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Green Building Rating Systems –An Overview

Bureau Built Constructions

Buildings have major environmental impacts during their entire life cycle. We observe depletion of natural resources such as ground cover, forests, water, and energy which are dwindling to give way to buildings. Resource-intensive materials provide structure to a building and landscaping value adds beauty to it, in turn using up water and pesticides to maintain it. Energy-consuming systems for lighting, air conditioning, and water heating provide comfort to its occupants. Hi-tech controls add intelligence to 'inanimate' buildings so that they can respond to varying conditions, and intelligently monitor and control resource use, security, and usage of fire fighting systems and other such systems in the building.

Water, another vital resource for the occupants, gets consumed continuously during building construction and operation. Several building processes and occupant functions generate large amounts of waste, which can be recycled for use or can be reused directly. Buildings are thus one of the major pollutants that affect urban air quality and contribute to climate change. Hence there is a need to design a green building. The essence of which is to address all these issues in an integrated and scientific manner. It is a known fact that it costs more to design and construct a green building compared to other buildings. However, it is also a proven fact that it costs less to maintain a green building that has tremendous environmental benefits and provides a better place for the occupants to live and work in. Thus, the challenge of a green building is to achieve all its benefits at an affordable cost.

Green Building Design (GBD)

The primary objective and aim of a green building design is to minimize the demand on non-renewable resources, maximize the utilization efficiency of these resources when in use, and maximize the reuse, recycling, and utilization of renewable resources. It maximizes the use of efficient building materials and construction practices; optimizes the use of on-site sources and sinks by bioclimatic architectural practices; uses minimum energy to power itself; uses efficient equipment to meet its lighting, air conditioning, and other needs; maximizes the use of renewable sources of energy; uses efficient waste and water management practices; and provides comfortable and hygienic indoor working conditions. GBD evolves taking into consideration of all the inputs from all concerned stakeholders–the architect; landscape designer; and the air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, and energy consultants.

Global Picture

The construction sector poses a major challenge to the environment. Globally, buildings are responsible for at least 40% of energy use. An estimated 42% of the global water consumption and 50% of the global consumption of raw materials is consumed by buildings when taking into account the manufacture, construction, and operational period of buildings. In addition, building activities contribute an estimated 50% of the world's air pollution, 42% of its greenhouse gases, 50% of all water pollution, 48% of all solid wastes and 50% of all CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) to the environment.

Challenges-Indian Scenario

India too faces the environmental challenges of the construction sector. The gross built-up area added to commercial and residential spaces was about 40.8 million square metres in 2004–05, which is about 1% of annual average constructed floor area around the world and the trends show a sustained growth of 10% over the coming years. With a near consistent 8% rise in annual energy consumption in the residential and commercial sectors, building energy consumption has seen an increase, from a low 14% in the 1970s to nearly 33% in 2004–05.1 Energy consumption would continue to rise unless suitable actions to improve energy efficiency are taken up immediately. As per TERI estimates, there is an increased demand of about 5.4 billion units (kWh) of electricity annually for meeting end-use energy requirement for residential and commercial buildings.


Buildings are major consumers of water during construction and operation (for occupants, cooling, and landscaping). Per capita water consumption in 1990 was 2464 m3 per capita per annum, but by 2025 with an expected population of 1.4 billion, it will almost certainly be in the stress category with less than 1700 m3 per capita per annum. In terms of accessibility to water supply, as per the information received from the State Governments of India, as of March 2004, about 93% of urban population has access to drinking water supply facilities. The coverage figures indicate only the accessibility, whereas adequacy and equitable distribution and per-capita provision of these basic services may not be as per the prescribed norms in some cases. For instance, the poor, particularly those living in slums and squatter settlements, are generally deprived of these basic facilities. Similarly, the issue of water supply is critical not only for day to day needs of drinking water but also for agriculture and allied activities.

While we grapple with water shortage, there is a huge potential of meeting the resource gap through treatment of waste water and reuse of the same for various applications. As per an assessment made by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the status of wastewater generation and treatment in Class I cities and Class-II towns during 2003–04, about 26 254 million litres per day (MLD) (9.51 billion cubic metre (BCM) was generated in 921 Class I cities and Class II cities in India (housing more than 70% of urban population). The waste water treatment capacity developed so far is about 7044 MLD accounting for only 27% of waste water generated in these two classes of urban centres (2.57 BCM/year).

