With the climate crisis looming, India needs more green and disaster-resilient homes


Today, the threat of climate change is real, recognized by people around the world. Sea level rise along the Indian coast will be 30 to 80 cm over the next century, endangering the lives and livelihoods of people residing in major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Like other sectors, the real estate sector must also act immediately, in this case by planning climate resilient and sustainable infrastructure projects.

India is committed to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to reduce its carbon footprint by 30-35% from 2005 levels by 2030. The real estate and construction sector must review the way they do business. The objective of decarbonising real estate was adopted with the launch of dedicated urbanization programs, with the “Ease of Living” as another priority objective.

Need for climate resilient infrastructure

As coastal India is the scene of more flooding every year, residential development in coastal cities needs to be revamped with resilience as a key element. The design and planning of homes must meet the parameters of climate change – projects must include components that are sustainable while being climate resilient. In short, the real estate sector needs to calculate the development risk to the environment taking into account short and long term planning and infrastructure arrangements, which will negate the effects of climate change on housing.

Some efforts in the right direction

Since 2014, there have been massive investments in urbanization. In the area of ​​housing, this happened through the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, on sanitation through the Swachh Bharat mission and on the construction of modern cities through the SMART Cities mission.

The government has also launched a global housing technology challenge to tap into sustainable solutions. Many practical solutions are sought through this to make buildings and dwellings more durable and resistant to disasters. To promote sustainable development, “flagship projects” have been launched, in which alternative or green technology is used to build model disaster-resistant housing projects.

Combine technology and sustainability

Green living, green engineering and green construction are the new mantra in futuristic housing. “Smart eco-cities” are the need of the moment that can marry technology and sustainability goals through reuse, recycling and replenishment. An eco-city has been defined as “a human settlement modeled on the resilient and self-sustaining structure and function of a natural ecosystem”. Simply put, an eco-city is an environmentally sound city.

There are three specific areas that require attention if the real estate industry is to be carbon free. These are:

Energy management: Each new building must be energy efficient. Natural cooling systems, open and ventilated layouts, the use of renewable energies to meet the energy needs of a building should be features integrated into buildings of the future.

Reuse: Reuse is a key word when it comes to water and building materials. Each building should serve as a repository for materials that can be reused in construction. Construction debris should be recycled where possible.

Sustainable development: One cannot imagine the buildings of the future without the basic elements like the sewage and wastewater treatment plants and the rainwater collection system. Ensuring green coverage, using disaster-resilient building materials are also essential.

On top of that, the real estate industry must be prepared for an emergency and must make commitments to energy efficiency and science-based decision making. Data management and business intelligence tools must be integrated to assess and help make informed business decisions. Due diligence processes should incorporate acceleration risks posed by climate change, fiscal policy constraints, critical infrastructure investments, and repair and replacement. Industry players should embrace “conscious consumerism”, which calls for business decisions that positively impact social, economic and ecological goals.

The objectives set for the real estate sector are ambitious to say the least. The champions of the sector will have to act quickly. Either way, the industry’s new enthusiasm to reduce its carbon footprint is a vital step towards climate change mitigation efforts.

Niranjan Hiranandani is vice president of NAREDCO. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.

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