Of late, home seekers have become increasingly aware of the short-term costs versus the long-term benefits of living in green buildings. Although green building concepts in the residential segment are more prevalent in super-luxury projects, it can also be seen in mid-range and affordable housing projects. The concept is also gaining ground in the commercial segment and the hospitality sector, with a number of projects coming up across India.
How to gauge your home’s green quotient
However, for home buyers, it is difficult to ascertain if a developer is really offering eco-friendly solutions in his project. Buyers who aspire to own such properties, can look out ‘green’ aspects, such as energy-efficient windows and doors, low-flow plumbing fixtures, digital thermostats, proper insulation, low-energy lighting systems, tank-less water heaters, sewage treatment plants, rainwater harvesting systems, dual plumbing to use recycled water efficiently, provision for natural lighting and ventilation, among others. They must also check if the project is oriented in a way that it minimises the load on air-conditioning and whether there is adequate green cover within the premises.
“Checking for problem areas gives the buyer a better understanding of the property that s/he is considering. It also helps the buyer to estimate the amount that s/he will need to spend, to increase its efficiency,” points out Parth Mehta, managing director of Paradigm Realty. Among the important things, Mehta advises buyers to check for air leaks around windows and doors, inspect the heating and cooling systems, and ensure that the right materials are used on the building’s façade, to protect against heat and weather.
What are green buildings
“Green buildings are all about limiting the consumption and destruction of natural resources,” explains Kedar Joshi, chief marketing officer, Ahuja Constructions. “We need to keep the planet green and alive. Houses can be constructed in an environment friendly manner, by applying resource-efficient processes at different stages of construction. This begins right from the selection of the site for the project, and the process continues in the design phase, as well as the construction of the buildings,” he explains.
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To begin with, the developer checks the land for soil erosion, topography and vegetation, landscape design, and heat island effect. Energy efficiency during construction, is also important. This can be achieved by employing CFC-free equipment, systems to tap on-site renewable energy sources, solar water heating, distributed power generation, and energy metering. Systems that manage household waste and construction waste, reuse of salvaged material and recycling, are other measures that can be adopted. The indoor environment can be improved through measures to control tobacco smoke, ample provision for day-lighting and fresh air ventilation, good exhaust system, and using low-volatile organic compound (VOC) materials.
Home buyers can also check for various certifications including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification of projects, to ascertain its ‘green’ credentials. The LEED certification is a rating system created by the US Green Building Council. Developers have also realised that ignoring environmental considerations, could prove detrimental to their own interests, in the future.
Once you know what to look out for, it is easy to ascertain whether or not your money is going to a developer who sincerely cares about building green buildings. What may seem like a larger investment in the beginning, your green home will reward you with significant savings in the years to come.