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Setting the paces on green building track
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2009-01-10 City : Chennai

Meticulous selection of plants and manicured lawns on the sidelines speak of the maximum use of space for vegetation, writes K.S.Subramanian

Spread over 22 acres and occupying 2.2 million square feet RMZ Millennia Business Park on ECR Road, Chennai presents an appealing facade with double glazed long windows and sleek interiors of reflective tiles.

Behind the aesthetic appeal is a green building try to cut CO2 emissions and save energy. On the terrace of one of the buildings in the campus a sensor-operated system is in place to arrest fresh air from the coast and circulate it inside. There is online verification of CO2 level and the exhaust system is located away from the air entry point. Meticulous selection of plants and manicured lawns on the sidelines speak of the maximum use of space for vegetation and judicious laying of pipe network for filtered rain water attests to the harvesting techniques in use.

I stepped into the chamber of the plant where rain and sewer water was being treated to targeted purity level. (“87 per cent or more”).

The Business Park, which got LEED Gold, has rented out quite a few outlets for ND TV, R&D Division of Ford and other IT firms. It also has a customized resting facility for physically challenged. “Annually we save 130 lakh units on energy and 20 lakhs on water by consuming 10 p.c less energy and 30 p.c. less water” says Sonali Lalwani, Head, Marketing & Communications. A founding member of the Indian Green Building Council, RMZ is also a member of the US Green Building Council.

“We are a fast-track runner in retail space, operating in primary and secondary cities,” she said.

How are the prerequisites assessed before venturing into a project of this kind? “We have a Green team of experts, both Indian and from abroad. In the team is also a LEED certified consultant,” she said.

“The level of savings we achieve in energy and water will even out in three years the extra cost that could have gone into construction” said Ms. Sonali. “Indeed, it will be 10 to 15 per cent more compared to a normal building.”

“Also the ingredients – recyclable materials we use in green building construction besides fly ash based brick and cement – are always available.” A singular factor is the use of solar lights in all green structures which is a renewable source. Since 2005 when the Chennai Business Park came into being, “we have saved Rs. 1. 5 crore on water and energy. Every year we audit our savings to demonstrate to the US GBC our maintenance standards as required by LEED.”

The first phase of RMZ Business Park on ECR road is over and work is on in the second phase. “We do have specific plans for Chennai, aware that a green project gets immediate approval.”

Would Green buildings ever be extended to other areas such as schools, hospitals and colleges, considering the cost and other factors? “We can. For this schools must show interest. Firstly, there must be well laid out environmental policies and governmental support,” she said. “Retrofit can be tried initially for schools though it might be expensive. Though there is tremendous enthusiasm for the concept as I found out at a seminar held for school and college going children in Mumbai recently, we are not able to quantify the response. That is, how much of it will be translated into approved projects.”

But she rounded off saying that “we do see a paradigm shift in use of green buildings away from commercial/retail space to equally productive areas such as schools and hospitals.”

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