Interview With Mr Shabbir Kanchwala

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Q1: Congratulations to KRC on having bagged ‘The Most Environmental Friendly Project Of the year”!

A1: Thank you. Acknowledgements are always good. As a Company K Raheja Corp has the largest green footprint, andit is our endeavor to grow this across each of our initiatives.

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Q2: K Raheja Corp is well known for its green projects? Please share green practices and green initiatives?

A2: At the point when the system faces a global ecological crisis around environment change, we are at a crossroad where we need to take on the responsibility of acting both responsibly and ethically towards the environment. Saying that, we have a Green Vision that all our commercial, as well as the residential projects across the country, will be LEED & IGBC Green Certified and plan to be ahead of the curve in the green development sector. Pioneering the industries’ responsibility towards contributing to a green society, in 2007 we signed a memorandum of understanding with the CII-Green Building Council to construct green buildings, which are certified in the categories of Gold and Platinum.

At present, we are in the process of developing 32.68 million sq.ft of green space across India for which we use technology such as Net Zero Concept, HVAC (Heating ventilation, and air conditioning) and Electrical, Glazing and Low –Emitting materials for our projects.

Q3: What is K Raheja’s long-term approach towards the green construction and sustainability?

A3: Going green is the new buzz word of urban life. Developers, builders, property owners, realtors, bankers, and insurers are rigorously using Green Buildings in the context of their respective professions. There is a growing awareness on the resource crunch that the country is faced with, and is increasingly demanding self-sustaining efficient developments that cost less to operate.

Green buildings make good business sense as any investment made is paid back within 3-4 years. Even in commercial buildings, there is a growing demand amongst multinational clients.Our long term approach is to continue to remain committed and grow our green footprint, across each of the properties we create.

Q4: In many ways K Raheja as a company has been viewed as a trendsetter? 

K Raheja Corp has been the path breaker in several sectors of development. We were the earliest real estate developers in the country to introduce group residential developments catering to large communities, which today is the order of the day.  In fact, we introduced residential developments, complexes with 15-20 storey buildings which were unheard of at that time. When it comes to retail, there were individual department stores like Asiatic or Akbarallys, but we were the first to start with large sized formats like Shopper’s Stop which we introduced into different markets across the country. We were also probably the first Corporate in the realty sector who started branding our products because we believed the products need to speak for themselves and so our commercial offerings are branded under the name Mindspace and Commerzone. Obviously in all this our reading of the market and future business prospects has proven to be correct.

Our biggest strength has been the transparency in our relationship with our partners, be it customers, contractors or retailers. As a company we have been ahead of the curve whether in terms of ensuring construction quality, technology, work ethics or best practices like safety for workers at our sites.

Q5: What challenges do you see in the future for green construction? How do we overcome them?

A5: Some of the challenges and solutions that are faced in green construction are –

  • Sustainability initiatives come at a high cost – Seeing cost as a barrier is a short-term view. Sustainability programs can improve the efficiency of a business, which saves costs in the long run.
  • Incentivize buyers and builders – In other countries builders and home buyers are incentivized to build or choose a green home. This could help increase the number of green buildings in the country and help sustainable, energy efficient development.
  • The requirement of a proper regulatory body- It’s important to determine the objectives upfront. Formulate a plan of action, factoring the goals and how to attain them. Make sure the goals are manageable, with practical deliverables.
  • Identifying suppliers and set deadlines – Keep the process simple. Have the capabilities to implement positive change and achieve the targeted goals within timelines set.

Q6: What are the different ways you contribute to green?

A6: As a developer we pay great attention to details both inside and outside our buildings to ensure the best possible use of green. We have been committed to green since over a decade and undertake all steps possible to ensure our contribution to green.

From mechanical systems and energy and water efficient fixtures, to sustainable building materials to passive solar heating to healthy indoor air quality to optimal natural light inside of the room – each of these go a long way in creating better sustainable buildings.

Externally there are several options which range from green exteriors through tree plantations, vegetated roofs, community gardens, balcony gardens, terrace gardens, rain gardens and permeable pavements which store water and either evaporate it or let it seep back into the soil to benefit vegetation. Better management of storm water is also as critical, especially so in today’s times when water is such a depleting resource.

Q7: While your entire commercial campus is green, if you have to highlight any one structure which one would it be?

A7: One of the landmark K Raheja Corp green projects is Mindspace Building no.1 located in SEZ campus in Airoli, Navi Mumbai. The project is located at Plot No.-3, Kalwa Trans-Thane Creek (TTC) Industrial Area of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Airoli, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra State. It is conceptualized as a State-of-the-art Green Building which is multi-storied and multiple occupancy building developed by the group.

The project has received LEED Core and shell GOLD rating from Indian Green Building council – certifying body. The configuration of the buildingis stilt floor to the third floor allotted to parking space, and from the fourth floor to the eleventh floor is dedicated to office space.

There are major parameters which are followed that have resulted in the reduced electricity consumption in the HVAC system of Airoli Mindspace office Buildings No 1. The tangible benefit is in the reduction of operating energy cost right from day one during the entire life cycle of the building. Intangible benefits like enhanced ventilation, better views and day lighting that improves the productivity of the occupants. Even though a Green Platinum building, would cost 10-15 % higher than the conventional building, the payback period is 3-4 years with a reduction in operational costs. It promotes the environmental, offers economic and social benefits, while protecting the needs of future generations.

Q8: For HVAC, what is in demand in residential, luxury and commercial projects?

A8: In a country with tropical climates, which sees intense heat during the summer, air conditioning is an essential in homes today. With air conditioning constituting as much as 30% of a building’s energy consumption, it is in the best interest of the future home owners to optimize the energy usage from cooling systems by the use of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning), a key technology system that will help reduce operating costs. While this may not make a substantial difference in the short term, long term usage does see a significant decrease in the costs, making it crucial to residential and luxury projects.For commercial projects, operating costs are a key area of concern, and should there be any scope for the optimization to make offices more cost efficient, this is welcomed. Hence, like with residential projects, the use of HVAC is definitely in the interest of both developers and buyers.

Apart from the reduced costs, some of the intangible benefits include enhanced ventilation, better views and day lighting, improved productivity of the occupants. While the costs incurred while constructing a green Platinum certified building is 10-15% higher than a conventional building, the reduced operation costs in the long run, and the environmental impact over the years even out the cost of building green.

Q9: Are the home-buyers ready to move to green buildings over conventional homes? If yes then why and if no then why?

A9: There is a transition setting in amongst home buyers from a traditional home to a green home. The biggest advantage they stand to gain, apart from operational savings in areas such as electricity and water is that it enhances the indoor environmental quality and overall well-being of the buyer and their families.

Q10: Is the government and the real estate industry doing enough to promote green buildings? If no, then what measures should the government and the real estate industry take in order to spread awareness about green homes?

A10: The government has been proactive in promoting and shaping this concept of the green building environment. Some of the incentives which are given by the Government to promote this are easy and faster clearances by Ministry of Environment and Forests to those projects which are applicants of IGBC – Green Building Certification. This announcement of Government about the first preference is a boost.  Also, additional discount by SBI announced to the owners of green homes will result in demand for these homes and will motivate builders to construct more as even builders will be provided with some concessions. The Government has announced many such incentives in other states of India and we are optimistic about the development of Green Buildings as Government is also focused on promoting this agenda.

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