March 2010
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Govt steps up drive to make  office  buildings  green

New Delhi: In two years, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and being constructed over a 9,000-sq mt plot at Aliganj in Delhi, will be showcased as the government’s drive to set up green buildings.

It will have all the features of a green building: Enough sunlight, instead of artificial fluorescent lights; natural cooling, instead of air-conditioners; solar power, instead of artificial power generation, and much more. Though late in the day, government offices are fast trying to catch up with the private sector in eco-friendly construction. The ministry aims for Paryavaran Bhawan to be credited with the prestigious platinum rating under Leed-India (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building rating system of the Indian Green Building Council).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in collaboration with The Energy Research Institute (Teri), has set up Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (Griha), a rating agency which will approve a building as green under certain parameters.

Griha has evaluated 28 projects till now and rated one — Centre for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Kanpur. Some ongoing projects under Griha are Akshay Urja Bhawan of Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency, Earth System & Environment Science Engineering Building, IIT-Kanpur, Commonwealth Games Village, Delhi, and the Office of the Public Works Department, Nashik.

Mili Majumdar, associate director, Teri, says: “There are many states and cities like Delhi, Gujarat, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, which have showed initiative to turn their offices green. In Delhi, we were to help in constructing 100 green buildings, but the agencies have till now identified 20.” The Delhi Secretariat, Vikas Minar and Soochna Bhavan are some of the buildings in the national capital which are being turned green.

The design philosophy for Paryavaran Bhavan will include incorporating conventional and unconventional features. Some of these are conservation of natural areas and trees to reduce adverse environmental impact, large landscaped areas with plants and water bodies, a rain water harvesting system and reduction in heat island effect by plantation of trees, and use of high albedo materials, which reflect most of the solar energy. Other features will be building appropriate heating, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting, electrical, and water heating systems; integration of renewable energy sources to generate energy on site, water and waste management, selection of ecologically sustainable materials (with high recycled content, rapidly renewable resources with low emission potential, etc) and develop indoor environment quality (maintain indoor thermal and visual comfort and air quality).

Says Prem C Jain, chairman, India Green Building Council, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII): “We are working with governments of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Haryana to make them aware of the benefits of green buildings. The cost of constructing a green building is only 2-5 per cent more than a normal building. But, that awareness seems lacking.” He added that the trend has started to pick up.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), an energy regulatory body of the Government of India, is also doing its bit to conserve energy. The Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) under BEE, which was formulated in May 2007, is now mandatory for government buildings to comply in the Delhi region.

However, there is no mechanism to monitor if buildings are abiding by the ECBC code. “We are working on a software, which will check for ECBC compliance of government buildings in Delhi. We will soon launch its beta version,” says Shabnam Bassi, project engineer, BEE.

BEE is working with Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Pune, Kerala and others to ensure energy conservation awareness.
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