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Buildings, as offices, are responsible for around forty percent of the expenses borne by the business in operations. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the residential and office buildings will consume thirty eight percent of the total global energy and will release three thousand eight hundred mega tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Green Building is a technique of constructing buildings using processes and materials which are environment friendly and energy efficient at the same time.
Buildings require air, water, energy and space for its occupants. These are provided by systems in place like the ventilation system, the water supply system and the electricity supply system. The materials which are used in the construction of the building also produce environmental impact like carbon footprint, pollution through wastes and slurry, and the consumption of water and power. Buildings are one of the major sources of pollution that cause air pollution and are responsible for climate change.
The objective of green building concept is to develop buildings which use the natural resources to the minimal at the time of construction as well as operation. Green buildings emphasize on the resource usage efficiency and also press upon the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
The technique of green building maximizes the use of efficient construction materials and practices; boosts the use of natural sources and sinks in the building’s surroundings; minimizes the energy usage to run itself; uses highly proficient equipment for the indoor area; uses highly proficient methods for water and waste management. The indoor equipment includes lighting, air-conditioning and all other needed equipment.
Green Building is a team effort and the designing and construction include consultants from architecture and landscaping, air conditioning, plumbing, energy and electrical areas. These consultants have to assess the impact of the each and every design on the environment, keeping in mind the cost involved. The final design needs to be feasible and should minimize the negative impacts that the building would have on the environment.
Implementation of the green building concept can lead to a reduction of carbon emission by thirty five percent, water usage by forty percent, solid waste reduction by seventy percent and reduction in energy consumption by fifty percent. Green Building concept also emphasizes on the fact that an area with high biodiversity should be avoided as a site for the construction of a building.
To ensure minimum negative impact on the environment by the construction and operation of a building, the factors which are to be kept in mind are – to preserve the external environment to the building location; to improve the internal area for the residents of the building; and also preserve the areas which are not close to the building.
Energy saving through green building concept occurs in two ways. First is reduction in the amount of energy that is consumed in lighting, air conditioning and other building operations. Second is the usage of energy sources which do not produce any greenhouse gases and are renewable in nature. Green Buildings emphasize more on natural lighting and concepts of temperature control and efficient design to further reduce the carbon footprint as well as reduce cost of operation.
Green Buildings use various methods to reduce water usage, treat and reuse waste water and filter water from sourced from precipitation. The target is to be able to achieve zero water table negative impact from the green building.
Waste reduction is one of the most important issues that are to be dealt with. In the US alone, the waste from construction and demolition of buildings accounts for sixty percent of the total non-industrial waste. Green Building concept emphasizes on improving the design of the product, re-using and recycling materials. It results in tremendous waste reduction and also helps to reduce the environmental impact of the building.
Improving Health and Productivity
Hygiene and proper conditions inside the building also help in boosting human productivity. Hence various businesses concentrate on this aspect. Green Building concept provides for cleanliness and sound working conditions for employees and other inhabitants.
Green Building concept in USA:
Green building markets in the United States of America (USA), account for five to ten percent of the total building market. The largest organisation for green building in USA is the US Green Building Council (USGBC). It has over twelve thousand member organizations and is around a financial worth of over twelve billion dollars. Some of the rating systems that have been developed for green building concept are: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Globes, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), International Codes Council and American National Standards Institute.
In USA, the existing buildings are accounting for forty percent of total energy consumption, twelve percent of total water usage, sixty eight percent of electricity usage, thirty eight percent of carbon dioxide emission and sixty percent of non-industrial waste generation.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System:
LEED rating system was developed in USA by the US Green Building Council in the year 1998. It provides a set of standards for environmentally sustainable construction of building using a market-based rating system. This rating system is being followed in the US and many other countries for the evaluation of sustainable building. LEED can be defined for new constructions, existing buildings, commercial buildings and schools. Buildings which have been recognized to be eligible for LEED are offices, retail establishments, institutional buildings and service establishments.