Waste Management

Management of construction and demolition waste and solid waste generated by occupants of building pose another major challenge which needs attention. The CPCB has estimated current quantum of solid waste generation in India to the tune of 48 million tonnes per annum, out of which 25% of waste accounts for construction industry. Management of such high quantum of waste puts enormous pressure on solid waste management system. In addition, about 42 million metric tonnes (MMT) of solid waste is generated daily in the urban areas of the country. Most urban centres lack appropriate segregation, management and treatment facilities for solid waste. Currently, municipal solid waste is hardly segregated at source. Mixed waste is being dumped into the depression or earmarked low lying areas in and around the towns. Municipal solid waste comprises of 30% to 55% of bio-degradable (organic) matter, 20% to 35% inert matter and 5% to 15% recyclables. The organic fraction of municipal solid waste contains bio-degradable matter ranging from 30% to 55%, which can be profitably converted into useful products like compost (organic manure), methane gas (used for cooking, heating, lighting, production of energy), and so on.


At macro level, extensive urbanization is leading to uncontrolled 'heat island' effect. Vegetation and tree cover give way to urban areas with large expanses of pavements, buildings, and other structures, thus eliminating cooling provided by vegetation through both shade and evapo transpiration. This contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, which is detrimental to human health. Urban heat island impacts give rise to increased temperatures by up to ten degrees Fahrenheit. This also results in increased demand for air conditioning. Increased air conditioning demands increased generation of electricity which again contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases. These need to be addressed at settlement (can settlements be deleted-OK to delete) planning level as well as micro planning level during site development and planning for buildings.

As we chart our developmental path, it is important for us to keep our eyes on the environmental damage that we create. It is extremely important to pause for a while and carry out necessary course correction for benefit of the Mother Earth and our future generations. It is a well established fact that green buildings offer immense potential to reduce consumption and regenerate resources from waste and renewable sources and offer win-win solution for user, owner and the environment.

Green Building Movement in India

The Green Building movement in India was influenced by the practices adopted and developed by BREEAM in the initial stages. The Green Building Movement by itself was founded in Great Britain with the rating system called BREEAM. BREEAM being one of the world's first environmental assessment methods subsequently has evolved effectively considering several environmental parameters. This system was later adopted in the U.S when the USGBC was formed. LEED was loosely adopted from the BREEAM system and came into existence sometime in March 2000.

"In India this movement was adopted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the early part of this decade. They formed the Indian Green Building Council which is actively involved in promoting the Green Building concept in India. IGBC is based at the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad. This was the first LEED (USGBC LEED Platinum) rated building in India, built to house the activities of CII's Green Business Centre. It was decided to do a demonstration project by constructing a 'GREEN' building. The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre is to be the main centre of research and consultation for 'Green' activities in the construction and manufacturing industry"- says Yusuf Turab, LEED AP

Popular Green Building Rating Systems

A green building rating system is an evaluation tool that measures environmental performance of a building through its life cycle. It usually comprises of a set of criteria covering various parameters related to design, construction and operation of a green building. Each criterion has pre-assigned points and sets performance benchmarks and goals that are largely quantifiable. A project is awarded points once it fulfils the rating criteria. The points are added up and the final rating of a project is decided. Rating systems call for independent third party evaluation of a project and different processes are put in place to ensure a fair evaluation. Globally, green building rating systems are largely voluntary in nature and have been instrumental in raising awareness and popularizing green building designs.

Some of the successful international green building rating tools are discussed below very briefly. Table shows different rating programmes adopted worldwide.

Table 1: Important Green Building Rating Systems


Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) was developed in the United Kingdom in 1990 and is one of the earliest building environmental assessment methods. BREEAM covers a range of building types including—offices, homes, industrial units, retail units, and schools. When a building is assessed, points are awarded for each criterion and the points are added for a total score. The overall building performance is awarded a 'Pass', 'Good', 'Very Good' or 'Excellent' rating based on the score. BREEAM has separate criteria/checklist for evaluation of Design and Procurement and for Management and Operation of buildings. There is also a set of core credits that can be applied for, in case if the building wishes to go in for 'Core only' assessment for building performance.

