GREEN BUILDINGS AND RATING SYSTEMS-2014

Buildings cause a number of environmental problems as a result of their design, construction, operation and maintenance. They consume large amounts of energy and resources, affecting the quality of air and water leading to climate change. A Green Building is one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste, provides healthier spaces for occupants and creates less environmental impact, as compared to conventional building.

The concept of environmentally responsible and resource efficient buildings has led to various terminology known as Natural Building, Green Architecture, Sustainable Building, Green Construction, Green Building etc.

In Urban area, due to high demand of residential and office accommodation, scarcity of land and space, several buildings are designed and planned without the concept of using natural ventilation and light. In the process, the occupants mainly depend on artificial light, artificial air circulation with the help of electricity, creating huge energy demand. The use of Air Conditioners, in less ventilated buildings, lead to huge environmental problem since the refrigerant- Freon used in room Air Conditioners, gets released into the environment either due to leakage or through diffusion process, creating ozone layer depletion. The design of buildings, using the concept of natural lighting and cross ventilation is still widely practiced in Indian villages and the same should also get priority for urban areas, wherever possible.

Environment friendly construction practices and design of buildings to reduce environmental impact are essentially required for sustainable development. The practicing Architects and Civil Engineers, Research Scientists, Developers and Faculty Members of educational institutions of relevant area, should accept challenges in this regard in India.

Grades, Standards, Rating Systems and related Regulations, have been developed by various countries based on which credits are awarded for location, maintenance of building sites, building materials, energy & water conservation, control & health of occupants etc. to judge the level of performance of green buildings. Internationally, building rating systems have been instrumental in raising awareness and popularizing green design. However, most of the internationally devised rating systems have been tailored to suit the buildings of the countries, where they were developed. For this purpose, the system known as Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) by Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats and the work of Indian Green Building Council are of some acceptable standards in India. Green Building Rating Systems provide tools to building owners and operators for improving the performance of buildings in the key areas of human and environmental impact.

After certifying Green Buildings based on acceptable Grades, Standards and Rating Systems, there is also a need for performance monitoring of certified buildings for which developers, project authorities and building owners should voluntarily come forward to make India as global leaders in Green Buildings. More awareness today in India, is a necessity, in this regard.

Prof (Dr) N.K. Kole, India

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