As one of the world’s biggest consumer markets, India has taken an audacious step towards sustainability with its Net Zero carbon emission by 2070. This assumes significance as the country was ranked among the top 20 nations globally on the German Watch’s Global Climate Risk Index Rankings 2000-2019; in 2019, it was among the 10 most vulnerable nations ranked on this index in terms of climate risks. Here, the infrastructure and real estate sector has a crucial role to play in contributing to India’s sustainability journey while ensuring economic growth.
According to the World Economic Forum, buildings account for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of raw material used and a shift to sustainable methods will help reduce this impact. This will lead the real estate industry which is often associated with sprawling developments, energy-intensive buildings, and resource consumption, to undergo a transformative shift towards sustainability over the next few years.
This further becomes important, as concerns about climate change and environmental degradation are now propelling home buyers and commercial space occupiers to seek projects which are more compliant – with the prevailing environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) norms. Real estate companies are increasingly recognising the importance of embracing eco-friendly practices.
A small step towards sustainability
In 2023, India has emerged as a top country, with LEED Zero green building projects, outperforming the United States and China according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI). India accounted for 73 LEED Zero certified projects, comprising 45 percent of over 150 certified buildings. The rapid adoption of green developments have become important for the real estate industry in India which is estimated to touch $828.75 billion in market size by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 25.60% from $265.18 billion in 2023, expected to be one of the fastest growing real estate markets in the world.
Real estate companies are incorporating innovative technologies, design principles, and materials that minimize the carbon footprint of buildings while maximizing their efficiency and functionality.
Reimagining Urban Planning and Design
Sustainability in real estate extends beyond individual buildings; it encompasses urban planning and design as well. Compact, mixed-use developments that prioritize walkability and public transportation are gaining popularity. Accessible green spaces, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, further enhance the appeal of these sustainable neighborhoods. Moreover, the concept of “biophilic design” is gaining momentum, emphasizing the integration of nature into the built environment. Real estate companies are incorporating elements such as green roofs, vertical gardens, and natural materials to create spaces that reconnect occupants with nature.
The commercial real estate front is also seeing green buildings becoming a top choice among occupiers and developers. From large glass windows to reduce reliance on artificial lighting, enough green and open spaces to enable free flow of natural air as well as reusing treated water, an array of methods are being adopted to become sustainable infrastructure providers.
Real estate companies are also exploring creative ways to recycle and repurpose existing structures. Adaptive reuse is a practice that involves transforming old, disused buildings into new, functional spaces, reducing the demand for new construction.
Sustainability and Business go hand-in-hand
Moving from traditionally built projects to sustainable properties entails a higher upfront cost but the running cost becomes significantly lower over the years, as against the traditional buildings. While developers benefit from a higher rental from certified green projects over non-certified projects, occupiers are willing to pay a premium.
The embrace of eco-friendly practices in the real estate industry also has far-reaching social and economic benefits. Residents of green buildings typically enjoy lower utility bills, improved indoor air quality, and enhanced overall well-being.
The next decade is going to be crucial for the real estate industry and India’s Net Zero commitment as balancing the residential, commercial, retail and warehousing needs. As consumer preferences shift towards sustainable living and governments worldwide intensify their efforts to combat climate change, the momentum for eco-friendly real estate will only continue to grow.