", "eco-friendly construction" etc. None of these make any sense to a layman.


The tragedy is that no one talks about what a green building can do for its users, how it can improve the quality of time the users spend in the building, and the health benefits or the monetary savings it might create overtime.


I believe a good marketing campaign is one that makes people want something that they don't need. A sustainably built environment is something that people desperately need, they just don't know it yet. Hence, theoretically at least, marketing green buildings should not be difficult.

​The Questions a Home Buyer Should Really be Asking


Post date: Oct 7, 2012 9:38:35 AM


The housing market may have had a rough time of late, but there are still plenty of us out there looking to buy a new home. Whether you are a first time buyer or a seasoned home-buying veteran, it is worth remembering that buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and not just financially. The location, size and style of your house, along with what you chose to do with it, can have a huge impact on the running cost and the ecological footprint of your home. So choose wisely, ask all the right questions, don’t fall for gimmicks, leave behind meaningless aspirations and check out some of my handy hints below. Happy hunting!

The Amenities – Why you should be disinterested in them

Swimming pool, gymnasium, jogging track, club house, steam & sauna, spa, games room, movie hall and even a golf course are just some of the amenities developers seem to be offering to lure in home buyers. Every project seems to come out with something new, it is almost like buying a mobile phone, soon after you buy one you notice a new one has come out that offers more features at just a slightly higher price. No one knows exactly how much these amenities influence the buying decision but I can imagine they must have some influence that is why they are being offered and marketed with so much vigour.

I cannot help but think in this chase for maximum amenities most developers and many more home buyers have completely lost sight of what constitutes a good home in the long term. A good home should ensure comfort, health & well-being, convenience, resilience, safety, durability, environmental sustainability and most importantly it should be easy on the pockets when it comes to maintenance, energy bills and costs/hassles associated with water.

It is absolutely pointless to get too excited about the amenities mentioned above as all of them are practically useless if not maintained to the best of standards. In almost every residential development home buyers soon begin to realise what a huge financial burden these amenities are and the cost of maintaining them just goes higher every year. All these amenities also require well paid, trained personnel to ensure safe use. Do we really want our children to be playing around swimming pools or gymnasiums with heavy equipment without adult supervision? Less than 5% of the residents in any colony use these amenities and yet everyone has to pay for their maintenance. It is almost always cheaper, safer and more socially rewarding to get a membership at a local health club or pay per use if that is an option. Hence, the likelihood of any of these amenities being in use for more than two years after occupancy is very slim.



Factors that should influence a home buyers decision

Most amenities are just tools used by promoters to make a development look attractive to home buyers as these aspects of a development are visible and can be felt. But the real good qualities of any residential development lie in the bits not visible to us and require a little probing and prodding on the home buyer’s part. Here is a list of questions a home buyer should really be asking and these should be the areas of primary focus when buying a home:


Is the home energy efficient? Is the home naturally comfortable or does it require air conditioning to provide thermal comfort? What sort of lighting has been used throughout the project?


Due to the constant demand supply gap, India is likely to remain a severely energy deficient country in the foreseeable future. When screening potential realtors, ask them how much they know about home energy performance and other environmental issues that matter to you. You can tell a lot just by taking a careful look around. Take a gander at the windows, and check if they're single or double-paned, and at the doors, to see if you feel a draft coming through around the edges. Never buy homes that are not fully day-lit or have too much direct sunlight coming into the home (in warm climates). Insist on energy efficiency measures like appropriate shading, cool roofs, high performance glazing, efficient lighting, controls etc. Power outages are here to stay and it is always better to have a home that can be comfortable without too much dependence on electrical appliances.

Have an understanding of the equipment on offer; inefficient lifts, pumps, motors, sewage treatment and RO plants are irreversible maintenance costs that hurt in the long run. It might even be worth bringing an energy expert to analyse these for you before making an investment.


Where is the water coming from and where is it going?


Most parts of our country are inevitably heading towards a major water crisis in the coming decade. It is only wise to insulate oneself form this oncoming crisis. Hence, one should never invest in a project that does not have a proper water management plan and seems unlikely to be prepared for drought situations. Check if the project is harvesting the maximum rainwater possible and is treating all its waste water on-site. Stored rainwater and treated waste water can easily be reused for landscaping, flushing and external uses. The project must have installed water efficient low flow fixtures in bathrooms and kitchen. Water and energy are intrinsically linked so saving water saves energy as well. These measures can take care of up to 70% of your water needs leaving you to only worry about 30% in case of a sustained drought.


