Green Champions in Corporate India
On the occasion of World Environment Day on 5 June, Manage India salutes Indian companies that have made conservation a part of their business imperative.
By Aradhana Pati Mohapatra
Climate change and the cost of development on the environment are not topics of discussion in the social sector and the government alone. Over the past decade, several champions of the environment have emerged in the private sector. These organizations have come out strongly to incorporate a green approach in the way they do business. It could be in the way they manage their projects, the technology they use to reduce water and energy consumption in their offices, and the environment and health safety programs they follow for their employees.
This issue of Manage India is dedicated to organizations that have shown leadership in practising green project management. These organizations have adopted a green policy as a matter of good business practice and not just as a part of their social responsibility initiatives. Suzlon Energy Ltd. and Larsen & Toubro have received several awards for their green projects and practices. We present the Suzlon One Earth Campus in Pune and the Larsen & Toubro Powai Campus, Mumbai in Maharashtra as shining examples of green project management.
The Suzlon One Earth Campus
Suzlon Energy Ltd. is the fourth largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world. The company is known for its environment-friendly practices and its co-founder, Mr. Jitendra Tanti, for his leadership in green innovation. Mr. Tanti is managing director of Synefra Engineering & Construction Ltd., the holding company of the Suzlon Group. In 2009, the United Nations Environment Program honored Mr. Tanti with the “Champion of the Earth” title for his entrepreneurship and vision.
Suzlon’s global headquarters, Suzlon One Earth, was inaugurated in 2010. The campus has won the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating awarded by the US Green Building Council and the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Five Star by The Energy Research Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India.
Land area – 443,473 sq ft (10.18 acre)
Office space – 598,256 sq ft
Terminus (basement) – 223,270 sq ft
Open landscaped area – 185,578 sq ft
It was conceived and designed as an “urban village: a great place to work, sustainable, using up-to-date technology with flavors of local architecture and culture.” The project brief simplified the vision and quite clearly re-defined the modern concept of an office space. It said:
Our office area should be a place:
- Where people can breathe fresh air
- Where people do not feel restricted in thought or movement
- Where people have a view beyond their monitor screens
- Where there are breakout spaces for people to interact and bond
- Where people do not miss seasons while they achieve their targets
- Where day light changes can be felt at workstations
- Where people experience and benefit from world-class technology
Synefra took five years to complete Mr. Tanti’s dream project. The key challenges faced:
- Executing and establishing a large project from a simply worded brief.
- Methodically selecting a site and a team with a clear focus of all stakeholders.
- Delivering a structure in line with the Suzlon vision of “powering a greener tomorrow”.
The Synefra team used “comprehensive project management – concept to commissioning” to tackle these challenges. The project strategy team had representation from architecture, construction, interior design, landscape design, communication design, and sustainability. A key members’ task force was created to manage coordination among the agencies, and monitor and control any deviations from the project scope or strategy. Synefra appointed green project managers who were involved throughout the process to ensure the project achieves its green objectives.
The benefits of utilizing project management were many: the 8.2 lakh sq ft built up campus was commissioned in 36 months, no dilution of the original concept in spite of having more than 100 designers, consultants, contractors, vendors, and executing agencies, and completed with approximately 20 percent saving on the total project cost in spite of going in for LEED Platinum and GRIHA 5 Star ratings compliance.
We spoke to Mr. Jitendra Tanti, co-founder, Suzlon Energy and managing director, Synefra Engineering & Construction Ltd.:
What tips can you share with other industry leaders who want to create similar campuses?
Plan infrastructure with a firm focus on the principles of sustainability that include responsible solutions around energy, water, and waste management. Leaders must get involved in the planning stage and select the right stakeholders, be it project managers, architects, or designers. Leaders must create awareness and ask for solutions beyond the established norms. They cannot just focus on an inward looking vision of beautiful facade and manicured landscape. It goes much deeper than that. Sustainability must be a way of life for employees and impact their thinking beyond office hours. Green buildings should add value to the users’ life. That is when leaders can make a difference.
What should be an organizations’ green responsibility today? Is it a question of choice any more?
There is no choice any more. It is already late; now it is a question of our survival. Organizations have to think in terms of triple line reporting beyond top line and bottom line. If organizations want global respect, green responsibility is no longer a matter of choice.
How can the government play a role in promoting and supporting environment-friendly initiatives?
We should not keep expecting initiatives from the government to think and turn green. Even if we follow the laid down rules of environmental clearance and pollution norms, more than half the job is done. Let us take responsibility and help the government to make our surroundings more liveable and healthy. Once this collective action takes shape, the government will be compelled to act. Let us not wait for benefits and incentives, and simply act so that we leave behind a healthier planet for our children.
Sustainable approaches at Suzlon One Earth:
Larsen and Toubro (L&T) Powai West Campus
- Energy – renewable resources from construction to operations with optimization of the needs at the source
- Water – conservation from design to operations
- Waste – minimization at the source and responsible disposal methods
- Material – use of environment-friendly and certified material through efficient sourcing
L&T is a technology, engineering, construction, and manufacturing company. With over seven decades of operation, L&T is a respected corporate house in India with a strong legacy of following environment-friendly practices. The company believes energy-efficient alternatives and practices not only result in environmental conservation, but also yield cost optimization.
