Urban Habitat

I attended the “Preparing for an Urban Future: Resilience, Sustainability and Leadership” conference at the Indian Habitat Center, New Delhi. The event, a follow-up to the UN Habitat’s Word Habitat Day (1st October), reflected on the state of India’s towns and cities to promote “Better City, Better Life” for sustainble urban future.

The conference presented a holistic view to build cities based on sustainble habitat theme rather than what is being currently seen in India. Case studies were presented by Ms Aparna (Municipal Commissioner of Surat) and Mr.Noor Mohammad (NCR Planning Board).  I also had a great opportunity to meet Mr.Prodipto Ghosh and talk for few minutes on the Green Building activities in India.

Energy Efficient buildings are the need of the hour and we in India need to wake up to that. Western countries are already talking about energy efficient buildings for middle class population whereas we are still struggling with that model for higher income groups. The presentation from government officials clearly showed that the regulation is slowly move towards energy efficiency in industries and buildings without which future cities and urban habitats cannot be planned.

It is a not completely correct to say that energy-efficient buildings increase costs (maybe they do in some locations depending on average selling rates, availability of raw material nearby, etc); but overall energy-efficient buildings can be build at the same costs (and maybe lower costs also depending on location, etc) and can decrease operating expenses to an extent that justifies slight increase in construction costs, if any.

GRIHA has been made mandatory for all new government buildings in India and will slowly be extended to existing structures also. The next few years will also see energy-efficiency standards mandatory for commercial and residential segments also.

It is time that we along with real estate developers wake up to the challenges presented by global warming. In business sense, we will find opportunities in this to have these solutions viable in economic world also: Energy-efficient buildings can earn carbon credits from construction phase (bundling of projects saves costs and increases returns), in addition to finding favor with banks and global financial institutions.

We can assist real estate developers, and real estate PE firms plan energy-efficient buildings and increase their ROI through carbon credits.

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