Green Buildings slated to become mandatory in Maharashtra, India

Since the Climate Change negotiations at Copenhagen in December 2009 and the subsequent promises by India to reduce its carbon footprint, it looks like the Indian government seems to be keenly following it up through actions being initiated at the state level. In Maharashtra, the building and construction sector is slated to become one of the sectors which has been asked to pull up its "green" socks!
In a state level meet in February 2010 at Mumbai, it was announced that the Government of Maharashtra may look at making Green Buildings mandatory in the state. It means that the local municipal bodies or the building development sanctioning authorities may have to look at modified Development Control Rules, which necessarily follow prescriptions of a Green Building Rating System.

Today, in India there are a multitude of Green Building Rating Systems that are being voluntarily adopted by project developers. USGBC's LEED, LEED India, IGBC Green Homes, Eco Housing and TERI GRIHA are a few that are most popular and widely seen in practice. The Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC) by Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Govt of India, is another such energy performance system that the Government of India has validated and was to become mandatory first. for Public buildings and then for the Private sector as well.

Government of Maharashtra is not far behind, in fact has stepped up with full readiness. It is looking at developing a Green Building Rating system for the entire state, which is a combination of Eco Housing and ECBC to make the rating system applicable to all new residential, industrial and commercial buildings in the state. Currently, debates and discussions are on the table to look at the the possibility and implications of the Green Measures becoming mandatory for all building development.

What will it mean to the building industry? What will this move mean to the cities and towns in Maharashtra? What will it mean to professionals like architects and engineers who service this sector?

While making the Green Rating system mandatory can mean better environmentally performing buildings, what about the costs? Will the additional costs be transferred to the buyers, making real estate even more expensive in the state?

Also, as with any mandatory schemes of the government, what about compliance? Will it be and can it be effectively monitored or will there be more liasioning and corruption?

Today, I find that developers who are willing to take a step further are voluntarily adopting Green Rating Systems. Their efforts are being rewarded at two levels. One, they attract a specific target of buyers creating their own market niche; and two, they are offered fiscal incentives at places like Pune. As the Green norms become mandatory, will we see most developers seeking "fake"compliance and while they are successful getting it, will it be a deterrent to other interested Developers, who will end up getting "fake" compliance as well?

A serious thought needs to be given to the issue of compliance and monitoring, as all new development comes under the purview, creating huge load of work for assessment, sanctioning and monitoring of projects. Are we ready to accept the challenge? If we can be ready, Maharashtra will be a pilot case in the entire world where Green Buildings will become a norm and set a pace for designing, planning and executing better environmentally performing buildings in India. A Step towards Sustainability, no doubt!

Comments

  1. Global Environment Division; Axumite Gebre-Eqziabher, Division Director, UN-Habitat; David Cadman, President of ICLEI and Vice Mayor of Vancouver, Canada PlanItGreen

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