With 88 of the 89 points being approved, Interface's Delhi showroom was recently certified LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors by the USGBC - the highest rated retail showroom in India.
With its mission zero, Interface is on a green ride. Recently, its Delhi showroom received the LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors (CI) certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Amongst the very few facilities in India to receive this certification, the showroom-cum-office, which spreads over 1,200 sq ft in an independent building, has an open layout for optimal space utilisation. Having submitted 89 points for approval to USGBC, 88 points were approved, resulting in the facility receiving the rating. LEED consultant M Selvarasu, Managing Director, Lead Consultancy & Engineering Services (India) Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru, elaborates on the key green categories that gave the showroom this high score in conversation with SHRYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
Taking up the challenge: The requirement was a design that qualified the showroom for the best green rating, ensured optimum cost and maximum operational benefit and demonstrated Interface's commitment towards the environment. Having said this, a green interior in a non-green building is definitely challenging. For this, we had to implement certain green features - rainwater harvesting systems for the ground and roof, reflective tiles for the roof having high SRI (Solar Reflective Index), etc - as part of the building. Also, some trees that served as a shade for the façade were retained. As this is a standalone small building and the green features we wanted to add would benefit the building as well, the builder extended his support fully. This, along with the design for interior space, helped us achieve the LEED Platinum certification.
Reducing cost + enhancing productivity: The showroom's green design philosophy includes resource conservation, energy and water use reduction, improved indoor air quality, systems to sustain operations, etc. Various design features included trees that serve as a shade for the façade, certified carpets, certified furniture, less toxic certified paints and materials, energy-efficient AC units with eco-friendly refrigerants, energy-efficient light fixtures, water-efficient fixtures to reduce water consumption by 40 per cent, meters to monitor the building's performance, green education for visitors and clients to facilitate mass adoption and multiplier effect, certified green chemicals for housekeeping, waste segregation, etc. Considering its green features, about 8 per cent extra cost went into building the showroom with a payback period of less than five years. Further, Interface used its own carpet certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) for the environment. Further, to educate visitors and clients, we have prepared a small pamphlet highlighting the green features, and take people around the building and show them what has been done. The green features are also put up on our website and highlighted as part of the company's corporate presentation.
Energy pro: Of the many energy features incorporated, the air-conditioning units from LG are 20 per cent energy-efficient according to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) standards. Also, lighting like CFL, T5, LED along with a design for daylight helps save energy by 40 per cent compared to standard lighting. Further, in order to optimise energy performance, fresh air is controlled through CO2 sensors. Basically, fresh air is pumped in and stale air is pumped out. But you cannot keep pumping fresh air in a building irrespective of occupancy. If there are only 20 people in a building designed for 50, the CO2 level inside the building will come down drastically. In such a scenario, the CO2 sensor installed in the space will send a signal indicating the CO2 level. This is an automatic control that helps maintain indoor air quality and minimise heat from getting in through fresh air. This further saves energy that can be consumed through air-conditioning. And last, the heat reflective tiles for roofs fight against infrared rays that only create heat inside the building. Available in tile and paint form, these indirectly arrest the heat getting into the building and help save energy on air-conditioning.
Qualifying air: To maintain indoor air quality, fresh air is filtered. As outside air is polluted, selected particles are filtered before pumping the air into the office. We have also used low VOC adhesive paints and sealants and green seal-certified chemicals for housekeeping. The showroom is designed for optimum daylight to the extent that even the layout within the showroom is positioned to allow daylight to penetrate. For instance, minimum restriction for daylight has been maintained by avoiding too many cabins and solid opaque surfaces beyond 3 ft 6 inch. Also, high-performance single-glazing glass has been used on the windows. Owing to this glass from Saint Gobain, heat penetration has been reduced to a large extent and daylight penetration has been optimised. Also, the showroom has been designed to maintain uniform lighting lux level and the temperature is maintained at 24+/- ¦C for the entire year.
Saving water: Low-flow water fixtures have been fitted. These do not affect the hygiene and health of occupants and save over 40 per cent of water compared to the LEED-refereed standard. As it is a small building and occupancy is only limited to a few people, it did not make sense for us to install a sewerage treatment plant as this was not available for smaller capacities.
