Mili Majumdar, Managing Director, Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI)
Today, India is the third largest market for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) buildings outside the US and was the first to pursue a groundbreaking new LEED pilot program in partnership with US Green Building Council (USGBC) to address the unique needs of transit around the world, informs Mili Majumdar, Managing Director, Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI) in an interaction with Supriya Oundhakar…
How do you envisage growth of green buildings concept in India?
Sustainability is not new to India. It has been embedded in culture, heritage and architectural styles since very early times. There has been a growing awareness and demand for green development and recognition that by improving our environmental performance we are benefiting Indians everywhere, as well as Mother Earth. As India goes through rapid urbanization, the adoption of green business practices is why the market has become a true engine of green growth. Today, India is the third largest market for LEED buildings outside the US and was the first to pursue a groundbreaking new LEED pilot program in partnership with US Green Building Council (USGBC) to address the unique needs of transit around the world. This innovative thinking and dedication to improving quality of life guarantees that India will continue to be first-to-market in many more ways as we work to transform our built environment.
Kindly elaborate on the services offered by GBCI India.
GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc.), the organization that certifies all LEED projects globally, was incorporated in India in 2015. Our local teams based in National Capital Region, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore provides on-the-ground customer support and technical assistance for projects teams as they work to incorporate green business practices. GBCI administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the LEED green building rating systems, as well as standards addressing reliable power generation and distribution (PEER), human health and wellbeing (WELL), sustainable landscapes (SITES), sustainable parking solutions (Parksmart), resource efficient design (EDGE), resource management and waste diversion (Zero Waste), energy efficiency financing (Investor Confidence Project), and ESG performance of real assets (GRESB). As a result, we are dedicated to supporting India’s efforts in raising the bar for the global market while enhancing environmental and human health benefits. The accessibility in India will not only benefit the country, but the entire Asia Pacific corridor, by deploying more local resources to support projects.
Considering that the Indian environment and geographical scenario is very different from that of the US, how do you customise your services for India?
GBCI works with experts, academia, business and government officials to help address and meet the priority needs of a rapidly urbanizing India. We are the leader in speed-to-market transformation, but we cannot do it alone. Our local presence improves India’s access to resources, but strong partnerships across business and government will make market transformation a reality. We are very fortunate to have a network of partners with whom we are working to understand and uncover opportunities that benefit India. In February, we announced a new LEED pilot designed to address the unique needs of transit systems around the world and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is the first to pursue it for their metro station in Delhi NCR and other states in India. This kind of partnership not only benefits the Indian market, but also positions the country as a leader in advancing sustainable business practices globally. With GBCI, businesses, government and project teams have a partner who will walk the entire sustainability journey with them. In addition, the technical teams are developing alternative compliance paths for various LEED credits to make them applicable for India.
What kind of role GBCI India would like to play in smart cities project?
GBCI India has been very active in engaging with stakeholders about the smart cities project. It is important to help businesses and leaders better understand the challenges and opportunities it offers. GBCI is the leader in speed-to-market transformation and our array of rating systems are available to help businesses, communities and cities work towards their smart city goals. Our LEED for cities/communities rating system shall complement efforts of smart cities and be able to track performance and score cities based on various performance parameters.
While developers often cite cost as a key reason for not adopting the latest green technologies, is there any way this technology can be incentivised? Is there a role GBCI have to play here?
There are a lot of misperceptions about the cost of green building and interestingly the public tends to overestimate the cost. A 2007 public opinion survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that respondents believed, on average, that green features added 17 percent to the cost of a building, whereas a study of 146 green buildings found an actual average marginal cost of less than 2 percent. Every day sustainable building materials are becoming more and more affordable because of increased competition and currently several states in India provide incentives towards the construction of green building.
What are the challenges faced by you in Indian markets?
India is urbanizing on a breathtaking scale – our urban population has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. This drives tremendous economic development, but it also creates serious challenges including energy shortages, water scarcity, waste accumulation and air quality issues. The good news is that all of this can be addressed through green building; however, it must be a part of the conversation from the beginning.
Every story about a green building is a story about people. Green buildings have a direct impact on the people who eat, live, work and play in them: these high-performing buildings boost the health, productivity and happiness of millions of people across the globe. For us, we’re focused on accelerating market transformation through the adoption of LEED and our other green rating systems, including standards addressing reliable power generation and distribution (PEER), human health and wellbeing (WELL), sustainable landscapes (SITES), sustainable parking solutions (Parksmart), resource efficient design (EDGE), resource management and waste diversion (Zero Waste), energy efficiency financing (Investor Confidence Project), and ESG performance of real assets (GRESB).
What are the sustainable design considerations adopted during the construction of green buildings?
There are a number of design elements to consider during the construction phase and the best way to work through those is to refer to the LEED scorecard available online. USGBC also offers a number of educational resources to help project teams manage the process. Not to mention, GBCI works hard to establish high quality, enduring relationships with our customers and clients through our responsiveness and excellence in service.
How would you achieve the goal of energy efficiency during the construction of buildings?
Each building is unique and the approach for addressing energy usage will be different, however, if a project is pursuing LEED certification, they can refer to the LEED credit library to better understand how energy might be addressed. For any green building project, it is important to incorporate LEED or any green rating system as early in the process as possible.
Tracking energy data is also an important first step to improving energy efficiency. That is why last year, GBCI launched Arc, a state-of-the-art digital platform that benchmarks, tracks and monitors performance across five categories, including energy, waste, transportation and human experience. Project teams can use the platform even if they are not yet ready to pursue certification. Arc allows users to track performance using real-time data. The platform scores the building and each individual category from 0 to 100. When improving energy efficiency, understanding where you’re starting from and how you’re improving will help teams make more informed decisions with the goal of improving performance over time.
Also, at the policy level in India, do you think we need more additions supporting the green building concept?
We have adequate number of policy initiatives. Implementation rigor and performance tracking holds key to success of these policies and programs.