BREEAM major categories of criteria for Design and Procurement include the following:

  • Management (commissioning period and process adopted, monitoring of commissioning, energy use in site activities, waste management, pollution minimization)
  • Health and comfort (adequate ventilation, humidification, presence of controllable blinds, energy efficient lighting, thermal and visual comfort, low noise levels)
  • Energy (sub-metering)
  • Transport (modes of transport to and from site, alternative transport facilities)
  • Water (consumption reduction, metering, leak detection)
  • Materials (asbestos mitigation, storage facilities, reuse of structures, specifications of envelope, use of crushed aggregate and sustainable timber)
  • Land use (previously used land, use of re mediated contaminated land)
  • Ecology (land with low ecological value or minimal change in value, maintaining major ecological systems on the land, minimization of biodiversity impacts)
  • Pollution (leak detection systems, on-site treatment, local or renewable energy sources, light pollution design, avoid use of ozone depleting and global warming substances)


Comprehensive Assessment System for Building Environmental Efficiency (CASBEE) was developed in Japan, in 2001. The family of assessment tools is based on the building's life cycle: pre-design, new construction, existing buildings, and renovation. CASBEE presents a new concept for assessment that distinguishes environmental load from environmental quality and building performance. Under CASBEE there are two spaces, internal and external, divided by the hypothetical boundary, which is defined by the site boundary and other elements, with two factors related to the two spaces, in which the 'negative aspects of environmental impact which go beyond the hypothetical enclosed space to the outside (the public property)' and 'improving living amenity for the building users' are considered side by side. Under CASBEE, these two factors are defined below as Q and L, the main assessment categories, and evaluated separately.

  • Q (Quality): Building Environmental Quality and Performance- Evaluates 'improvement in living amenity for the building users, within the hypothetical enclosed space (the private property)'.

  • L (Loadings): Building Environmental Loadings- Evaluates' negative aspects of Environmental impact which go beyond the hypothetical enclosed space to the outside (the public property)'.

 By relating these two, factors, CASBEE results are presented as a measure of eco-efficiency or BEE (Building Environmental Efficiency). Results are plotted on a graph, with environmental load on one axis and quality on the other – the best buildings will fall in the section representing lowest environmental load and highest quality. Each criterion is scored from level 1 to level 5, with level 1defined as meeting minimum requirements, level 3 defined as meeting typical technical and social levels at the time of the assessment, and level 5 representing a high level of achievement.

      Major Criteria include Building Environmental Quality and Performance and Building Environmental Loadings.

  • Indoor environment (noise and acoustics, thermal and visual comfort, and indoor air quality)
  • Quality of services (functionality and usability, amenities, durability and reliability, flexibility and adaptability)
  • Outdoor environment on site (preservation and creation of biotope, townscape and landscape, local characteristic and outdoor amenities)
  • Energy (Building thermal load, utilization of natural energy, efficiency in building service systems, and efficient operations)
  • Resources and materials (water conservation, materials of low environmental loads)
  • Off-site environment (air pollution, noise and vibration, odour, sunlight obstruction, light pollution, heat island effect, and load on local infrastructure)


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) was developed and piloted in the US in 1998 as a consensus-based building rating system based on the use of existing building technology. The rating system addresses specific environmental building related impacts using a whole building environmental performance approach. The Indian Green Building Council has adapted LEED system and has launched LEED India version for rating of new construction. In addition, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has launched several other products for rating of different typologies of buildings including homes, factories, among others. The following are key components of the LEED system.

  • Sustainable sites (construction related pollution prevention, site development impacts, transportation alternatives, storm water management, heat island effect, and light pollution)
  • Water efficiency (landscaping water use reduction, indoor water use reduction, and waste water management strategies)
  • Energy and atmosphere (commissioning, whole building energy performance optimization, refrigerant management, renewable energy use, and measurement and verification)
  • Materials and resources (recycling collection locations, building reuse, construction waste management, and the purchase of regionally manufactured materials, materials with recycled content, rapidly renewable materials, salvaged materials, and FSC certified wood products)
  • Indoor environmental quality (environmental tobacco smoke control, outdoor air delivery monitoring, increased ventilation, construction indoor air quality, use low emitting materials, source control, and controllability of thermal and lighting systems)
  • Innovation and design process (LEED® accredited professional, and innovative strategies for sustainable design)


The Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method (HK-BEAM) is a voluntary scheme first launched in December 1996 HK–BEAM is a performance based system that takes holistic view of building performance with emphasis on life cycle impacts. In HK–BEAM, the assessment is not finalized until a building is completed ensuring that 'Green and Sustainable' practices are implemented through the entire project cycle and the project meets the desired goals and performance. The 'New Building' certification system of HK–Beam is also well synchronized with its 'Existing Building' certification, for example, a new building certified under the HK–BEAM 4/04 and suitably operated and maintained would attain a similar grade under HK–BEAM 5/04 some years later.

