Green Buildings with water harvesting for clean Environment and Blue Economy

For the past two decades, the world has witnessed some level of significant industrial and technological revolution. opined that this revolution, despite its acclaimed benefits to humanity has resulted in a worrisome level of interaction with our environment.

Green Buildings with water harvesting for clean Environment and Blue Economy


With cities becoming increasingly polluted, many homeowners are turning to gardens, by keeping small plants at home, to provide some greenery. However, installing plants at home also means that one needs to know how to maintain the plants and have the time to do it. Maintaining a garden is not just a personal responsibility. People living in housing complexes, also need to ensure that having a personal garden adheres to the code of conduct of the residential complex and does not affect other members.

For the past two decades, the world has witnessed some level of significant industrial and technological revolution. opined that this revolution, despite its acclaimed benefits to humanity has resulted in a worrisome level of interaction with our environment. And if our current ways of interacting with the environment are not checked, the world all over will begin to experience rapid and increasingly dangerous effects on their quality of life. One point of great concern, with regard to the eco-system, is that as the global greenhouse-gas level continues to rise, the planet’s temperature will correspond to rise, resulting in the melting of the ice caps and seriously altering global weather conditions. For instance, building materials from their resource extraction through manufacturing, use, and disposal have become a vital part of the total human effects on global ecosystems and the earth’s climate. According to Rousseau in the past half-century, with the rapidly advancing pace of urbanization worldwide, finding the raw materials and energy to produce building materials as specified by architects, and absorbing the waste from their production, use, and disposal have become a pressing global challenge. Current estimates calculate that the world-built environment accounts for approximately one-third of all global greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions whilst consuming 40% of the world’s energy.

Since population increase results in increase demand for housing and more housing development ultimately results in higher environmental impact, the challenge in Architectural practice today is the struggle to find the ways to balance or harmonize environmental technology, protection of resources, and aesthetic content of the built environment. And without these vital components, ecologic/green design cannot be realized.

Ecology can also be defined as the study of living systems and their relations to one another therefore, the concept of ecological design can be described as “the creation and responsible management of a healthy built environment, based on the efficient use of resources and on ecological principles”, Eco-friendly architecture is the use of nature symbolism to create relations between architecture and its cultural context – by merging architecture in the landscape. It can also be seen as the environment design and construction techniques that support the acceptance of the new green architecture and interpret objects in the context – thereby creating ecologically responsible and sustainable architecture. eco–friendly architecture is long-sighted architectural and urban planning ideas that give an image of the future, based on general social and political changes which may influence the construction and environmental policy.

Green Building in India

The Green Building movement in India started gaining momentum in 2003, from just about 20,000 sq. ft in 2003 to 717crores sq. ft (source: Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)) green footprint in India today. As of date, there are almost 6,000 green projects and over 5.77 lakh acres of large development projects in the country, which have helped to achieve the 75% of the green building footprint target, two years earlier than the actual target. The IGBC has set the target of 10 billion square feet of green buildings by 2022 after consideration with the government and partners. A green building is one, which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste, and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building. It is also known as a sustainable or high-performance building. There are various systems in the form of design standards or practice codes worldwide to enhance the use of green building design. Usually, their performance is based on certain sustainability criteria which are combined to assess the design effect. These criteria, in general, focus on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, indoor environmental quality.

Environmental Benefits for Every 1 billion sq. ft. Green Building

Green Buildings with water harvesting for clean Environment and Blue EconomyAccording to the United StatesGreen Building Council, India ranks third globally when it comes to green buildings, only behind Mainland China and Canada, and the number is steadily increasing. GBCI India (Green Business Certification Inc.) released the list of India’s Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. This is the third year that the top 10 has been released in India, ranking Indian states in terms of cumulative gross square meters (GSM) of LEED-certified space.

LEED is an international symbol of sustainability excellence that signifies a building is lowering carbon emissions, conserving resources, and cutting costs, while prioritizing sustainable practices and creating a healthier environment. Maharashtra tops the list, followed by Karnataka, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, respectively. In a change from last year, Haryana has moved up in the list, edging out Tamil Nadu for the third spot. The Top 10 states for LEED are home to more than 843 million Indians, and together include more than 48.38 million gross square meters of LEED-certified space. The detailed rankings are included below:

Green Buildings with water harvesting for clean Environment and Blue EconomyFarming in Urban Infrastructure

Many cities across India witnessed a surge of interest in growing flowers and vegetable plants of different kinds. From aloe vera and basil to ginger, onion, cucumber, potato, and chili, people planted all kinds of essentials. This interest was probably a result of an increase in time spent at home but also an attempt to rethink what we consume and from where especially during COVID-19. It is pretty cool to see how these urban farmers have learned the art of farming to get the best product to the dining table.

