New Delhi: India’s upcoming airports are focusing on energy-efficient buildings, high-performance air conditioning, rainwater harvesting, waste-water treatment, and optimal reuse of treated water to align themselves with environment-friendly development.
Such measures are also being implemented at the Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports that are being upgraded.
Photo Pradeep Gaur/Mint
New Delhi airport’s Terminal 3, or T3, the centrepiece of its $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) modernization plan that was completed last year, was designed as per the Indian Green Building Council’s (IGBC) rating system, which includes a high level of green cover with 35 acres of landscaping outside the airport building and 4,000 sq. m inside it.
IGBC defines a green building as one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste ,and provides healthier spaces for occupants than a conventional building.
Development route: New Delhi airport’s Terminal 3 (top) was designed in line with the Indian Green Building Council’s rating system. Such measures are also being implemented at the Mumbai (right), Chennai and Kolkata airports that are being upgraded. Photo Hemant Mishra/Mint
Rainwater harvesting and the use of natural light and power-saving CFL bulbs are basic elements for achieving the green building objective.
At T3, daylight is a primary focus of its design. It uses sensors to monitor the quality and quantity of air, recycled water for flushing, and less-polluting electric vehicles or those that run on compressed natural gas.
An official of the Delhi International Airport Ltd, or DIAL, who was involved in the environment aspects of the new terminal, on condition of anonymity said that although green buildings are more expensive to construct than regular buildings, the additional money spent can be recovered in three-four years of operations.
The Chennai and Kolkata airports are being upgraded keeping in mind the certification requirements of a green building, said V.P. Agarwal, chairman of the Airports Authority of India.
“There are standard systems to be used. Like all our airports use recycled water for air conditioning,” he said.
Construction, however, poses problems.
One hurdle is that all the material needed for a green building has to be sourced from within 600-700km of an airport, so that the region benefits from the construction, under green building certification requirements. But all the material needed for building an airport is not available in the immediate region, the DIAL official said.
T3 has a gold rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-New Construction, an international green building certification system. The highest platinum rating has not been granted to any construction worldwide, the DIAL official said.
The aviation sector contributes only about 3% of greenhouse gases to global emissions, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA.
The recently asked airlines to submit annual fuel consumption data for their entire fleet from 2005 till 2010. The airlines have to include information on the total fuel consumed by aircraft during flights, and by auxiliary power units while keeping aircraft stationary at airports.
Greening of airports flows into the larger scheme of real estate developers implementing energy efficiency solutions in keeping with a gradual tightening of norms by the government.
India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change says by 2013, new buildings will be mandated to comply with specific building codes that emphasize sustainability.
To help developers comply, a smattering of consultancy organizations have sprung up. IGBC, among the prominent ones, has registered 1,124 buildings and certified 153 buildings so far.
“Green buildings and the energy conservation building code (ECBC) are in the evolution stage—new ideas, new concepts,” said S. Raghupathy, head of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (CII-GBC). “Foremost, we need awareness of standards and opportunities, also the benefits of green buildings. The challenge for us and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is to reach out.”
IGBC is a part of CII-GBC.
All ratings and certification schemes, however, whether ECBC, IGBC or GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), are voluntary.
“In the mandatory phase, we need people to check compliance. In the (Energy Conservation) Act, compliance should be performance of the building, energy usage per sq. m per year (EPI index),” said Sanjay Seth, an energy economist at BEE. “Ultimately, that’s what we need. Compliance checking is hard—check insulation, design stage, construction stage, and post-operation as well.”
BEE is in the process of developing draft models on compliance.
“Then we will have EPI indices for different climatic zones and different kinds of buildings. It is at an advanced stage and will be done before this Plan period,” said Seth.
India’s 11th Five-year Plan period ends in 2012.
Seth said the compliance models will finally be added to BEE’s star labelling programme—an extensive rating system for consumer appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners based on energy efficiencies.