Throughout India, a new architectural trend has taken root. But it’s not a new “look”—it’s a green revolution that is leading to the development of hundreds of new sustainable buildings around the country. A September 2015 report in The Times of India said that the country had one 20,000 square foot green building in 2001, which has catapulted to more than 3,247 green buildings covering 3.11 billion square feet. One-fifth of that green space is in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state.
“Green building helps to reduce a building’s energy needs, as well as its water requirement, while integrating better waste management practices. In growing or developing state like Gujarat, such sustainable architecture reduces the pressure on government to provide such services and related infrastructure. Ultimately, green building is a win-win scenario,” says Ankur D. Patel, an engineer in the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation in Sanand.
The Business Case for Being Green
Because green buildings reduce their environmental impact in areas ranging from improved water and energy requirements to reduction in toxic construction materials and soil erosion, they are equipped to meet new consumer and regulatory demands for sustainable practices. Green plants contribute to conservation and preserving increasingly scarce resources while meeting demands for products more efficiently.
Patel says that such buildings have a number of tangible and intangible benefits. Among the tangible benefits are water and energy savings with a return on their investment in as little as three to five years. Intangible benefits include brand enhancement as a “green” company, as well as improved employee conditions and morale.
One of the great success stories of the region is Oerlikon Graziano’s plant in Sanand, Gujarat. Its Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) certification means that its features are on par with a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Gold LEED certification, says Surender Mehta, head of the Sanand plant.
“With growing awareness about green building and sustainability across the globe, many customers prefer to have their products produced in green plants. In some cases, the supply chain management is even based on how green your vendor or supplier is, so it matters,” Mehta says.
Enjoying Tangible and Intangible Benefits
Employees also prefer working in green plants because of the better operating conditions. In addition, they typically experience less fatigue and absenteeism because they’re working in better environments with fresh air and plenty of sunlight. This can lead to greater productivity, Mehta says. Some of the key green features of the plant include:
- A rain water harvesting system and water-efficient fixtures
- Soil erosion and sedimentation control strategies
- Green construction materials, such as eco-friendly paints and materials that have higher recycled content and which are made from locally available materials
- A sewage treatment plant
- Improved systems that avoid the use of asbestos or asbestos-based materials and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in air conditioning systems
- Landscaping that uses drought-tolerant plant species and minimizes lawn areas, which require the most water
- Many other features that improve water and energy usage and meet other green standards
Oerlikon Graziano’s investment in these features bumped construction costs roughly 6 to 8 percent over those of a plant without them. However, Mehta says that investment will be returned in roughly four years, as the plant has reduced typical energy consumption by 40 percent and water consumption by 30 percent over its traditional counterparts. He says that the plant’s enhanced indoor air quality, good lighting, exceptional employee occupational health and well-being, and productivity increases all contribute to the reasons to “go green.”
“The response to this plant has been extremely positive. As visitors learn more about the various features—heavily planted interior areas, reduction in energy and water consumption, use of recycled material, etc.—one can see deep admiration and appreciation,” he says.
By Gwen Moran