Growing vegetables and fruits at home mean keeping the nutritional value and freshness intact. It also means easy access to seasonal produce free of chemicals. Though balcony gardening first became popular among individual flats in gated communities, now, realizing the endless scope rooftop farming can have, many housing societies are pondering over the possibility of converting their terraces or rooftops into farming zones – an attempt to sustain this practice for the larger good.

Many gardening experts have even set examples to show that concepts of hydroponics (a method of growing plants, usually crops, without soil) and use of greywater (wastewater generated in households from sources such as sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, or dishwashers excluding wastewater from toilets) are feasible ways to manage water usage for rooftop farming. These are excellent concepts, especially, in a place with water shortage issues.

Why is it important?

The concept of rooftop farming is new, but it is quickly getting popular among city-dwellers. Apart from fulfilling the growing demand for fresh, organic, and highly nutritious vegetables, rooftop farming is important as it makes the surrounding greener, cooler, eco-friendly, lessen the environmental impact of food transportation, and makes a person aware of what he/she is consuming on daily. Moreover, various studies have found that living around green spaces can have a positive impact on one’s well-being – decreases stress-related issues, anxiety, mood disorders, and increases productivity.

Benefits of Rooftop Farming

There are innumerable benefits of the concept of rooftop farming. We are listing out a few of them:

  • Environmental benefits: Rooftop farming improves air quality by reducing and filtering polluted air particles like dust and smog. Having a rooftop farm means no impact on food transportation which ultimately reduces carbon footprint. One of the amazing things about rooftop farming is that it significantly helps reduce ambient temperature making the space and the building cooler. If there is one of the most effective ways to use rainwater, it is through rooftop farming.
  • Optimum use of vacant space: Through rooftop farming, you can make use of spaces you generally don’t often utilize such as your apartment’s terrace. While you have the resource, why not put that to optimum use!
  • Availability of local and organic products: There is nothing healthier than consuming homegrown produce. Living in the city, we have perhaps forgotten the taste of fresh, chemical-free vegetables that are filled with nutrients. Well, it is not too late, you can still grow a terrace garden and make the most of it.
  • Community engagement: Having a terrace kitchen garden is a wonderful thing, but what can make it better is turning it into a community engagement activity. This way, residents of a housing society can reconnect with nature while taking care of their plants. The best part is they can eventually harvest the produce and consume it.
  • A way to destress from city life: One of the days when you feel overwhelmed by the busy city life, you can now fetch your getaway right on your rooftop. How cool is that! There is nothing more soothing than sitting amidst green plants and watching them grow. Another benefit is it helps reduce stress and increases positivity.
  • Increases property value: Who doesn’t like greenery! And if someone gets a chance to live in a place that screams nothing but that, especially, in a city, it will be counted as a blessing. With rooftop gardens, you can transform your boring and plain building into an attractive green landscape – this will only increase the building and your society’s aesthetic value and in turn increase its property value.

Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) in India

Water is the primary resource, highly crucial to the sustenance of life forms on Earth. Though 71 percent of Earth’s surface is known to be made up of water, about 97 percent of this water is unfit for consumption. Freshwater constitutes almost 3 percent, which can be utilized for human consumption and is usually found in lakes, rivers, underground, etc. Out of these sources, groundwater is easily accessible to most of us- through wells, tube wells, borewells, etc., and hence is most likely to be exhausted early on. The exponential rise in population with time, coupled with unwarranted climate changes leading to severe drought in places (which leads to depletion of already low groundwater levels in those areas, thanks to global warming), endangers the already low levels of groundwater available.

Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is a simple method by which rainfall is collected for future usage. The collected rainwater may be stored, utilized in different ways, or directly used for recharge purposes. With depleting groundwater levels and fluctuating climate conditions, RWH can go a long way to help mitigate these effects. Capturing the rainwater can help recharge local aquifers, reduce urban flooding, and most importantly ensure water availability in water-scarce zones. Though the term seems to have picked up greater visibility in the last few years, it was and is even today, a traditional practice followed in rural India. Some ancient rainwater harvesting methods followed in India include madakas, ahar pynes, surangas, taankas, and many more.

This water conservation method can be easily practiced in individual homes, apartments, parks, offices, and temples too, across the world. Farmers have recharged their dry borewells, created water banks in drought areas, greened their farms, increased sustainability of their water resources, and even created a river. Technical know-how for the rooftop RWH with direct storage can be availed for better implementation. RWH An effective method in water-scarce times, it is also an easily doable practice.

