India is home to some of the fastest growing cities on the planet. Per UN estimates, the country’s urbanisation rate is already greater than 34 percent, set to cross 50 percent by 2050. Reports also suggest that over the next thirty years, about 900 million rural Indians will migrate to urban areas.
Creating enough housing for this urban influx is a challenge, especially given the environmental consequences (and economic costs) of development. For instance, residential housing in India already accounts for about 24 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption, while the commercial sector consumes only about 8 percent. Further, the electricity consumption by the residential sector notched a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 8 percent from 2006-2016, a trend that is likely to continue into the near future.
As India continues to develop and grow, a great deal of infrastructure—from residential, commercial and industrial projects, to the transport, water and electric systems that supply them—will have to be developed. This also adds to the ecological cost of urbanisation, because not only does the construction sector already consume the largest share of natural resources through land use and materials extraction, but it also produces a nationally-significant amount of solid waste. And these considerations are aside from the fact that newly constructed residential areas will cause a spike in the demand for resources like fresh water, as well as increasing the output of waste materials like greenhouse gases and garbage.
One way to ensure the sustainability of similar physical infrastructure is through the development of green buildings. Green buildings are specifically designed to meet international environmental standards—reduced energy and resource costs for construction, and also lower energy demands due to their ecologically thought out architecture—through which residents not only save on energy costs, but also help the environment by reducing carbon emissions and generating better air quality.
The International Finance Corporation, through the Eco-Cities India Program, aims to encourage the construction of more resource-efficient buildings by facilitating investments in the fragmented building construction chain including private sector developers, government authorities, and financial institutions.