In Jaipur, green buildings are underperforming

From ET Realty

JAIPUR: At a meeting of Urban Development & Housing and local-self governance departments, CM Vasundhra Raje emphasized that green building concept should be promoted and incentives be given to those who adopt it for greenery and rain water harvesting structures in the houses and buildings. But there is far more to green buildings than just rain water harvesting and greenery.

In a recent conference, Center for Science and Environment (CSE), review has exposed the shocking fact that several state governments across the country are giving sops of extra free built up area to developers to get their buildings green rated without independent official oversight on their operations. Rajasthan is one of them.

CSE review has found green rated building underperforming. “State governments are giving extra free built up area without independent official monitoring and oversight of actual energy and resource savings in green rated buildings. Several state governments including West Bengal, Noida (UP), Rajasthan, Punjab among others have promised extra built up area to the developers and put the entire onus of monitoring and certification on rating agencies,” reads the CSE review.

CSE has expressed deep concern over the growing obsession among the states and city governments across the country to offer sops of extra and free built up area and fiscal incentives to push the developers to opt for green rating of buildings. “State governments are doing this without setting up independent, transparent and accountable oversight system for monitoring of the actual energy savings and environmental performance of the green rated buildings. Several green rated buildings across the country are under performing and guzzling more energy,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director, CSE.

Any project enjoying support from the government, fiscal or otherwise, should have the obligation to be under scrutiny for performance and be transparent and accountable. “Without stringent measure for performance private green rating systems are becoming proxy for environmental regulations and the incentives are becoming a privilege for the few whereas these requirements should be an obligation for all,” she said.

CSE review of the green rating systems and the incentives has further shown that the cities of Maharashtra like Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad are doing this differently. Instead of giving incentive in the form of extra built up area it has rightly opted only for fiscal incentives that can be withdrawn if needed. This is a better practice than giving the extra built up area as once constructed it cannot be undone if found underperforming.

Besides the data put out by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) on energy consumption of large commercial buildings that were rated and awarded silver, gold and platinum rating, under the LEED green rating program, these buildings grossly underperforming. Several of them cannot qualify even for the one star label under the energy star labelling program of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) that ranks buildings based on their energy efficiency when operational.

India is locked in a frenzy of construction to meet the demand for homes, offices, and shops. “A staggering two-third of buildings that will stand in India in 2030 are yet to be built. Unless policies minimize resource guzzling and wastes with appropriate architectural design, building material and operational management for the entire building stock, there can be massive environmental debacle in the building sector,” said Chowdhury. Unlike the developed world, the challenge is not to retrofit the already built to make it green, but to build new, which is efficient, sustainable, affordable and comfortable for all. This will have enormous impact on the quality of urban space; water and energy resources in cities and waste generation.

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