Does the home ensure a healthy indoor environment?


On average Indians spend more than 80% of their time indoors and the quality of the indoor environment has a huge bearing on our health, well-being and productivity. Never invest in a home that does not have enough fresh air ventilation and cross ventilation. Insist on fully operable windows and check if the window area is at least 13%-15% of the floor area. Look for exhaust systems in bathrooms and kitchen. Get a list of all the paints, varnishes and adhesives to be used in your home and ensure that these chemicals are eco-friendly and free of toxic Volatile Organic Compounds. These chemicals may off gas for as long as five years and when coupled with poor ventilation, it causes the sick building syndrome. Never make compromises here as problems related to indoor environmental quality are very expensive to fix.

Remember: location, location, location

Mumbai-aites have the some of the lowest ecological footprints in India, and it's not because they are all amazingly eco-conscientious. Rather, it's because they tend to live close to shops, entertainment, and places of work. If they don't live close to all those things, they live close to a local train station or a bus line that will take them to these locations. The lesson here? Choose your location carefully. Even if the countryside is definitely for you, it's worth thinking about commuting distances, proximity of local facilities, and how you are going to get around. With the rising fuel costs, it is always worth paying a little extra to live in a location that allows you to walk to at least a grocery store and some of the other basic amenities.

How is the solid waste managed?

Indians are now consuming more stuff than they ever did and are subsequently generating more waste than they ever did. Any residential development must allow and encourage its residents to segregate their waste and turn it into a resource. Look for projects that have separate storage area with different bins for recyclables and a separate facility for composting organic waste to create manure or biogas. The recyclables can be sold off and the organic manure can be used in the garden instead of using chemical fertilisers. While waste management may not be top priority for many but this can go a long way in improving the quality of the surrounding environment.

Does the landscape plan improve the quality of life and minimise the damage caused to the site?

If a project makes you feel like you have walked into a concrete jungle then investing in such a project is probably best avoided. Look for a landscape plan that is natural to the surroundings, is maintainable, improves bio-diversity and cuts down on the non functional bits. Trees are good for a lot more than just aesthetics, so take a peek outside your potential new digs to check out the foliage that comes with the place. Big deciduous trees are great natural climate controllers; in the summer, their leafy branches block the sun and can help keep your home cooler (reducing cooling costs). Space constraints should never be an excuse as there are many green roof and living wall technologies available that can help green urban buildings.

Does size really matter?

At the risk of preaching something I do not practice, I truly believe small really is the new big, and less is the new more. The smaller your living space, the less energy is needed to cool and light it, and the less you have to spend on utilities too. With some thoughtful, careful interior design, you can create beautiful living environments out of some surprisingly small spaces. Smaller homes are likely to be better maintained and hence command a higher resale value per square foot compared to large homes.

How do I operate the house?

It never ceases to amaze me that a new house doesn't come with an owner's manual. You wouldn't expect a new car to come without guidance how to operate and maintain it; shouldn't we expect the same with something we're spending ten or twenty times as much money on? This owner's manual should explain--in plain English--such issues as how to operate and maintain heating and cooling equipment, the importance of cleaning out gutters, what homeowner's need to know about the various comfort features of a home, the names of products and materials used in constructing the house, and how to inspect for termites or other problems. A homeowner's manual is also a great place to aggregate all the information that comes with appliances, cooling equipment, and any other systems in the house.

The Bottom Line is

One of the best and perhaps the least technically challenging method of judging a home is to check if the project has been certified GREEN. Today any developer has the option of getting their project certified GREEN from the Indian Green Building Council or The Energy Resources Institute. These certifications come with varying slabs which inform a home buyer how energy & water efficient the home really is. These certifications also require the project to have sustainable site planning, enhanced indoor environmental quality, use of non toxic environmentally friendly materials and onsite waste management. All these aspects are well documented and can be made available to the home buyers to ease the painful process of choosing the best home.

