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TERI sets target for green buildings

                                                                                                                     Mint, New Delhi, 25th April, 2013

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a policy research organization, said on Thursday it will work towards making 15 million sq. m in both government and private buildings GRIHA-compliant in the next three years.

GRIHA, an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, is the national rating system for green buildings in India.

The energy savings through the GRIHA initiatives, TERI said in a release, will be sufficient to light up at least 200,000 urban homes and provide solar water heating to 67,500 urban homes cumulatively.

According to the TERI release, GRIHA has been adopted by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for compliance in all its future projects.

The Cabinet of the government of Delhi and the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in Maharashtra, too, have passed resolutions calling for all future buildings to be GRIHA rated. PCMC is offering financial incentives to developers and occupants of such buildings.

TERI has also signed an agreement with the government of Assam to adopt GRIHA standards in all construction projects, said Mili Majumdar, director, sustainable habitat, at TERI.

“We are working with more municipalities like Noida (Uttar Pradesh) to give additional floor space, and with banks to give lower interest rates to consumers of green buildings,” Majumdar said.
For instance, the National Housing Board (NHB) and KfW, a German bank, entered into an agreement in 2008 to promote energy-efficient residential housing with a line of credit of €50 million. TERI is a technical partner in this deal.

Under the agreement, funds are being routed though NHB to retail lending institutions to provide soft housing loans to individual borrowers for the purchase and construction of energy efficient residential houses. Till 28 February, NHB had submitted claims for €26.73 million to KfW. So far, 1, 222 individual loans have been refinanced by NHB.

Banks and housing financing companies such as LIC Housing Finance Ltd, Axis Bank, Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd (HDFC Ltd), Dewan Housing Finance Corp. Ltd (DHFL) and Tata Capital Housing Finance Ltd have also availed of refinance from NHB under the programme.

To promote green buildings, the ministry of environment and forests in June 2011 allowed GRIHA pre-certified projects to receive fast-track environmental clearance, resulting in speedy approvals. But real estate developers, especially those in the residential sector, have not been enthusiastic about adopting green ratings.

On 18 January, Mint reported the poor response to the Maharashtra government’s offer to fast-track construction projects by 18 months if real estate developers opt for a green building certification process. Developers had applied for certification for just 15 out of 300 projects.

The main hurdle, say experts, is that green building certification can raise the cost of construction by Rs.100-400 per sq. ft.“Mostly commercial developers adopt this model. As there is an initial cost associated with this, many residential developers hesitate to incur that,” said Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases Foras, a real estate research firm.

According to Majumdar, more awareness need to be created among home buyers about the benefits of living in an energy-efficient green building.

The housing sector alone accounts for nearly 40% of energy consumption and the energy requirement is substantial considering the pace of urbanization. The problem will be compounded by 2030 when 40.8% of India’s population will be living in urban areas, up from 28.4% now, and set to rise to 50% by 2041.

Incidentally, the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) formed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is another agency that provides green certification to real estate projects in India. It promotes the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system in India.

LEED is an internationally-accepted measurement system designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings.