While more city apartments may be reusing water for flushing and gardening, only a few of them adopt comprehensive environmental initiatives, a study has revealed.
A part of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s (KSPCB) initiative to recognise buildings achieving maximum green compliance, the study is not exhaustive since it was meant to motivate apartment owners and builders to adopt green initiatives.
Researchers from the Environment Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI) studied green initiatives in 54 apartments, including use of green components, 89% of whom said they circulate water for flushing purposes.
“Water is getting costly with a growing demand. Apartments are, therefore, realising the importance of reuse. However, we would like the numbers to reach 100%,” said a KSPCB official.
But only 56% of them reuse harvested rainwater, despite 87% of them claiming to have installed a rainwater harvesting (RWH) system. Only 6% of the apartments use rainwater for consumption. “The RWH capacity can be scaled up. This can happen when more people realise its potential to be potable water. The low consumption pattern shows the limited awareness,” a researcher said.
The apartments fared poorly in evaluating resource efficiency, optimising energy use, effective indoor air quality, cooling, energy, water savings, and landscaping. A mere 13% used non-toxic materials, while 17% used a decentralised cooling system. Several apartments were failing in compliance.
About 13% of the respondents pointed to barriers that held them back from choosing green buildings over conventional ones.
A researcher pointed to challenges in assessing the apartments. “Many apartments misconstrued the survey as enforcement and were reluctant to participate. We need to raise awareness and encourage them to adopt green initiatives,” he researcher said.
A KSPCB official said the survey was meant to motivate apartments and builders. The reason why it was not exhaustive was because it was not intended as an enforcement.
“The KSPCB has taken a decision to give the best apartment award to those that meet the ambitious green features as a motivation to the apartments,” the official said.
In the absence of green components, building materials generate 40% more annual global carbon dioxide emissions, including 28% from operations while 11% comes from building materials.