There is nothing to say that a project that does not have a certificate is not high performance, the fact is that there are many uncertified developments that take a stronger approach towards environmental performance than certified one's but who is to check this? It the duty of developers and promoters to help home buyers lead a comfortable, affordable and hassle free lifestyle. Any project must enable and encourage its residents to live in an environmentally responsible manner. It is the duty of the home buyers to buy responsibly, put in a little extra effort gathering project information and demand highest performance achievable within a budget.



Article by: Yusuf Turab. Managing Director

Y T Enterprises

​Y T Enterprises Launches BuildScape - Green Roof and Living Wall Systems

Post date: Aug 19, 2012 7:50:49 PM


We have now officially launched BuildScape. Our propitiatory green roof and living wall systems exclusively for the Coimbatore market. Here is the first look. Please contact us if you wish to visit our R.S Puram office to view our demo systems. Please view our green roof and living walls page for more information.



​There's no Tomorrow

Post date: Jul 2, 2012 2:49:28 PM


There’s No Tomorrow is a half-hour animated documentary about resource depletion, energy and the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet.

​India's need for Green Buildings

Post date: Apr 4, 2012 2:01:14 PM

​The Top 10 Green Home Priorities

Post date: Jun 11, 2011 6:28:59 PM


Continuing my three part series on Green Homes, here is the second part which intends to list out the top 10 priorities that the builder, designer and most importantly the home owner should be aware off. This part is going to be split into a series of 10 articles, each one covering a particular green home priority. I am going to follow a ranking order listing out first, what I believe are the most important factors to be considered in greening a home and then gradually moving to lesser known but probably equally important factors. The order is my personal opinion based on the Indian context and solely takes new homes and major renovations into account. My ranking might have been slightly different if I was to consider existing homes or homes built in the coldest or driest parts of the country. I will be pleased to hear any disagreements but the bottom line is that all of the priorities I will cover are important in most situations--and there are lots of other greening strategies we should try to address, even if they don't make it onto this list. So here goes:

Green Home Priority ~1 – Reduce Water Use

Number 1 on my list of the top-10 green home priorities is to reduce water use. I expect some readers will be surprised at my choice of water and not energy being the top priority. Well, this would be fair in most countries but not in India. Water is a rapidly renewable resource in the sense that we get two major monsoons in a year but one must also remember that the quantity of water is finite and is not going to increase year after year. Energy production on the other hand can be increased as per requirement from conventional or renewable resources. Not inferring that energy is any less of a priority but we know that an energy crisis can be managed with human intervention; on the other hand, we are at nature's mercy for water. But in many ways, water resource issues are an even bigger problem in parts of the country that aren't as used to thinking about water. Take Charrapunji for example where even an annual rainfall of 11,777 mm does not seem to be enough to provide a secure water supply.


For those who didn't already know here is the Indian scenario: 


Not a single town, village or city in India has a 24*7 water supply, not a single water board charges its consumers the amount it costs the government to convey the water from far of catchment areas to their homes, not many people know the true cost of getting a kilo litre of water to flow from the catchment area to the taps in their homes and many people seem to believe it is gravity that brings water to their doorstep. The haves with a proper municipal supply cannot care enough for water and the have nots do not get much water. The very concept of central municipal water supply has no business model and hence like many other government services, is not sustainable.


Lets take Bangalore as an example: 


Bangalore is situated at an elevation of 3,020 ft above sea level but all its water comes from sources that are well below this elevation. Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board is currently drawing water from two rivers namely, Cauvery (80% of the city supply) and Arkavathy (20% of the city supply). Water from these two rivers is stored in huge reservoirs constructed near the rivers. From the reservoirs, water is then let into treatment plants for purification, then the water is pumped in large pipelines to the smaller reservoirs in the city through a series of pumping stations and within the city, water is supplied to households and other establishments by further pumping through a network of smaller pipes. Hence every drop of municipal water that a Bangalorean consumes or wastes has been pumped using large amounts of energy. The exact energy consumption figures are not known but one can only imagine the cost of pumping 945 million litres of water per day to heights of 3000 ft. The scenario in other cities is either alarming (Cost of water supply in Chennai is even higher) or only slightly better.


