in Buildings - Meticulous Implementation of Building Code is the Crux of the
Shahi's Weekly Column for Infraline, September 10, 2007]
After almost three
years of extensive preparatory work and consultation process, the Energy
Conservation Building Code (ECBC) was launched by the Union Power Minister in
May 2007. This marks a major milestone in our march toward efficient energy
consumption policy and practice. It has been emphasized time and again that in
management of our energy resources we are faced with a paradoxical situation.
We are an energy starved nation, like many other countries, but we also indulge
in the luxury of highly inefficient consumption practices. Studies conducted on
a random basis have established that in India inefficient consumption of energy
leads to as much as 23% of excess consumption, which could be saved if we
achieved the ideal level of efficient consumption pattern and practices.
Another characteristic that energy starved nations have, are excessive
shortages, high costs due to high losses and yet they have been, by and large,
unable to communicate effectively across all segments of consumers for their
effective contribution in energy conservation measures.
alone constitutes almost 18 to 20% of the total consumption. The ideal
situation should have been that, through use of efficient lighting systems and
also efficient habits, the lighting load is brought down to about 10%.
Obviously, consumption of energy including electricity is much larger in
industrial sector and savings in this sector could mean a significant dent in
our drive to reduce electricity consumption across the country. This is a
subject by itself. In this discussion we are confining to yet another large
contributor to inefficient energy consumption in large buildings - Office
Complexes, Departmental Stores, Shopping Malls and huge Residential Complexes.
Savings effected in this category of consumption could also mean significant
positive effect on overall management of energy and electricity supply aimed at
minimizing the gap between demand and supply.
Conservation Act was legislated in late 2001. By way of implementation of this
Act, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was put in place in April 2002. The
Ministry of Power and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency formulated a National
Action Plan for energy conservation which was launched in September, 2002, by
the then Prime Minister. There are a number of directions on which this
national action plan has been structured. One of these directions is in
relation to identification of energy savings potentials in buildings and to that
end the action plan stipulated evolution of Building Codes. While the exercise
to prepare Building Codes commenced in 2003-04 itself, since it required to be a
comprehensive consultative process and considerable amount of ground work, as a
strategy it was decided that some immediate action should be taken to convey,
across the country, the need, rationale and message of energy conservation
particularly in buildings. Accordingly, it was decided that starting from
Rashtrapati Bhawan some of the large buildings of the Govt. Of India should be
taken up, in the first instance, to conduct energy audits and to implement
energy efficiency projects. Eight such buildings including the Prime Minister's
Office in the South Block, All India Institute of Medical Sciences etc. were
identified. The initial studies conducted established a saving potential of the
order of 25 to 30%. The idea was to cover more Govt. of India buildings in
Delhi and outside. Similar actions were suggested to be taken by various state
governments for Govt. offices. It is heartening to suggest that, besides other
buildings, the energy conservation project in Rashtrapati Bhawan was completed
in 2005 and was accordingly declared concluded by Hon'ble President of India on
National Energy Conservation Day in December 2005. Now it has been established
that saving and electricity consumption in Rashtrapati Bhawan has been of the
order of about 30%.
In the recent
years, when there is a boom in the construction industry, following the overall
accelerated pace of economic growth, the subject of energy consumption and
therefore conservation in large buildings has assumed even greater relevance.
As mentioned, the exercise on preparation of energy conservation Building Codes
started in 2003-04. When task forces for different segments of electricity
consumption were created around the important national action agenda items, task
force was also created to work on energy conservation in buildings. Apart from
other stake holders, Institute of Architects and a few other eminent experts in
the field were associated in this exercise. The objective was to evolve and
formulate not only the strategy but also implementable Action Plans.
Right in the
beginning it was considered necessary that before a line of action or principle
is made mandatory it would be essential that its acceptance is established
through voluntary compliance in the initial stage. Such an approach is likely
to be more effective and successful. Another issue to consider was the
distinctive approach to large buildings that are still at the drawing board
stage and therefore when they would be constructed there could be scope to
incorporate all requirements of efficient energy consumption. However, in cases
of old buildings, retrofitting of energy efficiency projects could create
different types of problems specific to different types of buildings and their
construction. In a way, this problem was also faced in respect of the first
eight buildings in Delhi which were chosen to be subjected to energy audit. For
example, the saving in the case of Rashtrapati Bhawan could have been
significantly higher if the constraints of existing construction and
architecture were not there. Many of the suggestions therefore had to be
moderated so as to avoid any major modifications in the building itself. Keeping
this approach in mind, the national action plan obviously then would have to
follow a set of principles and guidelines for the existing buildings, which
might be significantly different from those applicable to new creations.
The aspects which
need to be covered in designing an energy efficient building would include
layout, the building material, the type of wall, roof and floorings, design and
placements of windows and above all the type of lighting, heating and cooling
systems etc. