Sustainability: is anyone serious?

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Posted by:
R Kumar
Jones Lang LaSalle, India 

We hear so much about sustainability, yet there feels to be so little when it comes to results. More often than not, sustainability in real estate means only getting marketing credit with a green building certification label like LEED. Is this seemingly superficial driver good or bad? In my opinion, it is good. Some action is better than no action.

In India, bad real estate practices are easy to find. The average building is glazed in all directions without much of concern for the increase in air conditioning loads. Despite being located in a tropical environment; data centers do not often implement basic principles such as ‘hot-aisle/ cold-aisle’ and minimizing mixing of hot and cold air. Many occupants are not aware of how their energy is used in different systems in a facility.. Government leaders talk about making energy audits mandatory but haven’t pulled the trigger, despite having brought out an Energy Conservation Building Code.

There is so much noise that many are not able to decide on the best course of action. Though there is no concerted or focused approach, the certification programs are providing some guidelines in the right direction.

Some of the sustainability principles one sees include rainwater harvesting, employee engagement, green teams, turning off lights, energy savings, carpooling, travel to office by cycle, video conferencing instead of travel, lowering carbon footprint through renewable energy, recycling, waste management, composting, etc.. It is interesting to note that the measures implemented are either due to government regulations or a drive to gain corporate image. Rainwater harvesting is a typical example of such a measure which is popular in parts of India due to governmental regulations.

Though certification is not an end in itself, it is changing behavior and initiates a process of ‘take action and move on’.

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