The new Mahindra-TERI joint research initiative will focus on developing open-source and cost-effective sustainable solutions for the real estate sector.
By Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee
In what could be seen as a start towards mobilising knowledge for triggering the green building movement in the domestic real estate space, property developer Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd (MLDL) and top-notch think tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) have jointly launched the first-ever Centre of Excellence (CoE), in Gurugram.
“We are ardent believers in sustainable development and are focused on growing the green building movement in India. However, efforts in this direction demand adequate research to find cutting-edge technologies so that optimum efficiency can be achieved – both in terms of higher benefits and reduced costs,” says Vaibhav Jambhekar, MLDL’s head for strategy and business excellence.
Jambhekar adds that the country does not have robust codes and regulations pertaining to green buildings. This has prompted the private sector to take the route of voluntary green building rating systems in order to boost the development of low-energy consumption buildings.
“About a thousand buildings have until now been certified under these ratings. However, this number is hugely insignificant when compared to figures for the entire country. Moreover, two-third of India’s future building stock is yet to be built. Hence, the onus of incorporating energy-efficiency measures into building design lies with developers. There is an urgent need for a cost-effective, greener yet cheaper building design that provides better comfort and ensures low energy consumption,” he elaborates.
The CoE’s core research area will be specific to energy-efficiency in sustainable habitats, including standardisation and measurement of building materials; building envelope studies; thermal and visual comfort studies; development of performance standards, matrices, guidelines & toolkits; and sustainable water use in habitats.
The research outcomes, according to Jambhekar, will put a scale to the implementation of energy-efficient building solutions, generation of performance data, and metrics to assess building stock, and the benefits of new technology deployment in India.
The outcomes of the Centre’s research will be in the form of policy briefs for state and central ministries, while for developers it would be revision of guidelines or codes incorporating resource efficiency in residential developments. The database will be made available as a tool on the CoE website. It will also serve as a design aid for code compliances for architects and engineers. The research outputs will also be made available to the public in the form of guidelines, matrices and toolkits, and will be disseminated via conferences, workshops and reports, amongst other media, benefiting the industry at large.
Discussing the CoE facility, Jambhekar explains that the first-of-its-kind real-estate driven research set up for developing energy-efficient solutions is less dependent on virgin materials, and is tailored to the Indian buildings sector and climates. It has a SVA-GRIHA 5-star rated lab that is equipped with walk the talk amenities and uses passive strategies such as sun path or daylight integration, ventilation, wind patterns, integration of renewable energy, etc. Besides, it has a guarded hot box facility which is second in the country after Jadhavpur University, sky modelling for Indian sky conditions, and visual comfort studies.
“Through a memorandum of understanding signed between MLDL and TERI, CSR funds will be contributed over five years to aid research, operational expenses, tools, equipment, research associates and infrastructure.”