ANITA ARJUNDAS, Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra Lifespace Developers, outlines the road to sustainable urbanisation.
Urbanisation across the globe is an accelerating trend. With a shift in economic balance towards emerging markets, Indian cities too are growing rapidly. By 2030, it is estimated that nearly 590 million people will live in Indian cities, and that anywhere between 700 and 900 million sq m of commercial and residential infrastructure will need to be built.
The potential for our cities
Good cities offer enhanced quality of life and are an attractive proposition for industry and commerce. However, fast-growing cities often have to contend with a widening gap between the demand for services (energy, water, waste management, sewage treatment, to name a few) and their provision. To address this gap, it is imperative that sustainable, responsive and responsible urbanisation be implemented on a large-scale basis. At Mahindra Lifespaces, we see significant possibilities for our future cities. If executed well, cities (and individual buildings) have the potential to be places where high living standards can be delinked from unsustainable levels of consumption of all three types of resources: Natural, financial and human.
Against this backdrop of rapid urbanisation, no building is an island. Buildings have evolved from being standalone constructions to directly influencing the quality of urbanisation, and as a result, the quality of life for future generations. A key enabling factor in the realisation of the vision for sustainable urbanisation is the widespread adoption of green building practices to reduce a building´s environmental footprint during the course of its lifecycle. ´Smart´ buildings can then build on the ´green´ elements by leveraging integrated building technology systems.
The ultimate objective of a smart building is to intelligently detect, analyse and respond to its surroundings to achieve energy and water conservation, occupant safety and security, efficient waste management and lifestyle enhancement for residents. Being ´smart´ in this context implies moving away from isolated systems towards interlinked intelligence networks. Also, ´smartness´ as we understand it is evolving continuously. For example, a smart building can detect occupancy or the lack of it and turn lights on or off; a smarter building might have integrated intelligent systems that control room lighting intensity depending on occupancy, time of day and internal room temperatures. Advanced integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, software and networks will drive this smartness. We must remember, though, that the relationship between a ´smart´ approach and a ´green´ approach is a synergistic one - a smart approach can make green buildings more energy-efficient, and green buildings can enhance the performance and functionality of a smart building.
An evolving market
The world over, and especially in India, consumers are displaying a marked preference for differentiated products and services that offer a demonstrable customer value proposition and deliver unwavering focus on quality and customer centricity far beyond points of sale. The real-estate market is no different. An investment in a home warrants a long-term approach to the decision-making process and the evolving consumer of today is increasingly sensitised to returns on investment that extend well past the traditional handover stage. ´Green´ and ´smart´ are not just good-to-have features anymore; instead, there is increasing awareness of how green building design and development can actually translate into savings in operational costs. Mahindra Lifespaces recently commissioned a ´Living Building Assessment´ report that demonstrates tangible savings in utilities made possible by energy-efficient buildings. The findings have found resonance with both our prospective and existing customers.
The Indian Government´s 100 smart cities initiative is also expected to drive a shift in approach towards smart outcomes built on a sustainable foundation. We see significant scope to leverage the symbiotic relationship between ´smart´ and ´green´ to achieve a large-scale shift towards a resources-efficient India.
"A smart approach can make green buildings more energy-efficient, and green buildings can enhance the performance and functionality of a smart building. "