In one of her first stops in her recent three-day visit to India, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the ITC Green Center in Gurgaon, one of the world’s largest LEED platinum office buildings. Clinton said in remarks: “ITC Green Center may not be a regular stop on the tourist map, and no one would confuse it with the Taj Mahal. But it is a monument in its own right. It is a monument to the future.” Citing the ITC Green Center as a model, Clinton added: “If all new buildings were designed in the same standards as the ITC Green Centre, we could eventually cut global energy use and green house pollution by more than 20 percent and save money at the same time.”
According to TreeHugger, the ITC Green Center recycles and re-uses water. “Its insulated glass keeps out heat and lets in abundant natural light. Ten percent of its wood is certified, and its landscaping relies on local plant species. The building has reduced its energy and water consumption by 51 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively. When it opened in 2005, it became the world’s largest completed LEED platinum rated green office building.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)’s Switchboard says India has at least fifteen LEED certified buildings (see research), with plans for 1,000 additional buildings by 2012. Other LEED platinum buildings in Gurgaon include WIPRO’s headquarters. According to TreeHugger, “green buildings covering 67 million sq ft are being constructed all over the country, up from 20,000 sq ft in 2003.”
TreeHugger argues that Indian companies increasingly see “going green” as making smart business sense. “ITC also seeks carbon-neutrality in its packaging and paper businesses, which rely on environmentally-friendly elemental-chlorine-free technology. ‘When we talk to international customers such as Wal-Mart, they question us on sustainability, which has now become a qualifier,’ Pradeep Dhobale, chief executive of ITC’s paperboard and specialty paper business, told Rediff.”
Clinton brought U.S. Climate Change envoy, Todd Stern, along on her visit to India, making climate change a key topic throughout her visit. The U.S. and India remain far apart in UNFCCC negotiations on global greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, but U.S. policymakers hope increased cooperation and technology transfer will help bridge the policy gaps. India remains concerned that committing to GHG reduction targets will, in effect, hamstring future economic growth. India also argues developed countries have contributed the vast share of the current stock of GHGs, and therefore need to do more to limit their emissions. Furthermore, India’s per-capita GHG emissions are far lower than those in the U.S.
Image credit: TreeHugger