HK–BEAM integrates the assessment of many key aspects of building performance embracing:

  • Hygiene, health, comfort amenity
  • Land use, site impacts and transport
  • Use of materials, recycling and waste management
  • Water quality, conservation and recycling
  • Energy efficiency, conservation and management

HK–BEAM also exempts building from attempting certain criteria when an issue or part of an assessment is not applicable to particular circumstance or building type. The overall assessment grade is based on percentage (%) of applicable credits. Given the importance of indoor environment quality, it is necessary to obtain a minimum percentage (%) of credits for IEQ in order to qualify for the overall grade.

Table below shows comparison of international rating tools with respect to their assessment criteria.
















































































































The source is King Sturge (2009).


India is witnessing tremendous growth in infrastructure and construction development. The construction industry in India is one of the largest economic activities and is growing rapidly. As the sector is growing rapidly, preserving the environment poses a host of challenges. To enable the construction industry environmentally sensitive, CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre has established the Indian Green Building Council-IGBC. IGBC is a consensus driven not-for-profit Council representing the building industry, consisting of more than 1,150 committed members. The Council encourages, builders, developers, owners, architects and consultants to design & construct green buildings thereby enhancing the economic and environmental performance of buildings.

IGBC continuously works to provide tools that facilitate the adoption of green building practices in India. The development of IGBC Green Homes® Rating System is another important step in this direction.

Green concepts and techniques in the residential sector can help address national issues like water efficiency, energy efficiency, and reduction in fossil fuel use in commuting, handling of consumer waste and conserving natural resources. Most importantly, these concepts can enhance occupant health, happiness and well-being.

IGBC-Green Homes Rating System ( GHRS)

'IGBC Green Homes® Rating System' has been developed by IGBC to address the National priorities. By applying IGBC Green Homes® criteria, homes which are sustainable over the life cycle of the building can be constructed. This rating programme is a tool which enables the designer to apply green concepts and criteria, so as to reduce the environmental impacts, which are measurable. The programme covers methodologies to cover diverse climatic zones and changing lifestyles.

IGBC Green Homes® is the first rating programme developed in India, exclusively for the residential sector. It is based on accepted energy and environmental principles and strikes a balance between known established practices and emerging concepts. The system is designed to be comprehensive in scope, yet simple in operation.

IGBC Green Homes® Rating System is a voluntary and consensus based programme. The rating system has been developed based on materials and technologies that are presently available. The objective of IGBC Green Homes® is to facilitate the creation of water efficiency, handling of house-hold waste, energy efficiency, and healthy, comfortable and environmentally friendly houses.

The rating system evaluates certain mandatory requirements & credit points using a prescriptive approach and others on a performance based approach. The rating system is evolved so as to be comprehensive and at the same time user-friendly. The programme is fundamentally designed to address national priorities and quality of life for occupants. The rating programme uses well accepted National standards and wherever local or National standards are not available, appropriate international benchmarks have been considered.

GHRS Benefits

  • Tangible and Intangible- Green homes can have tremendous benefits, both tangible and intangible. The most tangible benefits are the reduction in water and energy consumption right from day one of occupancy. The energy savings could range from 20 - 30 % and water savings around 30 - 50%. Intangible benefits of green homes include enhanced air quality, excellent day lighting, health & wellbeing of the occupants, safety benefits and conservation of scarce national resources. 'Green Homes' rating system can also enhance marketability of a project.

IGBC-GHRS Criteria

The Green Homes Rating System addresses National priorities which include water conservation, handling of house-hold waste, energy efficiency, reduced use of fossil fuels, lesser dependence on usage of virgin materials and health & well-being of occupants.

  • Water Conservation: Most of the Asian countries are water stressed and in countries like India, the water table has reduced drastically over the last decade. Green Homes Rating System encourages use of water in a self-sustainable manner through reducing, recycling and reusing strategies. By adopting this rating programme, green homes can save potable water to an extent of 30 – 50%.

  • Handling of House-hold Waste: Handling of waste in residential buildings is extremely difficult as most of the waste generated is not segregated at source and has a high probability of going to land-fills. This continues to be a challenge to the municipalities which needs to be addressed. IGBC intends to address this by encouraging green homes to segregate the house hold waste.

