Monthly archives "May 2015"

Bridging the Gap between Sustainable Development & the pace of activity in Real Estate

As the nation embarks on its ambitious drive to boost infrastructure development and create 100 Smart Cities, there are concerns amongst environmentally-conscious citizens about the deleterious environmental impact. Globally, development and environment protection are perceived as antithetical goals. This need not be the case, if developers work on creating sustainable community living that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle.

In advancing the twin goals of national development and environmental protection, all companies should adopt the mantra of the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Accordingly, the focus should be on sustainable development through the use of environment-friendly construction materials, energy conservation & renewable energy sources.

Although there’s no gainsaying that the realty industry uses trillions of kilos of wood annually, every developer should make it their corporate goal to plant 10 robust saplings for each tree cut down. While all the saplings won’t survive into adulthood, if well cared for, the final count will still be higher than that cut down.

Today, buildings account for almost 50% of the world’s energy, 1/6th of fresh water and 1/3rd of greenhouse emissions. Even if half of this consumption could be saved by efficient building designs and use of green technologies, the resultant impact on both the operating costs of businesses as well as the impact on environment will be enormous.

GREEN buildings have insulated roofs with reflective surfaces or even a roof garden. Outer walls are painted in light colours, ensuring lower heat absorption. Non-toxic paints, fly-ash bricks and bamboo are used to boost the green quotient. A green complex will also recycle water, switch off electrical appliances when not in use, recycle waste, save, and in some instances even generate energy, resulting in further bottom line savings. For an overall sustainable impact, the sewage treatment plants should be mandatory to treat waste water for use within a project. Rainwater harvesting pits should be built in all realty projects to capture the runoff from roofs and other areas. This can be filtered and made fit for use within the project, besides helping recharge the groundwater of the area.

A certified green office complex can assure a 25-50% saving on energy consumption costs and up to 40% reduction in water usage through innovative architecture and eco-friendly technology. It also produces 70% less solid waste and emits 35% less greenhouse gases. To achieve the best standards of Green construction, a net-zero energy home works on the principle of utilizing max renewable energy, independent of any electricity grid, by conserving the energy it consumes. Designed to be resource-efficient, GREEN structures use energy, water and other natural resources optimally, reducing the overall impact on environment – thus sustaining a healthier tomorrow. Operation costs go down dramatically with less electricity consumption over a sustained period of time.

Recycling and limited use of water and other resources results in great value for money. It ultimately leads to a higher absorption rate as well as attracts higher rentals due to the payback mechanism in the long run. As a result, buyers and tenants are getting increasingly aware and inclined towards sustainable real estate.

To boost the anticipated demand for “Green” projects, a comprehensive training framework needs to be put in place with a target of producing green certified structures. Given that the ‘’Green’’ market in India is at a relatively nascent stage, many challenges still need to be overcome to ensure its success. Besides a lack of skilled professionals which could impede the ability of the market to meet the demand for green buildings, there is also the challenge of ensuring the flow of adequate investments into green building projects.

Nevertheless, the Green building movement is gaining momentum, and there is absolutely no doubt that with rising awareness, aided knowledge and friendly policies from the authorities, the fast pace of infrastructure and development will be optimally balanced by the adherence to environmentally sustainable practices, in the time to come.

Villa Developments see a surge in Gurgaon

An important factor that fuelled the ambition to live an extravagant life was the exposure to international trends and lifestyles through the media explosion from the mid-80s onwards. It triggered higher aspirations among vast sections of the Indian populace, including the nouveau riche. Watching the uber-rich in foreign destinations, India’s elite aspired to lead luxurious lifestyles themselves. The aspirations inevitably spawned the rise of luxury homes, including villas, across the country with strong footprint in cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Gurgaon, among others.

Over the past decade, however, Gurgaon has stolen a march over other metros in developing luxury homes. Today, villas are the epitome of desire with developers in Gurgaon at the forefront of premium developments, replete with world-class features and facilities.

Gurgaon’s demand is fueled by the fact that the Millennium City hosts most Fortune 500 companies and Indian blue chips. Their head honchos naturally wish to live in the best places money can buy. Presently, the prime destinations for luxury developments are Golf Course Road and Golf Course Extension. Fast-rising locales such as Sohna Road and New Gurgaon also offer luxury habitats.

Although the real estate market has been impacted by the general economic slowdown after 2008, the luxury segment seems impervious to these uncertainties. In fact, the luxury housing segment has seen steady price appreciation recently. This is because the target group for luxury villas are HNIs (high net-worth individuals), NRIs, expats and other sections of the super-rich. Being financially secure, such individuals do not depend upon loans, but on the power of their net worth. Rather than being a deterrent, high prices are a means for them to flaunt their edge and add to the overall exclusivity of the address. Price tags of such villas are in the multi-crore rupee domain.

As India’s GDP growth improves, the rise in the luxury segment is slowly surpassing that of 2008, with Gurgaon reportedly registering 20-25 per cent growth. A KPMG report states luxury has been the fastest-growing segment in residential housing. Not surprisingly, around 182 luxury projects worth $30 billion were launched in seven top cities between 2008 and 2012.

For luxury offerings, the key factors buyers note are the developer’s brand and credibility, the location, recreational facilities as well as the quality of fittings and furnishings, among other things. Many projects are villas-only gated communities replete with 24×7 security systems. Most villas typically have four or five bedrooms, a lounge zone, terrace gardens, plunge pools and private elevators in case of multiple stores. Select developers even offer internal accessories and devices with smart technologies based upon trends and latest innovation. World-class designs and lush landscaping are also a part of the course, in some cases via tie-ups with international architects.

Developers of luxury villas are confident that the premium market will go from strength to strength. An Ernst & Young and Kotak Wealth Management report reveals ultra-high net-worth individuals are expected to triple to 343,000 by 2018-19 from 117,000 in 2013-14. There is no reason to doubt that the luxury villa segment is bound to burgeon because increasing number of Indians display an irresistible desire to own their own piece of land with their individual patch of green which is embellished and accessorized with the best features, fittings and facilities – a demand India’s luxury developers are eager to fulfill.