LEED rating system provides a variety of benefits and cost savings. The benefits include reducing the operating costs, reducing resource utilizations in terms of water and electricity, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The other cost savings includes the tax rebates and zone allowances.
LEED rating system provides four levels of rating to a building design:
Certified 26-32 pts
Silver 33-38 pts
Gold 39-51 pts
Platinum 52-69 pts
The points are obtained by the building through the following design issues:
Sustainable sites – 14 pts
Innovation and design – 5 pts
Energy and atmosphere – 17 pts
Indoor quality – 15 pts
Materials and resources – 13 pts
Water efficiency – 5 pts
Green Building concept in India
In India, a number of agencies are involved in the Green Building concept execution and monitoring. The major agencies are – Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) was established in 1974 and is headquartered at New Delhi. TERI has developed a new rating system for Green Building assessment. This rating system is called Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA). In India, both the LEED and the GRIHA rating systems are followed along with the Energy Conservation Building Code 2007 given by BEE.
Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) rating system:
GRIHA was developed by TERI and has been adopted by the ministry of new and renewable resources. It takes into account the variations in the climate, architectural practices followed and the practices for construction and also keeps the National Building Code 2005 as well as the Energy Conservation Building Code 2007.
GRIHA has been specially created keeping in mind the non-air conditioned and the partially air conditioned buildings. GRIHA provides ratings for institutional, residential and commercial buildings. The emphasis is on the national concerns for environment, the weather and climate conditions, and providing solutions.
According to the information collected, the following hypothesis is formulated:
H: The benefits of Green Building approach are significantly greater than the costs incurred to go green
Green Building concept and corporate sustainability:
For corporations, green building concept comes with a bundle of benefits. The benefits include:
Potentially higher capital value in the future for the building
Risk of obsolescence decreases
The demand from institutional investors increases
Operating costs reduce for the building
The attrition for the tenant decreases
The maintenance cost reduces
The need for refurbishment in the future decreases
Green Building concept also helps in ensuring that the business stays insulated from any energy price increase in the future
Cost and Benefits of Green Buildings:
Figure : Source: Greening our built world: Costs, Benefits and Strategies
The major barrier found towards Green Building concept, through research conducted, is the widespread perception amongst people that the upfront costs involved in the development of a green building are significantly higher than those of conventional buildings. In a survey, by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in the year 2007, it was found that the people perceived the green buildings’ initial setup costs to be higher than the conventional buildings by 17 percent. This perception of the people was found to be wrong.
170 buildings were analysed in the research in Greening our built world. The analysis revealed that the green buildings cost, on an average, less than 2 percent more than the conventional buildings, also providing a large range of additional benefits. The same survey, by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, also found that the people perceive buildings to produce around 20 percent of the CO2 emission. This perception is also wrong since buildings produce around 40 percent of the world CO2 emissions. The architects and the developers interviewed from these 170 buildings gave information on the premium, in terms of cost of turning green.
The following figure illustrates the cost premium that is incurred, in green building development according to the levels of certification by LEED rating system. It shows that more than 80 out of the 170 buildings analysed have incurred less than 2 percent premium in going green.
Figure : Source: Greening Our Built World: Costs, Benefits and Strategies
The average costs and benefits analysed through the research are also listed in the form of a graph. It provides a comparison of the additional costs incurred by going green in schools and offices, and the simultaneous benefits received. The graph clearly suggests that the benefits far outweigh the costs incurred.
Figure : Source: Greening Our Built World: Costs Benefits and Strategies
Another perception that people have about green buildings is that a green building necessarily has to air conditioned. This perception is also proved wrong by the application of green building concepts to some of the Indian like the Gulbarga and the Hyderabad Institute of Technology and Management. The third misleading perception about green buildings that people have is that green buildings typically take more time to be developed than a conventional building. This perception is also not true. (Urban Sustainability and Green Buildings for the 21st Century, 2009)
Hunzinger Construction University Case:
Hunzinger Construction University achieved Platinum level LEED certification in Green Building concept. It has been able to achieve savings in water, energy and increased usage of green materials.
