The building's green credentials have been recognised internationally, most notably by the us Green Business Council (usgbc). The Washington-based council awarded it the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's (leed) platinum rating in 2003, spurring an architectural trend in the country. "There are around 100 buildings in various stages of completion in India that seek conformity with leed standards," according to gbc's senior counsellor S Srinivas.
He claims gbc is a zero discharge building, a fourth of its power demands is met from solar energy, the building consumes 40 per cent less water and uses 50 per cent less electricity than a conventional structure. Spread over 2 ha, gbc has been built using flyash bricks, has rainwater harvesting channels and reed bed-based sewage treatment utility; an electric car charging station, a roof covered with gardens to insulate from heat and 25 kiloWatt (kW) capacity solar panels.
But there is a flip side to these achievements. gbc-- with a built up area of 20,000 sq ft--was constructed at a cost of Rs 10 crore in 2003, which Srinivas says is around 18 times the cost of a conventional building of similar dimensions. "We had to import high performance double glazed glass, floor carpets, toilet cleaner (which it still imports) and gadgets like building management system (bms) to meet usgbc's standards for platinum rating," he explains.
That is the crux of the problem say Indian architects. "Labelling green buildings is getting a bit too commercialised and everyone seems to be jumping onto the bandwagon. We need to realise that a building is not a piece of equipment to be rated; it is architecture--a living entity forpeople to live and work in. Architecture is the symbiosis of tangible and the intangible. The intangible refuses to be quantified but it is this component that truly makes architecture," says Arvind Krishan, professor at the department of architecture, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. All experts agree that buildings--new and old--are part of the environment problem and solution. Therefore, what is necessary is to evolve an Indian definition and practice of green architecture.
nidhi jamwal and minti jain explore the dimensions of this puzzle.
How green is your building?
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