Material take: Nine per cent of the total materials used in the project came from rapidly renewable sources. Also, materials with a high recycled content of 26 per cent were used for the project. The rapidly renewable and recycled materials used in the project includes glass, aluminium, MDF and carpet. While aluminium is bought from a local manufacturer, MDF has been sourced from Greenply. The advantage of aluminium is that it can be recycled 100 per cent. In the case of MDF, we are actually replacing fresh wood. This medium density fibre (MDF) is manufactured by using waste wood, sugarcane baggase, the outer skin of the eucalyptus tree, etc. In short, this product is made of waste materials and is very important in a green project. Also, light coloured materials have been used on the wall, roof, ceiling, etc, which help reflect the sunlight.
Site selection: The biggest advantage of this showroom is that the building is located in the urban fabric. Any site in an urban city or village is semi-urban. The moment you move away from the urban city, you end up occupying farmer land or fabric land. So the advantage for Interface was that it is not on agricultural land and we are not depleting the natural resource. Second, as the site is located in a densely populated area, there is very good connectivity in terms of transportation. Thus, the building's location as well proved very beneficial and gave us an edge for a high green rating.
Project: Interior fit-outs for Interface, Delhi Office
Size of the project: 1,250 sq ft (built-up area)
Costs: Rs 46 lakh
Completion: June 2011
Certification received: June 2012
Contractor: MS Interiors & Constructions Pvt Ltd. Mangat Singh. Mob: (0) 98114 27927. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Architect/planner: Samyak Design Consultants Pvt Ltd. Architect Deepak Verma. Mob: (0) 97110 07005. E-mail: info@samyak- design.com Website: www.samyak-design.com Green consultant: Lead Consultancy & Engineering Services (India) Pvt Ltd. Tel: 080-4298 0111. Website: www.lcsind.org
HVAC contractor: Advent Projects. Mob: (0) 99992 37179. E-mail: email@example.com
Lights, electrical and fire detection systems: Wipro. Ashish Agarwal. Mob: (0) 98180 72626.
Air-conditioners: LG-Inverter type cassette units. Advent Projects. Website: www.lg.com
Roofing: Highly reflective glazed tiles from Thermotek Glass for windows: Saint Gobain. Tel: 044-2716 2832. Website: www.saint-gobain.co.in
Flooring/tiles: Carpet: Interface. Tel: 080-3058 9350. Fax: 080-4114 0969. Website: www.interfaceflor.in; Vitrified tiles: Kajaria. Tel: 011-2694 640. Fax: 011-2694 6407. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.kajariaceramics.com; Glazed tiles: Thermotek.
Paints: ICI Dulux. Tel: 0124-254 0400. Website: www.dulux.in; Nerolac-Low VOC paints. Tel: 022-2493 4001. Fax: 022-2491 9439. E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.nerolac.com
Cement: Ambuja Cements. Tel: 022-4066 7000. Website: www.ambujacement.com
"The basic concept was to showcase an eco-friendly product in an eco-friendly way." Raj Menon, Country Manager, Interface India
Every existing non-green building has its own limitations and to get a commercial interior rating, you need to work around quite a few things. This was the case for Interface. Raj Menon, Country Manager, Interface India, speaks about the showroom and shares his perspective on building green....
Key criteria: To achieve the LEED rating, there are different areas to score points. For sustainable sites, you can go up to 21 possible points, water conservation is about 11 points, 37 points for energy conservation, material and resources is about 14 points, 17 points for indoor air quality and six points for each, innovation in design and regional priorities. These are the areas where you can broadly segment the whole approach and as you start working on it, you determine how much you can score in each area. The requirement: Being environment-friendly is like a walk-the-talk situation for Interface. The aim was to put in maximum effort to get a LEED rating. As the designers and consultants came together at a very early stage, they could work together and bring a lot of things quickly without many cost implications. Also, as this was a showroom, we definitely wanted to showcase our products as well. Talking of the LEED rating, carpets as such can help you get up to seven points. In our case, we got up to two points for the carpets and adhesives we used. Also, as this is a showroom-cum-office space, it would not be occupied by too many people. Hence, the basic concept was to show an environment-friendly product in an environment-friendly way.
Payback time: When we talk of LEED rating for commercial interiors, the challenge lies in working with the available resources. In terms of payback period, as this is a showroom, energy will be consumed to a great extent and it will take long to have the benefits.
Current scenario: The green building concept is catching up and with every passing day, people are adding value to it. When there is immense daylight and fresh air in an office, you do not feel tired sitting in. From a builder and developer point of view, they need to definitely see how the cost implications come in and, for occupiers, it is the benefit they get out of it. You may need to pay 5 per cent extra rental to the building, but if you are saving 10 per cent on energy consumption, it makes sense.