Usage of Rainwater Harvesting in Various End-use Sectors: A Key Driver

  • Governments of several countries have started awareness programs for promoting rainwater harvesting. They are also providing incentives and tax exceptions in order to encourage the usage of rainwater harvesting systems. Many states in India have already passed legislation to mandate the usage of rainwater harvesting systems during the construction of buildings and in old buildings as well.
  • Rainwater harvesting has additional advantages such as lowering water bills, reducing soil erosion and floods, and it helps in irrigation
  • Growth in population, which has led to the quest for alternate fresh water sources, and government support in creating awareness regarding water scarcity and promoting rainwater harvesting methods is expected to boost the rainwater harvesting market in the near future

Increasing Demand from the Asia Pacific

  • The Asia Pacific and Europe collectively constituted a 69.5% share of the rainwater harvesting market in 2020. The two rainwater harvesting markets are highly lucrative and are anticipated to expand at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. The commercial end-user segment accounted for a major share of the rainwater harvesting market in Europe compared to any other region. This is due to the high initial cost of rainwater harvesting in the region.
  • Although the number of installations in the Asia Pacific is high, the cost per unit is less compared to Europe and North America. The Asia Pacific and Africa prefer simple rainwater harvesting systems rather than complex ones. However, they are compromising on the quality of the rainwater harvesting system.

Advantages of Rainwater Harvesting

Along with being an effective method of recycling resources, rainwater harvesting is beneficial for providing water supply in areas facing scarcity thereof and replenishing the deficit groundwater levels in others. It is responsible for lessening the load on primary water sources, adding fresh and potable water availability for the masses. In the urban areas, it is shown to be beneficial by increasing the efficiency of wastewater treatment plants since the need for clean water is compensated by the harvested rainwater, to a great extent. The system’s installation is easy to handle and maintain by laymen, and the entire process decreases the dependence on groundwater, thereby preventing excessive depletion.

In spite of living in the 21st Century, it is staggering to note that in a country of more than 1.38 billion people, 28 states and 4100 towns and cities, only two cities- Thiruvananthapuram and Kota, get continuous, 24×7 water supply, and all those cities with a population greater than 1 million, get water for around 3-4 hours a day. This is not due to lack of adequate infrastructure but due to mismanagement of the water distribution system in the districts. This results in a large section of the society, mostly the poor and downtrodden, consuming contaminated water for their basic sustenance, resulting in the spread of diseases.

The first Indian state to make rainwater harvesting compulsory for buildings to reduce groundwater depletion was Tamil Nadu in 2001, which has reaped enormous benefits for the state. Groundwater levels in Chennai five years hence, rose almost 50%, and consequently, the quality of water improved. Mass awareness campaigns in rural as well as urban areas were the contributing factors for the success of this initiative.

After the success of the Tamil Nadu model, there have been various rules and regulations introduced by other states, and even the Parliament made efforts towards the cause by introducing central legislation- The Rainwater (Harvesting and Storage) Bill, in the Lok Sabha, in 2016.

With countless predictions that most major cities around the world are on the brink of running out or exhausting their groundwater supplies in the near future, it is extremely important to look beyond the conventional sources of sustenance and look towards adopting and adapting the non-conventional, renewable sources, essential for our survival. Rainwater is a renewable source prevalent in areas with little to no rainfall, and the gathered water can be put to use like irrigation and other domestic chores like toilet flushing, washing, etc. It needs to be purified further in order to make it fit for drinking since rainwater collected from rooftops may contain animal and bird feces, dust particles and other particulate matter, and gases like Nitric and Sulphur oxide; which require elaborate purification setups, which are difficult to install, operate and maintain at the domestic level.

As for the legal enforcement of the rules and regulations for rainwater harvesting, all these rules and regulations aim towards one primary objective: to save water- which is the primary essence of life. Formulated by the respective local authorities in the districts, the major impediment in the effective implementation is the lack of information and mismanagement by the authorities themselves. The residential associations contend that instead of every house having a separate rainwater harvesting set up, the authorities should focus on encouraging community rainwater harvesting and that the construction of storage pits to store the water in already existing buildings may lead to seepage and weakening of the foundations.

“Blue Economy refers to water-based sustainable economic development which leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.”

Global Blue Economy

The ocean is a great potential driver of economic growth, jobs, and innovation, and is expected to provide economic opportunities in the future.  The value of key water-based assets has been estimated around INR. 1,539.73 lakh crores (US$24 trillion, ≈INR. 64.16 = 1US$), and the value of the global ocean-based economy is estimated between INR. 192.46 – 384.92 lakh crores (US$ 3-6 trillion/year) and more than 3 billion people rely on the oceans for their livelihoods. The total length of the coastline in the world is 356,000 km.

