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Pheroza and Jamshyd Godrej at the pooja ceremony during the house-warming of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre.

 The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre


onsidering the magnitude of its achievement, the Platinum-rated CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (GBC) at Madhapur Village in Hyderabad had a low-key house-warming and thanksgiving function on 11 February, 2004. The celebration was confined to those involved in financing, planning and designing the Centre. The Centre is already functional and the President of India will inaugurate it shortly.

“The pooja was performed by Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, past President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Chairman and Managing Director of Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd., and Mrs. Pheroza Godrej,” writes Air Cmde. S.C. Kumar, Project Coordinator. “It was indeed a moment of great pride and honour for all the staff of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC that the ‘first couple’ participated in the function.

“A further highlight of the day’s activity was a short but memorable visit by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Nara Chandrababu Naidu. He was received by Mr. and Mrs. Godrej. Mr. Godrej escorted the Chief Minister around the building and drew his attention to the special features incorporated in the building. The Chief Minister was impressed by what he saw and expressed his happiness on the completion of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC building and hoped that the GBC would be able to offer Green services to the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, escorts Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

“The other dignitaries at the function included Anil Kumar V. Epur, Past Chairman CII–SR, Shobana Kamineni, Deputy Chairperson CII–SR, ParasuRaman R., Chairman, Green Building Council, Pradeep Dhobale, Chairman, Energy Efficiency Council of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC, G.V. Prasad, Chairman, Green Business Summit, Ramesh Datla, Vice Chairman, CII – Andhra Pradesh State Council, Air Chief Marshal (Retd.) I.H. Latif and Bilkees Latif.

“This was followed by the ‘thanksgiving’ meeting attended by the architects, consultants and contractors of the building. Jamshyd and Pheroza Godrej, Karan Grover (Architect), S. Padmanaban (Senior Adviser to the United States Agency for International Development) and S. Raghupathy (Senior Director and Head, GBC) spoke on the occasion. Each one narrated an interesting anecdote pertaining to the evolution of the concept of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC. Jamshyd Godrej thanked all the contractors who assisted in the construction of the building and congratulated them for their signal contribution to the success of the project. Pheroza Godrej wished the GBC staff the best of luck in their endeavour to promote the Green Building movement in India. She also presented mementos to all the contractors as a token of appreciation for their valuable contribution in completing the building to the highest standards.

Clockwise: Air Chief Marshal (Retd.) I.H. Latif, Pheroza Godrej, Jamshyd Godrej and Chandrababu Naidu in conversation. Jamshyd Godrej addresses the thanksgiving meeting in the Seminar Hall of the GBC. Seated (l-r) are S. Raghupathy, Senior Director, Head, CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC, S. Padmanaban, Senior Adviser, USAID, Pheroza Godrej, Karan Grover, Architect, and Air Cmde. S.C. Kumar, Project Coordinator, CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC.

“S. Raghupathy, Senior Director and Head of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC, welcomed the gathering and Air Cmde. S.C. Kumar proposed the vote of thanks. The meeting ended with a formal lunch for all the participants.”

The whole project germinated from an idea sown by Srinivasan Padmanaban, Senior Energy and Environment Adviser to USAID. The January-February 2004 issue of SPAN magazine recounts how the idea took shape with the visit to India of John Armstrong, an energy expert and consultant in the U.S. in 2000: “Armstrong worked out a comprehensive business plan for CII and advised them to send a group of Indian experts in energy and environment, along with an architect, on a ‘design tour’ to the United States. The group learned about new ‘Green architecture’ design concepts and how to adapt them to Indian conditions during their visit to several cities.”

Several seminars and conferences organised by USAID and CII on the Green Building concept got Indian corporations interested. The Pirojsha Godrej Foundation and the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation have provided a significant donation for the Centre and, in addition, USAID granted $1.2 million funds for conducting Green-related activities in India over a period of two years. The response received was most enthusiastic.

R-L: Jamshyd Godrej and Karan Grover browse through SPAN magazine, which carried an article on the GBC. Seen on the extreme left is Air Cmde. S.C. Kumar and (centre) C.R. Narayan Rao, Commissioning Agent. Clockwise: Pheroza Godrej presents a memento to Sangram Sinh and Karan Grover.

