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Sustainable is more than just green

Overall value – Harnessing all benefits from sustainable construction

Sustainable construction is still too often equated with “green building.” But this term falls short, as a workshop at the 4th International Holcim Forum in Mumbai moderated by Holger Wallbaum (former member of the Academic Committee), stated in his introductory speech. Sustainability is based not only on the pillar of ecology but also on economic and social pillars. Thus genuine sustainability requires additional work, additional expense, and additional costs.

It is accordingly difficult to precisely quantify the actual value created through sustainable construction – especially because there is hardly any database to substantiate the long-term value generated by sustainable buildings. The discussions of the workshop showed that the notion of the value of a sustainable building must not be limited to financial aspects only. The participants found that much of the value depends on the perspective and is often impossible to precisely measure. The health and well-being of residents belongs in this category along with employee satisfaction, the public image of a sustainable building, and its direct or indirect support of the local economy.

F13_attendee_WallbaumHolger_Sweden.jpgThe many green building labels found around the world were also inspected regarding their value: It is plausible to assume that such labels enhance the value creation of a building, but hardly any facts and figures exist to prove this assumption. The discussions showed clearly the enormous potential of sustainable construction in India: “75 percent of India is yet to be built in the next 20 years,” as Prem C. Jain and Sundaresan Raghupaty, Chairman and Executive Director of IGBC, stated in their case study. The vision of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is for India to become one of the world’s leading nations in terms of the sustainable built environment by 2025.

“We had all those discussions around market value, energy consumption, and much more,” said sustainable construction expert Chrisna Du Plessis in her summary presentation of the workshop. But it quickly became clear that when it comes to assessing the value of sustainable buildings, no universally applicable or absolute statements can be made outside the monetary realm. “Two expressions were used very often in the discussions,” said the professor from South Africa. “The first was ‘value for whom?’ and the second was ‘it depends’.” The value of sustainability cannot be calculated on a spreadsheet or determined for every imaginable case.

F13WSor-Kohinoor2.jpgMobile Workshop

During the mobile workshop, led by architect Sowmya Raja and Roshni Udyavar Yahuda, Head of the Rachana Sansad’s Institute of Environmental Architecture (both Mumbai), the participants visited buildings that exemplify sustainable construction. Kohinoor Hospital is Asia’s first green hospital building and the second in the world with a LEED Platinum rating. Surrounding this giant building is a neighborhood with 1,000 apartments, a hotel, a shopping center, and educational and recreational facilities.

The Palais Royale is equally impressive: measuring over 300 meters in height, it is the tallest building in India. It meets high standards of energy efficiency, waste management, and safety. The Palais Royale is particularly interesting because it follows vaastu shastra, the ancient Indian way of building. The last stop was the TCS House, which was completely renovated by Brinda Somaya. The architect conserved the façade and modernized the entire interior of the building.

Last Updated: February 20, 2014
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Location
Mumbai, India
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