Indian Railways (IR) is one of the world’s largest rail networks, spread over 68,400 route km. IR is the lifeline of the country carrying nearly 23 million passengers every day making it the largest passenger carrying system in the world. It is also the 4th largest freight transporter in the world moving 1,160 million tonnes of freight annually, as it traverses the length and breadth of the country. At over 20 billion kWh of electricity consumption annually, IR comprises around 2% of the total electricity consumption in the country. IR is also a significant customer of diesel and sources indicate that IR consumed 300 crores litre diesel every year. In terms of expenditure, IR spends INR 18,000 crore and INR 9,000 crores annually on purchase of diesel and electricity, respectively (Source: [Environment Sustainability Annual Report, 2018-19]).

The facts mentioned above also indicate the impact on greenhouse gas emissions due to IR and thus reflects the responsibility IR carries towards environment. Therefore, IR is always committed to follow the sustainable practices such as

Although the GreenTree team has been contributing in many activities of Indian Railways and Metros, recently the Noida team has successfully completed two major Green Building Rating projects for Indian Railways: Officer’s Residential Colony (site area of 1,69,534 m2) on S.P. Marg, Delhi and the Administrative Building (site area of 22,434 m2) of Diesel Loco Modernisation Works (DMW), Patiala, Punjab.

Figure 1: Officer's Residential Colony, S. P. Marg, Delhi
Figure 2: Administrative Building, Diesel Loco Modernization Works, Patiala, Punjab

These buildings being existing in nature, the scope of improvements was fewer as green building practices related to design stage and construction stage could not be applied. However, considering the limited opportunities for variations in construction changes, it also brought significant challenges to comply with several requirements set by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Hyderabad, India.

The IGBC has already defined the minimum mandatory and prescriptive requirements of energy & water efficiency, site & neighbourhood management, indoor environment quality and material management and these requirements are based on building typology. The prerequisites & other requirements for these categories are formulated by considering the feasibility of achieving any of the four Certification; Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified level of Green Building Rating..

The Project lead Mr. Anurag Bajpai and the team leader Mr. Jeyaraj kalirajan has addressed several critical issues related to energy and water efficiency, site & waste management and occupant’s comfort.

Interventions in Officers' Colony

Interventions in Administrative Building – DMW, Patiala

The team has dealt with many such design complexities while bringing innovative approaches to comply with the IGBC requirements. Some exceptional measures like separate water meters and solar water heater for all 86 dwelling units were installed. A nursery to promote growth of species within site thereby minimizing transportation impact while procurement is also done in Officer’s Residential Colony project.

Many video screens & signage were installed in the common area of the DMW, Patiala campus to create awareness on Green building design features incorporated within campus. The management also agreed to organize periodical workshops and training sessions to keep the in-house team updated with the latest trends & technologies and best practices related to environmental sustainability.

Based on the inputs from the GreenTree team, IR also gained insights that both the projects could have generated more benefits and better living experience at marginal incremental cost, had certain things were planned for at the design stage.  For example, incorporation of passive strategies for better ventilation, daylight and lesser heat ingress through building envelope would have helped to reduce the overall energy consumption of the building.

The effort put together by the entire team of GreenTree in coordination and support from the IR throughout the project was very well recognized by the IGBC. As a result, the Indian Railway team could bag the Platinum Rating for both the projects. The Officer’s Railway Colony Project was rewarded with ‘Green Residential Society’ Platinum Rating Certificate. The Administrative Building - DMW, Patiala, Punjab won ‘Existing Building (Operations & Management)’ Platinum Rating Certificate.

The Indian Railways have always been a source of encouragement for such initiatives and have taken several steps to streamline its initiatives with regards to environmental management. As per Annual Sustainability report released by IR in 2018-19, Indian Railways (IR) have following targets in India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for combating climate change:

“Rail Chale… Paryavaran Bache…”