Green certifications in India

SOIL, AIR, WATER, LIGHT & LOVE will make the world and your home a better place to live in. A house made from the earth and elements, a house that carries the essence of the universe, and breathes life, making it a home. Aparna Shivapura writes about the journey and transformation one can make within and outside one’s environment, by choosing to build and create ECO-FRIENDLY HOMES.

Why green should be your preferred colour!

Beyond beautiful designs, great architecture, floor plans and haute couture interiors, there lies a responsibility, awareness and commitment the builder and the owner have to dually have, to ensure that homes are built with care and compassion for the environment.

“Green” is defined as the journey towards energy efficiency, environmental management, water conservation, renewable energy, waste management and recycling. While on one hand, the levels of environmental degradation, disrespect and neglect is increasing, on the other, a positive and progressive voice is rising to make itself heard in the green horizon. All aspects of natural and sustainable living come into play in building a green space.

There is a new generation of customers who are thinking ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ in all aspects leading to innovation, technological breakthroughs and design optimization. Gone are the days when people would build only ‘good-looking’ homes, today, the levels of awareness and needs of what they want from a home has also been qualitatively enhanced. The demand for green homes and green buildings is leading to bigger, better solutions in the space and the longterm advantage touches the environment. There is a healthy mix of well-known brands and a crop of individual architects who specialize in building these kinds of homes. Their expertise goes beyond good designs, to the science of building sustainable and environmentsafe homes.

“As newly emerging architects, we are today completely aware of the environmental aspects that can get detrimental if not heeded to. We recommend every client to consider building safe-for-environment homes and styles,” says Akshay Jain, a next-gen architect who is catering to urbane clients across South India.

Awareness is the key to transformation

The most tangible benefits of building eco-friendly and environmentally-positive homes include significant energy and water efficiency, reduced landfill waste, retention and creation of vegetated land areas, and overall, measurable reduction in pollution, and climate welfare. There is a gigantic surge in the awareness and demand for eco-friendly or green homes, across the country.

Sanjay Kripa,owner of an eco-friendly home in Kanakapura says, “We made a conscious choice to move out of a luxurious apartment where we had lived for five years. We chose an architect who understands the sensibilities of a green home and the result is a home in an absolutely natural setting; we have a beautiful terrace garden where we grow our own vegetables, our floor is made using natural earthy elements and we have increased natural lighting and air thereby reducing the need for appliances. Also, solar energy for lighting and waste management is incorporated from day one.”

An eco-friendly house is defined as an environmentally low-impact building, using methodologies that reduce carbon footprint, lead consumption, energy consumption and is conducive to the ecosystem. Some of the most aesthetic and valuable contributions such a home makes include facilities to store rain water, gray water harvesting, use solar energy and highefficiency lighting, regulated temperature on the walls, food gardens and fruit orchards.

Environmental-friendly material, low impact on the ecosystem with regards to manufacturing, distribution, construction, renovation, and demolition, minimum chemical usage and ability to recycle the materials are amongst the emerging aspects of a green building. Core building concepts, increased efficiency and optimal resource usage, new design themes and concepts related to environment and eco-system conservation are naturally expected of architects. Mud blocks instead of bricks, lead-free walls, natural skylights, discarded pinewood packing cases, water recycling, waste segregation and more. There are more intensive projects like Sharanam Centre for Rural Development, Pondicherry, an iconic initiative, where they have used unfired earth, less concrete and steel, minimalistic walls, open piers to ensure thermal comfort, pigmented flooring and insulated floor gardens.

Building fabric that can go ecologically wrong!

Sri Aurobindo says, “All our earth starts from the mud and ends in the sky….”

According to the Green Council of India, “A green building is one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building.” Beyond fashionable and trendy, concepts of sustainability and sensibility need to rise high in the air. Architects have to create a balance of aesthetics, sustainability, comfort and financial prudence. Initial ignorance could impact the building and retrofitting green standards may end up being a far more expensive affair!

Rampant increase in the construction of homes is in itself causing a ‘greencrunch’ around us. One of the biggest impacts of not building ‘eco-friendly homes or buildings’ is loss of resilience to fight climate change, pollution, and loss of bio-diversity. The housing sector continues to be among the biggest sources and contributors to global gas emissions.

According to a report by the Climate Works Foundation, there will be more than 5 per cent increase in residential construction which will also account for 21 per cent of electricity consumption. Appliance driven electricity consumption in residences by fans, lighting and AC is very high and will continue to increase if alternatives are not placed. The report further says that energy consumption and gas emissions could increase 700 per cent by 2050.

There are other critical factors that are depleting our natural resources such as increased consumption of groundwater usage, furniture and crafts requiring wood, all eventually impacting climate change. In addition, there is a visible increase in respiratory issues like asthma, infections and allergic reactions especially amongst children. GREEN is the word to reduce the stress from residences on climate and our environment, in total. Natural resources, green home concepts and techniques will disrupt this degradation in the long run. This process refers to not only building the structure, with green awareness but also building processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient.

Vidya Ganapati, an architectconsultant for HNI Homes in Bangalore says, “There are both types of customers; one – who are still alien to green and eco-friendly homes because they do not understand the impact and gravity. There is however, an upswing in the number of clients who are open to these natural concepts, and insist on a farm-like or garden-like home in the midst of a busy city. It is important that as architects, we take the responsibility and advocate green homes to all clients and prospects.”

