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Global green ratings in Indian context

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Local organizations can have greater flexibility to create effective policy solutions and creative strategies. Talking to Buildotech, Mahesh Ramanujam, COO, US Green Building Council explains USGBC initiatives in India and affiliations with regional Green rating bodies.

How has LEED kept up with growth in India?

General limiting factors in any new market are reflective of the process for the adoption of new business practices, technologies and approaches. Indian professionals working within the building industry are now becoming familiar with obtaining credentials and developing expertise in working on LEED projects. Building owners, property developers and government officials are becoming familiar with the concept of green building and how to augment their business processes and policies accordingly. The new government has been an excellent partner for USGBC and TERI in our efforts at continuing to build momentum in India.

Also, there is great interest in the new LEED Dynamic Plaque, a visually engaging platform that displays a building’s live performance in energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience. The plaque is updated whenever new data enters the system, and displays a live LEED performance score based on current achievement. With 70% of Indian green building professionals saying they are willing and able to share useful data for the purposes of reporting building performance related to LEED-certified buildings, we believe this is a great opportunity to advance this new product. In India, you can now see the LEED Dynamic Plaque at Paharpur Business Centre, New Delhi, and Group 10 Technologies, Gurgaon.

Last year, USGBC hired several people for its new LEED hub, which is based in Chennai. It will work as an interface with industry stakeholders to inform and better address the needs of green building projects in India. This effort follows the international strategy to emphasize global consistency while allowing for regional solutions in current and future LEED rating system versions. The hub will help project teams successfully navigate the design, construction and operations of buildings to achieve the requirements of certification. It will also delineate the local strategies for business development and brand advocacy.

USGBC’s partnership with TERI

The fundamental strategy of LEED is that while it is a global green building program, it is also designed with the regional environment in mind and offers local support. India is one of the largest countries for LEED and green building practices are on the rise. The collaborative relationship with TERI and their GRIHA green rating system will enable culmination of global, regional and local mark of quality in the sustainability field. To meet the growing demands in India to retrofit existing buildings, we have worked with TERI to develop new guidance that provides technical paths for projects pursuing LEED in India. This new guidance also offers incentives towards LEED credits that address geographically specific environmental priorities for India.

While the LEED for existing buildings rating system is not new to India, this new approach to the existing building rating system comprehensively covers the local requirements of India. We believe this will be responsive to India’s unique environmental, social and economic realities, which is an essential dimension of making sure that it is effective for the Indian market. That’s a huge and highly impactful area of focus.

Acquiring of WELL Building Standard.

The WELL Building Standard is an evidence-based standard created through six years of research and development with researchers and physicians from leading medical institutions and expert practitioners from the building industry. Currently in pilot phase, the WELL Building Standard sets performance requirements in seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. It is administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) founded by Scialla and Delos to fulfill a Clinton Global Initiative commitment. The standard applies to commercial, residential, and institutional projects.

IWBI and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) have entered into a formal collaboration that will streamline how LEED and WELL work together. As a fundamental aspect of the collaboration, GBCI will provide third-party certification for the WELL Building Standard. GBCI’s new role as the third-party certifier for the WELL Building Standard will enable us to take that commitment further while making it easier for LEED users to incorporate health and wellness more deeply into their work.

The green development of Smart cities.

We know that India cities are growing very rapidly and that the country is poised to add 404 million city dwellers by 2050. This represents the largest net urban migration for any region in the world, and failing to plan for a population change of this magnitude would be catastrophic. Given this context, the government’s plan of creating new, high-tech and environmentally sustainable urban corridors to accommodate India’s projected urban growth looks to be an innovative solution for a very complex set of problems.

Green buildings of course play an integral role in that process but smart cities also extend beyond buildings. For example, the design of the city and public transportation infrastructure need to enable people to move around freely and easily without unnecessarily burning fossil fuels. LEED and GRIHA are helping cities become smarter and programs like PEER to promote smarter, micro- energy grids are also leading the way. Cities that decentralize their power generation and adopt more forward-looking practices along these lines will be more resilient and they will have cheaper, more reliable and sustainable sources of energy.

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