It gets worse: 


Because of the laws nature, everything that goes in has to come out in some form or the other. This is what we call sewage, which is an even bigger problem than the water supply itself. The more water we consume the more sewage we generate. The more sewage we generate the more energy intensive treatment facilities we require. Not a single city in our country treats even close 75% of its sewage. Broken pipes, unregulated colonies, slums and industrial effluent only compound our problems. In most cities sewerage systems are incomplete or non existent in some parts. Hence sewage is either simply let into the storm water drains (meant to carry only rain water) or lakes. Making this water unfit for human consumption.


The bottom line is: 


Water use reduction is such an important factor in construction of Green Homes (and other buildings for that matter) mainly because water is energy-intensive. Pumping water out of the ground or catchment, moving it from one place to another, treating it, and then treating the waste-water after we use it accounts for about 3% - 6% of the nation's electricity. Water is also such a high priority because so much else depends on it. Most of our power plants draw water from rivers and lakes for cooling, and during severe droughts power plants have to shut down. Unlike the more developed countries our food system is highly dependant on irrigation. We drink and wash with water. And it takes a lot of water to generate electricity: on average 15 - 20 litres per kilowatt-hour in India.


There are lots of good ways to reduce water use. A few of my favourites are listed here:

  • Replace old shower-heads with new ones that do not dispel more than 8.4 litres per minute
  • Replace old toilets with latest dual flush systems that do not dispel more than 4.2 litres per full flush and 2.1 litres for half flush
  • Reduce the water consumption of bathroom faucets by installing aerators that increase air supply and restrict water supply to about 8.4 litres per minute.
  • Install waterless urinals. Yes they work and no there is absolutely no odour. If there was, nobody would buy them and hence nobody would make them.
  • Install pumping management system to ensure there is no overflow from the overhead tanks.
  • Buy a water-saving washing machine. Horizontal-axis, front-loading machines use significantly less water than most vertical-axis top-loaders.
  • Buy a water-conserving dishwasher or don't buy one at all.
  • Plant low-water-use landscaping. Grass is getting too common anyway.
  • Harvest rainwater for irrigating and other outdoor uses. With sufficient filtration and purification rainwater can be used for drinking purposes as well.
  • Treat at least the grey water to reuse for irrigation.

These suggestions are just a starting point; there are lots of other opportunities for savings. Huge savings can also be achieved simply by changing your behaviour: taking shorter showers, and not running the water when washing dishes or brushing your teeth, and skipping car-washing, for example. To a significant extent, water savings is about common sense.


The larger unrelated issue:


Rain is decentralised. So is the demand for water. Why cant we decentralise the supply? In my opinion the entire system of water supply from a centralised location and also treating the resultant sewage in a central location is fundamentally flawed and does not make any sense. Well, not in a big country like India with a big population and with even bigger problems. How is it practically possible for even the most efficient government machinery to supply water to 1.3 billion people and also take away all the waste they generate for little or no fee and treat it? How many STPs are we going to build, where is the water going to come from and more importantly where is the energy to do all the above? Even if we manage to treat most of the waste water in centralised sewage treatment plants there is no means to convey the reusable water back into our cities without creating more infrastructure that requires even more energy.

These traditional ideas of what a government is supposed to do for its people and what people should expect from a government needs to change. The government's job is to act as a facilitator and not as a provider. The governments job is to encourage, support and provide technology/incentives for water conservation, water harvesting and decentralised waste water treatment systems within sites. Since rain is only seasonal the government should supply water at higher costs when people need it and for those who want to continue using the sewage systems they should be willing to pay for the quantity of waste they send out. These are larger political issues which need to be debated in the appropriate forum. But in the medium term we will continue to see political parties promising people more water hence more dams, more free sewage treatment hence more STPs, better waste collection hence larger dump yards and more electricity and hence more power plants; there is no end to it. I hope common sense prevails and some day people realise that the more we build the more we lose, why to build when there is nothing to gain.

