August 19, 2022

How Green Buildings can benefit occupants

Any structure erected with a conscious eye to reduce and eliminate to the extent possible the critical impacts of rising temperatures and climate change, thus extending positive impact on the environment, is a “green building”. This is achieved through efficient use of resources like water and energy, relying on sustainable and non-toxic materials, using processes of re-using and recycling and an adaptable design, among other methodologies including renewable sources of energy like solar power. Not just reduction of carbon footprints, worldwide, there’s growing evidence of multiple benefits that green buildings can provide to help create sustainable and thriving communities while boosting economic growth.

The global gold standard for green building certification systems is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, which follows a standard metric for all types of buildings through its various phases of construction, besides evaluating interiors, operations and maintenance and core and shell.

LEED has three layers of rating for green buildings, based on their features and design. The ratings are Platinum, Gold and Silver. In India, the certification for “green buildings” is given by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), which was formed as part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2001.

What is IGBC Ratings?

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was formed in the year 2001. The vision of the council is, "To enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025".

The council offers a wide array of services which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes. The council also organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.

The council is committee-based, member-driven and consensus-focused. All the stakeholders of construction industry comprising of architects, developers, product manufacturers, corporate, Government, academia and nodal agencies participate in the council activities through local chapters. The council also closely works with several State Governments, Central Government, World Green Building Council, bilateral multi-lateral agencies in promoting green building concepts in the country.

How do occupants benefit from green buildings?

There are multiple ways in which the consumers/occupants benefit from a green building. These are some of the key advantages:

# Reduced maintenance and operation cost: Green buildings ensure efficient use of resources like water and electricity thanks to innovative construction methods. Through optimization of natural light and use of task-lighting strategy, power and water bills are cut by nearly one-third, thus increasing earnings.

# Better energy efficiency: Green buildings are designed to minimize reliance on energy from non-renewable sources like coal. Using solar panels and maximizing natural light with the help of specially designed windows, the use of artificial light is reduced drastically, thus saving on energy bills.

# Improves indoor air quality: By installing operable windows to allow maximum sunlight to filter through and reducing use of harmful and toxic materials, green buildings also offer superior indoor air quality, thus impacting the occupants’ health positively, besides improving illumination, ergonomics and thermal conditions inside the building.

# Enhances water efficiency: Green buildings vastly improve water efficiency by using practices like rainwater harvesting, reducing water wastage by installing efficient plumbing fixtures and deploying systems to purify and recycle waste water.

# Improves occupant health: Occupants of green buildings can enjoy a clutch of health benefits and a better quality of life thanks to the use of safe and sustainable materials, better indoor air quality, ergonomics, etc. Care is taken to avoid using building materials that may contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or plastic by-products which could be toxic, sometimes emitting carcinogens which can raise the risk of cancer, respiratory diseases and other health conditions.

# Material efficiency: Green buildings are designed in a manner as to use less materials, water and energy. The materials are durable and the processes generate as little waste as possible, without compromising on the result. Some of the materials used can be recycled and reused.

# Creates better environment: Green buildings have a significant positive impact on the environment by relying more on non-polluting energy sources. By minimizing the levels of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, such structures can help slow down climate change.

# Eases load on local resources: By using technologies and processes that boost water and energy efficiency, green buildings can reduce the burden on local shared resources.

# More durable: Not only do green buildings offer energy and water savings and better indoor air quality, these structures are more durable as well, since sustainable materials have been proven to last longer. These materials endure for years exposed to the elements, while requiring minimal maintenance.

# Better workplace productivity: According to studies, employees working in green and well-ventilated office buildings are more productive, since they are more focused, have improved cognitive function, get better sleep and fall sick less frequently.

# A future-proof investment: Green buildings are regarded as future-proof investment because of their longevity, adaptability, resilience and capacity to improve the quality of life of its occupants, while positively impacting the environment. The trend will continue to grow, experts feel.

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