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.