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Making the Building Industry Sustainable

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November 28, 2022

Why in news?

Since India lacks standards for appropriate material use in buildings, reducing carbon footprint during the construction and life-cycle of a building are vital.

What about the Indian building and construction industry?

  • The construction industry is the engine of the Indian economy as it is responsible for propelling the country’s overall development as good infrastructure is the basis for all other projects.
  • The building and construction industry accounts for around 6.5% of the India’s GDP.
  • The Construction industry in India consists of the real estate as well as the urban development segment.
  • India is expected to become the third largest construction market globally by 2025.

green-buildings

What are the challenges in the sector?

  • Energy intensive - Throughout the life-cycle of a building, the sector consumes a significant amount of energy.
  • Carbon intensive - The increase in the total building floor area will significantly escalate the demand for embodied carbon-intensive construction materials like cement, steel, bricks, glass, etc.
  • Less focus on embodied carbon - The decarbonisation initiatives are focused mainly on tackling operational carbon, with little attention on the embodied carbon.
  • Lack of standards for appropriate material use - India lacks a well-defined set of standards for appropriate material use in buildings, inhibiting the exploration of alternative materials.
  • Low public investment - India spends 0.65% of its GDP on R&D, which is very low compared to that of major economies like China (2.4%) and the US (3.06%).
  • Lack of commitment - Only a few cement producers and construction companies have committed to net-zero operations.
  • Lack of reliable data - The lack of reliable data from life cycle assessments and environmental product declarations makes setting benchmarks and establishing targets challenging.
  • Commercialisation of technologies - Commercialisation of technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen-based production of iron for steel is yet to happen.

What steps were taken by the government for sustainable buildings?

  • Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) - The IGBC was formed by the Confederation of Indian Industry in 2001.
  • It is the first rating program exclusively for the residential sector.
  • It is the India's premier body for green building certification and related services.
  • It aims to create sustainable building environment & wants India to be a leader in it.
  • Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) – GRIHA is the National Green Building Rating System.
  • It is an assessment tool to measure and rate a building’s environmental performance.
  • The rating is based on energy consumption, waste generation, renewable energy adoption etc.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) - BEE has launched the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC).
  • It aims to optimize energy savings & launched a five-star rating scheme.
  • Buildings that comply with the provisions are termed as ECBC Compliant Building.
  • ECO-NIWAS – New Indian Way for Affordable & Sustainable homes (ECO-NIWAS) was launched as an online interactive portal.
  • It aims to increase awareness about sustainable building and energy-efficient homes.
  • LEED India - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) India is another Green Building rating program.
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) - TERI plays a very crucial role in developing green building capacities.

What is the need of the hour?

  • To achieve the target of a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2025 and to meet the demands of its entrepreneurial citizenry, building and upgrading existing infrastructure is essential.
  • It is necessary to find and evaluate the viability of best practices/tech for decreasing embodied carbon emissions in the building and construction sector.
  • A building’s life cycle can be increased with reduction in demolition waste by utilising the built space for adaptability, disassembly, and reuse.
  • The 4Rs (Reduce, replace, recycle and reuse) can be incorporated to benefit communities, owners, tenants, economy and the environment.
  • Increased participation and coordinated action from stakeholders in the entire value chain are imperative to de-risk the industry from climate hazards.

Quick facts

Embodied carbon - Embodied carbon is all of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released during a building’s construction

Operational carbon - Operational carbon is carbon released during the building’s operations in terms of lighting, heating, air-conditioning, use of elevators, etc.

 

References

  1. The Hindu Businessline│ Making the building industry sustainable
  2. Make in India│Construction Industry
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