The real estate sector has been recognized as a vital contributor to the FDI inflow and the second-largest employment generator. In recent times, with the increasing importance of stability and security especially during uncertainties, owning a home has seen a huge demand, resulting in a further boost to the sector. According to IBEF, the Indian real estate industry is expected to reach a $1 trillion market size by 2030 and contribute 13% to the GDP by 2025. Considering the immense contribution by the real estate developers and the sector at large, it shoulders a significant responsibility to ensure that this growth advances sustainably for a healthier domino effect on the entire economy.
The effect of climate-related issues is indisputable and real. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report emphasizes that “climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying”. This has made abating the rising levels of carbon emissions as more of an existential issue. As one of the major contributors, real estate plays a determining role in battling climate change. With more than 50% of India’s 2030 building stock yet to be built, the real estate industry has enormous potential to arrest not only the ever-increasing operational energy requirements of buildings but also save assimilated carbon emissions, which happen upstream in the construction cycle – extraction of materials until the completion of construction of the built environment.
Fulfilling many of the necessary requisites, green buildings serve as one part of the solution. Green buildings are environmentally conscious therefore sustainable throughout their lifecycle. Through sustainable design, construction and operations, green buildings are climate-resilient, consume less water, optimally use energy, conserve natural resources, generate less waste, and enhance biodiversity.
These developments meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Comprehending the catastrophic impacts of climate change, present-day consumers have also brought noticeable shifts in their way of living, where sustainability and resilience now hold a dominant position. Resultantly, in the homebuying processes as well, sustainability has emerged as a key consideration.
A recent report by JLL highlights that residential buildings are seen as critical to the implementation of more conservation measures around energy and water with consumers preferring such developments. The research also shows that awareness about the positive impact of buildings enveloped in greenery is rising and also has the potential to become a key consideration for people when they decide on their next place of residence.
For effective reduction in carbon emissions, developers must understand that tapping the opportunities across building lifecycle is crucial, i.e., starting from the initial planning and investment stages, till selection of materials, construction, operations, refurbishment, and final demolition. Leading developers and infrastructure companies can also make a switch from fossil-fuel energy to renewable energy during the construction stage itself. It also makes the building truly green and has a cascading impact on the reduction of GHG emissions by the entity. Developers can also consider climate science to assess the physical climate risks that could affect the Geography where real estate is being developed. This can help entrench required resilience features in the developments that can further guard the residents and investments in case of extreme climatic events that could likely happen in the coming decades.
Green projects need to be designed in consonance with the philosophy of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Environment-friendly construction materials like green concrete, composite waste construction material, fly-ash bricks, precast concrete slabs, reclaimed steel, etc., should be used. Developers should also leave scope for adaptation of new technologies that might arise in the future. One such trend thriving currently is the availability of EV charging infrastructure in residential projects.
There is an encouraging trend today of incentivizing green projects by the state governments and regulatory bodies. While the present-day incentives may not be adequate, however, tomorrow there will be enough aid to catalyze and hasten the growth of the green building stock in the country. Responsibly built green developments will contribute significantly to achieving India’s vision of reducing its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 and reaching its net-zero target by 2070.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, in its recent report pointed out that by 2030, in emerging markets like India alone, green buildings will offer a $24.7 trillion investment opportunity, which will fast-track sustainable development and spur economic growth. Presently, green buildings account for just 8% of the construction and renovation sector, indicating a vast growth potential. It is paramount to channel this potential to reach the targets of a sustainable future. With the ‘planet over profit’ dictum being dominant in recent times, the real estate industry needs to continue playing a powerful role in shaping the narrative and embracing the best sustainability practices to preserve our planet Earth for the benefit of future generations.
Published in The Times of India
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