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CoEvolve Northern Star works with, not against, the elements to tackle India’s water shortage

CoEvolve Northern Star by CoEvolve Estates (India) is a unique sustainable residential development in India. Following water shortages in Bangalore, the development team have focused on water sustainability and won the Leadership in Sustainable Design and Performance Award (2020 Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards) for their innovative initiative, making them among the highest rated green homes in India.

In the megacity of Bangalore, sometimes termed the Silicon Valley of India, CoEvolve Northern Star has focussed on finding ways to address the city’s recent acute water shortage. In this blog, Mr Suhail Rahman, MD and CEO of CoEvolve Estates, tells us how their development has tackled this crisis.

Suhail Rahman, what do you think makes this project so exemplary?

“The project is very empathetic towards nature, possibly the best in the region. It does not send out any waste to landfills, instead it is composted on site using a zero carbon footprint organic waste convertor. The compost produced is used as organic manure for the landscape. The sewage treatment plant is also completely off-grid, requiring no pumps/motors. It works by bio-mimicking the digestive process of a cow. The absence of pumps/motors results in practically zero downtime of the sewage treatment plant.

“CoEvolve Northern Star has been featured in a United Nations case study “Crafting Communities for Change in a Megacity” – primarily for the stellar water engineering. Design features such as low flow plumbing fixtures contribute to passive savings in water, while the advanced 8 stage water treatment system recovers usable water from sullage, contributing to active water savings. The sewage is recycled and reused for flushing and irrigation.

“The ZERO water discharge system reduces the dependence on fresh water by 65%, resulting in saving 25.2 million liters of fresh water annually. In addition to this, 600,000 liters of rain water is harvested annually. While Internet of Things (IoT) based water sensors clubbed with meters give real-time consumption data to the residents, the leakage monitoring algorithm helps minimise water losses in synergy with drought resistant plants, which minimises water consumption.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced on this project?

“The biggest challenge we faced was resistance to new ideas. The zero-water discharge system was groundbreaking and not attempted before, plus there were no set guidelines for use in the country, so partners were hesitant to sign off the project. The sewage treatment system came from a start-up company so we were their first customers. The other challenge faced is the acceptance of recycled water by the end user, in spite of providing real-time water quality reports. However, the system has been a huge success and shows how crucial new ideas are to our progression.”

What was the greatest opportunity you identified?

“The project not only harnesses solar but also wind energy. Windmills typically are mounted on tall towers. So we saw an opportunity to use the building as the tall tower required to mount the windmill, plus exploit the height by placing two windmills to harness wind energy. It is a 6.4kW system producing up to 30kWhs daily, depending on the wind speed.

“The Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) from ECOSTP was the biggest discovery in this project. While the cost of the STP is higher than conventional STPs, the maintenance costs are so low that the residents have perennial savings. This STP produces almost 90% lower sludge in comparison to conventional STP’s.”

In what ways does this project contribute to our industry’s long term goals towards total decarbonisation? 

“CoEvolve Northern Star significantly contributes to carbon footprint reduction. The building materials used are 20% recycled materials, such as fly ash, saw dust, etc. This results in embodied carbon reduction by 1,738 tons. The solar power plant has already reduced the carbon footprint by over eight tons and produces 30,000 units of electricity annually. The high-performance glass used for fenestration contributes to lower energy usage for cooling. Heat reflective paint on external walls and roof further reduces dependency on energy hungry air conditioners.

“Zero carbon footprint interventions such as the organic waste composter and the sewage treatment plant from ECOSTP plays an integral role in the project’s continued low carbon footprint journey. Common area lighting is controlled by motion sensors as well as light sensors and the various sustainable features implemented in the project reduces the operational carbon by over 242 tons annually.”

How do you think your project could influence other sustainable building projects in the Asia Pacific region?

“Many cities in the Asia Pacific region are grappling with a water crisis similar to Bangalore. As the region’s population continues to surge, the demand for water is increasing substantially. At the same time, rapid urbanisation, global warming and irresponsible disposal of waste has resulted in the dwindling of freshwater resources.  Water sustainability is thus the need of the hour.

“Sustainable homes are for all and not just for the privileged few. CoEvolve Northern Star brings in features that are sustainable, economical, resource efficient and provide healthy spaces for the residents, in a convenient and accessible location with affordable pricing. The low building footprint also contributes to 82% open area, with ample green cover and recreational zones for the wellbeing of residents.

“We at CoEvolve believe that with advance planning and research, sustainable practices can be implemented in any building project. CoEvolve Northern Star has encouraged even small players in the industry to think big. We hope our approach and commitment towards preserving natural resources would influence stakeholders to adopt sustainability concepts as a table stake rather than an exception in the building projects.”

Mr S.Raghupathy, Deputy Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry:

“CoEvolve is one of the few developers in India which have demonstrated leadership in every aspect of sustainability in their residential projects. I am delighted that CoEvolve’s Northern Star project is the winner of 2020 Asia Pacific Network (APN) Awards in the residential category under Leadership in Sustainable Design and Performance; their earlier project, Asset Aura, was one of the finalists in 2016 APN Awards under residential category. CoEvolve is very innovative in their approach and addresses real time challenges faced in communities such as scarcity of water, waste management, health and well-being of residents.

“In the process, CoEvolve is not only meeting the local norms but also demonstrating exemplary performance, by adopting new technologies including those from start-ups.

“CoEvolve adopts a holistic approach in designing and implementing green concepts. Some of the unique and innovative green features in the Northern Star project include 150 feet high vertical green wall, ECOSTP to treat wastewater, 6.4kW windmill on the terrace and many others. CoEvolve has been adopting green concepts by design in all their residential projects and inspiring many other developers to practice sustainability in spirit.”

About the awards

The Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards showcase the achievements of businesses and innovators in WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Network which are leading the way on sustainability in buildings.

The biennial Awards, first held in 2014, celebrates buildings pushing the envelope in sustainability, companies that have integrated sustainability into the core of their operations, and women leading the green building space.

An independent panel of 12 high-profile judges assessed nominations from Asia Pacific green building councils, and selected finalists in three awards categories:

1. The Business Leadership in Sustainability Award

2. The Women in Green Building Leadership Award

3. The Leadership in Sustainable Design and Performance Award

View the full Award Booklet: Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards 2020 here.

The winner of each category was announced at an online ceremony on the 3rd December 2020.

For more information contact, Nellie Cheng,