India, in October 2015, pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 33%-35%, by 2030. Considering that the construction activities also contribute to pollution in various ways, while harnessing natural resources, there is a significant responsibility on this sector to address environmental concerns.

“Environmental concerns are not unique to the construction sector alone. They exist with almost all economic activity, including manufacturing, the services sector, retail and even agriculture,” maintains Raj Singhal, chief operating officer, M3M India Ltd. What is crucial, is how we focus on managing these concerns (whether it is air or noise pollution, or the usage water for construction) in a meaningful manner, he adds.

Conventional vs green buildings

With booming urbanisation, economic growth and rising consumption patterns in India, the use of natural resources has increased. Experts also point out that higher incomes have resulted in greater demand for better standards of living, thereby, adding to the stress on the environment. As compared to a conventional building, to function in a sustainable manner, a building must:

  • Use less water
  • Be energy efficient
  • Save natural resources
  • Generate less waste
  • Provide healthier living spaces for its occupants

Steps to promote clean energy

The use of ‘green’ technologies in construction areas, through on-site and off-site activities, can reduce air pollution. According to KN Rao, director – energy and environment, ACC Limited, there are several measures that can be adopted at construction sites to reduce the carbon footprint, such as:

  • Use of occupancy-based control of lighting and air-conditioning.
  • Use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, adhesives, sealants and carpets and use of composite wood, to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Choosing light colours and reflective materials for the walls, ceilings and floors.
  • Use of high-performance plumbing fixtures, for better water management and rainwater harvesting for water conservation.
  • Facilitating proper drainage of water by using porous construction materials to raise the water table level.
  • Opting for building material brands, which use a high percentage of industrial waste in their products, such as fly ash bricks instead of clay bricks.

Taking responsibility

Experts point out that as people become more aware of the rising problems caused by environmental degradation, governments around the world are issuing guidelines to all stakeholders. “The realty sector is fully capable of addressing these environmental concerns,” insists Singhal. “We are proactively implementing dust-suppression measures, usage of recycled water from sewage treatment plants for construction, green perimeter buffers around project sites, recycling of construction waste for road embankments, solar power, etc., to make the construction process environment-friendly,” he explains. A special attention to eco-friendly and energy-efficient systems, will definitely provide a new direction to India’s construction sector.

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