Sustainable Development and Construction – The Philosophy that guides RS Construction
The classical definition of sustainable development, as quoted from ‘Our Common Future (aka The Brundtland Report; 1987)’, is “…meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” This definition underlies two key concepts, namely the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor and the ‘idea of limitations’ imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.
Sustainable Construction is a subset of sustainable development and has been defined in 1994 by the Conseil International du Batiment (CIB) as “…creating & operating a healthy built environment based on resource efficiency & ecological design.”
Sustainable Building or Green Building?
The Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) defines Sustainable Building as one in which the site, design, construction, occupancy, maintenance and deconstruction of the building are accounted for in ways that promote long-term benefits to owners, occupants and society as a whole.
The term ‘green building’ or ‘sustainable building’ in construction or renovation generally refers to minimizing environmental impact and improving efficiency and long-term economic performance of new construction and renovation projects.
Green Rating Systems
Agency’s that rate Green buildings in India are the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)’s Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA).
It must be mentioned that earning a green rating from these agency’s does not ensure that the building is sustainable- it just ensures that compared to a conventional building, the subject building has lesser environmental impact.
The Cost of Going Green- short and long term benefits:
Investing in alternate technologies, energy-efficient technologies, system upgrades or improvements in building envelope can increase capital and construction costs. However, going green involves builders to look beyond the first costs and to factor in the long-term operational savings resulting from green building practices along with the associated environmental productivity, health and community-related benefits. Incorporating the present worth of these variables often prove that the initial costs are easily recoverable in the long run.
Fortunately, the first costs involved in green construction have substantially reduced over the years because of the growing experience and cheaper costs of alternate technologies in the market. It has been documented around the world that the costs of going green is usually 3- 5% of the total construction costs. In some rare cases, wherein an integrated design process has been adopted to ensure that sustainability is not an afterthought, green buildings cost the same as conventional buildings.