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.

About P. Sahel

As Vice Chairman of Lotus Greens, Sahel is responsible for giving directions on overall business strategy and key investments decisions of the firm. Being one of the founding members of Lotus Greens, Sahel has been instrumental in formulating various company policies, setting up systems and processes, and building a strong team of professionals. Prior to Lotus Greens, Sahel worked for more than 16 years in some of India’s largest and most respected real estate companies like Jones Lang LaSalle for 13 years as the Managing Director of the Markets & Solution Development and DLF prior to that. The views expressed are personal

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