  • Energy Efficiency: The residential sector is a large consumer of electrical energy. Through IGBC Green Homes rating system, homes can reduce energy consumption through energy efficient - lighting, air conditioning systems, motors, pumps etc., The rating system encourages green homes which select and use BEE labeled equipment and appliances. The energy savings that can be realised by adopting this rating programme can be to the tune of 20 – 30%.

  • Reduced Use of Fossil Fuels: Fossil fuel is a slowly depleting resource, world over. The use of fossil fuel for transportation has been a major source of pollution. The rating system encourages the use of alternate fuels for transportation and captive power generation.

  • Reduced Dependency on Virgin Materials: The rating system encourages projects to use recycled & reused material and discourages the use of virgin wood thereby, addressing environmental impacts associated with extraction and processing of virgin materials. Reduced usage of virgin wood is also encouraged.

  • Health and Well-being of Occupants: Health and well-being of occupants is the most important aspect of Green Homes. IGBC Green Homes® Rating System ensures minimum performance of day lighting and ventilation aspects which are critical in a home. The rating system also recognises measures to minimise the indoor air pollutants.

IGBC-GHRS Classification

IGBC Green Homes® Rating System is a measurement system designed for rating new and major renovated residential buildings which are broadly classified into two construction types:

1. Individual Residential Unit

2. Multi-dwelling Residential Units

  • Gated communities
  • High-rise residential apartments
  • Hostels, Service apartments, Resorts, Motels and Guest houses

In general, all dwelling spaces which can meet the mandatory requirements and minimum points can apply. Various levels of green building certification are awarded based on the total points earned.

Many new green building materials, equipment and technologies are being introduced in the market. With continuous up-gradation and introduction of new green technologies and products, it is important that the rating programme also keeps pace with current standards and technologies. Therefore, the rating programme will also undergo periodic revisions to incorporate the latest advances and changes. It is important to note that project teams applying for IGBC Green Homes® should register their projects with the latest version of the rating system. During the course of implementation, projects have an option to transit to the latest version of the rating system.

Guide Line Categories

IGBC Green Homes® rating system addresses green features under the following categories:

  • Site Selection and Planning
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Materials
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation & Design Process

The guidelines detailed under each mandatory requirement & credit enables the design and construction of green homes of all sizes and types. Different levels of green building certification are awarded based on the total credits earned. However, every Green Home should meet certain mandatory requirements, which are non-negotiable.

The rating system caters to projects like individual homes, gated communities, high-rise residential apartments, residential buildings with major renovation, hostels, service apartments, resorts, motels, guest houses, etc., Amongst different types of dwelling units, the projects are broadly classified into two categories: Individual Residential Unit  AND Multi-dwelling Residential Units. The threshold criteria for certification levels are as reflected in the Threshold Criteria Table.


Projects by developers can register for Precertification. This is an option provided for projects aspiring to get pre-certified at the design stage. The documentation submitted for precertification must detail the project design features which will be implemented. The rating awarded under precertification is based on the project's intention to conform to the requirements of IGBC Green Homes® Rating system. It is important to note that the precertification rating awarded need not necessarily correspond to the final certification. Pre-certified projects are required to provide the status of the project to IGBC, in relation to the rating, once in every six months until the award of the final rating. Precertification gives the owner/ developer a unique advantage to market the project to potential buyers.

GHRS Rating Criteria

We discuss below some of the details considered by IGBC-GHRS in the rating process. However, please refer IGBC Handbook for details of Checklist and Available Points.

1. Site Selection & Planning

  • Local Building Regulation: This is a mandatory requirement under the IGBC Rating System to ensure that the building(s) complies with necessary statutory regulatory codes. The project team should be aware of the bye-laws and design accordingly. The bye-laws would typically include set back provisions, height restrictions, maximum built up area, minimum open space requirements, parking provisions etc.

  • Soil Erosion Control- This is the second mandatory requirement to ensure control of soil erosion and sedimentation thereby, reducing negative impacts to the site and surroundings. Effective methodologies include:

  • Strategies to stockpile fertile top soil and reuse later for landscaping purpose or stockpiled soil can be donated to other sites for landscaping purpose.
  • Consider adopting measures such as temporary and permanent seeding, mulching, earth dikes, silt fencing, sediment traps, and sediment basins as appropriate.

Open areas can be landscaped (eg., native grass, trees, shrubs). Paved areas can be installed with permeable paving. For impermeable surfaces, direct all run-offs towards rain water collection pits

  • Basic House-hold Amenities IGBC recognizes about 21 basic amenities which help in improving the quality of life of a resident. In case of Individual Select a site with access to at least five basic house-hold amenities, within a walking distance of 1 km from the building entrance. In case of multi dwelling residential units, select a site with access to at least seven basic house-hold amenities, within a walking distance of 1 km from the building entrance.

