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Green Buildings to Improve Health

Green buildings are for health and well-being and the concept is based on the facts that our environment can shape our behaviors and health outcomes. Environmental interventions improve health outcomes. This environment includes the man-made indoor spaces and natural spaces around us. Fresh air, clean water, good nutrition, adequate light, regular physical activity, and meaningful social connections help support human health. Our indoor spaces are our homes and our offices, where we spend much of our time, which should be designed and built in a way that promotes and reinforces good health. Green offices which can control carbon oxide and oxygen levels and can bring daylight inside can make a significant difference to the lifestyle of the employees and help improve their productivity.

Green building, also known as green construction or sustainable building, refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. The Green building movement in India was sparked off when CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre building in Hyderabad was awarded the first and the prestigious Platinum rated Green building rating in India. Green projects in India are growing at the rate of 20-30 per cent on a year-on-year basis and this movement is the next thing to happen in India as more than 1.17 billion square feet of real estate with approximately 2500 projects in India are already registered under the LEED certification.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification programme focused primarily on new, commercial-building projects based upon a points system and is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all buildings, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving Green buildings. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) established LEED in response to a perceived need that specific and determined standards and third-party verification be required in order for structures to be considered “Green,” or environmentally friendly. India secured third position, outside the US, after China and Canada in 2017 in council’s annual ranking of the top 10 countries for the rating. Globally, there are 90,000 certified commercial projects representing more than 19.1 billion square feet under the rating space.

LEED rating has five pillars of Energy, Water, Human Experience, Waste and Carbon Footprint. All these five elements are important for any city, town or building. Green buildings save energy and water. It creates an economic value proposition and is linked to an entity’s bottom-line. Treating waste has now becoming mandatory. Human experience is becoming very important. Human beings are today spending their maximum time inside built-up spaces, be it in offices or inside residences. So, the quality of air that we breathe inside the buildings dictates the quality of our health. Carbon footprint is today much talked about. How you commute to work and back, whether you are able to pool your cars or are taking public transport, will make a lot of difference. All these factors are to be taken care of in Green buildings.

The economies of scale in building Green have brought down prices dramatically. Today, possibly a Green building would be 5% costlier than a normal building but because of savings from energy and water, your payback period is as low as 12 months.

Green buildings are in every industry segment that includes manufacturing, hotels, hospitals, schools, colleges, temples, data centres, metro stations, airports and shipping terminals. With India, developing in terms of infrastructure and buildings, there is going to be more penetration. While the metro cities have now gone for Green buildings in a big way, and even tier 1 cities are adopting them, the action will now shift to tier-2 and tier-3 cities. It could now be smaller cities, Small and Medium Enterprises, Public Sector Undertakings and even the government.

What software did to India 15 years ago, Green can do the same now. India has a strong case to become a global manufacturing base for green materials. In sensors or building management solutions or IoT, India has a tremendous advantage.

Wipro Technologies Campus, Gurgaon, for example, is a Platinum Rated LEED certified Green Building by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), under the umbrella of USGBC, the highest form of honour to be bestowed by the council. The main focus of the design is the inverted cone, strategically located at the cross junction of two roads to give visibility to the building. A key highlight of the building is a controlled, open to sky landscape courtyard that contributes towards keeping the building cool during summers. All open office spaces overlook the courtyard, thus allowing good access to daylight.

Patni Campus, Block A is situated in suburban sprawl of Noida is another example and is the Second Largest Platinum rated LEED Certified Green Building by the IGBC. The building is designed around two beautifully landscaped courtyards with water bodies, plants and sculptures as visual nodes, which enhance and bind the space.

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