“There is a requirement of 100,000 green accredited professionals by 2020”

Article was first published at Construction Business Today

Give us an understanding of the role played by your firm in India’s green building consultancy space with reference to your operating philosophy

The concept of Green Building is not new in today’s built environment market, but a decade ago it was relatively new and indeed a bold approach in a developing country such as India. In spite of initial hiccups, yeoman efforts under the leadership of Mr. ParasuRaman and Dr. Jain has spearheaded the importance of green concept of  what we see today.

Conserve Consultants, were one the first in India to embrace the green building concept way back in 2005. The naming of our organization as Conserve is to communicate a rather  simple but powerful message, that we need to conserve our resources, for sustainable living in the long run.

Our population coupled to our journey from a developing country to a developed nation, is all the more reason to remind ourselves continuously of our  inherent ethos of conserving resources and we all know that one of the major guzzlers of resources is none other than the construction business. Hence, it was a right decision at the right time,  that made us who we are. Right from the inception of Conserve Consultants, 10 years back, our focus has been only on conservation and adding green value to our clients. And recently we have been awarded by Indian Green Building Council as “Premier Consultants” in all the categories of our operation.

In regards to our operating philosophy, it is “Delivering Performance through People, Processes and Technology”. Though many sections of the market are still asking “Why Green”, at Conserve we are focusing on “How Green”. The reason why we have “Delivering Performance” as our motto is that we believe, green concepts and sustainability ideas,  at its core, is to the raise the performance of a building in terms of energy and resource management and increase the asset value.

Could you dilate on the importance of consultancy in making the built environment sustainable? What are the areas of deficit your firm is looking to address in India’s built environment?

Its well-known that a building, is not just made out of steel, cement and bricks, but made by the minds of the project team with the architect at its helm. The right specialized minds when brought together will create something which is both iconic and high performing. . A quick reference would be on Mumbai T2 Terminal project, where the GVK leadership put together some of the brightest minds in the business like CH2M, SOM, L&T Conserve and today its stand as the testament. to create high value assets with a life cycle of more than 50-75 years, inputs of specialized experts pooled together, enabling the client to make informed decisions, cannot be undermined.

Conserve as a green consultant plays an important link between the group of consultants, involved on a project. Our foremost approach is that of integration of green concepts in all aspects of the project. As we are involved in different elements in process such as architectural services, construction and commissioning across the complete development cycle, from concept to completion, weaving together myriad aspect of a project is an important role that we perform. The green building certification programs has brought in multiple techniques to measure the performance of a project at all stages. At Conserve, we specialize in these tools and help project team meet or exceed these metrics. This seamless collaboration to delight our clients by raising the performance bar, well within the budget is what we at Conserve Consultants aspire

Tell us about the specific services or products offered by your firm to sectors like real estate, hospitality, industry, Smart Cities, Construction and infrastructure and the scope of application and operations?

We provide consulting service across a variety of Green Building ratings like LEED, IGBC, GRIHA, Wellness, Edge, Estidama variations of which can be applied across the complete spectrum of application from residential homes to smart cities. We work with US Green Building Council (USGBC), Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and GRIHA to enable green certification processes across all application in the built environment be it apartment, factory, hotel, hospital or an airport. We have executed projects across all these scope both in India and abroad.

Being a pioneer in green building concept, we also offer a unique in-house developed service called CertificationPLUS.  CertificationPLUS is  designed to raise the performance of a project well beyond green certification, that too within budget. We have segmented this offering in three categories,;

Design, Construction and Operations as the interventions required are different in different stages of a building life cycle. These services have gone well with the market and we are doing many projects with leading architects and buildings in existing building want to improve their performance.

The sectors that we are working on besides residential buildings are data centres, factories (pharma, garments, auto ancillary, chemical, food and beverages), hospitals and hotel, IT parks and corporate offices, etc. Smart Cities are one of the areas that we are keenly interested and going forward, most of the new buildings, will need a variety of green concepts inbuilt in their system.

Could you name the landmark domestic and international green building projects with which you have been associated and tell us about the specific benefits accruing to those projects through your products or services? Could you name a few key clients from the infrastructure/construction/hospitality/ real estate domain?

Over last 10 years, we have done more than 300+ projects and still counting. We have our footprints in other parts of the world such as Middle East and South East Asia. It’s hard to single out a few projects from this long list. In domestic market, we could name the Mumbai International Airport, T2 Terminal Building at Sahar. Reason being the sheer size of the project, which is around 65 lakh sq ft. The magnitude of the project couple with the fact that it was a brownfield development (the old building has to be demolished and the new building made without stopping the operations)  is in itself a challenge. There are multiple green concepts that are inbuilt in the project like natural Daylighting, multiple water conservation measures including recycling of the complete air conditioning generated condensate, improved indoor air quality, variety of innovative interventions on energy savings in lighting and air-conditioning, etc. I would encourage you to notice some of the green techniques next time you are there especially the Daylighting and freshness in the indoor air quality.

