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It's time to go green in Bengaluru

Deepak Porayath, Sep 1 2017, 1:32 IST

Bengaluru’s phenomenal economic growth today is universally acknowledged. Having emerged as a global hub for new service sector economies like IT and biotechnology over the last few decades, the city’s startup ecosystem is currently ranked among the world’s best.

Widely perceived as a fast-growing, cosmopolitan metropolis that provides a balance between professional growth, entrepreneurial opportunities and varied options for life after work, Bengaluru attracts talent from across India and the globe, with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds choosing to call the City home. The City’s real estate ecosystem has also kept pace, emerging as one of India’s fastest growing and most stable.

Changing dynamics

Karnataka’s urbanisation has largely been led by Bengaluru; the city’s population has been estimated at more than 10 million residents in 2017, up nearly 200% from 3.4 million in 1985. This has resulted in both the densification of inner city areas, as well as the expansion of the city’s physical footprint to include erstwhile peripheries. However, as is the case with most modern-day cities, Bengaluru’s growth has also caused significant buildup in pressure on infrastructure, and natural and economic resources. Bengaluru is facing a wide range of risks that could potentially limit its future growth and prosperity — these range from loss of green cover to water stress, and power supply issues to inadequate mobility infrastructure.

Bengaluru’s population is expected to expand to 18.8 million by 2030. As the city gears up for further urban transformation of unique scale and speed, it is important to adopt a long term, systemic approach to city planning and development — one that will focus on cohesive and concerted efforts towards sustainable urbanisation. Such an approach involves a careful consideration of the city’s energy consumption trends and predictions; the availability of natural resources like water and green cover; and urban waste management needs, among other factors. This approach must also take into account impending migration — and the resulting infrastructure, energy and resource demands — and adopt green technology best practices on a widespread basis, to achieve sustainable, smart outcomes for all. Green buildings, by way of their inherent ability to strike an improved balance between the built and the natural environment, are an integral part of this effort.

Green buildings are often perceived as more expensive when compared to traditional constructions, but the reverse is actually true — any marginal increment in development costs is soon offset by commensurate reduction in energy and water consumption across life cycle stages, thus making green buildings more economical to users in the long run.

Scope of development

Given that a significant proportion of Bengaluru is yet to be built, there exists a unique opportunity to ensure the future built environment in the city and its suburbs is resource-efficient, and smart towards the needs of nearby communities. This can be achieved via the widespread adoption of green construction norms. Also, since a sizeable share of Bengaluru’s population lives in compromised/informal settlements, it will also be important to apply tested and proven ‘green’ principles to the design and development of affordable homes for the city’s lower income groups.

Bengaluru is today one of the most preferred residential real estate markets in India, and is primarily end user driven. A Bengaluru home buyer is not only sensitive to the brand reputation and track record of developers, but is also environmentally conscious and well-informed about the latest global trends and technologies, including those in housing. The discerning home buyer in Bengaluru increasingly prefers to make ethically conscious decisions by choosing to associate with brands that have successfully incorporated sustainability best practices across the life cycle of their projects — from design, to construction and occupancy to end-of-life stage.

Large scale and sustainable urbanisation is the only way forward not just for megacities like Bengaluru, but across India’s towns and cities.

(The author is business head — residential (South), Mahindra Lifespaces Developers Ltd.)

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