Leadership and performance: IFFCO, India and LEED

Aalok Vinod Jhunjhunwala

With paramount commitments to quality and to harnessing the Earth’s bounty to eliminate hunger from India in a sustainable manner, it is not surprising that the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) has become the world’s largest fertilizer cooperative federation. Nor is it surprising that, given the organization’s longstanding leadership in sustainability, it has also chosen to pursue LEED certification for many of its corporate buildings.

Growing as a business, while shrinking hunger

IFFCO was founded in 1967 and is registered as a multistate cooperative society. The organization was created to protect the interests and well-being of Indian farmers. Since it was first registered, IFFCO has grown from 57 member cooperatives to nearly 36,000, and recently recorded its turnover at $4.58 billion. It remains committed to leadership in India’s fertilizer industry, and is working closely with a variety of stakeholders, including the government, cooperative societies and farmers, to increase India’s food grain production.

As a key player in India’s agricultural industry, the leadership at IFFCO is keenly aware of the environmental crises facing our planet. Climate change, population growth, increasing demand for energy, food security and water scarcity are issues upon which IFFCO is focused.

Optimizing resources through LEED

As IFFCO deepened its national commitments to sustainable production and broadened its base of members, its leadership became determined to reduce the environmental impact of its extensive real estate holdings. Part of that determination involves the ambitious goal of getting many of its buildings—whether they be newly constructed or already operating—to achieve LEED certification. Through LEED, the company saw a way to reevaluate its building operations and identify measures enabling it to optimize use of resources.

“At IFFCO, we have a vision—to serve the society with an equal emphasis on quality and environment,” said Birinder Singh, Executive Director (CRS) at IFFCO. “It is this vision which propels us to exceed ourselves and do our bit for the conservation of our planet. IFFCO has taken up an ambitious goal of getting many of its buildings to be LEED (green building) certified and highlight its commitment towards its employees and nature as a whole.”

Last August, IFFCO’s headquarters, IFFCO Sadan in New Delhi, achieved the prestigious LEED Gold status from GBCI, the certification and credentialing body that administers LEED as well as the PEER, WELL, SITES and EDGE rating systems.

Measuring and making improvements

Their approach was practical, simple and highly cost-effective.

“LEED is something close to my heart," said N.K. Verma, Deputy General Manager (Project Services), who was instrumental in guiding the entire IFFCO team to certification. "I take an active interest in promoting meaningful, sustainability-oriented activities such as this.”

Verma and the facility managers thoroughly analyzed all building operations, identifying and addressing performance gaps. This process included a comprehensive energy audit to identify areas of opportunity. Another evaluation tracked the amount of refrigerant recharge to ensure that leakage rates remain within acceptable limits. As a result of these various analyses, the project team was able to streamline existing operations. Lighting was switched from fluorescent to LEDs, the building management system was upgraded, energy submeters were installed and most of the common area lighting was set to automatically switch off after certain hours. Additionally, 25 kWp solar panels are being installed to not only generate electricity, but also to reduce heat penetration into the building.

To improve indoor air quality, CO2 sensors were installed, and fresh air intake was linked with CO2 levels. Temperature and humidity levels are centrally controlled, optimizing the comfort level for occupants. To cut water consumption, minimum efficiency fixtures were installed, along with a sewage treatment plant that supplies water for landscaping and cooling tower consumption. Green Seal cleaning chemicals helped occupants avoid exposure to harmful chemicals.

The overall results were impressive: annual energy savings of 46,700 kWh during 2015–2016 (saving of INR 0.51 million) and annual water savings of 1.2 million liters. What’s more, the facilities management team has learned new techniques to optimize the operations of equipment and establish good housekeeping practices. To ensure that these many operational efficiencies and best practices remain in place, a whole-building compliance check is conducted every six months.

Looking to the future

In addition, IFFCO invested INR 88.07 million to install 1.63 MWp generating-capacity solar power plants on the roofs of its various buildings, parking facilities, schools and clubs. Moving forward, the company has plans to install 5 MWp rooftop solar power plants on other buildings, at an estimated cost of INR 280.40 million.

IFFCO Sadan, which accommodates 500 key employees, is the first building in the IFFCO family to be certified with LEED for Existing Buildings. As such, it sets a clear path for other IFFCO buildings to follow. The IFFCO Sadan team intends to upgrade its LEED Gold status to LEED Platinum within the next five years. They are also exploring the opportunity of using the LEED Dynamic Plaque for their headquarters and other offices for continuous performance monitoring.

IFFCO is a value-driven organization, with a commitment to quality, transparency, accountability and integrity… and operating in an ecologically sustainable manner. It’s no surprise, then, that IFFCO’s innovative team of leaders have chosen LEED. 

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