January 15, 2021

Student's Guide to Green Building Certification Systems

Mankind has squandered natural resources to meet more than his needs neglecting the time Earth needs to replenish itself for future generations. With the number of Natural disasters, global warming, climate change, extinction of animals, and ecosystems on the verge of extinction, the time has come for us to steer towards eco - friendly practices for mankind to sustain on Earth.

What are Green Building Certification systems and why do we need them?

The building and construction industry contribute to about 36 % of global energy use and 39 % of carbon dioxide emissions. To reduce the adverse effect that the construction industry and buildings have on Earth several initiatives to encourage green building techniques were developed.

Green building certification systems are rating systems or tools used to evaluate the sustainability and energy efficiency of a building’s performance. These rating systems use a lifecycle analysis approach at buildings to improve the overall building quality to fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They have different criteria and set of predefined rules depending on which the building performance is evaluated and the green building certification is awarded.

Aim of Green Building Certification systems:

Green Building Certification systems exist to provide tools and guide professionals in the construction industry for building Energy efficient, environmentally friendly projects so that they pose a minimum threat to the environment.

  1. Optimizing building performance, minimize operating costs, and reduce environmental impacts.
  2. Providing a way for quantification of the effects a building has on the environment.
  3. Framing rules or standards for building assessments.
  4. Coming up with new sustainable measures based on the assessments.

Benefits of getting Green building certified:

  1. These assessments make it easy to come up with solutions on how we can minimize negative environmental impacts.
  2. Increases the market value of the property or project
  3. Minimized operation cost.
  4. Sustainable building practices are promoted.
  5. Reduces the stress on natural resources
  6. Certain state governments provide financial support and incentives like additional Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for Green-certified buildings.

The Different Green Rating Systems in India:

The Different Green Building Rating systems follow different credit point systems and procedures for the application of Green Building certificates. following Green building certification systems are followed:

  1. Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)
  2. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
  3. Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA)
  4. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) - Energy Consumption Building Code (ECBC)

IGBC: Indian Green Building Council:

The Indian Green Building Council was formed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2001 with a vision to establish India as one of the global leaders of the sustainable environment by 2025. It applies to all 5 climate zones of India. IGBC certification is valid for 3 years after which the project needs to be submitted for renewal.

The Panchabutas or the 5 elements that form the major criteria for IGBC evaluation are:

  1. Earth – Sustainable sites
  2. Water-Water efficiency
  3. Fire – Energy efficiency
  4. Air – Indoor Environment quality
  5. Sky – Daylight, night sky pollution

The different IGBC rating categories:

  1. IGBC Green New Buildings
  2. IGBC Green Existing Buildings
  3. IGBC Green Homes
  4. IGBC Green Residential Societies
  5. IGBC Green Affordable Housing
  6. IGBC Green Healthcare
  7. IGBC Health and Well-being
  8. IGBC Green Schools
  9. IGBC Green Resorts
  10. IGBC Green Factory Buildings
  11. IGBC Green Data Centre
  12. IGBC Green Interiors
  13. IGBC Green Service Buildings
  14. IGBC Green Logistics Parks and Warehouses
  15. IGBC Green Campus
  16. IGBC Green Cities
  17. IGBC Green Townships
  18. IGBC Green SEZs
  19. IGBC Green Villages
  20. IGBC Green Landscapes
  21. IGBC Green Mass Rapid Transit System
  22. IGBC Green Existing Mass Rapid Transit System
  23. IGBC Green Railway Stations
  24. IGBC Net Zero Energy Buildings

Certification levels:

Each category mentioned above has different credit points for certification. Depending on the credit points they are categorized into:

1Certified buildingBest Practices
2Silver ratingOutstanding performance
3Gold ratingNational Excellence
4Platinum ratingGlobal Leadership
Certification levels and their recognition

Some famous IGBC certified buildings:

  • CII-Sohrabji Green BusinessCentre – IGBC Platinum rated green building.
  • CRISIL House in Mumbai was an IGBC Platinum Rated Green Building under IGBC New Construction (NC) category. It is now recertified under IGBC Existing Building (EB) Rating System

GRIHA: Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment:

GRIHA meaning Abode in Sanskrit is an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment. It is an Indian green building rating system developed by The Energy Research Institute (TERI) with The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India (MNRI). GRIHA is currently operated under the Association for Development and Research on Sustainable Habitats (ADARSH) and is supported by the National Advisory Council (NAC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

Variants of GRIHA rating and their Eligibility:

  • SVAGRIHA (Simple Versatile Affordable GRIHA) - Projects less than 2500 sq.m built-up area except for factory buildings.
  • GRIHA AH (Affordable Housing) - All upcoming projects developed and authorized by the government under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
  • GRIHA EB (Existing Buildings) - All operational buildings having a built-up area greater than 2,500 sq. m. Typology of buildings include Offices, retail, institutional buildings, hotels, healthcare facilities, residences, multi-family residential buildings.
  • GRIHA for Existing Day Schools - All-day schools (excluding hostel/ residential facilities) that have been operational for at least 1 year are eligible for certification under GRIHA for Existing Day Schools rating.
  • GRIHA LD (Large development) - Large mixed-use townships, institutional campuses, medical colleges, and hospital complexes, special economic zones. The total site area is required to be more than 50 hectares.
  • GRIHA for Cities - All cities, towns with civic/local bodies, such as Municipal Corporation and Municipal Council.
  • GRIHA v.2019 - All new construction projects with more than 2500 sq.m excluding parking, basement, and typical buildings are eligible for GRIHA v2019 certification and precertification.

