While it took a few thousand years for man to pass from Paleolithic to Neolithic tools, it has taken less than a century to shift from conventional weaponry to nuclear devices. Development has been so rapid that nature has not had time to adapt to these changes, and to human requirement and greed.
Our growing consumer economy and industrialization have led to the creation of huge megalopolises and human activities are causing an irreversible damage to the global environment due to extensive emission of greenhouse gases. Rising concern about the environment in response to global warming is driving thinkers to seek some sustainable solutions and are forcing people to reconsider and amend their ways of living to become more eco-friendly.
Many, if not all, are seeking to redesign their lifestyles and get into the green mode. India is also part of this transformation.
The green building concept broadly integrates many interests and aspects of sustainability, emphasizing reduction of environmental impacts through a holistic approach to land and building uses and construction strategies. Unlike a conventional structure, green buildings incorporate several sustainable features such as efficient use of water, energy efficiency, eco-friendly environment, use of renewable energy, use of recycled/recyclable materials, effective use of landscape, effective control and building management systems, and improved indoor quality for health and comfort.
Green buildings create value for occupants, increase property values and may be eligible for incentive programmes. Substantial savings are realized on a per square foot basis when energy consumption is reduced. Green buildings offer easier maintenance and lower operating costs, which translate to a higher market valuation.
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) was formed in 2001 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Godrej Green Business Centre, and is continuously striving towards the wide adoption of green building concepts in the Indian industry. In the last 10 years, more than 687 projects have been registered or certified under IGBC’s green building guidelines developed in India. About 450 million sq. ft of built-up area is coming up as green buildings. This includes hotels, hospitals, and commercial, institutional and factory buildings.
Let us look at the hospitality sector. Hotel construction in India ranked second in Asia in 2011, with around 500 projects and approximately 90,000 rooms. Nearly 60% of the country’s high-end hotels are located in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.
Key companies include the InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Hyatt, Hilton, Accor, Tata, Oberoi and ITC group with 300 branded hotels to be launched by 2015.
It’s interesting that much of the pressure to go green is coming from environmentally sensitive guests who are growing in number and favour eco-friendly hotels to energy guzzlers. The hospitality industry is acknowledging the long-term benefits to be reaped in terms of reduced maintenance and energy saving, especially when energy costs are escalating. With technology constantly improving and becoming cost-effective, initiatives that seemed too expensive just a short while earlier are now within reach of most hotels going for green certification.
In India, the ITC Gardenia, a luxury hotel in Bangalore, was awarded the US Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum rating, making it the first hotel in India to achieve the highest rating for green buildings.
Understanding the green advantage, ITC now has a platinum rating for all its luxury hotels—the ITC Windsor in Bangalore, the ITC Mughal in Agra, the ITC Sonar in Kolkata, the ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad, the ITC Grand Central and the ITC Maratha in Mumbai, and the ITC Maurya in New Delhi. The Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi has also been certified platinum.
The Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre has been awarded gold certification as has the Heritage Madurai Hotel and Resort, while the Fortune Select at Lavasa has a silver rating. Many hotels are registered for LEED certification such as Piccadilly Hotels for its forthcoming Hyatt Regency properties at Gurgaon and Ludhiana for a gold rating.
A few of the salient green features incorporated in these buildings are zero water discharge, 25-40% energy savings over conventional buildings, 40% reduction in potable water use, use of treated greywater for flushing, air conditioning and landscaping, use of fly ash in bricks and concrete, high efficiency equipment, and eco-friendly housekeeping practices.
The three R’s have an important role to play in the construction of a green building—recycling (of old material), reduction (of wastage) and re-use (of material).
With the number of green buildings expected to multiply, the energy requirements of Indian cities may change, transforming traditional urban culture. We hope for the best.
Ashok K. Verma has been managing hospitality projects and engineering for the last three decades. He is associated with the development of green hotels and is currently working on two such projects.