The government’s initiative on urbanisation and creating smart cities for growth by launching initiatives to make green and sustainable smart cities are now being rated by the Indian Green Building Council using the Township Rating System. The aim is to ensure that green cities provide mass rapid urban transportation, waste and water recycling systems, smart grids and smart metering to make the cities sustainable.
The Township rating system addresses the environmental, technical and social issues, says the IGBC centre in Chennai. Using climate responsive building design, identifying minimum levels of energy consumption, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing renewable power usage can make cities sustainable.
The green rating tool can be used to address large developments and it is mandatory to include residential development as part of the township. The system addresses green features under categories of site selection and planning, land use planning, transportation planning, infrastructure resource management, and the innovation and design process.
IGBC estimates that the market potential for green material and technology would be about USD 300 billion by 2025. In a smart city, promoting green quotient and green cover will become an imperative; and affordable green housing will become an integral part of a smart city. In the process, smart cities will significantly improve the quality of the life and make the city greener and healthier.Of the townships being planned in India, over 40 are going green (including four in Chennai) across a footprint of 569 million sq.ft.
Green buildings are financially viable too. Well-executed green developments perform extremely well financially, as they require lower operating costs, increase health and productivity of the citizens, and have higher marketability. The immediate benefits include reduction in water and energy demand right from the initial stages of operation. The energy savings range from 20-30 per cent and water savings 30-50 per cent. Other benefits include reductions in maintenance costs, resource consumption, and waste generation.
Tamil Nadu, in particular, has a rich tradition of manufacturing and innovation. With the prospect of climate change, architects and planners are exploring better systems to measure the environmental impact of townships and large infrastructure. If appropriate training programs are introduced in architecture schools, the transition to better designed sustainable cities is possible over the next decade.
The catch lies in how ratings such as these are implemented. The experts at Ikia Consulting services say IGBC’s township rating is not very different from the township requirements mandated by the Environment Protection Act. Such ratings are mushrooming because our existing laws are poorly implemented and monitored. Green rating should be about top-of-line performance and not just meeting bare minimum environmental requirements. It has been noted that there is a disconnect between design and construction; between factors that the ratings are awarded on and the actual performance of these projects. The latest study found almost half the buildings rated ‘green’ consuming more energy than conventional buildings.
All green rated projects must be regularly audited to ensure that there is proper maintenance of the expensive technologies used so that resource saving continues. These must be publicly disclosed to build confidence in people who are still sceptical about the high upfront costs of going green.