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Interview with: S Raghupathy, Executive Director, CII – IGBC

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S Raghupathy, Executive Director, CII – IGBC, has been a driving force over a decade in spreading the Indian Green Building Movement. He explains why India is in the forefront of the green footprints.

The general opinion voiced during GBC by many green experts was that India is going really fast in the green building concept. The end users are asking the developers to provide them with green construction.

Yes. Green Building Movement in India is making significant progress in underlining the need and importance of green buildings for a sustainable tomorrow. Today, we have more than 1,800 green building projects amounting to over 1.27 Billion sqft of green building footprint. Thanks to the support of all the stakeholders, India is amongst the top five countries in the world. CII-IGBC envisions to enable ‘sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in sustainable built environment by 2025. Green Building Movement in India is very fortunate to have the visionary & thought leaders like Jamshyd N Godrej, ParasuRaman R, and Dr Prem C Jain.

How has your personal journey been?

My journey has indeed been rewarding, enriching and satisfying. I had the advantage of being associated with the green building movement right from day one.

In early 2000, it was a challenge to promote the concept of green building as there were very few takers. We made every effort to persuade the corporate to go green and develop a business case for them.

Our concerted efforts paid off. After ten years, green buildings are being seen as a way of life and several corporate houses are have embraced green buildings and supporting our initiative. Today they take pride in being part of the green building movement.

One of the biggest reasons why green buildings are now widely accepted by the cross section of the society is the fact that green buildings make good business sense and they are financially very attractive.

The construction costs of a green building would be 3-5% higher for a Platinum building than a conventional building, the incremental cost gets paid back within 3-4 years with substantial reduction in operational costs.

The following table illustrates the declining initial incremental cost over years.

When CII initiative was started a decade back, it was not so much about rating. But today it is more about getting the rating and there are systems in place.

Right from day one, our focus was to develop green building rating system that was holistic & robust and that covers all aspects of constructing a green building. There might be a possibility that, certain projects might incorporate only a few aspects of a green building rating and still claim to be a green building. This is not a healthy sign. Hence developing a comprehensive rating system becomes an imperative. Green Building Rating System provides a mechanism and a framework to evaluate the greenness and performance of the building.

IGBC through its democratic and consensus based approach has developed green building rating system that provides an integrated approach considering life cycle impacts of the resources used. All the rating systems are based on the five elements of the nature (Panchabhutas) and are a perfect blend of ancient architectural practices and modern technological innovations.

IGBC’s Rating Systems include:

  • IGBC Green Homes
  • IGBC Green Factory Buildings
  • IGBC Green Special Economic Zones (SEZ)
  • IGBC Green Townships
  • IGBC LEED 2011 for India-NC and CS

They have become National by choice and Global in performance, and are widely accepted by all the stakeholders.

Why you feel that India has been quite successful.

Today, several developers, builders & architects have embraced green as a way of life. There is significant awareness on the need and importance of green buildings for a sustainable tomorrow. India stands amongst the top five countries in the world in terms of registered projects’ footprint, involvement of CEOs and other stakeholders.

In days to come, the challenge would be to meet the growing demand for more green buildings. Presently, IGBC certifies about 400-500 green building projects, the demand will double in the coming years. The challenge is to add capacity and have as many certified green buildings.

What are the measures to integrate practices from other countries?

Countries like USA, Australia, Canada, Singapore, UK, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa and several European countries are doing well on Green Buildings.

IGBC is in constant dialogue with global experts through World Green Building Council and other Country Councils. These dialogues are providing opportunities to learn and share the best and next practices. As a result of the interactions, IGBC Green Building Rating Systems are regularly upgraded and in tune with the global standards. IGBC also organises business delegations, Missions to explore green building & material business opportunities.

There was a lot of talk during the conference about having a ready reckoner for green certified products. Understanding and selecting green products is the main issue being raised by many end users.

Green certification of products is very important and at the same time it has a few challenges. World over, standards for green products are evolving. India needs to have a robust set of standards, testing labs for verification covering all types of green building material and products. Though some progress has been made in setting up labs, we are still at the initial stages. In this regard, we need to develop suitable systems. This would take some time. Concerted efforts by all the stakeholders are the need of the hour.

Some of the future projects of IGBC

In days to come, IGBC will focus on the following projects:

  • Promote the concept of Green Cities: Some of the key elements of Green cities would include urban transport management, efficient energy & water infrastructure, local biodiversity, basic amenities, food infrastructure and waste management
  • Thrust on Green Landscaping: Green landscapes are those which use less water, protects natural vegetation, promotes biodiversity, uses native/ naturalised species, optimises energy efficiency, efficient waste management, use of eco-friendly materials and provides healthier, recreational & inspirational spaces for community, as compared to the conventional landscapes.
  • Encourage the construction of Green schools: Green schools will facilitate energy efficient, higher performing school that can be environmentally beneficial, economical to build and operate, and offer improved learning environments.
  • Facilitate in incorporating green building practices in architectural curriculum.

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