Big B

We are the pioneers of green development in India

March 2010

Vidur Bharadwaj, Director, The 3C Company

You could say green is this man’s favourite colour! Vidur Bharadwaj, Director, The 3C Company, is no stranger to accolades for is far-reaching green building designs. In conversation with Charu Bahri, Bharadwaj, also Chairman of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Delhi Chapter, and Advisor to the Hong Kong Development Group on Sustainable Architecture in Urban Cities, elucidates his company’s ongoing sustainable construction projects and talks about green building paving the way forward for the realty sector.

What inspired the creation of your company and its divisions?
The 3C Company was established in 2007 in Noida to develop environment-friendly buildings at a time when the construction of energy-efficient buildings in India was at a nascent stage. To this end, we coined a unique corporate motto, ‘Creating, Caring and Conserving’, hence, 3C, which also reflects our USP: environment-friendly creations. We also adopted a dynamic integrated business model to provide end-to-end solutions to our clients through inhouse teams (also individual profit units) specialising in architecture, engineering, project management, interior design and facility management.

Tell us about major milestones of your company.
We have executed projects across all verticals of realty: offices, residences, hotels, hospitals, schools. In all, we have delivered 12 million sq ft of state-of-the-art, energyefficient buildings in the country. We are the only team in Asia to have to our credit three platinum-rated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified green buildings by the US Green Building Council: Green Boulevard and the Patni Campus in Noida and the Wipro campus in Gurgaon. Our Green Boulevard project is noteworthy for also being the largest platinum-rated, LEED-certified green building in the Shell & Core category in the world. We recently launched India’s largest green residential estate in Noida, Lotus Boulevard.

These green buildings stand out for their optimised building orientation, shape, design, interior colours and materials that let in natural light and fresh air, thereby also substantially reducing the need for artificial lighting, heat ingress (up to 60 per cent) and air-conditioning loads. The initial cost of a green building is about 4 to 5 per cent more than a conventional building, but the long-term benefits are manifold. This extra cost may be recovered in two to three years through energy savings and low operational and maintenance costs. A green building saves almost 40 to 50 per cent of operating costs while providing a healthier environment.

Where does your company see itself in coming years?
Our vision is to evolve as an integrated developer of green buildings that are truly sustainable in form, function and use. We see ourselves as leading the bandwagon of green buildings. Today, at a time when many major players in the construction and development industry are setting out to develop environment-friendly buildings, we have reached a vantage position by already having set standards in green construction solutions. Our turnover is are indicative of the huge potential we are out to tap.

How do you tackle and overcome challenges to growth, especially in the face of economic turmoil? Did you need to place any of your projects on hold during the slowdown?
None of our projects were put on hold during the slowdown. Financially speaking, I believe that our being a zero-debt company by virtue of generating funds for our real-estate development division projects from our design division, which takes on design projects parallel to our real-estate development activities, has enabled us to forge ahead at a time when the Indian real-estate industry was reeling under a capital crunch and low consumer demand. In our perspective, the recession opened up many avenues. For instance, land prices dropped, enabling us to procure tracts of land at favourable prices for our future projects.

The fact that most developers launched a slew of residential projects across the country during the slowdown, whereas we concentrated on completing our on-going commercial projects and only launched a couple of residential projects also helped. The fact is green buildings offer customers value for money and so we were bound to become more popular during a slowdown, more so to corporate companies seeking to cut costs. The key value adds for customers are that energy-efficient buildings translate into lower outlays on maintenance and are more durable.

How do you perceive the current economic climate unfolding for the green real-estate development sector in the coming year?
Judging by the market response to our maiden green residential project Lotus Boulevard in Noida, we are confident that the green building trend will continue. From a paltry green footprint of 20,000 sq ft in 2003, India presently has a green building footprint of 247 million sq ft. Of this, we project 100 million sq ft will be ready in the next three to four years. That represents huge growth. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) also estimates that the demand for green building materials and equipment will reach $ 4 billion per annum by 2010. We will play a major role in converting these estimates into fact.

Do you plan to continue focusing on the NCR or will you establish a pan-Indian presence?
We are the pioneers of green development in India and our early endeavours are focused on Delhi-NCR. We would like to continue our efforts to penetrate the Delhi-NCR market in the coming few years and as the business for green buildings grows, we are bound to expand our presence to other cities in India.

As you specialise in green technology, how do you keep abreast of latest technology and apply it in your projects?
We have an internal R&D team whose prime job is to explore eco-friendly ways of construction. Besides, we are members of most industry associations as this provides us a platform to interact with other green building experts. As director of The 3C Company and the chairman of the IGBC (Delhi Chapter), I frequently participate in national and international forums on issues pertaining to green buildings.

How important according to you is real-estate branding?
The value of a brand cannot be underestimated in any line of business. I believe that a project or a product sans the backing of a brand doesn’t always convert into sales. Branding is the key to stand out among the competition, in the mindset of brokers as well as end-users. It also helps recruit talented professionals. But the value of a brand is built over time. In recognition of this fact, we at 3C have formulated our marketing strategy accordingly.

Our strategy has revolved around creating a niche for 3C in green development early on, by setting high standards and creating benchmarks in the concept of green construction. As such, by already having delivered over 12 million sq ft of quality development, the 3C Group has developed a unique dentity as a specialised player in green building development.

Do you envisage a role for rating agencies to grade real-estate developers for the benefit of investors and clients?
Ratings given by leading research firms definitely influence the structuring of financial deals. Even so, the concept is new, particularly in real estate, and will take time to take off. I believe ratings would provide credibility to a project, especially in terms of its delivery.

Do the green certifications of a building need to be reviewed? Is this ever done just like ISO certifications are renewed every year?
Green certification is based on the materials used, location and design of the project. Usage of such materials will surely foster results pertaining to low energy consumption and high savings. However, the saving and consumption part can be reviewed on a yearly basis as this provides clarity on the volumes of energy savings of the building. This can be done by installing meters and involving external audit agencies. Reviewing can also help decide the need to install more energy-saving appliances and fixtures in the building.

What is your personal success mantra?
While the country was witnessing exponential growth in the realty segment, I felt there was a need to take cognisance of the environment. In view of this I vowed to ensure that all the developments at The 3C Company would be eco-friendly. I must say that I have made a small beginning in this and have been able to create a niche for myself and the company. What’s more, this effort has instilled a concern for the environment among all the users of our buildings, which I would say is a small initiative to save the earth from the vagaries of global warming.

The Team:

Top management : Vidur Bharadwaj, Director, The 3C Company, Surpreet Suri, Director, The 3C Company, Nirmal Singh, Director, The 3C Company
No of employees : 350
No of employees (design and construction division) : Rs 500 crore