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Green smart cities to contribute 2.5 billion sq ft footprint out of 10 billion sq ft target: IGBC

The council that promotes the green building movement in India has over 4.68 billion sq ft of built-up green building projects across the country. Besides smart cities, it is expecting a larger contribution from affordable housing

As the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) gets ready to host the four-day 15th edition of the Green Building Congress 2017 on the theme ‘Sustainable Built Environment for All’ in Jaipur starting today, Moneycontrol’s Vandana Ramnani caught up with Prem C Jain, chairman of IGBC.

Jain reveals that IGBC plans to register about 10 billion sq ft of the green footprint by 2022, the year India celebrates its 75 years of independence. Out of this, around 2.5 billion sq ft are expected to come from green smart cities. So far, six green smart cities are registered with IGBC and have close to about .9 billion sq ft of the green footprint. So far, the green movement is strongest in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and the next to follow will be states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

IGBC currently has over 4.68 billion sq ft of built-up space of green building projects across India. Has it set any targets with the regard to smart green cities?

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the concept of smart cities, we wrote a letter to him and made a submission on why we should first make a city green and then make it smart. The fundamental has to be green – the infrastructure, the facilities and so on. He readily agreed. We met the minister of urban development. What the ministry suggested was that we partner with the individual city’s SPV and offer our services directly to them. We do not have an SPV with many cities yet. It is in the pipeline. There are three cities in Rajasthan, we are on the verge of signing an SPV with Vishakapatnam.

There are several cities already registered with us. There is Mahindra Lifestyle City in Chennai and GIFT City Gujarat.  It is located on 500 acres of land. That became the first green smart city. We are hoping that we will get at least 500 million sq ft when the city gets completed. But the major breakthrough came to us from another city in Gujarat called Dholera. We are hopeful that at least 10 percent of the buildings will become certified green.  There will be at least 6 billion sq ft of the built area out of which we are hoping that at least .6 billion sq ft will be green smart buildings.

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The green footprint with regard to green smart cities so far registered with the Council should be to the tune of about 0.9 to about 1 billion sq ft. One has to keep in mind that we do not give a green rating to the city but only when the city gets completed. The city rating is purely for infrastructure, it is not for the buildings. It is for what they do in terms of solid waste, the water supply, rainwater harvesting, water treatment systems – those are the fundamentals. Transport, safety, and medical facilities and walk to work – these are the main issues in the green cities rating.

We think in the next 3-4 years when we make a deeper penetration (in case of green smart cities). At the IGBC Congress starting today, we are hoping that three cities in the entire state of Rajasthan will contribute to the green ratings. These include Ajmer, Udaipur and Jaipur. These are not the old part of towns but some new parts of the town. The challenge in the old existing cities are too many. We are quite sure that we will be able to sign SPVs with these cities, Vizag, Dholera and GIFT city are already done. So we are making progress with that.

As far as target for green smart cities is concerned, it is floating because we have set targets that are measurable and achievable in a lifetime. We have set ourselves a target for 2022. This was almost 10 years ago. We asked what will India be like in 2022 when we celebrate 75 years of independence. Our target for the green building's footprint including the green cities today is 10 billion sq ft. Today we are at 0.9 billion sq ft of green cities and a total of 4.68 billion sq ft is currently registered with IGBC as we talk.  We have two new cities – Sri in Chennai and Uri city that have registered with us. As for smart green cities, my guess is that 2.5 billion sq ft to 3 billion sq ft will come out of 10 billion sq ft from green smart cities. We are also looking for larger contribution by affordable housing – that is a much larger canvas.

There are 4.68 billion sq ft registered with the council today and we are expecting 10 billion by 2022. Out of this, as much as 2.5 billion sq ft will be from green smart cities. Cities will first become green and then hopefully also become smart.

What about the contribution of affordable housing in the smart green movement?

As many as 375 green affordable housing projects have been launched across the nation and those have been given infrastructure status. With affordable housing being the flavour of the season and PM’s Housing for All target for 2022, we are hoping these will become green homes. There are many examples of how well it is being done. The challenge always was that will affordable housing be livable, will it be comfortable for the poor. How would you ensure that they do not have to live outside the city limits and commute for 1.5 hours to get to work – those issues have been addressed to some extent by the government.  The issue of design has been handled by IGBC. They will provide inputs in terms of solar, daylight, in terms of fresh air ventilation, wind tunnels and so on. Natural insulation, greenery, low floor fixtures, sewage treatment plants for group affordable housing, rainwater harvesting, these are very easy to do. And the good thing is that MOHUB gives you a subsidy for all these- subsidy in terms of affordable housing plus land where you can do commercial. Our role is to make these units livable. We are giving them a normal rating, not the home rating. These are non-airconditioned units and don’t have fancy gadgets. Appliances should be three or four-star rated.

We also have a chapter in the National Building Code of India we have included a code for sustainable buildings. Out of the 10 billion sq ft, I am hoping to get nearly 2 billion sq ft of the green footprint (normal housing today not affordable homes) in the next four to five years through affordable housing projects. My largest contributor to 10 billion sq ft of the green footprint in 2022 will come from affordable housing.

All green cities that come up will have a component of affordable housing.

Is IGBC concentrating only on greenfield smart cities or is it also looking at giving a green rating to existing cities?

The green rating has been given to all existing cities. Varanasi, for example, is an existing city. We are hoping to sign an SPV for Varanasi soon.

In terms of the current green footprint that we have in the country today which is the state that has contributed the most?

Maharashtra by and large has contributed the largest green footprint. Of the total 4.68 billion sq ft, nearly 1 billion sq ft is from the state of Maharashtra. Builders have become aware as to how green buildings add commercial value. This has become a business case. Even if the building costs you 2-3 percent more, you get immediate buyers and good buyers. Banks are also supporting it through special loans. Mumbai and Pune are the main cities in terms of green building adoption. No major incentives have been announced yet. There are green incentives in place for the city of Jaipur though. We are hopeful that Rajasthan CM  will announce incentives for green buildings for the entire state. Ricco also expected to announce green concessions for companies adopting green features for their factories only.  In South India, the states that are forerunners in adopting the green movement are Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Amravati is registered with IGBC to become a green city.  But we do not know how much will be the footprint as the master plan is not yet ready but we have signed an SPV with the state that Amravati will be a green city.  We are also holding our next IGBC Congress in Hyderabad. UP had announced green incentives surprisingly for us.  In UP, an IGBC certified building gets 5 percent additional FAR.

So far, the green movement is strongest in states such as Maharastra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and the next to follow will be states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Tell us about the IGBC Congress taking place in Jaipur starting today?

For the first time, we have invited the World Green Building Council. The entire board is meeting in Jaipur. The Rajasthan CM will be our chief guest. By holding this Congress, our hope is that by 2022, the gap between the conventional building and green building is reduced to a minimum. Also, so far we had been concentrating only on cities and buildings but what about the people? In this Congress, we will be announcing a rating for buildings that are healthy for occupants. How does the building contribute to your health. We are shifting our emphasis from the structure to the occupants. This will cost you very little to do it. This will be both for new and existing buildings. We will also be announcing modified platforms for existing metro stations. While all new metro stations are IGBC rated green metro stations, the old ones are not. We are hoping that at least 250 metro stations across the country should become green. We will also be rewarding green champions. We are also planning to enhance the green village footprint – from the existing eight (rural-urban) RURBAN villages, we are hoping at least 40 will get IGBC rating. While most north-eastern states have come forward, we are hoping Jammu and Kashmir will also contribute.

Vandana Ramnani
Vandana Ramnani
first published: Oct 4, 2017 12:33 pm