  • Natural Topography or Vegetation- Design the building with a minimal footprint. Consider retaining the natural topography in the site or design landscape with vegetation to the maximum extent. In sites which have fully grown trees, avoid destruction. Also, minimise paved surfaces on the site. The project is eligible for exemplary performance under Innovation & Design Process; if more than 35% of the site area is left undisturbed (i.e. retained with natural topography and/ or vegetated).

  • Heat Island Effect, Non-roof - Reduce heat islands (thermal gradient differences between developed and undeveloped areas) to minimise impact on microclimate. Shade constructed surfaces on the site with landscape features and use open-grid pavers in impervious areas. Consider replacing constructed surfaces (i.e. roof, roads, sidewalks, pathways, etc.,) with vegetation and/ or open grid paving or high-albedo materials to reduce heat absorption.

  • Heat Island Effect, Roof - Reduce heat islands (thermal gradient differences between developed and undeveloped areas) to minimise impact on microclimate. Use material with high solar reflectance and thermal emittance (such as, white/ light coloured china mosaic tiles or white cement tiles or high reflective coatings or other high reflective materials/ surfaces) to cover at least 50% of the exposed roof areas.

Minimise heat and maximise energy savings by selecting materials that exhibit high reflectivity and high emissivity. Consider providing green roofs or using highly reflective materials over roof to reduce the heat island effect. Typical materials with high reflective properties include china mosaic, white cement tiles, paints with high Solar Reflective Index (SRI) values, etc.,

  • Parking Facilities for Visitors- Design the building to ensure adequate parking provisions are made to cater to the occupants as well as the visitors. Parking provisions should take into account two wheelers and four wheelers, as applicable, according to local bye-law.

While designing parking facilities, consider basement/ stilt(s) parking to reduce the heat island effect. If surface parking is planned, consider permanent cover; or other design strategies to address heat  island effect as a result of such provisions.

  • Electric Charging Facility for Vehicles - Survey the type of electric vehicles already plying on the roads and also survey the kind of vehicles which may come up in the future. Provide facilities so as to charge such vehicles. Consider having adequate number of charging facilities based on their charging time. While considering such charging facilities, ensure that all safety aspects have been addressed.

  • Design for Differently Abled- Design the building/ campus to provide the following, as applicable, for differently abled people in accordance with the guidelines of National Building Code (NBC) of India. Identify all probable facilities required to cater to differently abled people. Design the building to ensure that certain basic minimum provisions for differently abled people are incorporated.

  • Basic Facilities for Construction Workforce- This is to promote welfare of construction workforce by providing safe and healthy work conditions. Study the local/ labour bye-law requirement facilities for construction workforce and ensure that provision of such facilities is included in the construction contract agreement.

  • Green Home Guidelines, Design & Post Occupancy- Provide prospective buyers and occupants with descriptive guidelines that educate and help them implement green design features within their flats/ houses. Develop a summary of sustainable design features incorporated in the green home project. Also include tips and guidelines which can be considered by the occupants in designing the interiors. Strategies to include providing Signages of the green features implemented in the residential building; awareness programme for workers, occupants & visitors etc.

On similar grounds, IGBC Rating provides details requirements for various categories mentioned above. Only subtitles are listed for reader's benefits.

2. Water Efficiency

  • Rainwater Harvesting, Roof & Non-roof
  • Water Efficient Plumbing Fixtures
  • Landscape Design
  • Management of Irrigation Systems
  • Rainwater Harvesting, Roof & Non-roof
  • Water Efficient Plumbing Fixtures
  • Waste Water Treatment and Reuse
  • Water Metering

3. Energy Efficiency

  • CFC-Free Equipment
  • Minimum Energy Performance
  • Enhanced Energy Performance
  • On-site Renewable Energy
  • Solar Water Heating System
  • Energy Saving Measures in Appliances & Other Equipment
  • Distributed Power Generation
  • Energy Metering

4. Materials and Resources

  • Separation of House-hold Waste
  • Organic Waste Management, Post-occupancy
  • Handling of Construction Waste Materials
  • Reuse of Salvaged Materials
  • Materials with Recycled Content
  • Local Materials
  • Rapidly Renewable Building Materials & Certified Wood

