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What is a green building?

A green building can be both a structure or method of construction that reduces negative impacts, and operates environmentally responsible, creating a positive impact on climate and natural environment throughout its life span. The components of green building are energy efficiency, environmentally friendly materials, waste reduction, lowering toxics, indoor air quality and sustainable development and growth.

Sustainable building has become increasingly important as more nations begin to have the capability to build on a larger scale with many grants, regulations and initiatives that facilitate the same. Environment-friendly materials are an important component of green building. Usage of recyclable materials and efficient storage and collection sites especially for electronic waste batteries also can increase sustainability. Example: bamboo, terrazzo, strawbales, reclaimed wood, etc.

Conceptual visualization of green building. Source

The Indian Context

Skyline of an Indian City. Source

India’s built environment accounts for about 40% of the country’s total energy consumption with an increase of 8% annually.This plays a critical role regarding impact on climate change.If ineffective,negative practices continue,then constructions would account for 70% of the emissions by 2050,posing a major threat to the country’s green ambitions.

As per the International Finance Corp 70% of the built environment as per 2030 are yet to be constructed.which by adopting green strategies would be a merit for the country as well as economy.Only 5% of the buildings are classified as green in India today. Green Buildings have lower energy costs in comparison with conventional buildings.They also prove to be cost effective i.e. though the initial investment is intensive or higher but they prove worthy over time.

Green Building and the Pandemic

Construction activities dropped by 20-30% in 2020, yet building operations constitute about 28% of the global emissions as per the Global Status Report for Building Constructions in 2020. The pandemic has bought the relationship between human health and the built environment into a new light. The country targets about 10 billion sq ft of green building footprint by 2022 of which 7 billion sq ft has crossed constituting only 10 % of the total built environment.

Moreover, the pandemic has resulted in an internal awareness amongst homeowners regarding green spaces, environmental aspects and the potential tangible benefits. The current scenario has made individuals re-evaluate their living and working environments and their impact on health. Green buildings put focus on the health and wellness of their occupants and eventually will help make cities sustainable, putting lesser pressure on the environment. With the pandemic and the following aftershocks, people have become more cautious about their health, well-being, comfort and quality. Moreover, green buildings have their role in catalyzing India’s economic recovery.

The notion of building back better has been encouraged and has generated investments. However, in India, the green construction sector lacks the technical expertise to execute projects and the funding to pay for construction. The Indian government has introduced numerous initiatives like GRHA to promote green buildings which restrict usage of resources to 30%.

Case Studies of 2021-India

1. PowerHyde-Billion Bricks Home By Architecture Brio-Math Jalgaon, India

Front view of a Billion Brick Home.Source

The project explores sustainable means and solutions to empower and facilitate growth opportunities for people without homes. The project is the world’s first carbon-negative solar home community in an attempt to eradicate housing issues. It aims to balance owning a home while mitigating climate change. The building incorporates energy efficiency and energy affordability concepts.

The Billion Bricks community combines clean energy and social housing under the same financial umbrella. They follow a plug and play concept of modular homes, independent of services and functional since completion. Self-energy production and 100% rainwater harvesting, and growing food are some initiatives of these homes. They are also capable of expanding horizontally as well as vertically.

Billion Brick Home. Source

2. House under Shadows by Zero Energy Design Lab-Karnal, India

House Under Shadows. Source

The residence of 1672 sqm is nestled below the sweeping shadows of the day. The 2 unit dwelling aims at sustainable living alongside nature. The architect had a zero energy approach with elements such as chowk and chhatris taken from the vernacular elements of Havelis. Sustainable strategies in the design are the central courtyard with pool and stone-clad walls which provide mass insulation and vertical greens that buffer heat.

The pool induces a phenomenon similar to that of land breeze and sea breeze, thereby lowering the net heat gain. The double roof results in a 50% reduction in direct and diffuse radiation. Environment conscious, neutral-toned local materials are used that enable heat reflection. The residence is a net-zero double family assembly with patterns such as Varnoi that minimises energy consumption and captures the essence of sustainable living.

 House under Shadows. Source


In conclusion, green buildings can become a strong driver of economic growth and provide a large employment opportunity in both the renewable and construction sector by 2030.

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