Wealth from Waste
WATER & WASTE

Wealth from Waste

NAMRATA MEHRA, Lead CSR and Sustainability, Godrej Properties Ltd, addresses the need for innovative waste management to build a sustainable future.

A renewed focus on sustainability and wellness is one of the positive trends emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. This past year has seen an upswing in the sentiment of buyers towards owning their own home. These decisions seem to be more positively influenced by aspects of ample open spaces and greenery, daylighting, ventilation, quality of air and water and walkability – key indicators for sustainable planning. The scope of sustainability in real estate is therefore likely to expand and include a development’s ability for its inhabitants to cope better with public health emergencies and extend further towards resilience and healthy sustenance.

NAMRATA MEHRA, Lead CSR and Sustainability, Godrej Properties Ltd, addresses the need for innovative waste management to build a sustainable future. A renewed focus on sustainability and wellness is one of the positive trends emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. This past year has seen an upswing in the sentiment of buyers towards owning their own home. These decisions seem to be more positively influenced by aspects of ample open spaces and greenery, daylighting, ventilation, quality of air and water and walkability – key indicators for sustainable planning. The scope of sustainability in real estate is therefore likely to expand and include a development’s ability for its inhabitants to cope better with public health emergencies and extend further towards resilience and healthy sustenance. For us at Godrej Properties Ltd (GPL), sustainability is a priority across the entire real-estate development value chain. Our focus is on reducing our footprint across emissions, water and waste and to contribute to meaningful industrywide impact. Our journey starts at the product level, through operations to final delivery and post care to positively impact the project lifecycle through end use by our customers. Waste is a key area of industrywide focus that requires research, mapping, innovation and prototypes to help address complex problems. At a product level, the norms mandated by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) are an excellent start. These are required for any project and when translated into Green Building certification parameters almost bring the building to base-level certification. Good developers are taking this mandate forward into Silver, Gold and Platinum certification in their endeavour to be responsible and bring the best value for their customers as more residential real-estate consumers (both owners and tenants) demand green developments. It is heartening to see communities mobilising to ensure responsible living as collectives, sustaining green infrastructure at the society and neighbourhood levels. Our flagship development The Trees in Vikhroli, Mumbai, is one of India's most sustainably planned mixed-use projects that we hope will contribute to the evolution of progressive urban design thinking in the country. Our intent has been to create a robust framework that offers different users distinct opportunities for social and cultural exchange in a people-centric and innovation-driven, sustainable environment. We saved 80 per cent of the existing trees to create an open, accessible and pedestrian-friendly urban setting for a highly integrated district of residential, commercial, retail, hotel and cultural uses. All buildings within the development are IGBC Platinum-certified. One of our recent green interventions for this project involved setting up a bio-methanation plant for the master plan. The bio-methanation plant mandated as part of the MOEF and Environmental Clearance (EC) guidelines is a conscious intervention to recycle and re-use wet waste produced on the site. We were heartened to see that guidelines for the mixed-use development required such a plant to process wet waste from residential, commercial and hospitality buildings within the site to produce biogas and generate electricity for use. As the project is a zero-discharge project, setting up the plant required establishing processes to address solid waste management in its entirety with segregation and treatment of the wet waste as an integral part. The existing commercial and residential buildings and the upcoming Taj Hotel are potential sources of wet waste generation (primarily cooked and uncooked food). The project engineering consultant, Ecofirst, further recommended the bio-methanation plant as an optimum mechanism for the treatment of the wet waste within the development at a centralised level. A plot of 250 sqm was allocated for the plant and the built structure of 62 sqm has been designed to evoke existing industrial buildings that have undergone adaptive reuse in the project. The building in the project’s signature palette of Corten steel and grey is well integrated within a green landscaped area. Within the plant, the freshly segregated wet waste (accepted within scheduled time periods only) is collected at source and, through a machine, segregated, shredded and moved into a slurry collection pit. From the slurry pit it is then pumped into the methanisation chamber where further composting takes place through microbial digestion. The resultant methane gas is collected in a large balloon above on the first-floor level. Methane, a biogas, is still a greenhouse gas and is therefore not released into the atmosphere but stored for further usage. The plant is designed to use methane at sufficient pressure to run a specialised generator to convert the gas into electricity that can be re-used. The plant can recycle 1.5 tonne per day of waste and produce up to 135 cu m of biogas, which would in turn generate 135 units of electricity per day. This is provisioned to be connected back to the grid for net metering. The plant is upgraded as needed and operated with robust systems to maintain the highest levels of hygiene throughout the process. We remain committed to ensure its success and welcome all suggestions to ensure that continuous improvement is built into its operational cycle, allowing for us to scale similar interventions to create a positive environmental impact. We believe sustainable development is a collective responsibility. For this responsibility to be effective, every stakeholder, including the residents and developers within the lifecycle, must play their part. And we are grateful to our customers and partners for welcoming, sustaining and building on green innovations set up for the project.

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