‘We have 1.26 billion sq.ft. of green building space in India’

We are well poised to lead the world in green construction, says Jamshyd Godrej of CII-GBC.

The CII Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, a LEED Platinum demonstration building India’s 1st green  the greenest building in the world at the time when it was rated. The Green Business Centre is a Centre of Excellence for green buildings, energy efficiency, energy conservation, non-conventional energy sources, water policy, water conservation, etc. We caught up with Mr. Jamsyhd Godrej, President of CII-GBC on the sidelines of the Green Building Congress – International Conference and Exhibition on Green Buildings, to learn more about greening our urban areas.

How aware is the the construction industry in India about green practices? 

A. Over the last ten years, the construction industry has seen a sea change in the way buildings are constructed. Developers are definitely pursuing the green path. The shift is gradual and they do understand that green path is considerable, not only because it involves cost-cutting but also saves energy.

For instance, high energy consuming sectors like cement, steel and fertilisers have already embraced green technologies under Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme and seeing the results.

Where does India stand in pursuing the green path in construction? What is the carbon footprint of the green building space in the country?

India stands 5th among the top five countries in the world in pursuing the green path. The current footprint of 1.26 billion square feet of green building space in India is testimony to the concerted efforts of the Indian Green Building Congress. India is now well-poised to play a leadership role in the global green building arena.

Do you think India should set rigid standards to follow green building construction norms?

A. The government of India should engage realtors, local and state governments and other stakeholders in fixing baseline standards like the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC). Universal adoption of ECBC can make it vital for developers for follow energy-efficiency standards. The Greenco rating system is a way in which industry can rate itself. ITC Bhadrachalam Paper division and Bengaluru International Airport Ltd have opted for this. Now, large corporates are evincing interest and they are likely to receive Greenco rating by next year.

We are pursuing green buildings and green homes right now. What are next steps in expanding the green building footprint in India?

A. We are working on hybrid off-the-grid energy solutions to empower rural parts of the country while making telecom towers part of the solution. Because of frequent blackouts that rural India faces, there is a growing need to integrate the demand for rural electrification with growing energy needs.

How will these off-grid solutions be undertaken in India? 

A . We have partnered with US-based Rockefeller Foundation and have completed several pilot projects across the country. By making telecom towers a significant part of this project, it is possible to deploy hybrid solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. This will solve the problem of telecom towers which depend on diesel generators and also help locals. The off-grid solution is ideal for a large country like India where it is difficult to reach out to remote parts with a wired network.

 Could you talk about some of the green projects CII-GBC is working on?

A. We have tried using rice husk to generate power in one of our pilot projects in Bihar. Rice husk is available in plenty in Bihar. Using this by-product becomes easier in places where rice mills are installed and husks are produced in plenty.

Husk Power Systems (HPS) Company in Bihar is one such start-up that bought the idea. They developed a system that could produce 32 kilowatts of power by burning 50 kilograms of rice husk per hour. As of March 2011, Husk Power Systems has installed more than 60 biomass mini-plants across Bihar, providing power to more than 32,000 rural households. Under this system, locals are charged for the power supply.

We have tested another project in Rajasthan where the by-product is Hydrogen. An Aditya-Birla group factory was producing the by-product and we used it for power generation. It worked wonders.

So, we have developed several workable models that can be replicated across the country.

 Are States taking to this? Don’t you think payment mode would be difficult when you offer off-grid solutions in rural areas?

A. These business cases are compelling for various States to consider them and encourage such off-grid projects in remote locations. Even the mode of payment could be made suitable just like telecom firms offer pre-paid services because almost 95% of India uses pre-paid connections.

8. What are next steps at CII-GBC?

A. We are looking for local entrepreneurs who can replicate the Bihar or Rajasthan models or such like, using different by-products. The CII- GBC is also working on another project aimed at providing recommendations to the state governments of West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu for fiscal instruments to facilitate low carbon development in these three states for long term sustainable growth.

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