A connect with local rating systems
The Indian construction industry operates on a long delegation chain stretching from owner, manager and designer at the starting point to the helper at the other end. In between we have the builders, supervisors, sub-contractors, skilled personal, assistants, vendors, installation team and such others mostly operating on no singular set of guidelines. In such a rather complex system, maintaining inter-personal communication, reaching the right drawing to the right person in time and ensuring execution as per prescribed standards is a tough task.
Given this context, it is commendable that The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has been attempting to set out an agenda for green buildings through GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment). While most of the internationally devised rating systems have been tailored to suit the building industry of the country where they were developed,
GRIHA considers many local issues, besides critical ideas such as embodied energy, minimising ozone depleting materials, adapting efficient construction technology and accepting non-air conditioned buildings. TERI states that ‘by its qualitative and quantitative assessment criteria’, it would be able to ‘rate’ a building on the degree of its ‘greenness’.
GRIHA has 34 criteria listed under varied sub-headings such as site selection and planning, building envelope design, building system design, selection of ecologically sustainable materials, integration of renewable energy, indoor environmental quality, conservation and efficient utilisation of resources, building maintenance and innovation points. There also are provisions for large developments, prequalification and such others.
TERI accepts that “It is a known fact that it costs more to design and construct a green building. However, it is also a proven fact that it costs less to operate a green building that has tremendous environmental benefits and provides a better place for the occupants to live and work in.” Given this understanding, ‘the challenge of a green building is to achieve all its benefits at an affordable cost’.
To this end, ADaRSH (Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats) is joining hands with TERI and together they have launched SVAGRIHA (Small Versatile Affordable GRIHA) ratings. It is a significantly simplified, faster, easier and more affordable rating system, especially for small projects.
The present approach to identifying green buildings by TERI and IGBC are not based on proven performances, in which case the rating should be given five or ten years after they are built. Instead, during construction itself assessment begins and ratings are issued by the occupation time, largely based on an imagined future performance. Besides this lack of logic, setting of standards poses both problems and potentials.
Rating systems in general make the design and construction of buildings even more procedural than the prevailing, thereby increasing the problems. Of course, there is a huge potential also in this tool helping organise the building industry, thereby raising the standards. TERI GRIHA rating system is focused on achieving the latter.
(The author acknowledges TERI sources for the contents in this essay).