Why green ratings have become all the more important in post COVID world
Given the state of ever-increasing environmental problems, the last decade saw a new awareness and awakening about the importance of green surroundings as well as green buildings in Indian real estate. While the awareness was there, the groundwork didn’t reflect that reality as we witnessed during the ongoing pandemic. During the lockdown, when everyone sought solace in confined spaces, people realised the importance of healthy indoors and the lack of it around them.
Good design, proper ventilation and specification of the right building materials are essential to increase the supply of fresh air in a building, and to reduce our exposure to indoor pollutants and odours. Moreover, a sustainable, energy-efficient, green building provides natural defences against respiratory illnesses and airborne vectors.
Course correction needed
There is no doubt that the sudden halt in business and construction activity, triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic severely disrupted the economy in general and the building sector in particular.
But at the same time, this halt has provided the government and private sector much-needed time to revisit their approach towards buildings and how to make them sustainable and affordable, especially in the utilisation stage i.e. when people start living in them.
With millions of housing and commercial units set to be built over the next 20-30 years, this could be a watershed moment in the history of India’s real estate. From sustainable complexes that are mindful of their energy consumption to adopting new architectural designs like biophilic structures to investing in good filtration systems, developers have a task at hand to prevent another pandemic like Covid.
Push towards biophilic design
Though companies have been increasingly embracing biophilic design — the concept of bringing the health benefits of the outdoors inside while cutting down on energy costs, a lot needs to be done to make this concept mainstream. Biophilic concepts include incorporating green walls with plants that help clean the air; natural materials like wood into spaces; indoor water features like ponds and waterfalls; and circadian lights that provide different colour temperatures to keep the body’s internal clock in line, such as lighter white lighting to mimic daylight.
Developers need to look for more sustainable and natural materials like mass timber, or solid wood panels, rather than concrete or steel that emit more carbon dioxide.
Buildings built with more mass timber store carbon and offset greenhouse gas emissions, reduce labour resources and produce a light and natural interior, which can have positive health impacts on the people dwelling or working there.
Assessing building health
Just like our bodies, buildings also require regular check-ups or physical examinations to identify problems or issues that need to be addressed. A quick health assessment can identify all potential high-touch surfaces or areas and rank them in conjunction with location priority setting.
In addition, on-site assessments, computational modelling and simulations can quickly identify high-risk areas, such as poor ventilation. This allows operators to recognise the sources of pollution and optimises the building’s operation and management.
Smart & Green
A smart building is a building that reacts, adjusting its set up points and requirements to specific situations. If the occupancy is reduced, the need for ventilation to keep in line with air quality standards will also be reduced, as it also will for energy consumption. So, measures to keep air quality at the highest standards have to be adapted to the building occupancy, access control and optimised energy consumption.
COVID-19 is not the first nor the last viral infections that the world might see but with foresight and effective action we can ensure that we are better prepared for an uncertain future.
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