India urgently needs 'green buildings': R.K.Pachauri

New Delhi, Internationally acclaimed environmentalist R.K. Pachauri says India urgently needs 'green buildings' to ensure sustainable use of energy and water and is happy the government is sharing his TERI's knowhow in building infrastructure.

Explaining the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) of The Energy Resources and Energy Institute (TERI), Pachauri said it is estimated that most of the buildings projected to be standing in 2030 are yet to be built and that government should ensure these structures abide by the suggested guidelines that address the environmental impact of India's construction sector.

"There has to be radical departure in the construction of new buildings. There is a change in culture which has impacted the consumption of energy, water and other resources. Our rating system has taken stock of buildings and we have prepared a knowhow to get truly green buildings," Pachauri told IANS in an interview.

Pachauri was the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

He said the GRIHA has taken into account India's climatic and other geographical conditions. He warned that a mere aping of Western buildings and infrastructure will not be practical in India, where the situation was very different.

"Our climatic conditions should be kept in mind, and that should determine the kind of insulation you have in the buildings. Also, for example, in the hills solar energy will be a very good resource; windows must be solar. The GRIHA prescribes just that," Pachauri maintained.

TERI is a leading Indian NGO that conducts research and analysis in the areas of energy, environment and sustainable development. It says GRIHA is a green building design evaluation system that is suitable for all kinds of buildings in India's different climatic zones.

Asked why GRIHA should interest private commercial developers, Pachauri claimed that the guidelines would actually help them save money.

He said that the government had further modified and adopted GRIHA as a benchmark for sustainable buildings in India.

"The government has already mandated that government buildings above a certain size have to be GRIHA rated," Pachauri asserted.

He further said the state governments are also "coming around" but opined that local governments held the key for its wider implementation.

"Once the local governments adopt the green building guidelines, it will go a long way in sustaining our energy and resources," Pachauri said.

Asked how energy usage could be minimised in existing buildings, Pachauri said there was only "limited opportunity" for implementing the green building initiative in existing buildings but "better insulation, better windows and use of solar energy" could help.

Pachauri agreed that the curriculum of architecture and related infrastructure courses do not have much knowledge-sharing or information on sustainable buildings but hoped that TERI would spread the know how with its regular campaigns.

"We are carrying regular training programmes, and I would imagine education doesn't stop at school or college. It is a lifelong process.

The knowhow for sustainable buildings can be taught to practising architects through regular programmes," Pachauri said.

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