Everything depended, however, on getting the right men to execute this noble idea. Karan Grover, an architect who had already made a name for himself with his gold medal-winning thesis on Pedestrian Precincts and his Masters on housing for the urban poor in London, offered his professional services to the Green Business Centre.

Going back to his roots has been the source of inspiration for much of Grover’s work. A recent article in The Indian Express credits him with achieving World Monument Status for the medieval site of Champaner at Pavagadh. About the GBC, too, he is quoted in The Indian Express as saying, “It’s not the first time for India. We have been doing it since ancient times. The jaali work in the Taj Mahal provides what is called the Venturi effect in modern buildings, it helps pre-cool air. Similarly, the Bettum Cherla stone used for the GBC was local, as were the workers employed in construction. Also, the root zone water treatment system we have used in the GBC is very common in Mughal Gardens.”

(Left) Kurshed Daruwala, Vice President, Sterling and Wilson, and (right) a representative of D.S. Gupta, plumbing contractor, receive mementos from Pheroza Godrej.

About the CII-Sohrabji Godrej GBC, Grover remarks: “From wind towers that pre-cool the air by 10 degrees to photocells that help generate 20 per cent of the building’s annual energy requirements, the Green Business Centre is an energy-efficient marvel.” Additional outstanding features are the two 45-feet wind towers and screen walls, to provide pre-cooled air to the ACs, photovoltaic panels to generate solar energy and root zone treatment for all the waste water generated on site.

The staff of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre with Jamshyd Godrej (centre) proudly holding the Platinum plaque awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. Pheroza Godrej is seated beside him.

The Green Centre is a great monument in itself and has clearly defined aims to foster excellence in energy efficiency, environment and recycling, renewable energy and water management, which are all issues facing Indian industry today. The Centre is facilitating with a mission of having at least 10 Green Buildings in India by 2006.



Ch. The Platinum Rating for the Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad is a high point in Godrej achievements as Corporate Citizen. What is interesting is that you planned and achieved this rating from the very start, unlike the other two similarly rated centres. What inspired you to go a step further than these two?

JNG. The Green Business Centre was planned from inception to demonstrate Green technologies and as such the achievement of the Platinum Rating was essential for this purpose. We were fortunate in being the first building in the world approved for Platinum under LEED 2.0.

Ch. The Andhra Pradesh Government gave you full support. But there must have been several hurdles to cross. What were these, and how did you overcome them?

JNG. The only hurdles were routine ones. In fact the Andhra Pradesh Government went out of its way to facilitate the building of the Centre. Land required by us was made available in a high-tech area. Several CII members, too, supported the venture in the belief that it would offer long-term returns both to the industry and the country.

Ch. According to a recent article in SPAN magazine, the total construction cost was Rs. 80 million of which you generously contributed Rs. 50 million. Is that correct?

JNG. The total cost, which is correct, includes not only the actual building but the cost of equipping it. The Pirojsha Godrej Foundation and the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation generously contributed Rs. 50 million.

Ch. Have you any plans for more such ratings? What about the Centre of Excellence being built by Godrej at Pirojshanagar?

JNG. Yes, indeed. We are planning the CII-Naoroji Godrej Centre of Excellence to be a Platinum- or Gold-rated building.

Ch. The Green Business Centre, according to SPAN, plans to reach out to 2,500 business houses in order to build the brand in the corporate sector. Is it true that you plan to promote five such Green Building ventures by 2005?

JNG. The major objective is to reach out to as many business houses as possible to promote Green Business processes in the corporate sector. The North Delhi Power Company of the Tata Group, the proposed ITC headquarters in Gurgaon and Dr. Reddy Laboratories in Hyderabad have shown interest. Indications are that we will exceed the target of five such Green Buildings by 2005.

Ch. Is it your goal to make India a global leader in Green Businesses so that savings will accrue in energy and water and lead to bigger savings to society at large?

JNG. To make India a global leader in Green Businesses is certainly a major goal. We are convinced that this makes sound business and economic sense. Huge savings can accrue to society in energy and water-related costs.

Ch. Is it a fact that the initial cost outlay for Green Building construction is only 10 per cent more than the cost of conventional buildings and that this extra cost can easily be made up from savings in energy and water?