Article by: Yusuf Turab

Managing Director

Y T Enterprises

​TREND 



Post date: Feb 1, 2011 8:34:22 AM


I have just finished reading one of my favourite magazines; the January issue of the Indian version of Entrepreneur magazine contains a 2011 trends special. Just like most magazines do in their first issues of the year, the Entrepreneur magazine also contains articles on what they believe will be the forces driving change in 2011. This articles talks about how travel and tourism is going to take off, how social media is going to bring about a revolution in on-line shopping, how the increasingly health conscious population will power a boom in the fitness sector, how healthcare has and will continue to emerge as the most progressive of the service sectors in the country and how the services required by senior citizens will create a huge opportunity for budding entrepreneurs. Now most of us have heard of the progress these sectors have been making for a few years now so these are quite predictable. But one trend that I thought was quite interesting and even slightly surprising was the forecast of increased demand for Green Homes. Interesting because Green Homes and the concept of smarter living offers tremendous opportunity for overhauling an average Indian's lifestyle and surprising because I did not think it would make it to such a list for at least a couple of years. Well, its here now and so I thought its only appropriate to give a further insight into Green homes, what's on offer and what one should expect out of living in such a home

Tangible benefits

  • Energy savings : 20 - 30 %
  • Water savings : 30 - 50%

Intangible benefits

  • Enhanced air quality
  • Excellent day lighting
  • Health & well-being of the occupants
  • Conservation of scarce national resources
  • Effective waste management
  • Enhance marketability for the project.


What's on offer...

Well, the shortest answer to that question is; not much. There are a few developers in cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore that offer certified Green homes to a market segment which is still considered to be niche at the moment. Having said that; most new developments come with certain green features like waste water treatment, energy efficient lighting, visitors parking, design for differently able, Landscaping etc. While these are all welcome, just by adding a few environmentally conscious features a developer cannot claim their offering to be GREEN. Yes! the development can be termed Environmentally Conscious; GREEN no!

Building Green Homes requires one to take an holistic view of every aspect concerning the building's occupants and the environment. Apart from optimising energy performance and being highly efficient in its water use; the home should also ensure there is minimal disturbance to its site. The home should offer superior indoor environmental quality which in turn improves the quality of life and enhances productivity of its occupants. Equally important and perhaps the one with most potential to alter the business of building is that all of the above should be achieved by using material that has the least possible impact on the environment.

How does one choose...

The first thing any home buyer should understand that there is plenty of Green Washing going on in the market. Almost every developer in the market might claim to have done their environmental due diligence before they start marketing a project but in reality there is no one to check if a complete life cycle analysis of materials was done, or whether the design is the most energy efficient possible within the constraints, what sort of emissions are coming out of the chemicals used in the building, the true durability of the building and the systems within it and last but not the least the potential reduction of green house gasses.This might sound like a confusing scenario for a home buyer but it does not always have to be that way.

One of the best and perhaps the least technically challenging method of judging a home is to check if the project has been certified GREEN. Today any developer or for that matter any private home owner has the option of getting their project certified GREEN. These certifications come with varying slabs which inform a home buyer how green the home really is. There is nothing to say that a project that does not have a certificate is not green, the fact is that there are many uncertified developments that take a stronger approach towards environmental conservation than certified one's but who is to check this?

There are two organisations in India that currently offer such a certification: First one and perhaps the most popular is the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) which is the subsidiary of the Confederation of Indian Industry and the other is The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI). Thankfully unlike in the west the Indian market is not flooded with too many rating systems. Both these ratings come from the most influential institutions of the country, one is the largest industrial body and the other is an important government agency.

The IGBC has developed a rating systems called IGBC Green Homes which mainly draws from the USGBC's LEED green building rating system.TERI's rating system called GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) has been developed in partnership with the MNRE (Ministry of New & Renewable Energy). This system is not specific to homes and can be applied to all types of buildings. The IGBC on the other hand has specific rating systems for every type of development. The IGBC Green Homes rates projects Platinum, Gold, Silver or Certified based on the greenness of the building whereas GRIHA rates its projects Five star, Four star, Three star, Two star and One star. As the name suggests, platinum and five star are considered to be the pinnacle of efficiency, health, comfort and quality.

Both these ratings are fairly comprehensive and rate projects by taking most aspects of comfort, health and environment into account. Such a certification is almost impossible to gain without taking the holistic approach I talked about earlier in the article. This provides a win win situation for both developers and home buyers. For developers, such a rating can improve the marketability of their project and for the home buyers it provides a certain guarantee of quality for their investment.

What should one know before investing...

