Green buildings – A step towards an eco-friendly world !


Environmental issues are of paramount importance in today’s context and awareness about one’s environment, a vital necessity. Eco friendly houses are slowly and steadily coming into the limelight. Over the last few years there has been an attempt to make people aware of their homes, a place where they spend a large part of their lives. Eco-friendly living is partly a matter of looking at one’s own lifestyle and finding opportunities to make changes that will help the environment. How we each choose to heat and light our homes, how we get around town, what kind of food and cleaning products we buy, how we manage our gardens – all of these have an impact, and all are within our individual power to control. Studies have revealed that our homes not only guarantee protection from the elements of nature but also have a significant bearing on our being. This realization has led to the emergence and consequent development of the novel concept of green building.

What is a Green Building?

A Green building should create delight when entered, serenity and health when occupied and regret when departed’ – Perhaps this is one of the most inspiring definitions of a Green building, articulated in the book ‘Natural Capitalism’.

Green buildings are structures that operate in harmony with the surrounding natural environment, that harm the environment as little as possible. A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment. It incorporates the eco friendly ways of constructing, functioning, upkeep and demolition of houses. Green buildings erected, keeping these things in mind not only enhance their longevity but also contribute significantly to ecological improvement.

 

Why do we need Green buildings?

Buildings are the largest consumers of energy worldwide.In the United States, buildings account for 37% of all energy use and 68% of all electricity use1 and “the building trades do about six times more damage than automobiles in terms of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.Buildings are in fact responsible for about 40% or more of greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world. Global awareness of these issues and the realization of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address other environmental degradation issues have led to the rapid formation of green building councils around the world. With an aim to dramatically improve the sustainability of the built environment by bringing significant changes in the methods of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining and operating, the World Green Building Council was established. It is a union of national green building councils with a mission to accelerate the transformation process of the global property industry towards sustainable development. Its present members are GBC Australia, Canada GBC, Emirates GBC, India GBC, Japan SBC, Mexico GBC, New Zealand GBC, Taiwan GBC, United Kingdom GBC and the USGBC. These nations together represent more than 50% of the global construction activity, and include more than eight thousand companies and organizations worldwide. Building Green” is now a genuine movement, an initiative that is increasingly being embraced by progressive and more than a few savvy home builders. In fact, as oil and natural gas prices have gone through the stratosphere in recent months, almost everyone in several parts of the world are dependent on fossil fuels for electricity or heat is probably wishing they had planned for green home a long time ago green building is now not only a personal and perennial cause of the socially conscious, but a smart economic move for everyone.

Advantages of Green Buildings

          Green buildings, then, have numerous advantages, both tangible and intangible. The benefits of building green include cost savings from reduced energy, water, and waste; lower operations and maintenance costs; and enhanced occupant productivity and health. If developers invest an extra two percent of a building’s construction cost in the implementation of green building principles, the money will be paid back tenfold over the life of the structure. The aim of green (sustainable) building is to minimize the disturbance and improve the function of ecosystems during a building’s construction and service life.

Operational Savings:

 Green buildings consume at least 40-50% less energy and 20-30 % less water vis-à-vis a conventional building. This comes at an incremental cost of about 5-8 %. The incremental cost gets paid back in 3-5 years time.

Daylights & Views:

Working in environment with access to daylight and views provides connection to the exterior environment. This has a soothing effect on the mind. Various studies prove that the productivity of people who have access to day lighting and views is at least 12-15 % higher.

Air Quality:

Green buildings are always fresh and healthy. Every green building will have to purge

Continuous fresh air to meet the ASHRAE 62 requirements. The green buildings use interior

materials with low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. A typical office building would require purging of fresh air of about 15 cfm/person which provides a fresh ambience inside the building.

 

 

 

The establishment of CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad in 2001 provided an impetus to develop Green Building competence and capability in the country . The Centre’s building was the first Platinum rated green building under the LEED rating system, outside the USA. It was also the greenest building in the world at that point of time.

As more developers, owners, consultants, architects and vendors are participating in the nationwide green building movement, the movement is gathering rapid pace. The combined effort of individuals and organizations to move towards green buildings is having a remarkable effect. Efforts taken in this direction would help convert this growing movement to a national trend and establish India as one of the world leaders in green buildings and technologies.

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