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Increasing focus on the development of green and smart buildings has opened up a plethora of opportunities for the creation of sustainable and planned infrastructure using technology as the binding factor for the creation of self-contained sub-cities.

Development of sustainable and livable cities has been a key element for the development of smart cities around the globe. And supporting this initiative, there is a rise in the self-contained sub-cities that have work-spaces, homes, schools, and hospitals. One example of mixed development is the Mahindra World City in Chennai, on the National Highway 45. There are over 49 operational companies in the 1,500-acre Special Economic Zone, and 220 homes.

To live in a city where one can just walk down to work (better known as self-contained sub-cities) has been an initiative supported by IGBC (Indian Green Building Council). With the concept of green buildings gaining ground among developers, IGBC had expected nearly two billion square feet of sustainable building footprint by 2015. Some of the best green buildings in India are: the building designed to house the new Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly at Chennai (now converted into a hospital), IGP Office at Gulbarga, Suzlon ´One Earth´ at Pune, ITC Hotel – The Royal Gardenia at Bangalore, Godrej Plant II-IT Park at Mumbai, Infosys Pocharam at Hyderabad and Bearys Global Research Triangle at Bangalore. Energy efficiency, water use reduction, construction waste management and use of local materials are some of the salient features of these projects.

A study conducted by IGBC indicates that the market potential for green building products and technologies would be about $120 billion by 2015. Till date there are over 35 IGBC registered green township projects, amounting to over 360 million sq. ft of green building footprint. Mahindra World City became the first township to be awarded with Stage- I certification under IGBC Green Township Rating.

¨All responsible organisations around the world support the development of self-sustainable cities. This is the only way to grow and decongest existing cities which are bursting at the seams currently,¨ says Subbaiah Ballachanda, Governing Council member, Global Initiative for Restructuring Environment and Management, (GIREM).

Way to go
A systematic and planned approach undertaken while developing and planning these cities and the subsequent structures is what makes them stand apart from the rest. Take the case of Infosys that won the top award at the UK´s Ashden Awards recently, better known as the ¨Green Oscars¨, for its revolutionary efforts to reduce energy use throughout its 10 campuses across India. Using natural lighting and little or no air-conditioning, the IT major has inspired Google to take note of its measures and implement the same energy efficient ways across its offices. While this was achieved over a period of 6 years, the techniques used could surely be used as benchmarks for future constructions.

Every city can become smarter starting with smart systems, working for the benefit of both residents and the environment. Electric grids, gas distribution systems, water distribution systems, public and private transportation systems, commercial buildings, hospitals, homes – these form the backbone of a city´s efficiency, livability, and sustainability. It is the improvement and integration of these critical city systems – done in a step-by-step manner – that become the cornerstones to making a smart city a reality.

And as Dr Bhargav Adhvaryu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Technology, Head, Doctoral Office, CEPT University, Ahmedabad shares, implementing self-contained sub-cities in existing ones can be challenging as most Indian cities are already developed in terms of spatial structure and resultant travel patterns. Here we are dealing with ´incremental´ changes (ie, marginal changes). ¨However, gradual introduction of concepts like transit oriented development, can be helpful in archiving the goal of self-contained sub-cities in the long run,¨ he adds.

The need for energy efficiency drives the smart building systems market as the landscape is increasingly competitive and organisations look to save capital wherever possible. When compared to legacy alternatives, smart buildings can save 40 per cent or more of energy used.

¨Increased focus on operational cost savings, occupancy efficiencies and environmental sustainability will open up new, as well as retrofit, opportunities for smart systems,¨ says a Frost & Sullivan analyst. ¨Advanced capabilities such as remote monitoring, automated fault detection and diagnostics, predictive maintenance, and data governance will also facilitate the shift to smart platforms.¨ New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, The Smart Building Systems Market in North America, finds that the market earned revenue of $2.5 billion in 2013 and estimates this to reach $4.29 billion in 2018 at a compound annual growth rate of 9.4 per cent.

Policy measures
In India, industry experts believe that what is lacking is firm policy initiative and implementation. ¨The policy measures are good, but evolving. There are many organisations that facilitate and certify these projects. But what we need is a firm rule from the government, making environment commitment mandatory (green buildings & cities) as it costs very little to execute & maintain. It pays for itself in the long run. Governments must not fall for the myopic view that the end customer may not like it or it is prohibitive. It costs less than Rs 50/sq ft to implement which means you pay just Rs 1 lakh extra for a 1,000 sq ft flat/apartment. If implemented all across the country, it will have a significant impact on environment, sustainability, resources and pays back in a short time. Even the cost will come down significantly over a short period of time,¨ says Ballachanda.