It is very important for the home buyers to appreciate that such a certification has a certain premium attached to it. So it is only natural that developers might charge slightly more for a green home as opposed to a conventional home. Apart from the expense of the certification fees paid to the IGBC or TERI, obtaining such a certification requires tremendous amounts planning, research, perseverance and attention to detail. Green home projects also require a lot more designing time in order to make sure the final product is the most energy efficient possible. There is also extensive documentation involved (up to 400 hours) to prove the compliance with the rating program. A buyer should expect to pay a premium of anywhere between 6% to 15% depending on the rating obtained, technology features and systems added to the home. A home is usually a long term investment and every home buyer should understand that this additional cost has a definite return on investment through savings from energy and water costs, higher durability, enhanced productivity of its occupants and better waste management. The resultant reduction of impact on the environment and reduced CO2 emissions is just a cherry on the cake.

"Just as you feel good when your thoughts, emotions, intellect and physical state are in harmony; So does a building make you feel at home when it is in perfect balance with its inhabitants, environment and the laws of nature."


Article by: Yusuf Turab

Managing Director

Y T Enterprises

​My building is GREENER! No!! My building is GREENER!

Post date: Jul 13, 2010 6:29:08 PM


Speak to any entrepreneur, a successful entrepreneur, an unsuccessful entrepreneur or a wannabe entrepreneur and they will admit to one thing, they are big dreamers. In fact most of them spend more time dreaming than doing something about those dreams and thoughts. One of the reason is that quite often the entrepreneur is way ahead of himself and its often found that its hard for him to physically keep up with everything he is thinking. Dreams are a state of mind and for an entrepreneur the mind works like a machine, a business development machine, a marketing machine, an accounting machine or quite often a tax evasion machine. The point I am trying to make is when an individual has an overwhelming desire to achieve a perceived level of greatness in their chosen field of work, all his/her thoughts and dreams start to revolve around that field and some of its characteristics and this process is almost relentless. These dreams are often unrealistic and full of fictional characters.


  • Just like every other entrepreneur I dream a lot and lately I have found myself seeing a lot of green all around. Not necessarily eco-friendly but green colour nonetheless. I recently had one of these dreams and I thought it makes sense to put it in words instead of just letting it go. As far as I remember, it went like this: I was at a coffee shop called GREEN DAY sipping my green coffee in a green coloured mug. Then I saw two alien looking men walk in and they were green, green skin, green clothes, green shoes, green everything (they were probably aliens, not sure). I thought I must have seen these characters somewhere to have dreamt about them, so I searched the internet and the closest match I found are these two characters. Anyway, back to the dream. So these two men walk in buy a green coffee each and start talking about their respective office buildings and how green they were. I started eavesdropping as soon as I heard the word green. I noted both their buildings had some excellent environmentally responsible features and they had done everything possible to ensure their office buildings have minimal impact on the environment.Both the buildings were very well located with close proximity to public transport links and excellent community connectivity.
  • Both men had made absolutely sure that there was no soil erosion, sedimentation or air pollution with dust and particulate matter during construction.
  • Both offices sufficiently encouraged their employees to commute using bicycles or low emitting and fuel efficient vehicles.
  • Both the buildings had maximised open spaces and restored the natural habitat within them, they had also built roof gardens with local plant species to make up for the loss of habitat on the built up surfaces.
  • Both buildings had taken measures to more or less eliminate the use of municipal potable water by harvesting and filtering all the rain water within the site, using ultra low flow bathroom fixtures, waterless urinals, efficient flushing mechanisms, treatment of graywater and reusing that for flushing and irrigation. Even the sewage was treated using biological methods.
  • Both green men had paid special attention to make sure their buildings were as energy efficient as possible. The building envelopes were sufficiently insulated, the doors and windows were of the highest quality, the glazing was the most efficient for their respective climatic conditions.
  • Both buildings saved over 90% of their lighting power requirements by using LED lights, attention was also paid to make sure the appliances and devices used in the buildings were the most energy efficient available in the market.
  • Above all this both buildings generated some of their power from solar energy systems and they also invested in purchasing RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) from the market.
  • Both buildings had similar waste management and recycling policies.
  • Both the offices had ensured all the material and resources were produced regionally and contained as much recycled content as possible. Some of the material was also salvaged from other places and all the remaining requirements were met using environmentally conscious virgin materials like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and carpets in compliance with CRIs (Carpet and Rug Institute) indoor air quality test program.
  • Both the buildings seemed to have followed most of the best practises to ensure that the indoor air quality was optimum.

