Avani Riverside Mall, has many firsts to its credit: the mall, which is applauded for its green initiatives is also the fi rst and biggest mall in Howrah, periphery of Kolkata. In a tête-à-tête with Shopping Centre News, Subir Das, COO of Avani Riverside Mall, talks about the green measures that the mall has taken so far.
What was the thought process behind making your mall ‘Green’?
From the very inception, we were conscious of what we wanted to achieve. If we were building a 6 lakh sq.ft. mall, we wanted it to be green and eco-friendly. We not only wanted to be a part of the growing economy of the country but also in the most environment-friendly manner.
Avani Riverside has received many awards for their ‘Green Initiatives’. Please elaborate in detail about the awards you have received. Also tell us what makes your initiative noble and unique?
Avani Riverside Mall is rated 7 star by CRISIL for a project executed in its most effective manner.
Avani Riverside received the country’s highest 5-star rating in 2012 from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Ministry of Power, Government of India, making Avani Riverside the only mall in the country to secure this rating. To create a market pull for energy-efficient buildings, BEE has developed a voluntary Star Rating programme for commercial buildings, which is based on the actual performance of a building in terms of its specific energy usage measured in kwh/sq.m/year.
We also secured first prize in the National Energy Conservation Awards, 2013 from the Honorable President of India Sri Pranab Mukherjee conducted by BEE, the only mall in India to receive such honour. These annual awards recognise innovations and achievements in energy efficiency and its conservation by different sectors like industries, BPOs, shopping malls, etc.
The mall has also secured the highest LEED PLATINUM rating in Core & Shell category by the CII-IGBC India for efficiency in energy and environment management. It is again the first and the only Mall in the country to be awarded this rating so far.
Malls usually consume a lot of water and energy. Avani group adopted unique practices to be a sustainable structure and bagged a platinum rating from IGBC. Please elaborate on the same.
Green building as a structure ensures the efficient use of natural resources like building materials, water, energy and other resources with minimal generation of non-degradable waste.
The 5 major areas or categories that are covered under green building are:
- Sustainable site development
- Water savings
- Energy efficiency
- Materials selection
- Indoor air quality
We made sure these were complemented with use of updated technologies; use or selection of energy-efficient equipment; adequate green areas with terrace gardens and landscaping; energy-efficient building design; availability of electrical car charging points as an alternate fueling station; efficient water management and usage; energy-efficient equipment like water cooled chillers; heat recovery units; VFD-controlled fans, etc.; OWC plant for recycle of organic waste; low-flow toilets and faucets and waterless urinals; tighter envelope; better glazing; and high efficiency HVAC and lighting to reduce energy consumption.
How much energy and water consumption has the mall actually reduced by adopting this ‘Green’ measure?
Avani Riverside Mall was awarded India’s highest 5-star rating by the BEE in 2012. The mall’s Energy Performance Index (EPI) was 185/KWH/sq.m/annum, which is well below the benchmark EPI of 250. In 2013, we successfully increased our savings by 30 percent in the managed area. This helped us win the National Energy Conservation Award 2013 by the Honorable President of India.
The mall has achieved enormous energy savings since its commissioning which, if measured in numbers, would be around 22.40 million units between January ’12 and December ’13. The monetary saving in these two years is Rs. 19.42 crore equivalent to US$ 3.13 million.
How does green sustainable architecture prove beneficial to the owners?
Yes, it surely benefits the owners in the long run in terms of tangible results like less all-round operating cost (energy and water) and intangible benefits like:
- increased market value,
- healthier and safer environment for the occupants, and
- green corporate image.
According to you, are the green buildings expensive to be considered economically viable?
Considerable research and analysis have been carried out with regard to the cost impacts of a green building. The cost could be slightly higher than a conventional building. However, this needs to be seen with a different paradigm. The question is how do we compare the costs? There needs to be a baseline cost for all comparisons to be alike. The incremental cost is always relative and depends on eco-friendly features. The incremental cost would be less if the baseline design is already at a certain level of good eco-design.
The second rather a critical paradigm is to look at the incremental cost in relation to the life cycle cost. This kind of an approach could be revealing. Over its life cycle, the operating cost would work out to 80–85 percent of the capital cost while the incremental cost, which is a one-time cost, is only about 8–10 percent. Due to substantial reductions in the operational cost, the total cost of ownership of green buildings is invariably lesser than conventional buildings.
To put it in layman language, cost is relative and depends on green features already considered based on life cycle cost rather than first cost. Operational savings offset incremental cost.
Do you think it should be a mandatory measure for the retail real estate developers to make their buildings green and environment friendly?
Considering the fast eroding biosphere and other eco-hazards on the rise, any decision in this direction is always welcome.
According to you, what are the factors that have led to the relatively slow growth of India’s green retail real estate?
The two factors are lack of awareness and lack of abundant technological knowhow. Otherwise, the real estate sector is one of the most progressive ones in the country.
Is ‘Green’ real estate just a passing fad or market reality?
It is a reality and we can see it in palpable physical format. However, like all realities it takes a little time to dawn on all and sundry. Once it does, it will be crystal like daylight.
From the consumers’ perspective, there is a need for creating higher awareness about the long-term benefits of patronising green developments.
What contribution has Avani Riverside made for creating awareness amongst the consumers for the same?
We are environment conscious. Simple steps like encouraging paper bags, observing earth day, seminars on eco-hazards, beautification of our immediate surroundings are some of the steps that Avani has actively pursued.
What kind of support do you expect from the government in this noble initiative?
The government has always been encouraging, supportive and inspiring. The awards are not mere pat on our back; they are an inspiration to do better.