Blue Economy Opportunities in India

India has a coastline spanning 7,517 kilometers, forming one of the biggest peninsulas in the Indian states. It is serviced by 13 major ports, 200 notified minor and intermediate ports. There are a total of 1,382 islands (including uninhabited ones) in the state. Moreover, the total length of River & Canals is around 16,000 km, which provides facilities for water transport, especially in their plains sections of the state

Challenges of Blue Economy

The potential to grow the blue economy is limited by a series of challenges.

  • Overfishing because of technological improvements coupled with poorly managed access to fish stocks and rising demand.
  • Habitat degradation is due largely to coastal development, deforestation, mining, and unsustainable fishing practices as well as pollution, in the form of excess nutrients from untreated sewerage, agricultural run-off, and marine debris such as plastics. Coastal erosion also destroys infrastructure and livelihoods.
  • Climate change-related phenomena — both slow onset events like sea-level rise and more intense and frequent weather events. Long-term climate change impact on ocean systems is fraught with uncertainty, but it is clear that changes in sea temperature, acidity, and major oceanic currents, among others, threaten marine life and habitats.
  • Unfair trade: Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), zones in which a state has special rights over exploration and use of marine resources, are crucial to the economies of island states, and often dwarf their corresponding landmass and government’s administrative capacity.
  • Ad hoc development: Unplanned and unregulated development in the narrow coastal interface and nearshore areas has led to significant externalities between sectors, suboptimal siting of infrastructure, overlapping uses of land and marine areas, marginalization of poor communities, and loss or degradation of critical habitats.
  • Lack of skilled labor and modern technical capacity.
  • Lack of sufficient funds for Blue Economy operations.
  • Overcome the Blue Economy Challenges

A more systematic approach, based on a better understanding of nationally defined priorities, social context, and resource base, can guide sustainable and inclusive blue growth. Countries increasingly recognize that they need more knowledge about the biophysical characteristics, carrying capacity, synergies, or trade-offs between sectors to ensure efficient and sustainable management of different activities.

Marine and coastal spatial planning and integrated maritime surveillance are needed to give authorities, businesses, and communities a better picture of what is happening in this unique space. Digital mapping of maritime and coastal space and natural assets can form the basis for cross-sector analysis and planning to prevent conflicts and avoid externalities.

Similarly, the growing science of data-limited stock assessments can provide critical information needed for improved fisheries management. In places such as South Africa and Indonesia, mobile technology is being tested to gather previously unavailable data, for example on fishery landings and fish stock health.

Coastal zones are among the areas most vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards. Risks include flooding, erosion, sea-level rise as well as extreme weather events due to ad hoc development. The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) seeks to coordinate the application of different policies affecting the coastal zone and maritime activities. ICZM is an iterative process that includes a variety of approaches, from mapping, delineation, and demarcation of the hazard lines and coastal sediment cells, to building the capacity of agencies, institutions, and communities to make informed decisions about growing the blue economy within the carrying capacity of its living natural resource base.

Growing the blue economy requires assessing the value of marine resources. Not only are marine living resources poorly measured and understood, but they are also rarely valued properly.

Human Capital: Skilled labor is in high demand in all developing countries and is highly relevant to the blue economy. Investment in the broader blue economy and in parallel skills training for fishers who can no longer make a decent living from the living aquatic resources can produce win-wins for economic development across sectors and make space for conservation.

Secured Governance Concept

Secured Governance presents a vision of rapid economic development based on natural resource utilization and blue economy implementation through the next five years. It prioritizes immediate development needs and the interests of blue economy developers and extractive industries over the proactive preservation of ecosystem services. As the scenario was developed over time, it came to represent possible construction and development that could occur with minimal government investment. Substantial benefits are to be derived through this type of secured governance function via many interacting mechanisms, which define and control them

Apart from the obvious benefits of additional revenue through coastal development, one major advantage is a tremendous improvement in the export and import of natural resources in India. While refining valuation methods is going to lead to more rational coastal land-use decisions, it will design sustain additional revenue to the government and improve our understanding of the ecological-economic mechanisms that contribute to the value of our natural capital assets. The innovative blue economy is driven by business-level innovation using locally sourced resources, with a focus on job creation, building social capital, and generating multiple cash flows by stimulating entrepreneurship and business-model innovation.

“Secured Governance offers a strategy to get all the basic infrastructure development with a negligible investment by the Government. Both inland water & marine water resources and activities such as shipping, fishing, tourism and leisure, oil & gas, renewable energy, aquatic plants, marine biotechnology, deep-sea mining, etc. will come under the blue economy concept. Island and inland water bodies are expected to gain more from the blue economy orientation in their development policies. It is a concept of developing various HUBs (Smart Cities) in islands that will act as a growth center for individual sectors and mini-HUBs in coastal villages.

