Simpler green norms for real estate; environment ministry looking to decentralise approval powers

In the New Year, India’s somnolent real estate market may finally get a much needed boost — builders may have to comply with only 12 to 24 environmental norms, depending on project size, instead of the 100 green rules that were originally proposed.

Senior officials familiar with the matter told ET that the environment ministry is seriously considering a radical trimming of the green code in building bylaws and the National Building Code. These officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Projects with built-up size area of 5,000-20,000 sq m will face around 12 conditions, 20,000-50,000 sq m projects will have to reckon with around 18 conditions, and projects over 50,000 sq m will have to comply with 20-24 ecological compliance conditions.

The environment ministry had received a suggestion from the urban development ministry that the building green code needs to be simpler.

The real estate industry had also petitioned the government over what it described as a very complicated set of green rules.

More good news for builders: the environment ministry is keen to delegate powers of approval to states and local authorities, so that clearance is faster. Currently, all construction projects spread across a built-up area over 20,000 sq m need the ministry’s green nod.

The proposed reform is that once the green code is worked into building bylaws, local authorities should have approval powers.

Environment ministry officials said the radical trimming of the building green code and decentralisation of the approval process should address the real estate industry’s concerns but they also said it’s vital that slimmer environmental building code is followed.

Buildings account for a fifth of India’s energy consumption and most buildings in India, even shiny, expensive towers, are energy inefficient, ministry officials said.

A NITI Aayog report projects that at current energy consumption modes, even in 2047, only 50% high rise residential buildings and only 30% of commercial buildings will be smart energy buildings. The construction sector is also among the biggest air pollutants in India.

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