Another project is the corporate office of Turbo Energy, TVS group organization. We complete this project in 2009 and at that time it was the second greenest building in the world and the greenest in India certified by US Green Building council. All possible green compliance goals that were stated in the certification program were complied with. The project received 61 out of 69 points of LEED v1.0 certification program without a single point being missed in both energy and water category.

On the international market,  we have done  corporate office of Petroleum Industries Corporation in Kuwait. This is the first LEED Existing Building Gold certified project in Kuwait. The interesting thing about the project is the water management. Though being in a water constraint location, Kuwait government does not require individual buildings to have an onsite sewage water treatment facilities. But, for this project,  sewage treatment plant was installed in the premise and the recycled water was used for landscaping. Besides ,number of other measures like lighting control, water reduction at source, energy and water metering systems, enhanced fresh air to improve inddor air quality, etc. were incorporated.

We also did a memorable project in Malaysia, for client Auo Sunpower Sdn Bhd. Their corporate office building, is the first Platinum Rated LEED building in Malaysia. We also did their factory project for manufacturing of solar photovoltaic panels . The factory project was challenging as it involves critical processes which need clean room environment and the management of potential toxic material generated during its manufacture and waste disposal processes..,

In terms of scope of work in various projects in India -- including design, raw materials, and process -- could you tell us of the critical challenges faced while developing sustainable structures? 

Green business is facing a fair challenge in terms of qualified professionals in the market, which has a requirement of 100,000 green accredited professionals by 2020 to seamlessly integrate green concepts in India. Green professionals have an all-around knowledge of key aspects involved in design, construction and operations of a building. Our present day processes are segmented and a green professional has to connect all the dots, or bring in an integrated approach. This type of expertise coupled with solid growth record is projected to bring in elements of both quality and quality challenge of green professionals.

Green business necessitates the use of various software tools to simulate and benchmark performance during the building development and life cycle. The easy availability of user friendly softwares along with trained professionals to use them is another critical challenge. On the building material and equipment availability, I think the challenge is a bit reverse. There are enough products in the markets and manufacturers are indeed doing their job towards innovation and bringing out their best to meet the dynamic market needs. The knowledge management of myriad products and technologies and the right application of them is posing a different challenge.

To what extent is cost a deterrent in pushing green technologies and products?

The current market scenario in India, which is vibrantly different from a decade ago, is ready to consume new technologies and products. Cost is not a deterrent. Clients are looking for the right business case, the right return on investment to create a more valuable asset.  It is going to surprise many to find out that in green building technology that there other deterrent involved, but cost is not one of them.The whole concept of induction of new technologies in the infrastructure is to make the asset more valuable and to have high return of investment from the project. This is considered as the business case decision, where the decisions are based on the return of investment to the developer. Green buildings are very efficient in managing resources and marketability of green buildings gets more people interested about the project. Hence, going green might as well, remove some of the sluggishness in the residential and commercial sector in big cities and also operation cost of the project is 20 to 30% lower than the traditional buildings. Thus, it makes a business case, where green building by itself has high return of investment and the hence the adoptability of green building will be organic than induced.

Going forward how do you expect the market to shape up for sustainable construction and infrastructure in India? Which according to you will emerge as the key growth drivers for this sector? What is your firm’s agenda for growth for 2017-18? 

Depletion of natural resources and climate change are happening at an alarming rate and conservation is the need of the hour. There has been an appreciable amount growth in level of this awareness amongst all stakeholders in the building environment industry today. The markets for green and sustainable construction are bound to increase much more than the standard pattern of growth of the market. Last year, green buildings grew by 30% in comparison to the previous year while infrastructure growth was at only 8% Thus, both growth rates are very connected and the green buildings are poised to double every three years.

The key drivers to growth in the green building industry are the consumers and the government. The growing number of new home buyers and most new industrial developments are already enquiring about conservation and efficiency of their building even before they decide on the outlook of the project. Government is also doing their bit. Many incentive scheme to promote green certified buildings for IGBC, USGBC and GRIHA have been launched by multiple state governments. Some of the well know incentives such as fast track environmental clearance, additional floor area ratio, exclusive financial assistance by SIDBI, percentage of premium refund and upto 25% subsidy on total fixed cost of the project investment. The respective green building councils are also doing great by working along with governments to provide these incentive measures and I believe more of these are yet to come. All this is indeed easing out the pressure on all stakeholders to equip their projects with sustainability solutions to make it more attractive to the market At Conserve, we understand this commitment, and that’s why we are product neutral company which focus only on enhancing the building performance

Undoubtedly smart cities and new townships developments, that incorporate vast acres of land in single project are incorporating green concepts and ideas right from the start of the design. The growing number of smart cities planned across India, will further drive the green building market.

The agenda for Conserve for coming year is to work in unison with all stakeholders especially the government, green building councils, architects, developers and industries and get in as much green footprints in India as possible.