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Now, apartments go the eco-friendly way

By Gargi Gupta in New Delhi
May 03, 2008 14:19 IST
GurgaonOne is typical of the premium residential complexes coming up all over this IT boom town. Spread over 10 acres on the old Delhi-Jaipur highway next to a proposed world-class golf course, it holds out the promise of a life of plush comfort to residents of its 240 apartments, villas and penthouses.

With one difference -- the developer, Alpha G:Corp, has incorporated several "eco-friendly" features in its design and construction. All through the initial excavation and construction, care was taken to minimise impact on the surroundings. Large trees on the site were left undisturbed or replanted, the site was watered regularly to reduce dust, and grid paving was used to prevent soil erosion.

Among GurgaonOne's other "green" features are silent and pollution-free DG sets and a 300 kilolitres/day sewage treatment plant which will recycle water to be used to irrigate the 2.03 acre green patch adjoining the built area. Besides, there are six wells that will help recharge the water table.

The common area lighting is a mix of direct beam lighting which consumes less energy but creates glare and diffused illumination which consumes more energy but emits soothing light.

The company is also considering solar power, informs Reshmi Sen, Alpha G:Corp's marketing head. The double-airconditioning ducts are custom-made to ensure 10-15 per cent power-savings, there are energy-efficient windows, plus humidity vents and triple filtering systems for fresh ionised air.

Green buildings are not a new phenomenon with the Indian Green Building Congress calculating that there are around 70 million sq ft of green space built/being built in India. But hitherto, green projects have mainly been commercial spaces. There are two reasons for this.

One, the higher cost of energy-efficient materials and eco-friendly practices which, in the price-conscious residential sector, can't be passed on to customers. At GurgaonOne, it was a high 15-20 per cent of the project cost. Two, green buildings are not just about design and building, the green features have to be maintained.

How to do this in apartment complexes with multiple users? Who will stop a flat-owner from using high VOC paint, or a carpet that doesn't have recycled material? What if the STP breaks down and the residents' body doesn't get it repaired? (Alpha G:Corp has formed Alpha G:Corp Management Services to provide professional maintenance and facility management services to the GurgaonOne RWA.)

Despite the difficulties, green is starting to take the fancy of developers of the high-end gated communities in India. Phase II of Mahindra Lifespaces's Royale in Pune's Pimpri area claims to be a first here.

Among its green features are low VOC paints, adhesives and insulations, a terrace roof coated with an insulating material to reduce heat absorption, and flyash based bricks infused with polypropelene fibre and water-proofing material. Recently, Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure announced that its Palais Royale, the 320 metre high tower in Worli, Mumbai, will achieve the prestigious LEED platinum rating.

Yesterday, the IGBC announced its green homes ratings system for the residential sector. It addresses "national priorities", says S Srinivas, principal counsellor, CII-IGBC, like the depletion of natural resources, the problem of waste and so on. That's important ground work and you can be sure a number of developers will soon build grand structures on them.

Gargi Gupta in New Delhi
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