As real estate sector goes through one of its worst times, consumers are looking at value-for-money options and developers are looking at cutting overheads while trying not to compromise on quality. A section of property builders say the economic downturn iis beginning to prove a boon to the green realty sector because of established and proven technologies that reduce running costs of buildings.

Homebuyers and companies buying office spaces have also shown their preference for green buildings that will drive the market with greater focus in the year ahead. “We are seeing a growing interest even among existing buildings to retrofit certain technology elements that can save energy in either air-conditioning, or lighting, or the use of water. Many hotels and hospitals, even offices, are beginning to see the advantages of managing waste within their premises, for this eliminates the cost of transporting waste and the mess of waste that is not disposed off,” said Chandrashekar Hariharan, chief executive officer, of Bangalore-based Biodiversity Conservation (India) (BCIL). He added that “Green realty sector will benefit from the market downturn as investors and buyers today are more discerning and weary of parting with money without the assurance of greater benefits and features that can save on energy bills, water bills, and on managing the waste without the risks of health hazards and without reliance on inefficient municipal bodies.

If energy efficiency becomes the norm for buildings, it would be the start of a minor revolution to reduce demand for energy, as well as to bring efficiency in management of precious water resources and more effective waste management in our cities.” “One has to devise a business model that would benefit as well as adhere to the green norms,” said P Surya Prakash, managing partner of Hyderabad-based SatyaVani Green Homes.He said green buildings are not just environment-friendly but alsohelp cut costs such as maintenance costs for the building and cost of power for the customer. To involve his clients completely in green initiatives, SatyaVani Green Homes has decided to incentivise the customer by subsidising power for 25 years by Rs 18,000 per year. “We bring down connected power load. Normal buildings need 12 mw of connected power. We are making this a zero carbon power. We call this green power,” says Surya Prakash. The concept may not be new, but developers who are actively involved in the green initiative say that green builders should strengthen the movement by sharing their experiences and the advantages they have gained.

“The focus should deepen in learning more tools and techniques and design approaches for better management of energy, water, and waste with cost efficiency and ease of execution being the prime factors,” says Hariharan.BCIL is also offering information at no cost on several things that can be done to bring energy efficiency in many things we buy or use or do in our daily workday lives, he adds. In 2008, there were as many as 240 million sq ft of commercial buildings that requested green certification. The residential green rating system was launched in May 2008 and in less than four months the initiative received applications for a staggering 150 million sq ft of residential apartments, which aspired to green, from builders. The approach has been facilitated by technology and management processes for construction that are reasonably user-friendly and can therefore allow for scale and replicability.