5. Indoor Environment Quality

  • Tobacco Smoke Control
  • Minimum Day lighting
  • Fresh Air Ventilation
  • Enhanced Day lighting
  • Enhanced Fresh Air Ventilation
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Low VOC Materials, Paints & Adhesives
  • Building Flush-out
  • Cross Ventilation

6. Innovation and Design Process

  • Innovation & Design Process
  • IGBC Accredited Professional

GRIHA-Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment

An introduction to the Green Rating Tool GRIHA can be well explained in the words of R K Pachauri-"The time has come where we can no longer ignore the benefits of green building practices that have a major impact on our environment. The Government is taking appropriate steps to ensure that green building practices are mainstreamed through a mix of regulations and voluntary schemes. The National Action Plan on Climate Change has, therefore, announced a mission on sustainable habitats. In addition, the recently launched ECBC 2007 (Energy Conservation Building Code 2007), the appliance labelling programme of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, and the rating system for appraisal and clearance of large construction projects by the Ministry of Environment and Forests are some of the significant steps to move towards green buildings. Several corporate organizations and institutions have mandated the use of green practices in their new construction.

Development of a holistic framework that meets all the regulatory norms and responds to the needs of differing agro-climatic zones in India is felt to be an urgent need. GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) was developed in response to this need.

Keeping in view agro-climatic conditions in India and, in particular, the preponderance of non-air-conditioned buildings, the National Rating System – GRIHA – has been developed as a suitable system for all kinds of buildings in different climatic zones of the country. The system, initially developed by TERI as TERI-GRIHA, has been modified to GRIHA as the country's National Rating System after incorporating various modifications suggested by a group of architects and experts.

The GRIHA rating system takes into account the provisions of the National Building Code 2005; the Energy Conservation Building Code 2007 announced by BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) and other IS codes.

GRIHA – the National Rating System will evaluate the environmental performance of a building holistically over its entire life cycle, thereby providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a 'green building'. The rating system, based on accepted energy and environmental principles, will seek to strike a balance between established practices and emerging concepts, both national and international.


On a broader scale, this system, along with the activities and processes that lead up to it, will benefit the community at large with improvement in the environment by reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, improving energy security, and reducing the stress on natural resources.

This book provides a comprehensive understanding of GRIHA, its underlying criteria and the rating procedure. The book also covers best practices that could be followed to achieve desired GRIHA ratings"-R K Pachauri, Director-General, TERI – Foreword to GRIHA Manual Volume 1

GRIHA as a Tool

This tool, by its qualitative and quantitative assessment criteria, would be able to 'rate' a building on the degree of its 'greenness'. The rating shall evaluate the environmental performance of a building holistically over its entire life cycle, thereby providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a 'green building'. The rating system, based on accepted energy and environmental principles, seeks to strike a balance between the established practices and emerging concepts, both national and international. The guidelines/criteria appraisal may be revised every three years to take into account the latest scientific developments during this period. On a broader scale, this system, along with the activities and processes that lead up to it, will benefit the community at large with the improvement in the environment by reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, improving energy security, and reducing the stress on natural resources.

GRIHA was developed as an indigenous building rating system, particularly to address and assess non-air conditioned or partially air conditioned buildings. GRIHA has been developed to rate commercial, institutional and residential buildings in India emphasizing national environmental concerns, regional climatic conditions, and indigenous solutions. GRIHA stresses passive solar techniques for optimizing visual and thermal comfort indoors, and encourages the use of refrigeration-based and energy-demanding air conditioning systems only in cases of extreme thermal discomfort. GRIHA integrates all relevant Indian codes and standards for buildings and acts as a tool to facilitate implementation of the same.

GRIHA-As National Rating System

GRIHA, the national green building rating system, was developed by TERI after a thorough study and understanding of the current internationally accepted green building rating systems and the prevailing building practices in India. The rating system was developed by the Centre for Research on Sustainable Building Science (CRSBS), TERI . CRSBS has been set up in TERI to facilitate development and mainstreaming of sustainable buildings, to improve performance levels of existing buildings, and raise awareness on sustainable buildings. CRSBS comprising architects, planners, engineers, and environmental specialists has been offering environmental design solutions for habitat and buildings of various complexities and functions for nearly two decades. With extensive experience in the field of sustainable and green building design and operation, the team came up with the GRIHA framework in 2005. Prior to coming up with the indigenous rating system for India, the team has extensively researched on several international rating systems (some of them have been listed above). The team has effectively utilized the several multidisciplinary strengths and experiences of their colleagues at TERI to arrive at the tool that addresses crosscutting issues in the design, development, and operation of a green building.