JNG. My expectation is that the additional cost of a Green Building over a conventional building would be approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the total cost. However, due to significant savings in energy and water conservation and other Green features, the payback for the additional cost will be within three years.

Ch. Will you please elaborate on the stated objectives of the Green Business Centre - providing a platform for demonstrating Green products and technologies; a networking centre for entrepreneurs and businesses going Green; bringing out a Green Business directory covering the latest trends and practices; a permanent technology centre to showcase available technologies in Green-related activities?

JNG. No doubt these are our objectives, but you’ve missed out one activity, which deserves top priority. This is water conservation and management. Water shortage in the not-too-distant future threatens not only India but the entire world. We plan to do all in our power to persuade architects and builders to incorporate Green principles in whatever they build. We intend to bring pressure on the Government too to do the needful. We need to learn from America. There is a strong Green movement in America. To give just one example, California is a pioneer in controlling car pollution, having made a law to this effect.

Ch. Would you agree that the very fact that such ratings are being given by a world-recognised body will prove to be an impetus towards building, in due course, a Green Economy that will create enormous wealth, not only in material goods, but more generally in ecological regeneration and human well-being?

JNG. The whole idea of Green technology grew from the sad fact that today one-third of humanity consumes a disproportionate amount of goods. Now, if the other two-thirds, which are today deprived, were to consume the same amount, the resources would just not be available. This is why we have to have development in a sustained manner, otherwise the cost could be exorbitant for future generations.

Ch. A lead article in the Times recently quotes the Indian activist Stan Thekaekara saying, in his Alternative Mansion House speech, that the success of an economy is to be reckoned “not just by the profits generated, but how equitably this profit has been distributed”. What are your views on this?

JNG. An economy is successful when there is significant growth, employment opportunities, and an equitable distribution of income. Generating profits by the corporate sector is essentially for reinvestment in capital goods and human resources. The competitiveness of countries and the companies within their borders are determined by many factors. A high level of competitiveness is essential for high performing economies. Companies all over the world and especially in developing countries believe in the importance of equitable distribution of profits in such a manner that local communities and international communities benefit from contributions of money and human resources.

Ch. The Times article also speaks of the “globalisation of markets” becoming over a period of time “a globalisation of values” (meaning gains in terms of human welfare, environmental balance, besides money) and an “economy of hope”. Do you think this is just a dream or that it is achievable?

JNG. One of the fundamental reasons for globalisation is to create jobs and opportunities in developing countries. The record of globalisation so far indicates that on balance globalisation has been successful in creating more jobs and opportunities throughout the world. There are, of course, many issues touched upon such as equity, human rights and environmental balance. It is a difficult balance to maintain when development needs of developing countries are so huge and often the rate of development is disappointing. Market-led mechanisms have been found over time to be the most efficient option as opposed to directed growth. Keeping this in mind, one can hope that the needs of globalisation and development will give due respect to issues such as human rights and environment balance. The role of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and of a free press in furthering this balance to the maximum possible extent cannot be underestimated. Transparency and open debates are essential to achieve this goal.



Ch. You have been associated with the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad from its inception. How do you feel now that the Centre is complete and has a Platinum Rating to its name?

SCK. Personally, the award of the Platinum Rating to the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre building has given me a great sense of satisfaction, recognition and abiding fulfilment. I consider myself singularly fortunate to be associated with this prestigious project.

Ch. Could you acquaint us with the exact nature of your responsibilities in maintaining and running this Centre? What are the business activities that will be carried on at the Centre? Will they be environment-oriented too?

SCK. I was appointed as a Project Coordinator with a full mandate to act as the client and ensure the achievement of the goals set out for the project. Now that the project is over, the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Centre has been entrusted to a team headed by me. This includes the upkeep and operations of all the special features associated with the building, which makes it a unique activity. All the business activities of the Centre will be related to the environment through specific areas such as water management, energy efficiency, renewable energy, recycling waste management and Green Buildings.

Ch. In an interview in The Indian Express recently, architect Karan Grover stated, “We have hundreds of years of legacy in such constructions and the Centre only revives our traditional methods (like jaali work in the Taj Mahal and the water regeneration system in Mughal Gardens). But aren’t the 45-feet wind towers, photovoltaic panels to generate solar energy, the waste treatment, etc., a dramatic departure from our traditional methods to more modern concepts appropriate to our time? What are your views on this?

