India has added a population of about 20 crore within a decade i.e., two crore per annum. In sync with the significant increase in urban population, the number of urban cities too has grown from 5,000 cities in 2001 to 7,300 cities in the same time period. Given the fast changing scenario, what India needs is sustainable city planning, low carbon cities, urban mass housing and sustainable mobility. Says V. Suresh, Director – HIRCO Project Companies and Chairman – Policy and Advocacy Committee, IGBC.
More than 50% of all new growth is happening in urban areas for the reasons that cities are the social and economic development engines at both local and national levels. They offer significant economies of scale in the provision of jobs, housing and services and are important centres of productivity and social advancement. However, there is an urgent need to develop tools for eco-city master planning to ensure sustainability in urban development across India.
Most states in India today have township policies. State governments are encouraging private real estate sector to develop townships where the entire security, street maintenance and administration of the estate are managed by the developers. These new townships can be developed as smart and intelligent urban centres with focus on becoming drivers of technology innovation and environment conservation.
Green built environment strategies
The concept of smart cities and their immense technology potential can address various environmental issues. For instance, integrated municipal solid waste management and decentralized wastewater treatment systems can form the core of sustainable city operations. The same should be combined with low-cost housing techniques and pre-fabricated constructions as solution to meet the fast growing housing needs. Another important aspect is creating the efficient public transportation for addressing concerns of urban mobility and carbon emissions in India. Mixed land-use development and integration of land-use with transportation and resource efficiency are the key strategies for promoting self-sustaining Indian urban cities.
To enforce these strategies we require introducing of techno-legal regime through provisions in building regulatory media. The same can be applied during the stages of EIA Clearance, Building & Development Permit, Supervision Control, Completion Certificate and Occupancy Permit. Additionally, various green rating tools like LEED, IGBC etc. facilitate building owners and facility managers in implementation of green building strategies, measuring their impacts and sustaining of the building performance in the long run. This can include, Pre-certified and Certified Green Building Ratings and Periodic Renewal Certificate.
Not to mention, building a green and intelligent built environment mandatorily requires bringing in the right level of professionals architects, engineers, town planners, urban designers and green building consultants, consultants for utility services and energy simulation specialists.
While, the present Regulatory frame work deals with built environment for the three dimensional spaces and connected spatial development, these do not touch on ecology, energy consumption, optimum resource management, urban mobility and speedy communication link with the world. The smart city approach should be able to blend traditional practices with advanced technologies, implement cost and time effective work practices and promote construction practices suitable to respective climatic zone.
Technology plays a critical role in the development of smart towns. It can be used to maximize energy efficiency, resource allocation as per demand and utilization and communication to enhance public security and delivery of public services. Thus, information and communication technology (ICT) is critical to any smart development. It enhance the livability, workability and sustainability by collecting, communicating and analyzing data within and across departments and third parties. To transform the rapidly growing urban areas into smarter cities, a collaborative partnership between government, industry, academia and society is necessary.
The essential building blocks of a Smart city are:
• Development of effective broadband networks that support ICT and digital applications throughout the city.
• Deployment of embedded systems, smart devices, sensors and actuators for real-time data management, alerts and information processing for the city administration.
• Providing Smart urban spaces that leverage ICT to deliver sustainable services like electric car charge points, energy-efficient buildings and Wi-fi hotspots & information kiosks.
• Implementation of online services across different sectors including city environment, energy and transport services, security services, education and health services etc..
Strategies for Sustainable Development
The aim for eco-friendly townships is to provide mass rapid urban transportation, complete waste and water recycling systems, smart grids and smart metering. Energy-efficient processes include climate responsive design practices, identifying minimum levels of energy consumptions, reducing dependence on fossil fuel economy along with reduction in embodied and operational energy and increased component of renewable power (Solar, Wind and Bio Mass). Energy costing should include life cycle costing with tangible and non-tangible benefits with an attempt to achieve 40 to 50% reduction in energy costs.
The integrated water management for a sustainable township comprise traditional water conservation practices and modern zero discharge or net water positive projects. Identifying minimum levels of water consumptions along with sustainable water managing features and site specific rain water management will go a long way.
Use local crushed sand instead of river sand, proper segregation of waste at source for recycling construction material, bio degradable waste, other non-bio degradable waste and e-waste form the core of waste management. In addition, involving utilization of agricultural and industrial wastes can provide alternate to timber and other construction materials.
Challenges & Prospects
The government wants to develop 100 Smart Cities either by developing new cities or making existing ones smart. It has allocated `7,060 crore for it in this budget for starter costs. The development of ‘IGBC Green Townships Rating System’ is another important step in this direction. The rating system is designed to address large developments and it is mandatory to include residential development as part of the township. Some typical examples of large scale developments are integrated townships, satellite cities, gated communities, campuses with multiple buildings etc.
However, the green ratings for buildings and townships like CII – IGBC, TERI – GRIHA, ECO Mark and BEE – ECBC are not legislation backed, but cover the norms for evaluation of projects for sustainability. The recognition by Government for such ratings can bring mandatory support like in Germany, Israel, UK and China.
The soon to be introduced new Chapter 11 of National Building Code of India 2005 covers Green Building initiatives and Sustainable Development Principles as part of NBC. Once this is adopted by State Governments, Local Bodies, Planning and Development Authorities and New Town Corporations, systematic implementation of green practices in planning, design and implementation and maintenance is sure to take place.