Until June of this year, Prasanto Kumar Roy was Vice President at NASSCOM. With more than 30 years’ journalistic experience on the frontlines of India’s tech scene, PKR can comfortably be referred to as a veteran in the field. He is a greentech pioneer, owning and living in India’s first Green Home- the Green One, in New Delhi.
Aviral Sinha caught up with PKR on behalf of RePower in order to pick his brain about the Green One- the why, the how, and the future.
Being a Physics graduate, what motivated you to get into green building technologies?
I used to write and speak on energy conservation issues including green buildings. In 2004, near my former office at Gurgaon’s sector 32, ITC Hotels built as its headquarters the world’s largest LEED Platinum office building. Their work was inspirational, and though there were no green homes at the time in India, I was keen on one.
What is a Green Building?
A ‘green building’ is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient; its design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and even demolition should keep in mind environmental impact. So it means materials with a low environmental ‘cost’, low energy devices, low water consumption. It also improves comfort – for instance, the Green One is naturally lit, even in the basement. In its formal sense, a Green Building means a building that is certified by one of the rating systems: LEED (from USGBC) or GRIHA, from TERI India.
The Green One received India’s first five star green rating for an individual house. How did that come about?
There were maybe a thousand commercial green buildings rated or under construction in India in 2011, but no individual homes. The rating systems were complex, and expensive (Rs 5 lakh registration for either system, LEED or GRIHA). Two of us interested in rating our future homes- friend and actor Gul Panag, along with my school friend and architect Nilanjan Bhowal- went to TERI to suggest to them to adapt the GRIHA system for homes. They were more than willing, and took up my house, designed by Nilanjan, as a pilot for their GRIHA for small homes, called SVA-GRIHA, which was very similar to GRIHA but allowed more interim self-audits, and reduced registration costs . The final rating, a SVAGRIHA 5-star, was awarded in January 2014 in the GRIHA conference.
How different was it to install green systems in a small scale project?
We had to experiment, using many systems, some of them expensive, not commonly used in homes. These included the sewage treatment plant, solar systems, electronic logic control systems for lighting, etc. The costs were high: Green One was a guinea pig in a sense. Today, I’d do many of the things very differently, and cheaper. I’d use less electronic and electric technology, and focus more on the passive systems and lower-energy devices, to keep maintenance costs down.