SCK. I entirely agree with you. The features incorporated in the building are the most modern and are appropriate to the present times. However, some of the features of the buildings such as the open courtyard and jaali walls, etc. are inspired by traditional Indian architecture.

Ch. India is the first country outside the U.S. to win this Platinum Rating. A news item in The Economic Times (28 November, 2003) speaks of “Robert Redford posing a challenge to India’s Green title”. Your comments, please.

SCK. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system allows even the Robert Redford building to achieve the Platinum Rating.

The Platinum award given to the GBC is a recognition by LEED as to the capacity of the building for energy savings and environmental protection incorporated in the design.

Ch. I repeat a question that I put also to Jamshyd Godrej. Do you visualise such Green centres in India and the world as providing an impetus towards building, in due course, a Green Economy that will create enormous wealth, not only in material goods, but more generally in ecological regeneration and human well-being?

SCK. Without doubt there is a great scope for the “Green Buildings” concept to make a big impact in the Indian construction industry, especially in respect of corporate building. The Green Building movement has received great support from the U.S. Federal as well as State Governments. Similar support from the Central and State Governments in India would facilitate a Green Building revolution in the coming years. Once the concept takes off, the Green Building movement would usher in a Green Economy, leading to human well-being in its broadest sense.

Ch. Any other comments you would like to make?

SCK. The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre has initiated the Green Building movement in the country and is now poised to play the role of a catalyst leading to market transformation in India.



B.G. Deshmukh (centre) inaugurated the 45th Annual Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show. On his left are Pheroza Godrej, President, National Society of the Friends of the Trees, N.N. Naik, Chairman of the Show and Vice President, Friends of the Trees, and A.D. Sawant, President, Mumbai Rose Society and Jt. Hon. Secretary, Friends of the Trees. On his right is V.A. Rode, Chief Judge of the Show. An artistic arrangement of cut flowers.

A Show of Green

he 45th Annual Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Show organised by the National Society of the Friends of the Trees was held on 7 and 8 February, 2004 at the Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute, Mumbai. B.G. Deshmukh, who retired from the I.A.S. in 1991 as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and who heads a long list of non-governmental and social organisations, inaugurated the Show.

The Show is considered the equivalent of the National Horticultural Festival in Western India and is a much-awaited event, drawing large crowds, including professional and amateur garden enthusiasts, children and senior citizens alike. A new development at this year’s Flower Show was the coming together of the Mumbai Rose Society, the Indo-Japanese Bonsai Group and the participation of the Aurobindo Ashram. The Mumbai Rose Society set up a rose pavilion; the Indo-Japanese Bonsai Group displayed a bonsai pavilion; and the centre manned by the Aurobindo Ashram demonstrated the spiritual relationship between flowers, plants and human beings.

Pheroza J. Godrej, President, National Society of the Friends of the Trees, in her welcome speech, recalled our late Chairman Sohrab P. Godrej “whose fervent wish was that like-minded organisations work together. He was closely associated with the World Wide Fund for Nature - India, the Bombay Natural History Society and Friends of the Trees. Much in advance of important environment days drawing near, he took the trouble to find out how each of these three organisations planned to observe these respective days and whether a joint function could be organised, just as our three organisations did recently on 14 June to celebrate Jaistha Purnima.”


B.G. Deshmukh, V.K. Ogle, Organising Secretary of the Show, Pheroza Godrej and V.A. Rode admire a red pumpkin on display.

       A "Black Pine" bonsai on show.   An aerial view of the ground display  
   of flowers and foliage.

The colourful and attractive displays of flowers, foliage, flowering plants, cacti, succulents, medicinal plants, annuals, orchids, hanging baskets, on-the-spot landscapes, decorative arrangements of fruit, vegetables and flowers were a treat to the eye - a soothing break from the environs of the concrete jungle that Mumbai has become. Besides, this year’s continuing winter, which was colder than the past few years, had kept this season’s blooms more luxuriant and fresh. About 6,000 varieties were on display in 34 different categories.

