GPL’s renewed focus on carbon footprint and harvesting water

Mumbai: Being in a consumptive business like real estate, yet having a vision to be a carbon neutral company, can be quite challenging. But Godrej Properties Limited (GPL) is advancing towards attaining this objective. In Vikhroli, everything it does is platinum rated (for energy efficiency) right from the marketing office to the sample apartments, explains Anubhav Gupta, Chief Design Officer, Business Head—Vikhroli, Head—CSR and Sustainability, HO Design.

While the company is building new structures which are highly-energy efficient, it is trying to study or research buildings that have completed post-occupancy and are not managed by institutions. “This is to see if we can modify those old structures to make them efficient too. We would like to retrofit our old buildings,” adds Gupta.

The company intends to establish a property named Godrej Two and the first five-star hotel in Vikhroli. Commenting about the five-star hotel, Gupta says, “We are looking at exploring innovative methods adopted in the West like having access to information to resources used—such as units of power and water consumed—during the stay at the hotel (all this should be available in a click of a button on their device).

This might help hotels in offering discounts to guests based on their usage of such resources. We are quite keen to establish a market connect to this. Such innovative measures will be taken based on the sustainability factor.” GPL hopes to go beyond platinum but it is aware that there are huge financial implications attached to this decision.

Citing data that is often available in Western countries, Gupta believes that there is enough evidence to suggest that green buildings are more efficient in medium to long term. They help bring down bills which might help GPL to pioneer innovative models in the hospitality sector.

Recalling the advantages of home automation, Gupta feels that the need to make home automation services smarter is the first step. “The next step would be to figure out a regulatory framework where you can reward or give incentives (as you have data around ,it).”

GPL outsources its work to contractors who will be involved in upcoming development of over 75 million square feet of GPL projects across India. Most the contractors that work with GPL have to meet compliance standards laid won by the company. A pan-India developer is faced with varied challenges too.

In place like Bengaluru, which faces water scarcity, one has to cope with the tanker mafia. But there can be different challenges when it comes to development in a region like NCR. In case of Bengaluru, GPL, which has no access to water connection, discovered that even groundwater had dried up.

It had therefore to come up with a plan to revive groundwater. To do this, it appointed an environmental planner. Gupta states, “Our planning strategy was more to do with groundwater recharging. We did not have any mandate to do this but we are still doing it. It is harder because we also need to train people to continue with the process.”

Gupta stresses that the only way to track the contractors is by having some level of data collection. “We found that in the NCR region the contractors were using diesel generators, which cause a lot of pollution. We realised this due to the data we collected.” The company has a team that collates data from various sites across the country.

“Our goal is to reduce such emission levels by 2020 by tracking the activity through an application. We keep track of every footprint from the excavation phase to the handover phase.” The company manages to reduce emissions based on the information garnered from the data.

Other than embracing ways to adopt environment-friendly measures in business, the company is also involved in watershed projects in Beed. The three-four year project, spread across 33,000 hectares, includes three villages, and is being undertaken in collaboration with Nabard.

This co-funded project started in 2016. Talking about the Beed project, Gupta says that water harvesting would allow them to kill two birds with one stone—carbon and water. “This is the reason, we decided to take on this project.”

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