India's Energy and Resources Institute Taking the LEED

India’s foremost environmental think tank is touting a recently developed sustainable building certification program "Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment" (GRIHA) as more holistic than LEED. Could it also help enforce labor laws?

Martin Wright looks at The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), which, he explains, is a more holistic green building assessment tool than LEED: "valuable as it is, LEED only covers a building’s potential performance – as opposed to what actually happens when people start inhabiting it."

Some may ask then: what is the value of India having its own 'green building' assessment system? 

“We do [site] visits unannounced: check whether the workers have got decent sanitation, whether they’re being provided with drinking water, and so on,” says Mili Majumdar, Director of TERI’s Sustainable Habitat Division, in describing one element of TERI's assessment program that goes beyond the United States Green Building Council's LEED certification. Utilizing a green building certification process to ensure the health and safety of workers seems a novel approach in a country where the government enforces labor laws on an ad hoc basis.

Despite only 1% of buildings in India certified as 'green buildings' and 0.25% assessed through GRIHA, "the Government is taking tentative steps to set minimum compulsory standards for all new state buildings, and redirecting incentives at developers themselves," Wright reveals.

Will GRIHA be the ratings system of choice for those standards? TERI will have a chance to further advocate for GRIHA when it hosts the "Delhi Sustainable Development Summit" beginning January 31, 2013; where dozens of international political, thought and business leaders, ministers and media of the 'global south' will gather.

Full Story: A people-centred approach to green build

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