Children of various age groups participated in the competition, which was organised along with the Show. Winners of the Garden Competition were given their prizes on 7 February. Several other prizes were awarded on 8 February in a prize distribution ceremony at which Bhalachandra Mungekar, Vice-Chancellor, University of Mumbai, was the Chief Guest. V.A. Rode, former Head of the Landscape and Cosmetic Maintenance Section at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, was the Chief Judge. Special prizes were offered to children for identification of plants on site. In all, 78 rolling trophies and 450 first, second and third prizes were distributed on both days.

Arrangements were also made for about 60 to 70 stalls to sell plants, agro-horticultural products and other gardening materials.


“Solitary time in nature is a
spiritual experience”


S.O.S. From
Planet Earth


Ah! So rude this creature man!
Ruthless to the core.
For every selfish deed he can,
My humble heart he tore.

For his selfish needs, man did everything,
And he remained a successful being.
And God’s praises he did sing.
But to me, pollution he did bring.

In every nook and corner,
Man set his foot
And nature’s beauty,
He diminished in clouds of soot.
He wrecked this place
And dirt he has cluttered.
But man,
Your doom is near,
Your own days are numbered.

O Creator of technologies!
Bow down before the creator Almighty
Make this a better place to live in.
This, a plea from Mother Earth.

Strange are your ways.
And even more harmful,
Are its results.
But, it’s not too late yet.
It’s not too late.
To change to blissfulness,
From this misery and fate.
What is this Earth
If full of wastes?
Towards degradation
Our planet hastes.

There is pollution in every field.
On mind, body and environment,
Its effects are seen.
So, let us take appropriate steps
To curb this pollution.
And establish ourselves,
As environment-friendly citizens.

Persis Sabawala, Ex-student
Udayachal High School (Standard XEB)

heroza Godrej’s appointment book must vouch for her time management skills. Wife of industrialist Jamshyd Godrej, the lady runs Cymroza Art Gallery, oversees activities at the Bombay Natural History Society, is the trustee of Dr. Bhaudaji Lad Museum Trust and honorary secretary of the Museum Society of Bombay. Her pet interest is the environment and much of her work and leisure is centred around conservation. She has been heading the National Society of the Friends of the Trees since 2000 and encourages afforestation by organising the Vanamahotsav every monsoon, where lots of school children participate. Here is what she has to say about her love for nature.

Her upbringing amidst nature: “I was fortunate to have been born when I was and to live where I did. My school placed great emphasis on the outdoors and our vacations were spent at hill stations, wildlife parks and sanctuaries. In fact, even after marriage, I lived in the same locality. That was a different Mumbai though, where bungalows and cottages lined the streets. One actually saw grass and weeds along the roads. Of course, the Malabar Hill and Doongarwadi areas retain a forest-like ecosystem to this day. Mumbai is blessed to have city forests in Doongarwadi, the Mahim Nature Park and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and pockets of mangrove forests like the one at Vikhroli. In fact, the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation has developed and is maintaining this as an Ecological Marine Park”.

The family’s love for the outdoors: “It is nature that holds us enthralled. That is how the family prefers to spend its leisure time. I believe nature provides the purest inspiration. It makes the best companion, and time spent in solitude amidst nature is almost a spiritual experience. No wonder saints are known to isolate themselves and meditate in forests. Of course one needs family and friends, but that is different. Nature is always there for you; it never lets you down. The problem with us city dwellers is that consumerism and materialism have numbed us. We find time for everything else but to listen to birdsongs, smell fresh blooms, feel a newborn pup or kitten, taste a wild berry or watch a sunrise or sunset. Even when my schedules become hectic and I am unable to make myself scarce for a short spell, a few hours in our garden at home revives my spirits and I feel whole again.”

Sailing with the family: “On weekends we go sailing and this sport offers the chance of complete communion with nature. Only I despair at the way we have polluted our seas, and this is especially true of the area near Mumbai Harbour.”

On giving her children the same advantage: “Our children Raika and Navroze enthusiastically share our concern for nature. We have a great advantage in Pirojshanagar, our industrial garden township, which is ideal for children to grow up in — the diversity of trees, shrubs, insects and birds is incredible!”

Courtesy: The Financial Express