Going by their conversation, there was nothing I could pick on to conclude one building was greener than the other until they started talking about their HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems. There was no mention of their names in my dream so I am just going to call them Green man 1 and Green man 2.

Green man 1: I have a state of the art VAV (Variable Air Volume) air cooled system with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of 15. My building is also mechanically ventilated and each zone has its own temperature control.


Green Man 2: I do not have a HVAC system. My building is naturally ventilated enabling it to use 25% less energy than yours. My building is GREENER.

Green man 1: This does not make sense! what about employee comfort? How do they work in peak summers and peak winters?

Green Man 2: My employees really care for the environment. They sweat it out in the summer and wear warm clothes in the winter. My building is the GREENEST!

Green Man 1: No!! My Building is GREENER!


The next thing I know, a massive argument breaks out between the two and soon there is a fist fight. They started kicking and punching. They threw their green mugs at each other spilling the green coffee all over the floor. I had to intervene, I asked them to stop, I pushed away Green man 1 and turned around only to find a massive green alien hand planted on my nose. The Green Man 2 punched me so hard that I woke up only to realise it was all a dream.


The dream aside, lets put the argument into perspective. Many of you might think the Green Man 2 building is more environmentally friendly, if you are one of them, you are absolutely correct. The Green Man 2 building saves all the energy needed to condition the occupied spaces which can range anywhere between 25% - 45% of the buildings energy load. In no scenario is the Green Man 1 building going to consume less energy than Green Man 2 building. Hence, the Green Man 2 building has a smaller carbon footprint and it has a lesser impact on the environment.


Having said that, in spite of the Green Man 2 building being more environmentally friendly it is the Green Man 1 building that is actually GREEN. A green building is one which reduces energy consumption and causes minimal damage to natural systems without sacrificing the human comfort levels. Any green building designer will tell you that the primary purpose of a green building is to provide a comfortable, healthy and a productive environment for its occupants. All the other eco-friendly features are only meant contribute towards this primary purpose along with achieving the broader goal called sustainability. There are very few places on earth where ideal thermal comfort can be maintained using natural means throughout the year. A building that saves energy at the cost of human comfort and productivity is not GREEN just as a building that provides a great work environment at the cost of energy efficiency.


The bottom line is: Environmentally friendly is not necessarily the same as GREEN and GREEN is not the only option to save the environment. But it is the only option that takes account of all the stakeholders' interests. The whole point of this upcoming Green Revolution is not go back and start living like the way we did in the 1800s but it is to improve the living standards of people, only this time we have to do it more smartly. So if tomorrow your friend comes to you and says that he cares too much for the environment and he is going to do his bit by turning into a nomad and starting to live in the caves on the Himalayas, you need to tell him that he is not going GREEN but he is actually going MAD.

​Why the state and central government are now getting on my nerves more than ever before

Post date: Jun 4, 2010 7:58:44 PM


Its 2 p.m and its hot as hell! I have already spent the last two hours without any power and my UPS is on its last few drops before it becomes yet another victim of our government's incapability to supply us with adequate power. We have had an average of 8 hours of load shedding everyday for the last four months! I am bang in the middle of Coimbatore city and I hear that others have it much worse. Coimbatore is no longer the poor man's Ooty like it used to be 15 years ago. So yes, any sort power outage does make life very difficult leave alone spending eight hours a day without any power. So what's all the fuss about? there is a power crisis not just in Tamil Nadu but the entire country is suffering. Well, that is what the fuss is. Clearly, these are desperate times. I wish the government realised "Desperate times call for desperate measures".