Myths surrounding eco-friendly homes

  • Myth 1: Eco-friendly homes can only have rustic, earthya looks : Wrong. Some people do not prefer rustic or earthy looks for a home especially for a lifetime. Their dreams of an uber-looking, plush with modern elements deter them from making the plunge. However, the good news is that eco-friendly homes today can definitely be designed to deliver any kind of look. There is absolutely no limitation or mandate that only a type of aesthetics can be built.
  • Myth 2: Eco-friendly homes are very and is expensive. Wrong. In the long run, eco-friendly homes not only save building costs, they can earn you more money and promotes good health, thereby, reducing affiliate costs of visiting hospitals and being on medicines!!!
  • Myth 3: Solar energy is not reliable and expensive Wrong. Solar panels today not only bring you uninterrupted and natural power but extra grids can also earn you money. The local BESCOM authorities can buy back the surplus power that is generated from your solar panels.
  • Myth 4: Sustainable is ugly and difficult to maintain! Wro n g . A p ro f i c i e n t eco-friendly architect can give customers a range of interesting and exciting designs, layout and aesthetics for homes. These homes are not any different or additionally overbearing for home makers to manage and maintain. Green buildings are always better-buildings!
  • Myth 5: Green is a fad! difficult to maintain! Wrong. Green is no longer a fad. Eco-friendly homes, eco-friendly buildings are here to stay and can even become the rule, if acceptance increases. The effects are positive, is progressive and highly conducive for a safe environment.

Nandita, Founding Director of WEVID (Weaving Enquiries in Design) and DfGE (Design for Greater Efficiency) Global Course Lead at the International Finance Corporation says, “There are myths and blind spots that customers come to us with, when education and awareness is the only way out. Greater adoption amongst customers will surely pave the way for a greener society

Green certifications in India

A trail-blazing change and trend-setting change towards greater green in the habitats is the arrival of Green Certifications. There are many global and Indian green rating and certifying authorities like LEED, EDGE, INDIAN GREEN BUILDNG COUNCIL, GRIHA and more. The vision and philosophy are saving and conservation of natural resources.

The EDGE Certification is considered one of the fastest growing certifications in the country. An innovation of International Finance Corporation, a member of World Bank, EDGE Certification has a userfriendly and intuitive free app to calculate savings and optimization based on your home requirements. This is a standard software and a certification system for more than 170 countries, worldwide. Their vision is “Everyone wins financially by building green.” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has also played a pivotal role in enabling greater green adoption in homes and commercial buildings. LEED certification give great insights on energy, atmosphere, transportation, ventilation, combustion, air-filtering, lower emitting products, and more.


  • A whopping 40 – 50 per cent savings in Energy
  • 20 – 30 per cent savings in Water usage
  • 15 – 20 per cent savings on power bills
  • 10 per cent reduction in maintenance costs
  • 100 per cent waste segregation

Architect, Academician, Author and Lead - Indian Institute of Architects, Karnataka Chapter Publication Committee, Nandita says, “All current and new home owners should definitely put green certification in their planning level itself. Today, free apps like EDGE are highly supportive and play a big role in fulfilling the green dream. Information, upfront calculations, estimates and savings will help the owner take the right decisions and go green! There is definitely greater awareness that needs to be built in across the country, for expedited adoption of these services.

Build eco-friendly homes and gain incentives

Today, seve ral st a te governments, banks and insurance companies, investors and private builders are taking the step ahead and incentivizing green buyers.

For large scale builders, the Government offers a 25 per cent subsidy on total fixed capital investment. Some state governments offer good subsidies and incentives for complying with GRIHA ratings. Many local corporations are offering rebates on tax which is a huge motivator for builders and owners! Retail finance can definitely bring an upsurge in affordability and acceptance of green homes. Affordable loans, low interest rates, green construction loans, green equity, longer pay-back tenures are exciting for prospects. New concepts like Green Mortgage and Green Finance are paving the way ahead and bringing sunshine in the eco friendly homes’ space. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and IIFL Home Finance Limited (IIFL) have launched new programs to enhance affordability of green homes in India.

Green philosophy, adoption & experience

Khalid Rehman, Principal Architect, Centre for Vernacular Architecture Trust says, “While there is a new generation of customers who are wellinformed of green buildings and its advantages, there is still a dearth of exposure to these real-time concepts across our diaspora. Several notions that green or eco-friendly homes are expensive, not suave and passe still rests in people. As a result, there is also a loss of skilled labor due to intensive mechanization and use of industrialized products. Hence, our Trust focuses on vernacular, green and conservation in all our projects.

There is also a new wave in the adoption of green technology for homes including energy efficient appliances, solar water heaters, internal gas generation, natural water heating, rain barrels, mud bricks, recycled stone and plastic, plant-based foam, ash concrete, straw and cork, particle boards, reclaimed wood, non-toxic building materials, bamboo and more.

In fact, today, there are builders creating concepts in chemicalfree breath-easy homes, with material like lime, stone, mud and bricks. The Kerala-based Vasthukam architecture reinvented the technique of smooth plastering on the walls, with mud. This directly reduces inhaling toxics and is lunghealthy. The concept of Organic Architecture also thrives on the concept that human life and nature should co-exist alongside a sustainable ecosystem.

They say, if you can – you will, if you will – you can. Each one of us canplay a role in owning an eco-friendly space or advocating it to the ignorant. In current times, we have in reality, reached a no-option stage. The sooner we accept and make the change, the faster we will see a greener future. This will be a step ahead in transformation, building a cleaner greener world for us to live in.