Each GRIHA variant has different criteria for evaluation. For GRIHA v.2019 30 criteria are categorized into 11 sections :

  1. Sustainable Site Planning
  2. Construction Management
  3. Energy Efficiency
  4. Occupant Comfort
  5. Water Management
  6. Solid Waste Management
  7. Sustainable Building Materials
  8. Life Cycle Costing
  9. Socio-Economic Strategies
  10. Performance Metering and Monitoring
  11. Innovation

Certification levels:

Based on the number of credit points the GRIHA rating between 1 to 5 stars is given 5 being the maximum.

Some famous GRIHA certified buildings:

1IIM Kozhikode CampusGRIHA provisional certification⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
2PWD Division & Sub Division Office BuildingSVA GRIHA⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Few GRIHA certified buildings and their star rating

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED is developed by the USGBC Unites States Green Building Council and projects are registered under the care of GBCI or Green Business Certification Inc. in India. LEED provides a framework or a set of rules for identifying and implementing measurable green building strategies in design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

LEED rating system variants and their eligibility:

LEED BD+C (Building Design and Construction)
This category includes new construction Projects and projects focusing shell and core design (building envelope). It includes Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, Warehouses, Distribution Centers, and Healthcare facilities. It also includes homes having more than 6 stories.

LEED ID+C(Interior Design and Construction)
It includes complete interior fit-outs for commercial, Retail, and Hospitality applications.

LEED O+M (Building Operations and Maintenance)
Existing buildings in operation that needs improvement. It includes schools, retail, hospitality, Data Centers, Warehouses, and Distribution Centers.

LEED ND (Neighbourhood Development)
These projects can be at any stage of development from conceptual to construction. They can be planned land development projects in their conceptual stage and redevelopment projects containing, residential, non-residential uses, mixed-use, etc.

Homes - This includes single-family homes, low rise, and mid-rise multifamily homes.

Cities and Communities - Quantification and management of a city’s water consumption, energy use, waste, transportation, and human experience.

LEED Recertification - This is required to maintain the sustainability investment of the building. All LEED-certified buildings are eligible for it after the expiration of the initial LEED certification.

LEED Zero - LEED Zero is available for all projects under the BD + C AND O+M or any project registered to pursue LEED O+M certification. It is for projects that achieve net-zero goals in carbon and other resources.

Certification levels:

Credit points are given for various sustainable strategies adopted. Depending on the credit points the following certification is awarded:

Credit PointsLEED Certification levels
40-49 points earnedCertified  
50-59 points earned  Silver  
60-79 points earned  Gold  
80+ points earnedPlatinum     
LEED certification levels

Some famous LEED-certified buildings:

  • Suzlon One Earth, Pune – Platinum
  • Turbo Energy Limited, Chennai (LEED-Platinum)

Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE):

Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) took up various regulatory initiatives to reduce the energy demands of buildings. They framed the ECBC or Energy Conservation Building Code on 27th May 2007 which will guide buildings on their design for energy management. Various states in India are in the process of mandating this code. It was developed to reduce the energy consumption of new buildings and existing buildings through retrofits.

Commercial Buildings:

ECBC sets minimum energy standards for commercial buildings having a connected load of 100kW or contract demand of 120 KVA and above. Though the central government has powers under the EC Act 2001, the state government has the flexibility to modify this code to suit regional needs and notify them.

Energy Efficiency Performance Levels:

The code prescribes 3 levels of energy efficiency:

  1. Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)
  2. Energy Conservation Building Code Plus Building (ECBC +)
  3. Super Energy Conservation Building (Super ECBC Building)

This code covers the following sections:

  1. Building envelope
  2. Mechanical systems and equipment
  3. Interior and Exterior lighting
  4. Electrical power and motors and Renewable energy systems.

The code addresses energy usage for the following climate zones:

  1. Warm and Humid
  2. Composite
  3. Hot and Dry
  4. Temperate

Impact of ECBC: Reduced Energy use of buildings

  • National benchmark – 180 kWh/m2/year
  • ECBC Compliant building – 110 kWh/m2/year

The provisions of this code do not apply to plug loads. The ECBC has been integrated into other green rating systems in India like IGBC, GRIHA, and LEED

Residential Buildings:

The government introduced Eco – Niwas Samhita 2018 as the ECBC for Residential buildings. This code has provisions for Building envelope systems and aims at reducing thermal loads. The Eco – Niwas Samhita part 2 addressed other aspects like Renewable Energy Generation, Embodied Energy of Wall and structural systems, Mechanical equipment operation in homes, etc. in the coming years.

Certification levels:

The buildings are given a star rating of 1 to 5 based on their energy usage, 5 being most efficient. The energy usage benchmark varies between different climate zones and building typology.

Some ECBC Certified Buildings

S.NoBuildingTypologyClimate ZoneEPIRatingMonth of Issue
1D.E. Shaw India Private LimitedBPOComposite32.22⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆Mar 2019
2AMRI, Saltlake, KolkataHospitalWarm and Humid226⋆ ⋆July 2014
Examples of ECBC certified building

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