At present a few organisations like Mahindra Lifespaces, Godrej, etc are practicing this voluntarily. Ballachanda also suggest monitoring and adherence during maintenance phase, which can be given to responsible organisations supported by IGBC, TERI, etc., as it can also serve as a major source of revenue to the government in the future. Clearly there is a big market opportunity here in the green infrastructure segment waiting to be tapped. Clear policy initiatives, use of technology and impetus to the initiative can help in the creation of sustainable and smarter cities.

Mahindra World City
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd through their joint venture partners (Government of Tamil Nadu & Rajasthan) is one of the pioneers in this field. Having established Mahindra World City, both near Chennai and Jaipur, it has demonstrated that it is possible to create islands of excellence based on thoughtful master planning, sustainability, pump in huge capital to create a green integrated business city, based on sound economic activity and community living. The core values are good governance, preserving the environment, recycling of water & waste, reduction of energy consumption & carbon emissions, walk to work, provide recreation/entertainment/ healthcare/security/mobility, etc.

Policy Advocacy
IGBC has forged partnerships with both the Central and State governments in taking forward the Green Agenda :
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, accords faster clearances for projects applying for IGBC Green Building Certification.
New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) provides higher FAR (5 per cent) to green building projects.
Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) offers Green Channel for green buildings. Kerala Public Works Department (PWD) has come up with a draft Green Building Policy.
IGBC inked an MoU with the National Housing Bank (NHB). The purpose of this MoU is to jointly enhance and promote the adoption of energy efficient & green homes concept in India.
IGBC also contributed in developing an addendum to the National Building Code of India. This would facilitate the construction of upcoming buildings according to green building norms.

Smarter Energy & Utilities 

  • Green Towers: The tower companies are the second largest users of diesel in India. Bharti Infratel, Airtel´s tower arm, runs about 33,000 out of 400,000 towers in India. IBM´s sophisticated technologies monitor diesel usage in these towers and also send out a real-time alert when any tower goes down. IBM does the asset management in real time for Bharti Airtel in India, which in turn, improves energy efficiency, and makes our cities more sustainable and green.
  • Smarter Buildings: IBM along with its partners provides Remote Energy and Asset Management solutions in India to drive greater energy efficiencies for organisations who are engaged in infrastructure creation or maintenance for high growth sectors (commercial, hospitality, health, pharma & others). This solution leverages IBM´s Intelligent Building Management (IIBM) system (a combination of monitoring, asset management and advanced analytics) along with energy optimisation technologies, to help trigger preventive and predictive maintenance to create smarter buildings.

Case Study
An example of planned integrated development using a blend of Building Information Modelling (BIM) & GIS systems to address the needs of the planning stages, final project delivery and the maintenance phase ahead was used at Khed City. The project is one of India´s largest integrated development projects envisaged on the outskirts of Pune in western India. The city is being developed by Khed Economic Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (KEIPL), a joint venture between the Kalyani Group, Bharat Forge and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. Planned as a 5,400 hectare (ha) project, it is expected to attract investments of about Rs 25,000 crore ($4.02 billion) and generate 120,000 new employment opportunities. Khed City is being developed in phases. The first phase of development underway accounts for 100 ha as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) that will cater exclusively to export-oriented industries; about 110 ha for Domestic Tariff Area; nearly 1,500 ha of Integrated Industrial Area including residential, commercial and support services areas; and more than 25 ha for rehabilitation and resettlement of the project-affected community. It will also act as the urban centre that caters to the creative class – organised around public squares, plazas and bazaars, in a contemporary format, yielding an urbanism that is both dynamic and familiar, connected with residential neighborhoods. This in turn will offer a wide range of housing and commercial options.

The team zeroed in on Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate as the technology support to tackle the challenge. From site planning to ´as-builts´, Autodesk software allowed the team to manage and integrate separate data types. With direct data access, transformation and export capabilities provided by the software provided ease of use and a wide range of possibilities. The BIM for infrastructure solution also helped in controlling the cost of the project, which otherwise would have spiralled due to high level of land grading. Approach and connectivity to the elevated land that rises above the surrounding agricultural region was an additional issue since road and water cannot be moved up-hill without proper planning and support infrastructure. Starting with a zero-budget mandate for water and energy (which meant that all resources brought in have to be appropriately treated and released with near-zero loss of potential) made it a stiffer challenge. The primary roadblock and concern faced by the team was interfacing with the external agencies and government organisations. Publishing the data on the Web and sharing with the key set of people was resolved by a strong, dynamic Web GIS platform. It held large data like satellite images, DEMs, contour maps and complex land data and helped manage viewing options on the fly and file sharing with various teams. This server-based solution helped internal and external teams track the progress of project and land management across the stakeholders. GIS and mapping software helped in improving the quality, productivity, and asset management of the project. Khed City will become the first ever integrated township with precision planning with the help of 3D and GIS solutions. The technology is able to integrate different and diverse systems, data, platforms, processes and services.

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