December 2012 | Suchita Vemuri

Realty check goes green

Developed by Tata Realty and Infrastructure, Ramanujan IT City in Chennai, India, is based on an open-space concept, energy-efficient design and has environmentally sustainable features

A flagship project for Tata Realty and Infrastructure (TRIL), Ramanujan IT City has many firsts to its credit: the first in India to receive quality certification from Bureau Veritas Quality International (BVQI) for energy management, the first special economic zone to be developed using the ‘alliance approach’, and the first such tribute to mathematical genius Srinivas Ramanujan.

It’s not surprising, then, that much of the built-up space in Ramanujan IT City has been leased out already. Cognizant Technology Solutions has taken an entire tower and the list of tenants includes Hewlett Packard, Infosys, Mindtree, Scientific Publishing and Taurus Quest. Clearly, given the arithmetic of the project, naming it after Srinivas Ramanujan was ideal.

“The project offered the Tata group the opportunity to pay a small and humble tribute to the genius of Ramanujan, the originator of the square root and the theory of infinity, who hailed from Tamil Nadu and worked with the port in Chennai at one point,” says C Velan, executive director and chief executive of TRIL Infopark, a special purpose vehicle, established jointly by Tata Realty, Indian Hotels Company and the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation, that has built the park. “Ramanujan embodies the infinite power of an individual in transforming our lives.”

The alliance approach
One of the park’s standout features is that it has been built using the alliance approach, a radical departure from the traditional turnkey, design-and-build, sub-contract or cost-plus method. “This approach involves a relationship contract wherein the team — comprising the developer [TRIL Infopark], the consultant architect, the main contractor and the facility manager — forms an alliance with the common objective of completing the project in time, within specified cost and in adherence to stipulated quality standards,” explains Mr Velan. With all partners taking equal responsibility, the project has already seen savings (unheard of in the building industry) and negligible time overruns.

Construction began in March 2009 and the complex has a 25-acre campus with only 30 percent built up. This offers 4.5 million sq ft of office space, a 1,500-seat convention centre and 100 service apartments. Four office towers will be completed in December 2013, the rest by March 2014. All towers are to be named after Ramanujan’s mentors and teachers at Cambridge University. The complex will also house a small museum dedicated to Ramanujan.

Every aspect of the complex celebrates technology and accomplishment, from its name to its technology-dependent integrated management systems. It has received BVQI certifications in four categories: ISO9001 for quality, ISO14001 for environment systems, ISO18001 for health and safety systems and ISO50001 for energy management systems. The heart of the complex is the integrated management system, which takes care of security, vehicle movement, lift-management systems, sewage treatment, air quality, emergency procedures, etc.

Going green
The service standards are not just about comfort for the ultimate users; they are also closely linked to the green goals of the complex. Coming up within Chennai’s city limits, the park’s location demands that it be socially supportive and environmentally friendly. And the Ramanujan IT Park is indeed a showcase example of how large, environmentally correct realty projects should be conceived, executed and managed.

The park’s construction processes have been rated by the Indian Green Building Council and the campus has been designed to meet the standards required for a rating by the United States-based Green Building Council’s ‘leadership in energy and environmental design’.

The buildings have been designed for optimal use of heat and sunlight. Simulation design exercises determined how light and heat would enter the workspaces and, thereby, the installation of punch windows on a north-south tangent and of double-glazed glass panels on façades facing east and west. This allows diffused natural light. Effective air insulation will ensure energy efficiency. Renewable energy sources are also being installed: a 5MW wind energy plant, solar panels on rooftops to generate 0.5MW for lighting, and use of energy-efficient fixtures.

The water used in the complex is being treated and recycled using membrane technology for use in flushing toilets, gardens and landscaping, and for the cooling towers and air-conditioning plants. The sewage treatment plant is built to handle the requirements of the entire campus. As the complex is occupied, indoor air quality will be constantly monitored and measured. Provision for air-changers or air-handling units will help maintain optimal oxygen levels in office areas by pumping in fresh air instead of recycling the air within.

Facilities at hand
Apart from the large green spaces (70 percent of the campus), amenities include a yoga garden, indoor and outdoor game areas, a gymnasium, convenience stores, medical centre, gift shops, a travel desk, foreign exchange centre, banks and ATMs. The complex also houses two food courts that will each seat 2,000 people at a time.

Infrastructure support for operations include the installation of diesel-powered generators and the provision of dedicated routers with internet service providers present on campus. The complex includes parking for approximately 12,000 cars and 20,000 two-wheelers.

Moreover, the gates and roads for vehicular and pedestrian movement have been planned for quick and efficient evacuation in case of emergency. A complete evacuation should take 13 minutes, says Mr Velan, explaining that the buildings and the complex have been designed to be efficient so that assembly and evacuation are safe and easy.

“We have been preparing for seamless management and quality systems as value addition from day one,” says Mr Velan. “Our customers want efficiency in energy, space and operational matters. It’s our responsibility to guarantee that these efficiencies are delivered.”

Mr Velan says that his company wants to hold the asset because it expects the sector to grow exponentially. “Among the factors driving our success is the location of the campus, with its excellent road-rail-and-air connectivity, the quality of our product and services, including our ‘green’ features, our promised operational efficiency and the Tata brand name.”

A big factor that will underscore the success of the park is that it is located in Chennai’s ‘IT corridor’, a desired destination for foreign and corporate investors in what is the second-largest IT hub in the country after Bengaluru.

With location and quality predefined, the Ramanujan IT City address is one that is bound to grow in value as it redefines the future of commercial real estate.

‘The sector holds huge potential’

Tata Realty and Infrastructure’s asset base is likely to more than double in the next five years, says CEO and managing director Sanjay Ubale

Is there distinct separation in the two business segments in which TRIL is present, realty and infrastructure?
By combining the realty and infrastructure development businesses, TRIL has the advantage of synergies. Infrastructure development creates externalities which can be taken advantage of through real estate development. Similarly, real estate developments can create viable opportunities for infrastructure development. Real estate and infrastructure feed on each other in a positive way and TRIL intends to harness the opportunity this creates.

What are the TRIL projects in the real estate space?
A retail mall in Amritsar called ‘Trillium’ is almost ready and will be opened shortly. We also own and manage nearly 7 lakh sq ft of IT space in Mumbai. Other developments are coming up in Kochi (more than 1 million sq ft), Nagpur (1.2 million sq ft), Bengaluru (1.5 million sq ft) and Gurgaon (0.6 million sq ft).

Additionally, TRIL is developing six projects for Tata Consultancy Services: at Hinjewadi in Pune, Rajarhat in Kolkata, Garima Park in Gandhinagar, Nagpur, Indore and Trivandrum. TRIL is currently managing real estate projects worth over Rs100 billion.

What’s happening in the infrastructure sector?
The infrastructure sector holds huge potential for growth, despite the many challenges of land acquisition, environment clearances, etc. TRIL has won a concession from the National Highway Authority of India to develop a 110km highway in Maharashtra. The Rs13 billion project is nearing completion and tolling is expected to start by the year-end.

TRIL is actively looking at investing in infrastructure segments such as urban transport, airports and logistics parks. We have acquired a 40-acre piece of land in the National Capital Region for our first logistics park. Over the next five years, TRIL expects to more than double its asset value and its aggregate turnover should exceed Rs17 billion.