According to the L&T Sustainability Report, the company has successfully implemented clean technologies such as clean fuel projects, green buildings, super critical power plants, energy-efficient projects and solar power projects. The company has won many awards for its eco-friendly projects, including the most recent, The Financial Express – EVI Green Business Leadership Award for 2010-11.
L&T Powai West Campus in Maharashtra is a successful water conservation initiative. The facility’s water conservation project has received the Zero Waste Water Discharge status. The campus reuses waste water for gardening, lavatory facilities, fire hydrant, and cooling tower applications, thereby not wasting any water.
Key project challenges:
To execute the project, the project management team needed to create a system that would:
- Manage the fluctuations in the wastewater inflow and the supply of treated wastewater outflow
- Manage the uniform degradation of organic matter
- Keep the reuse of wastewater at a continuous pace even during the monsoon season
The L&T team used project management best practices to overcome these challenges. The design and engineering challenges were overcome by choosing the right people for the task and ensuring that the larger project objective of water conservation was the ultimate driving factor. The team buffered the sewage treatment plants with a two-stage equalization tank to tackle the fluctuations in water flow and added membrane-based air filters and surface diffusers to handle the organic waste. The output was uniform treatment of the waste water. The team also designed conservation tactics to reduce water consumption.
Now the L&T Powai West campus treats all its waste water and reuses it for non-potable applications with the use of state-of-the-art biological treatment technology. In addition to receiving the Zero Waste Water Discharge label, the campus has over the past three years reduced its water consumption by 10 percent.
Other notable green achievements at L&T:
- There are more than six certified green buildings within various L&T campuses with a total measurement of 1.2 million sq ft.
- L&T has constructed more than 10.2 million sq ft of certified green space for clients, which it says is the largest by any engineering and construction company in India.
Green House Gases (GHG) Reduction:
- At L&T Powai West campus, 40 percent of the electricity is through wind energy.
- L&T set up 8.7 MW captive wind farm in south India in 2010.
- Key L&T campuses have rooftop solar photo voltaic installations, aggregating to captive generation of 1 MW of solar energy.
- Overall, renewable energy constitutes to about 12 percent of total energy consumption at L&T.
- Over the past four years, L&T has reduced direct and indirect GHG emission intensity per employee by 26.2 percent and 37.2 percent, respectively.
Making Construction Sites Environment Safe
Dr. Krishna Nirmalya Sen, deputy general manager, and Mr. Deepak S. Mattikalli, assistant manager, Health Safety and Environment, Larsen & Toubro Limited offer some practical tips
Projects pose several environmental challenges, particularly at the execution stage, and get intertwined with social, cultural, socio-economic, and other concerns. The resources projects require sometimes affect the unique habitat in that area forever. It is important to review the utilization of these resources with a pragmatic approach, ensuring less usage of these resources by adopting green technology, building with local and plentiful (i.e. sustainable and renewable) materials, and generating less waste.
Construction has now become more complex with the advent of new technology, chemicals, and processes. Nowadays a number of materials used in construction are hazardous and needs safe handling, usage, storage, and disposal.
A precious resource for any construction activity. It may lead to serious implications if not done judiciously.
Waste at construction sites can be hazardous, non-hazardous, biodegradable, or non-biodegradable. A well-managed projects site collects waste in a systematic manner, each type separately, and then gathered at a central waste storage yard. Segregation should be carried out on the basis of reusability, recyclability, and treatability. Records of waste generated must be maintained on a daily basis. Disposal must be done through an authorized vender or recycler.
Reuse of treated water:
Sewage generated at workers’ enclaves and on site should be treated and reused for various construction activities.
Prevention of land pollution:
Accidental spilling during painting, shot-blasting, or transfer of oil could pollute the land. An impermeable layer with polythene sheets in oil storage area, the collection of split oil for recycling or disposal, and diesel generator sets with drip tray are some useful measures.
At construction projects, top soil should be preserved and brought back once the construction activity is over. During the project duration, topsoil can be stacked elsewhere and put back after construction is over.
Prevention of noise pollution:
Provide acoustic enclosures for diesel generator sets and personal noise protective equipment to workers exposed to high noise levels. Also regularly monitor noise emission levels of various equipments used. Controlling dust generation: Spray recycled water on the roads leading to the construction site at regular intervals. Prior to construction operations like demolition, crushing, and chipping spray water to control dust. Cover dumpers carrying excavated soils with tarpaulin sheets.
Enormous amount of energy is required for construction, mostly in the form of electricity and sometimes from a diesel generator, leading to significant emission. Maintain emission permissible norms at all times. Heavy vehicles used should regularly undergo pollution tests.
Ensure that worker habitats comply with national and international standards, as may be applicable. The guidance note by International Finance Corporation and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are good reference points.