Should We Have More Green Buildings in Kolkata?

Going green is the new trend worldwide, and India’s realty sector isn’t falling behind in this regard. From malls to office spaces, and residential units, buildings are increasingly becoming eco-friendly. With the city’s IT hub — Salt Lake — getting its first eco-friendly commercial building, Technopolis, in 2006, Kolkata entered the ‘green’ brigade pretty early on. Since then, there have been many ‘green building’ projects in the city. In fact, some of the residential projects have even received gold certification from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

What Is a Green Building?

No, green buildings have nothing to do with the colour green. A green building model is basically putting into practice resource-efficient methodologies for construction, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. These new-generation buildings — also called ‘high-performance buildings or ‘sustainable buildings’ — are environmental friendly all through its life-cycle. Green buildings use less water, generate less waste, conserve natural resources, and optimize the overall energy efficiency to provide healthier spaces to its occupants.

Why Go Green?

Global warming has taken the centre stage worldwide, and it is the immediate need of the hour to reduce carbon footprint as best as we can. The simplest way to go about it is to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle to ensure a greener, healthier world for the future generation. Apart from environmental impact, going green holds more good news for homeowners – energy consumption is drastically reduced if the building is green, which means lesser electric bills and more savings.

Green buildings deploy innovative measures to cut down energy consumption and keep the electricity costs down. Features like high-efficiency windows that harvest more natural light, and on-site power generation through hydropower, wind power, biomass, or solar power provide clean, renewable energy that limits carbon emission and prevents further environmental damage.

Recent studies clearly indicate that the productivity level of occupants in resource-efficient, green buildings is 12-15 percent higher, whereas, the operating cost for such buildings is lower by more than 30% percent.

Green Buildings in Kolkata’s Mid-Sized Affordable Housing Segment

 Green buildings, until now, have been limited to high-end developments as the additional input costs in meeting the green norms could be realized only from premium real estate projects. However, the outlook is radically changing as mid-sized developers in the city are also looking at aspects like solar lights, efficient glass and light fixtures, paint, sewage treatment, garbage disposal, waste management, and rainwater harvesting to acquire green certification for their upcoming projects.

Even though the initial investment for a green building is 5-10 percent more than a traditional one, most of the city’s leading developers are willing to shell out a bit more to become more resource-efficient and socially responsible. Moreover, the state government’s announcement of 10 percent incentive for all green buildings is serving as a booster for green development as it is compensating the escalation in upfront investment.

Addressing this issue, the Ex-Chairman, Bengal chapter, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai) Harsh Patodia once said, “Sustainability is a major issue in the urbanization challenge. People are sensitive but have been ignoring the needs because it was not commercially rewarding. Only projects in excess of 20,000 square meters were required to mandatorily conform to energy and environment norms. But with the government now offering an incentive, it will encourage more developers to follow green norms in letter and spirit”.

Additional Incentive for Green Buildings by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation

The Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation has come out with a decision to offer 10 percent additional incentive on the floor area ratio (FAR) over and above the state government’s proposed 10 percent stimulus. Developers, intending to avail the additional FAR incentive, will have to comply with the conditions specified by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation. Competent authorities will certify the merit of the project considering factors like renewable power, implementation of environmentally friendly building materials, and a variety of other features as prescribed in the certification norms.

The Way Forward

Considering the ever-increasing temperature the city is experiencing for the last few years, it’s now high time we turn green to minimize energy consumption, reduce carbon footprint, and to keep interiors cooler without paying ‘pocket-pinching’ electricity bills. Residential projects like the Siddha Water Front are already making great strides in that direction with “green” features such as installing low-flow fixtures to reduce water usage, rainwater harvesting system and grid pavers to recharge the natural water reservoirs, and planting native and drought-tolerant plants in the landscape, to name a few. With more such projects coming to life, Kolkata would be well on its way to become greener.

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