Green building rating body misleading everyone, says CSE

Why is CII Godrej Green Business Centre, umbrella body for Indian Green Building Council, which was until recently responsible for LEED rating of buildings denying that several LEED rated IT buildings and office buildings are failing to meet the official benchmark for energy performance and misleading all by casting doubt on CSE analysis?

Government must step in immediately to assess the actual energy performance of all rated buildings in operation. Green rating is expected to enjoy enormous official incentives. Without performance monitoring this will be reduced to the exercise to state sponsored resource guzzling.

  • CSE demands an explanation. Cities cannot allow poor monitoring of green rated buildings when official fiscal incentives and extra built up area are being promised for green rated buildings and are tying up enormous public resources with private rating systems. 

  • CSE demands mandatory implementation of BEE star rating programme to ensure all rated buildings and other large commercial buildings remain energy efficient when in operation. 

  • Make annual disclosure of energy and water consumption of rated buildings and implementation of BEE star labeling mandatory. Introduce penalty for under performance. Green rating of buildings is expensive and a big business. Needs accountability. 

New Delhi October 16, 2014: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is appalled by the media reports that show CII Godrej Green Business Centre/Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is in denial of the underperformance of several LEED rated buildings as reflected in their own public disclosure of data. While ignoring the findings that several of the office and IT buildings rated platinum, gold and silver under LEED rating do not measure up to even one star of the official star labeling programme for buildings in use, it has resorted to a media blitzkrieg to cast doubt on CSE’s comparison of the energy performance of their rated buildings with the official star label programme. 

CSE demands full disclosure of resource consumption data of all rated buildings and also official assessment of the energy performance of the rated buildings in relation to the national Star Labeling Programme of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency to see if rating is delivering on performance. This is needed urgently before more official sops are tied up with private green rating systems. 

Rating industry is shying away from comparison of the actual energy performance of its rated buildings with the official star label programme of Bureau of Energy Efficiency: Instead of nitpicking on the CSE analysis which is based on their disclosed data IGBC should have been proactive enough to find out how several of their rated buildings do not qualify for even one star label under the official star label programme and taken corrective measures. 

The IGBC, in response to public demand, has started to disclose the annual electricity consumption and area of their rated buildings that allow estimation of energy performance index of buildings. CSE while appreciating this move has assessed some of these buildings, mainly day use office buildings and IT buildings for which BEE has developed star labels in relation to five climatic zones. The critics should have read the CSE report more carefully to note that the CSE study has taken note of the BEE benchmarking to compare the energy performance of different building typologies according to climatic zones. Green rating is awarded for building design and construction. Once the building becomes operational BEE star label should be applied to benchmark the actual energy performance of the building. 

CSE condemns the effort to deflect attention from under performance of buildings by casting doubts on method of analysis:  The purpose of CSE analysis has been to assess if the LEED rated buildings, once they are operational, can meet the minimum official requirement of the star labelling programme of BEE. For this assessment CSE has taken into account the actual electricity consumption and the area of different building typologies disclosed by IGBC on their website to estimate the energy performance index according to BEE benchmark for different building typologies and climatic zones. (See CSE website). BEE star labeling programme is a national benchmarking initiative for commercial buildings and private green rating systems cannot remain outside its orbit once in operation and when this scheme becomes mandatory. 

CSE analysis indicates several buildings are underperforming according to the BEE star labelling. Here are some examples (for details, see CSE website 

1. Office buildings: In day use office buildings in climatic zone-warm and humid BEE star label cut-off for 1 star is 200 EPI. But Enercon India Pvt Ltd, Mumbai shows an actual EPI of 205. FL Smidth House in Chennai just meets the one star rank with EPI 200.  

2. IT buildings: (i) In climatic zone-composite BEE cut-off for 1 star for IT buildings is 45 AAhEPI. But Wipro Technologies, Gurgaon has an AAhEPI of 110. Fast Track Building 1&2, Wipro Technologies, Greater Noida is AAhEPI – 81.

ii. In climatic zone-warm and humid BEE cut-off for IT buildings 1 star is 50 AAhEPI. But:

-- Wipro Technologies KDC Tower - 4, Kolkata has AAhEPI - 490

-- Chennai Development Center, S3 & S4 blocks, Wipro Technologies, Chennai have AAhEPI of 170

-- Wipro S1, Kochi has AAhEPI of  127

-- Wipro Chennai Development Center- SEZ, Chennai -- AAhEPI - 81 

-- Software Development Block 3,Wipro Ltd, Phase II, Hinjewadi, Pune  (AAhEPI - 67)

-- Wipro Limited, Special Economic Zone PDC-2 S2, Pune (AAhEPI - 67) 

iii. In Climatic zone-temperate BEE cut-off for IT buildings 1 star is 40 AAhEPI

-- Wipro Special Economic Zone - S2, Bangalore (AAhEPI - 55)

-- Wipro Special Economic Zone (SR) - Tower S3, Bangalore (AAhEPI - 42)

CII Godrej Green Business Centre/IGBC must be proactive enough to implement a transparent disclosure system for its rated buildings and also take proactive measures to ensure that these buildings satisfy the requirement of official star labeling programme when in operation. It may be noted that after the release of CSE findings IGBC has kept the data but removed the names of the buildings from its website. Instead of withholding data and casting doubts, IGBC must set a positive agenda to ensure that the buildings rated green by them for their design and construction remain resource efficient when in operation.

Don’t miss the larger point: This exercise has raised a larger policy question that will have to be addressed immediately. The conspiracy of silence around the actual energy and water consumption of the green rated buildings must end if these buildings are to enjoy government incentives and sops.  Robust and regular public reporting of actual energy and water consumption of rated buildings must be made mandatory.  

Even globally, it has been found that without proper monitoring green-rated buildings can perform sub-optimally and even worse than the standard buildings after becoming operational. The US Green Building Council-New Buildings Institute study has shown wide variations in energy performance of LEED-rated buildings in the US. A good number did not even track their annual energy consumption. The National Research Council of Canada shows that on an average, 28-35 per cent of LEED buildings used more energy than their conventional counterparts. This has led US LEED in 2013 to mandate disclosure of water and energy use every year and for at least five years. Otherwise, the label is withdrawn. Green rating systems in India requires similar reforms. 

CSE demands

• Make annual disclosure of annual electricity and water consumption mandatory for all green rated buildings and other large commercial buildings. 

• BEE should carry out an assessment of energy performance of all green rated buildings in operation and place it in public domain. All rating programmes should be made transparent and accountable. 

• Make BEE Star Labelling programme mandatory immediately especially for green rated buildings. 

• Give official incentives only for the top line of performance and not for meeting the minimum requirements that all buildings should meet. 

For more on this, please contact Avikal Somvanshi, 9871933410/