Bombay House a heritage building that houses various Tata Sons companies and is the Tata Group Headquarters recently got a gold green rating from the Indian Green Building Council, a first of its kind certification for a heritage building.
The Tatas have always been conscious about protecting the environment and sustainability. Acquiring Ecofirst Services allowed them more depth to venture into providing professional services to other building owners who are seeking to go green and also build upon expertise that is still niche in the market.
"Ecofirst Services is Tata Sons latest acquisition (a subsidiary of Tata Consulting Engineers) a company that was already engaged in sustainability initiatives and efforts and was taken into the Group fold as it was a good fit and was also looking for scalability," says F N Subedar, Chief Operating Officer, Tata Sons.
Subedar says the acquisition gives Tatas a boutique kind of outfit for particular areas.
"We are highly focused on sustainability and there are initiatives within the group which exist at operating company levels and also at the group level and therefore the thought that this was the business worth acquiring, " says Subedar. But there is a reason why Ecofirst is not merged as the arrangement allows it to retain its identity and also offer its expertise outside the Group.
For Ecofirst, in house businesses within the Tata Group offer great opportunities in tie-ups with Tata Housing projects that also has green engineering plans for almost all its projects even in the economy-housing segment.
"Our purpose is to provide an all-out sustainability and to make it as a way of life," says Chitranjan Kaushik, Chief Operating Officer, Ecofirst Services.
Ecofirst has also got associated with a project in Hyderabad that is undertaken by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for its campus there spread over 100 acre.
"I feel it is going to be one of the most sustainable development that you've ever seen come up recently," Kaushik says.
The population density that is coming up there is totally decided based on resources that are there and what the eco-system around can support including water, Kaushik says and based on these parameters the population estimate has been trimmed to 6000 from an earlier estimate of 8000 people and there are some remarkable experiments taking place there with different types of cooling systems.
"Moreover there will be no discharge from the site and no demand from the grid, we are not expecting any city authority to supply us water over and above that to what is coming in. We are making a cascade of water bodies, which will be then harvested, and then benefit, the surrounding villages. The site will be able to manage a 1.4 MW power plant sufficient enough to tae care of energy needs there," he adds.
"We are presently scouting for business," says Rakesh Bhatia, Vice President, Ecofirst Services. He feels experience that the company has gained after thinking out of the box solutions involving greening of the Bombay House can be extended to other heritage office buildings in Mumbai like the Thomas Cook office in the Fort area or the Deutsche Bank building in South Mumbai.
Kaushik points out to an encouraging trend that has made greening of the buildings cost effective. In 2008 and 2009 the gold and platinum rated buildings costing was about 15% higher but now because the demand is growing the costs have come down considerably. For example the cost of the solar PV prices are reduced by one third now and over the years things have become automatically affordable because of the volume and the popularity and the new inventions.