Water efficiency has been achieved through various measures like dual flush water closet, waterless urinals and efficient lavatory faucets. These methods have led to a saving of 7700 gallons of water per annum.
Energy efficiency was achieved using intelligent lighting systems which could control light intensity and power usage, and work with the day light intensity control. Automatic shut-off systems were also used. Using these techniques, HCU has achieved more than 34 percent reduction in power density, significantly more than the specifications of ANSI.
HCU has opted for green power generation like solar panels and wind power, to minimise its power requirements from conventional power sources. The construction material used in the HCU comprised of more than 57 percent of salvaged recycled materials.
These practices have led to a decreased operation cost as well as reduced impact on environment. The case has been published in Journal of Green Building, 2008.
Woods Hole Research Centre Case:
Woods Hole Research Centre (WHRC) is an independent, non-for-profit, NGO with core focus on environmental studies, education and creation of new and innovative policies. The research facility spans 19,300 sq. feet and has been designed with the target of achieving zero net-energy building status. It has been fitted with a solar photovoltaic system on the roof and a wind turbine for electricity generation. The design of building provides natural lighting to reduce energy consumption and also provides for insulation materials which are CFC-free. The HVAC system installed in the complex provides for an energy efficient heating, cooling and ventilation. The target of the photovoltaic system is to provide for 33 percent of the energy requirements of the complex while the rest is provided by the wind powered turbine system. The facility requires a total of 90964 kiloWatt-hour electrical energy, out of which 60720 kiloWatt-hour was provided by utility grid and the remaining 30244 kiloWatt-hour was provided by the Photovoltaic System. The case is an extract from the Journal of Green Building, 2008.
The following figure compares the energy intensity of the Woods Hole Research Centre’s other facilities, average of US offices and the newly constructed WHRC facility.
Figure : Source: Journal of Green Building, volume 3, 2008
Nordheim Court Case:
Nordheim Court is a student housing facility for University of Washington. It forms a great example of the operational and setup benefits of green building concept with the right choice of strategies. The building has been constructed with a budget of 85 dollars per sq. feet. The energy efficiency of the building far surpasses the Washington State Energy Code standards and the water consumption in the building is less by 30 percent than a conventional building. The construction waste has been diverted to prevent 589 tonnes of landfills. This procedure of waste diversion has also resulted in a saving of 14582 dollars.
University of Sunshine Coast Chancellery Case:
University of Sunshine Coast is located in Queensland, Australia. One of the parts of the university called the Chancellery has been designed on green building standards. The total fossil fuel based energy consumption of the building is around 133 kiloWatt-hour per sq. metre which is less than the 152 kiloWatt-hour per sq. metre. The building uses a combined mode of ventilation system which provides natural ventilation as well as fully air conditioned area without any natural ventilation. This helps in reducing the CO2 emissions from the building. The lighting system used in the building also uses natural light and light intensity control systems to provide better energy efficiency to the building. (St. Clair, Peter & Hyde, Richard, 2009)
Green Building performance in India
Name of the Project
Built-up Area (sq ft.)
Increase in Cost (percent)
Payback Period (Years)
CII-Sorabji Godrej GBC
ITC Green Centre
Spectral Services Consultants Office
Figure : Source: CII
According to studies, in a project worth 5 million dollars, an additional expenditure on green building concept of 100 thousand dollars results in a saving of 1 million dollars over a period of 20 years.
One Indiabulls Centre in Lower parel, Mumbai is a fine case of green building initiatives that have been undertaken in India. The material usage in the centre have been through use of fly ash in concrete, recycled metal content in steel used, low VOC content paints, efficient HVAC systems. The centre also includes a sewage treatment plant, solar panels for heating water, water harvesting system as well as a roof top garden.
Figure : Source: Indiabulls Real Estate
The cost benefit analysis from the project of One Indiabulls Centre is given below. The savings resulting from the concept of green building is substantial.
Figure : Source: CII, Indiabulls Real Estate
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