Mankind has entered the age of Anthropocene. This era has been characterized by rapid, unchecked development of science and technology. While these advancements have significantly improved the standard of living for a few, they have also resulted in overexploitation of our planet’s resources, destruction of ecosystems, and climate change! While this sounds apocalyptic, we must not lose all hope. Humans have realized the profound impact of their actions and are adapting and developing ways and techniques to counteract the damage caused. Green Building is one such way! As green buildings are gaining traction, multiple frameworks known as rating systems have been devised to encourage and promote sustainable design.
In 1990, the framework of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) was established. This was the first Green Rating System in the world and set the precedent for all other rating systems that followed. This system was devised as a method of assessment that allowed designers, architects, and all the stakeholders to evaluate their designs against the standards. The BREEAM rating system was divided into 10 categories such as Energy, Health, Innovation, Transportation, Material, Waste, Land Use, Water Pollution, and Management. Other widely used International Ratings include Passivhaus, Living Building Challenge, Green Star, and LEED.
India is the seventh-largest country in the world and has the world’s second-highest population. Our country is growing rapidly and construction is one of the primary industries contributing to this growth. This tremendous growth has resulted in India being the 3rd largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the world. To tackle these problems, frameworks for sustainable design is a must.
The predominant green rating frameworks in India are GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment), IGBC (Indian Green Building Council), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency).
IGBC was the first green rating framework introduced in India in 2001 by CII (Confederation of Indian Industry)-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre. IGBC’s vision is to create a ‘Sustainable Built Environment’ for all. This rating system has become India’s primary institution for green building certification. The framework addresses issues most relevant to our nation such as waste management, energy efficiency, water conservation, reduced dependency on conventional energy sources, and the overall well-being of users.
The system derives its standards from the existing national codes such as the National Building Code and MoEF (Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change). IGBC uses a credit system and allot points as per compliance with its standards. The highest rating in the framework is ‘Super Platinum’ which is awarded to projects with a score of 90-100 on a scale of 100. The validity of the IGBC certification is only for three years. LEED India certification is also under the purview of IGBC. Some prominent examples of LEED-certified buildings in India are ABN Amro Bank (LEED Platinum), Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL) – Bangalore (LEED Platinum), and CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (LEED Platinum)
The word GRIHA is short for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment and also means ‘a home’ in Sanskrit. The framework was developed by TERI (The Energy and Resource Institute) in the year 2005, keeping in mind the local climatic conditions and national codes and bylaws. The objective of this GRIHA is to reduce the consumption of resources and promote the use of renewable and recycled materials. This framework was adopted by the government as the national rating system for green buildings in 2007. GRIHA assesses projects on their greenness and assigns points which are tallied to give the final rating. The highest rating of five stars is awarded to buildings scoring 86-100 points on a scale of 100. The validity of GRIHA certification is for five years from the date of commissioning of the building. The first building to receive ‘SVAGRIHA’ (Simple Versatile Affordable Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) certification from TERI is an office space in Nashik. This certification is an offshoot of GRIHA itself and is dedicated to rating smaller spaces.
BEE or The Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency was set up by the government in 2002 under the Energy Conservation Act. They have devised a framework called the Energy Conservation Building Code or ECBC. The framework sets the standards for energy efficiency for the design or construction of buildings with a minimum footprint of 1000 square meters. The buildings are indexed against an energy performance scale which enables designers to design efficiently and sustainably. Buildings that are indexed are known as ECBC compliant. BEE also has a rating system for commercial buildings with a maximum rating of five. BEE’s rating system is also applicable to electrical appliances. The star rating system denotes the energy efficiency of the appliance and is awarded as per the data received directly from the manufacturers. Five star rated appliances are the most energy-efficient.
Green Buildings are the future thus making Green Rating Systems a vital tool and resource to encourage designers and stakeholders in the construction industry to opt. These systems foster an environment of healthy competitiveness to do better and create holistic sustainable solutions.