The primary objective of the rating system is to help design green buildings and, in turn, help evaluate the 'greenness' of buildings. The rating system follows best practices along with national/ international codes that are applicable to the green design of buildings.

The green building rating system devised by TERI is a voluntary scheme. It has derived useful inputs from the building codes/guidelines being developed by the BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency), the MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests), and the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards). The rating system aims to achieve efficient resource utilization and to enhance resource efficiency and quality of life in buildings.

GRIHA has been adopted as a NRS (national rating system) under the MNRE, Government of India, as of 1 November 2007. The MNRE has set up a technical advisory committee comprising of eminent professionals.

Important Criteria for GRIHA Rating

The objective is to maximize the conservation and utilization of resources (land, water, natural habitat, avid fauna, and energy) and enhance efficiency of the systems and operations. Some of the important criteria for GRIHA Rating are listed here.

1. Conservation and efficient utilization of resources

  • Site selection
  • Preserve and protect landscape during construction
  • Soil conservation
  • Design to include existing site features
  • Reduce hard paving on-site and/or provide shaded hard-paved surfaces
  • Enhance outdoor lighting system efficiency and use renewable energy system for meeting outdoor lighting requirements.
  • Plan utilities efficiently and optimize on-site circulation efficiency

2. Health and well-being

  • Provide minimum level of sanitation/safety facilities for construction workers
  • Reduce air pollution during construction
  • Use low-VOC paints/adhesives/sealants
  • Minimize ozone depleting substances
  • Ensure water quality
  • Acceptable outdoor and indoor noise levels
  • Tobacco smoke control
  • Provide at least the minimum level of accessibility for persons with disabilities

3. Building planning and construction

  • Reduce landscape water requirement
  • Reduce water use in the building
  • Efficient water use during construction

4. Energy

  • Optimize building design to reduce conventional energy demand
  • Optimize energy performance of building within specified comfort limits
  • Utilization of fly-ash in building structure
  • Reduce volume, weight, and construction time by adopting efficient technologies (such as pre-cast systems)
  • Use low-energy material in interiors
  • Renewable energy utilization
  • Renewable-energy-based hot water system
  • Energy audit and validation

5. Recycle, Recharge, and Reuse of water

  • Waste water treatment
  • Water recycle and reuse (including rainwater)

6. Waste management

  • Reduction in waste during construction
  • Efficient waste segregation
  • Storage and disposal of wastes
  • Resource recovery from waste

7. Operation, Maintenance and Innovation

  • Operation and maintenance
  • Innovations in systems

Evaluation system of GRIHA

GRIHA has a 100-point system consisting of some core points, which are mandatory to be met while the rest are non mandatory or optional points, which can be earned by complying with the commitment of the criterion for which the point is allocated.

Different levels of certification (one star to five stars) are awarded based on percentage of points earned. The minimum percentage required for certification is 50. Buildings scoring 50–60 percentage points, 61–70 percentage points, 71–80 percentage points, and 81–90 percentage points will get one star, two stars, three stars, and four stars, respectively. A building scoring 91–100 percentage points will receive the maximum rating, which is- five stars.

Comparison between Rating Tools

Many countries have introduced new rating tools over the past few years in order to improve the knowledge about the level of sustainability in each country's building stock. On one hand, it can be argued that the individual characteristics of each country, such as the climate and type of building stock, necessitate an individual sustainability rating tool for that country. The downside is that to varying degrees the rating tools for different countries are constructed on different parameters. This in turn has created complications for stakeholders, including property investors, who purchase buildings in different countries; an understanding of the many differences between each market has been increasingly harder to understand (Dixon et al., 2008).

The following table shows certification considered by different system tools most widely accepted in the Green Building Rating.







Six Star


Very Good


Five Star




Four Star




Three Star




Two Star




One Star


Table showing Grading Points (Source: BRE 2008)

Acknowledgements: The author has gathered data from several sources and compiled for readers benefit. In no manner this article is claimed to be original. The author acknowledges the sources and references.




























Ministry of New and Renewable Energy









1. International Comparison of Sustainable Rating Tools- Richard Reed, Anita Bilos, Sara Wilkinson, and Karl-Werner Schulte

2. Sustainable Construction by Charles Kibert

3. Introduction to National rating System-GRIHA, Volume 1

4. IGBC Green Homes Rating System, Version 2, IGBC


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