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National building code with green norms will be ready by March

According to reports, the country will have a fine-tuned National Building Code by March next year. This addendum to the original building code will incorporate green building norms among other aspects, according to Prem Chand Jain, Chairman of Indian Green Building Council.

The draft upgraded norms have been circulated and feedback received. Based on the response, the 13-member panel, which Jain works with, has incorporated many of new features.

“We will take the draft code to several cities, discuss with various stakeholders, including municipal bodies, before releasing them. This will serve as a reference point and a guideline for engineers, architects, builders, local bodies and material suppliers etc,” Jain told Business Line.

Jain outlined how the country’s green building movement has made big strides and has begun to make a difference. Excerpts.

How do you see the progress in the green building movement?

Over the last three years, the acceptance of green building norms has become much wider and intense. The country now has 1.65 billion sq.ft of registered green buildings and of this over half is accounted for by home segment. People have realised the importance of green buildings and its positive impact on quality of life. In the last 100 years or so, we had begun copying what other countries were doing rather than focussing on the traditional Indian architecture which always was environment-friendly.

The concept has spread to tier-II and -III cities and has become popular in places such as Indore, Kanpur, Allahabad and smaller towns. Internally, we have a set a target of achieving 5 billion sq.ft of registration within three years. By then the existing registered buildings would have been completed.

What is the level of acceptance of new norms?

Apart from green building norms for new buildings, the IGBC has come out with norms for existing buildings, which has caught up with people. It has attracted Government buildings and older buildings and people who are keen to be part of going green. We have also come out with norms for landscaping. Apart from Green factory norms announced earlier, various green building norms that IGBC has come out with work well with the Government’s and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) norms which seek to bring overall energy savings. There are more than 100 large companies such as ITC, which have taken to these norms. Each group has several projects under its fold.

Have the costs come down further. How much more does one have to invest for a green home?

The costs have gradually come down from a high of 15 per cent over a conventional building to close to 2-3 per cent when it comes to green buildings. The payback now is less than 2-3 years. In about 2-3 years, there won’t be any cost differential for green homes, it will become the norm. When it comes to homes, there is not much difference.

You have broadened the scope of green building movement. How is the progress?

Now, we are working on evolving norms for schools and hospitals, two very important aspects of our life. By ensuring new norms for schools and hospitals, we seek to improve the quality of educational institutions and also that of hospitals. There is also a major drive to bring down green house gases. The green building and company norms are all directed towards bringing this down.

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