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 Climate Change

Green Buildings
Published on: Feb. 14, 2020, 2:33 p.m.
Technology adoption can enhance the competitiveness of Indian construction
  • Delhi's Indira Paryavaran Bhawan is India's first zero net energy building

By Priya Balijepalli. The author is Head, Autodesk Sustainability and Foundation (India & SAARC)

Technology has been effective in solving the most complex problems in the world. Its inclusion in the construction sector, though limited, has helped address not just timeline compliance, but also aspects such as material pilferage and energy saving, thereby improving overall process efficiency.

KEF Infra, an offsite manufacturing, precast infrastructure and modular construction company, used Building Information Modelling (BIM) to work on the Indira Canteen project which helped them construct 198 canteens in a short span of 45 days. For Terminal 2 (T2), at the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) – it is leveraging the full extent of digital design from design to on-site construction, asset and facilities management by adopting BIM.

These examples illustrate how a 3D platform like BIM ensures that the entire team is able to access information at the same time – from design, fabrication, and construction to operations and maintenance – to make informed decisions from a common point of understanding. They also exemplify how technology can be effective to further strengthen India’s construction sector and enable the growth of green buildings in the country. Currently, BIM is mandated in the UK and France and is being rapidly adopted in the US, Germany, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries.

An emerging hotbed for green buildings, the ‘green movement’ in India is already picking up across sectors. The construction sector is a key driver of the Indian economy and highly responsible for propelling the country’s overall development, but it still lags behind in adopting technology in its processes.

Although a few developers in India are using technology at the planning stage, overall tech adoption is limited. In the current times of multi-stakeholder management like on-site work tracking and offsite construction technologies, one has to take advantage of technology to connect workflows, save costs and make better buildings with fewer resources.

Therefore, 3D technology coupled with powerful design and simulation tools will result in improved collaboration, coordinated timelines between project teams and faster construction. With about 4.7 billion sq ft of the built-up area registered for green building till September 2017, (which represents only 5 per cent of the infrastructure space) it gives developers an opportunity to adopt technology for timely completion of projects.

India’s infrastructure segment, with 18 per cent growth rate, is putting in more buildings and paved areas currently, than what it did 10 or 15 years ago and inevitably moving more towards an urbane community, which prefers green buildings. The dodge Smart Market Report by Dodge Data & Analytics assessed World Green Buildings Trend in 2018. It indicates that 42 per cent of participants in India consider environmental regulations as the top trigger for adopting green buildings. Additionally, for 65 per cent, the top social reason for adopting them is to improve occupant health and well-being, and for 62 per cent it is to reduce energy consumption.

Therefore, the industry has dual challenges at hand, firstly, using minimal natural resources like energy, sand and water in creating and supporting such infrastructure. Secondly, cope and curtail the effects of climate change as buildings are second-largest segment responsible for energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Sustainable development in the country, at this point, is all about creating a balance in sustaining its agricultural backbone and step up to minimise the negative impact of its growing urbane/infrastructure need.

The country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement reinforces its stance towards an energy-efficient and climate change resilient future. It has impacted its energy production, choices and usage across segments. Over the past few years, the Indian government has been making efforts to systematically adopt sustainability principles in some of its programmes.

For instance, the ‘Smart City Mission’ is defined as an urban renewal and retrofitting programme which is enabling 100 cities across the country, citizen-friendly and sustainable through green buildings, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment, smart architecture, etc. Similarly, the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) by the ministry of power sets minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings.

But the sustainability principle like carbon-neutral infrastructure cannot be an exclusive feature of a building design. It has to be integrated into the design and construction principles. Global communities, supported by the respective governments, private sector involvement with the emerging technologies have been active in supporting this trend. Several developed countries have mandated 3D technology in buildings and infrastructure projects and are leading to better construction efficiency, lower cost and less negative impact on the environment. It is only a matter of time before the trend becomes the norm.

The advantage would be for early adopters.


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