A city cannot be smart unless it is green. Cities have to become green before they become smart, according to Prem C Jain, chairman of Indian Green Building Council.
To understand the concept of the Indian green footprint, how it impacts smart cities, affordable housing, the share of your property tax concessions and the additional space that developers can get by adhering to green norms and most important, how you can make your home sustainable with almost zero investment, Moneycontrol’s Vandana Ramnani spoke to Prem C Jain, chairman of Indian Green Building Council.
What are the green initiatives India has taken so far and what will be the country’s green footprint by 2022?
Today we are sitting at 450 crore sq ft of sustainable footprint in India. We have evolved from 20,000 sq ft in 2003 that was IGBC’s Hyderabad headquarters to about 450 crore sq ft of green footprint comprising both residential and commercial spaces. But is 450 crore sq ft enough? The answer is no. Our target is to achieve 1000 crore sq ft of registered green footprint by 2022, Indian’s 75th year of independence and become the jagat guru or the world’s number 1.
Are you also looking at a green footprint for the 100 smart cities?
A city cannot be smart unless it is green. Cities have to become green before they become smart. We are helping the smart cities that have been announced so far to become green in terms of waste water management, energy conservation, solid waste disposal techniques and tackling pollution. We have also decided to charge nothing. We have 22 chapters and each city will be handled by IGBC’s regional chapter. The success of our efforts has led to GIFT city in Ahmedabad already becoming a green smart city. Every building in this city will be IGBC certified.
A platinum-rated green smart city is coming up in Dholera in Gujarat. It will have a green footprint of 6 million sq ft. As of now we are considering only one-tenth of it. We are working with around 20 cities along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Cities in Rajasthan are adopting IGBC green parameters. New Town Kolkata has received a green city rating from IGBC last week. The city spread across 7,000 acres currently has a green footprint of 140 million sq ft. It will enjoy enormous benefits in terms of energy consumption which would be 30% to 35% less than what it would have been otherwise, every drop of water will be recycled.
Developers will also get extra floor area ratio of 10% if the buildings are platinum rated. This is not a smart city but a green city that may eventually become smart.
Coming to tax concessions, how many Indian cities provide for tax rebates for following green norms?
There are some states that provide additional floor area ratio for constructing green buildings. Uttar Pradesh provides for 5% additional FAR for buildings with platinum ratings, Punjab too provides for 5% extra FAR. Despite such efforts, UP still accounts for only .5 billion sq ft of green footprint compared to Maharashtra that has over a billion sq ft of green space.
Pune is the first city to have provided 15% tax concessions for platinum rated buildings. These buildings need to get themselves recertified by IGBC after three years. We are also working with Jaipur. The city is keen to provide a similar benefit. In cities where there is no restriction on FAR such as Hyderabad, we are trying to work towards getting property tax concessions.
Will affordable housing also get a green rating?
Under the Affordable Housing for All scheme, about 2 crore houses are to be constructed by 2022. Members of builders’ body the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India, or CREDAI, have announced a total of 375 affordable housing projects across the country with an investment commitment of Rs 70,000 crore. The fact that almost all developers will be using the IGBC affordable housing green rating will help us achieve 10 billion sq ft of green footprint. We are hoping that out of the 2 crore affordable units to be constructed, at least 25% to 35% will be green. This will be around 3 billion to 4 billion sq ft, our largest contribution to the nation in terms of getting to the bottom of the pyramid.
What about green loans? Has the concept fizzled out?
SBI was the first bank to introduce the concept of green loans wherein customers could avail of a home loan for 1% less than the prevailing rate of interest for a green project. We are now working with ICICI, LIC and HDFC. Once all these large players are covered, green homes will become a reality.
Can you tell us about the IGBC green rating for residential societies?
We have launched a rating system for Green Residential Societies. We have societies in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai registered under this scheme. They have benefited in terms of energy conservation, solar power, sewage treatment and rain water harvesting. The government provides them subsidies in return for the rating. The first green homes affordable housing society has come up in Pune.
Getting an environment clearance for a project is the biggest challenge in our country and the reason behind most project delays. What is IGBC doing in this direction?
Four years ago there was a gazette notification that if a project I pre-certified by IGBC, the project may get a hearing out of turn and may be in a position to jump the queue and receive an environment clearance faster. Thousands of builders across Maharashtra, Gujarat approached us for pre-certification and many were given clearance in just about three to four months against the 18 month norm. The challenge before us was to ensure that these pre-certified projects also received a certification. As many as 50% of these pre-certified projects were given certification. We also have the responsibility to report if these projects merely took advantage of the pre-certification and if they did, penalty should be imposed on them.
How have North Indian states performed in terms of green rating compared to other states?
Delhi-NCR is the spoilt brat. We have been highly successful in Southern parts of the country, especially in cities such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mysore. NCR has only a handful of green buildings and that is unfortunate. We are also working with DDA to provide some property concessions for green projects.
If one wishes to turn an existing apartment into a green one, how simple or difficult is it?
It is very simple and very little cost. You can start by changing the lighting, change fixtures and faucets to low flow. If you have carpets, just throw them away. Change you paint to low VOC paint. You only need to work on some cosmetic changes to get a green home. We conducted a survey that found that a house whose size is around 400 sq ft to 500 sq ft costs a few thousands to turn it green and house measuring about 1500 sq ft may cost around Rs 20,000.
Do property prices appreciate faster for green buildings and projects?
I am sorry to say but nothing has happened in that direction.A promoter of a project should make green buildings a part of life and not charge a homebuyer more for it. The first platinum rated building cost 17% more, the same building today may cost only 2% more but to construct a normal green certified building will cost only 0% more. We hope that with the adoption of more green building features, green projects will become cheaper.
What are the other projects that IGBC has certified?
We are working with the ministry of rural development (MORD) for granting green certification to villages. There are as many as 50 green villages registered with us so far. We have also granted platinum rating to all Delhi Metro Rail Corporation stations. All 15 stations on the Faridabad line are also IGBC certified. DMRC is contributing 15 megawatts of renewable energy from roof tops. They are now targeting 40 megawatts. We are also working on 100 old stations to make them green. The newly openly Kashmere Gate Line has also been certified. We have recently certified the Kochi Metro line and Chennai Metro stations have also received a platinum rating. There are six railway stations in the country that have received the certification including the Katra station in Jammu.