Before you start guessing what I am getting at, No, I am not advocating burning more coal or building power plants in a hurry to cater to the increased demand. In fact the lesser we build the better it is for all of us. Only minor policy changes can address most of our power related problems. Here's the story. Just for the sake of it I am going to call this story "Finding Sense in Common Sense":


Lets take the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board as an example. TNEB charges a varying tariff which means that the more electricity you use, the more you have to pay per KWH or 1 unit of electricity. For the sake of this blog, lets assume you use 1000 units at your home, say in a month. This will cost you Rs 3690 and after subtracting the subsidy which is Rs 1350 (I know! ridiculous) the net tariff comes down to Rs 2340. That is 2 rupees and 35 paise per unit of electricity. With a domestic tariff as low as this why should I not operate my air conditioner 16 hours a day?(I did not say 24 because there is no power for 8 hours anyway). Why should I not keep all my appliances on standby when not in use? Why should I go through the pain of educating my 7 year old nephew the importance of energy conservation?

The only answer to these questions is "because it is the right thing to do". Well, I don't expect you to buy that.

Why do we need a subsidy when we cannot even generate enough electricity to cater to even our most basic needs? Or why can't the government simply double the tariff to Rs 5/unit or even more during the peak consumption hours (say about six hours a day)? Or if that is an administrative hassle then why not a blanket increase in all power tariff? Would this not be the most practical way of conveying to the people that there is a problem and we are doing our best to address it in the short term. So you can carry on operating your air conditioners for as long as you want and carry on wasting as much electricity as you want, but you are going to have to pay for it.


Money talks and it is a no brainer to assume that consumption during peak hours will drop sharply. It might even drop to the levels that we need not resort to any load shedding at all. This will also bring in additional revenue to the department which can be used to fund future renewable energy projects. More importantly, this will also be the best way to educate people on the importance of using energy more efficiently. This will get people to think about energy, talk about energy and they will start finding ways to save energy. People will start employing energy auditors to survey their homes, they will invest in retro-fitting their homes to ensure maximum efficiency, they will only buy the most energy efficient appliances and actually care to use them more smartly, they will start replacing their incandescent lights with LEDs, they will plug every gap that allows conditioned air to escape, they will install the best ventilation systems, they will start creating roof gardens, they will get their roofs insulated, they will get their windows double glazed, they will start investing in renewable energy, they will insist on only investing in green buildings, the possibilities are endless.


Even if only half the above statements come true this will still create thousands of Green Collar jobs. Sustainability will not just be a word that green consultants use to show-off their vocabulary, it will actually be a sector in business. Our architects will start designing smarter and greener homes. Consultants like Y T Enterprises will research more and more ways to offer energy savings to its customers. Again the possibilities are endless.


The Arguments


Will this not increase the price of goods and commodities?

No. There is no need to make any changes to the tariff structure of commercial establishments and who says the above recommendations need to be permanent. It only needs to be a desperate measure. The TNEBs commercial tariff work out to Rs 6/unit for 1000 units consumed which seems appropriate considering the current circumstances. Being an owner of a commercial establishment myself, I can say that I would prefer paying a little more than to run my diesel generator which inflates my cost of energy to Rs 12 / unit (these are my own calculations and can vary for different machines). If you factor in the cost of the generator, the carbon emissions caused, the potential health problems that can be caused by the burning of diesel and the subsequent loss of productivity the cost can be unjustifiable for a business.


What if this causes electoral losses in the next elections?

If the current scenario continues the leadership is going to change hands in any case. An immediate solution even if unpopular can reverse fortunes in the long run. And there is no point in subsidising power when there is no power to supply anyway.


What about the poor people?

That calls for another story. Just for the sake of it I am going to call this story "Looking at the glass half empty":

Lets flash forward ten years and lets hypothetically assume that India's economy has grown to slightly more advanced levels and the government has somehow managed to provide access to electricity to every single citizen of the country. In spite of this there are still 300 million poor people in the country because just as in the past the rich and the middle class have reaped all the benefits of economic growth. There is still acute power shortage because of increasing demand.

Now lets ask all those 300 million poor people what would they like. Would they prefer 8 hour power cuts or would they rather prefer paying double the tariff for 6 hours. Again, it is a no brainer that 299.99 million people would say they would prefer paying the premium and use electricity as conservatively as possible.

Lets hope common sense prevails. Only a sustainable present will create a better future. Green is here to stay and the future looks very green to us. The air feels clean and the grass looks green and Coimbatore is Ooty again. Only this time it is not the Poor Man's Ooty because we will all be rich, won't we?