The secured Governance concept focuses on strengthening Private Public Participation while substantially reducing governmental involvement. Government plays a supervisory and monitoring role rather than getting entangled into the nitty-gritty of Blue Economy projects.

Value and Valuation of the Blue Economy allied projects will make it a self-sustaining mechanism while bringing unprecedented growth and development for the region.

  • Smart City Development & Tourism HUB development in Islands: The aim of secured governance is to utilize the Blue Economy concept as a tool to implement Smart City development in the Islands for the economic growth of India.
  • Mini HUBs near the inland water bodies: The attractive locations along waterways and inland water bodies have a new recreation facility, artificial tourism spot, and support activities for navigation; places for camping in the countryside, clubhouse, hotel, and restaurant services, service station for small boats, etc. These mini-HUBs deliver significant economic benefits to their locality, through increased employment and increases in land and property values, as well as improvement of the economic competitiveness and well-being of the adjacent areas.
  • Nano HUBs in coastal villages of India: The HUB links three market elements of fish production, processing, and marketing to boost the competitiveness of rural economies and communities. The blue elements of villages make up the value chain of the rural economy with coordination, integration, and marketing being the core functions of the HUB such as repairing service of the fishing boat and net, fish processing practices to reduce post-harvest losses, and fish marketing.

Social Benefit: Conceptually, helps people in areas of HUBs, Mini HUBs & Micro HUBs, thus allowing greater access to employment and other productive opportunities. Increase output such as tourism and other allied services or facilities in the region, which reflects an improvement in living standards.

Economic Benefit: Facilitate innovation and new ideas in the water-based region of India. Significantly increase the land values and economic growth. Stimulating investment from Private stakeholders and foreign investors would be around INR. 1.5 lakh crores. and create 20 million new job opportunities and business opportunities for locals. Around 3.6% of private investment would be additional revenue to states of India.


Are you aware that your office or residential building could be harming the environment? Is it possible that your building is spewing harmful pollutants without you realizing it? We are well aware of various environmental issues such as global warming, water, and air pollution, and the measures that need to be taken to prevent them. If we switch to sustainable architecture and green buildings in India, not just for nature’s sake, but for ourselves, we could not only save the environment but also reduce our total ownership costs.

The building construction industry produces the second-largest amount of demolition waste and greenhouse gases (35-40%). The major consumption of energy in buildings is during construction and later in lighting or air-conditioning systems. While various amenities like lighting, air conditioning, water heating provide comfort to building occupants, but also consume an enormous amount of energy and add to pollution. Further, occupant activities generate a large amount of solid and water waste as well.

Sustainable architecture is the type of architecture that seeks to minimize the harmful impact that buildings have on the environment. Such sustainably built green buildings are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient, right from location selection to demolition after their lifecycle ends. A green building uses less energy, water, and other natural resources creates less waste and greenhouse gases, and is healthy for people living or working inside as compared to a regular structure.

Building green is not about a little more efficiency. It is about creating buildings that optimize the use of local materials, local ecology, and most importantly they are built to reduce power, water, and material requirements. Thus, if these things are kept in mind, then we will realize that our traditional architecture was in fact, very green. According to VA estimates, if all buildings in Indian urban areas were made to adopt green building concepts, India could save more than 8,400 megawatts of power, which is enough to light 550,000 homes a year. The rising importance of the Blue Economy in global activities represents a great opportunity for innovation, be it in coastal management, navigation assistance, or biodiversity protection. The Blue Economy represents an opportunity to boost the local economy and create jobs in knowledge-intensive economic sectors. The creation of new services is really needed in order to better tackle the challenges faced by coastal regions and inland water bodies to achieve their unleash business opportunities and boost the local economy. Both local and regional authorities should therefore not hesitate in investing even more into the adoption of innovative technologies. It is indispensable to promote and enhance collaboration between the various actors of the value chain to develop strong and vibrant local economies.

Dr. P. Sekhar,
Dr. P. Sekhar the policy times
Unleashing India Global Smart City Panel & MTGF

Dr. Ashok Alur,
Dr Ashok Alur
Eminent Speaker and Award-winning Global Expert and  Director,  Center of Excellence on Agri and Horticulture

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Green Buildings with water harvesting for clean Environment and Blue Economy
For the past two decades, the world has witnessed some level of significant industrial and technological revolution. opined that this revolution, despite its acclaimed benefits to humanity has resulted in a worrisome level of interaction with our environment.
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