Saha Developers
Sustainable Development and Construction – The Philosophy that guides SAHA Groupe

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.
The ‘Cost’ Benefits

There are tangible and intangible benefits to going green. The most significant of these are reduced operational and energy costs, better indoor air quality, better indoor environmental quality, better day lighting, the health and wellbeing of the occupants.

At project level, green buildings help enhance the marketability of the building itself.
How a green building will really help you?

As developers, our returns on going green ends at marketability for the project but as deliverers of aspirational properties we deliver a better way of life. One of the good things that come with a green rating is the fact that we use raw materials and finishing products that ensure that the occupants get a living/ work spaces that are free of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs can cause respiratory diseases), supplied with air-conditioning equipment that use CFC-free refrigerants (CFCs cause ozone-depletion; most of the reputed names in the market still use CFC-based refrigerants/coolants in India), better thermally insulated, better naturally lit (naturally lit places boost emotional wellbeing and productivity), energy and water efficient (we do lack both in adequate quantities; increasing efficiency of fixtures and equipment maximize what we do get from that supply).

Beyond Green Ratings

Beyond green ratings, a unique vocabulary is emerging to describe concepts related to sustainability and global environmental changes. Terms such as Factor 4 and Factor 10, ecological footprint, ecological rucksack, biomimicry, Natural Step, eco-efficiency, ecological economics, biophilia, and the Precautionary Principle describe the overarching philosophical and scientific concepts behind sustainability.

The assessment and application of the principles of sustainability to the built environment are described in terms that complement the core philosophy such as green building, building assessment, ecological design, life-cycle assessment, life-cycle costing, high-performance building, and charrette articulate specific techniques.

Closing Remarks

End of the day, it is not just the sustainable features, the quality of construction or the well-thought layouts that we provide that matter but how all these factors come together to make you feel special matters.