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Radhika Khosla’s Blog

Gujarat's Real Estate Community Paves the Way for Energy Efficiency Leadership

Radhika Khosla

Posted December 20, 2012 in Solving Global Warming

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As states across India find local solutions to address their energy needs, energy efficiency is emerging as a priority that will help the country improve its energy security during the current period of high economic growth. The growth in the real estate sector is one of the fastest in the country, to keep up with the demand for housing and commercial property. Incorporating energy efficiency measures in these new and existing buildings will help India achieve a reliable energy future while addressing the threat of climate change.

To develop a first-of-its-kind energy efficiency roadmap for real estate leaders in Gujarat, more than 50 energy efficiency stakeholders convened at a seminal real estate developer workshop in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, earlier this month. As a participant at the workshop, which was organized by the Gujarat Institute of Housing and Estate Developers (GIHED), Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)-Ahmedabad Chapter, Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and NRDC, I am encouraged by the palpable interest of Gujarat’s thriving real estate community in scaling up its energy and cost savings by investing in energy efficiency.

Gujarat is poised to become one of the leading states to benefit from the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency – which is the fastest, cleanest, and cheapest way to meet energy needs. Gujarat has the country’s fastest growing economy, is one of the few states with a power surplus, and Ahmedabad is amongst the top real estate development hubs in the country. Further, stakeholders in Gujarat have an entrepreneurial mindset that makes them more comfortable with investing in new and innovative commercial projects and thus able to achieve benefits from investing in energy efficiency now.

GJ workshop.jpgReal Estate Developer Workshop on Increasing Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings in Buildings (December 2012, Gujarat)

The workshop brought together various stakeholders including developers, academic institutes, architects, equipment vendors, and non-profit groups, with the goal of highlighting the benefits for progressive building owners who are already reaping dramatic cost-savings from energy-efficient investments, and the untapped opportunities for others from the real estate community. Together, the stakeholders identified five key areas where coordinated action is required to enable Gujarat’s real estate sector to become a torchbearer for energy savings:

  • Awareness Building: Real estate developers can lead by creating awareness through peer-to-peer education among the developer community about the cost-saving opportunities from energy efficiency across Gujarat’s booming cities.
  • Making the Business Case: Real estate developer groups and independent third-party organizations can jointly develop post-occupancy case studies that demonstrate the measured energy savings from efficient buildings in Gujarat to the broader real estate community.
  • Financing: Financial institutions can work with real estate developer organizations to create and publicize financial mechanisms that incentivize energy efficiency during building construction, purchase and upgrade for developers and end-users.
  • Policy: State and local governments can accelerate energy efficiency by providing regulatory incentives through local energy efficiency building codes, developing effective implementation and compliance structures, and providing training and offering policy incentives for efficiency projects.
  • Training: Universities, professional institutes, and non-profit groups can provide efficiency training to address the current shortage of skilled architects and engineers and enable large scale deployment of energy efficiency in buildings.

An interesting outcome of this rich discussion was that the primary obstacle facing the progressive real estate community in Gujarat is the lack of awareness of the substantial financial and competitive edge benefits to developers from energy efficiency. While consistent with developers’ perspectives from other parts of the country, the discussions pointed to the varying local information gaps and motivations particular to Gujarat to scale up energy efficiency. As a next step, participating stakeholders and developer associations committed to creating studies of local buildings that clearly articulate the business case for incorporating energy efficiency measures. These groups also agreed to develop a dissemination strategy for peer-to-peer learning amongst developers through workshops, the media, and developer-association networks.

Progressive developers in Gujarat, and across India, are already incorporating energy efficiency measures in their construction activities. By implementing smart design features, better lighting, air conditioning, and other efficiency technologies, real estate developers can enable businesses and homeowners to realize measurable savings on their energy bills while also protecting the environment. Nationally, India could save $42 billion each year largely by improving energy efficiency in its buildings. Developers in Gujarat are on the path to scaling up efficiency in their buildings – a step when widely implemented will make Gujarat’s developers champions that help India meet its energy needs, increase the country’s energy security, and help fight climate change.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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