‘Mean' Green
energyⁿ manager|April - June 2019
If climate change commitments are taken seriously by world governments, their industries will follow suit and drive change from unsustainable practices to sustainable practices. The energy and environment management professionals whose professional and personal lives are so directly connected to this cause have a pivotal role to play in driving change at all levels.
Siva Kishan

Let me start with a question!

Which is the greenest building on earth?

Given the background of the readers, I can imagine LEED Platinum, Green Star 6 Level, BREEAM Excellent or superlative term of some other rating flashing in minds. In fact, avant-garde readers might even think of specific projects such as 'Dockside Greens' in Canada which has the highest points so far (63) under the LEED Canada rating system. As novice readers educate themselves in the new terminology that I have just introduced them to, project teams are busy working towards claiming the title of 'the greenest building'. And where is India in this number chasing game? Yes, a number-game because every rating system evaluates and gives points for documented achievements. Well, not very behind. The 'Turbo Energy' building of TVS group in Chennai has achieved 62 under LEED US rating system. But does that really matter to India and Indians?

There are some parallels between a written examination and a rating system. A written examination has a minimum pass mark and a rating system has a minimum score to qualify for rating. Above pass mark, we have second class, first-class and distinction in an examination and there are silver, gold, platinum or increasing number of stars in a rating system. Did someone say, you can cheat in an examination and you can cheat in a rating system? I am neither denying it nor confirming it. The fact is that rating systems rely on documentation and supplement it with field visits (if at all) for crosschecking. It is not impossible to maintain rigour in certification of buildings provided it is a priority of the certification agency. And the complaints on rating systems don't end here. There are questions why projects should be judged against criteria that do not apply to it. This is like getting questions that are out of syllabus in your question paper. Then, will you not complain? There is so much talk of level playing field these days. Why not a level playing rating?

Before we answer the questions raised above, let us be on the same page as to what we mean by 'green'? Green Offices, Green Interiors, Green Homes, Green Schools, Green Landscapes, Green Hotels, Green Hospitals, Green Airports, Green Convention Centres, Green Factory Buildings, Green Cities and even Green SEZs…did we miss out something? You might find a 'special' rating for each one of them very soon. After all, 'green' makes business sense and there is money to be made in it. Green Buildings are now discussed mostly in relation to achieving some green certification. These green certifications, particularly from the new world have been instrumental in popularising both the term and the concept of a 'certified' green building around the world. There is a large overlap between the definitions of green buildings of various green building councils. Moreover, we see the terms, green, sustainable, and even natural buildings used interchangeably. Though there is an overlap of features, there are important differences between these terms.

Green Building Defined

As per the Confederation of Indian Industry on their IGBC website, "A green building is one which uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building." This definition talks about the subjects that define what is 'green' and then a comparison mechanism for judging the 'green'ness. The subjects, when closely examined, reveal the fact that a green building tries to minimize impact on the environment. These environmental impacts are conveniently grouped under various specializations, like landscape, water, energy, indoor environment quality and materials, in most rating systems. These elements have been historically understood to be the constituents of the 'physical environment'. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna declares Bhumi, Apa, Anala, Vayu, Akasham, Mana, Buddhi eva cha, Ahankaaram iteeyam me bhinna prakritir ashtadah…listing earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and the ego as the five gross and three subtle constituents of the physical environment. So any building that minimizes its overall impact on the above elements during its development, occupation and decommissioning, is a green building.

A building that minimizes its overall impact by using less water, optimising energy efficiency, conserving natural resources, generating less waste and providing healthier spaces for occupants during its development, occupation and decommissioning is considered as a green building

Benefits of building Green

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