Towards building a carbon-neutral future in real estate

India, at the COP26 held last year, pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. More than 50% of global GHG emissions are caused by housing and transportation, they require major decarbonization within this decade. Consequently, the Indian real estate sector in step with its importance to the country’s economy is making sustainability a prime driver right from the planning stage and throughout the lifecycle of their projects.

The recent early onset of summer and extreme heat waves in many parts of India have shown the real-life impact of climate change.

It is now dawning upon the population that such events will intensify and increase in frequency if global warming is not tackled on priority. Global warming is caused by unabated greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. It is noteworthy to acknowledge that India is responsible only for 6% of global emissions while being home to more than 1/6th of humanity.

Developers must act to decelerate and stop global warming; by moving on a path of carbon neutrality. They must also be resilient or antifragile to the physical climate risks that may unfold due to global emissions breaching tipping points. Keeping climate risks, physical and transition, as a central issue, responsible organizations are already announcing their carbon neutrality goals. Lodha too developed a Net Zero Carbon roadmap with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), USA and publicly committed to being operationally carbon neutral (Scope 1, 2 emissions) by 2035, they have taken a science-based approach and aim a net-zero future (including Scope 3 emissions) while keeping a 1.5℃ ambition. Through early and focussed action, operational net zero is expected to be achieved much earlier than 2035. Today Lodha’s 2/3rd energy needs on construction activities, which form more than 50% of their scope 1, 2 emissions are catered through renewable sources. Apart from this Lodha is also doubling their on-site renewable energy capacity that will switch ~5million units of electricity this year to greener sources.

Designing and building clear environmental performance targets is one of the main pillars of the net-zero roadmap. Also, a deeper engagement with the Supply Chain to take them along in this journey is critical, procuring from greener sources, and closer to the projects also helps to reduce the lifecycle emissions. Demonstrating that the buildings are green and efficient by bringing the entire portfolio under the ambit of green certifications also helps engage with concerned customers. Some of the top developers in the country have pledged to bring their under-construction projects under the relevant Green certifications. With 15m+ sq.ft. registered with the Indian Green Building Council in the year FY22, Lodha’s entire residential portfolio will be certified green. Lodha also got more than 1.5 sqft of office space certified through GBCI LEED, with One Lodha Place their signature office building pre-certified Platinum. A 135 acre industrial park by Lodha at Palava was also recently pre-certified Platinum under Green Logistic Parks and Warehousing rating system by IGBC.

A lot of emissions are being avoided by integrating features like high walkability quotient, and by developing live-work-learn-play urban ecosystems like Palava. Enabling a switch to electric vehicles and heightened use of shared mobility also helps to reduce the overall emissions significantly. Lodha tied up with Tata Power last year to enable this switch for their customers and continues to explore ways to enhance shared mobility coverage on their projects.

Another approach that safeguards from physical climate risks long term asset safety and enhances the value of the projects over time. While carbon emissions are the cause of climate change, the effect of climate change is mostly manifested in our interaction with water, like sea-level rise, rains, floods, droughts, water stress, etc. So it is imperative to give special attention to resilience and act to ensure positive outcomes for water security and asset safety.

No doubt, the domestic real estate sector has taken the right steps to help the Government meet and accelerate their effort toward a better future not only for our children but also for the entire world.

Written by

Aun Abdullah, ESG Leader, Lodha

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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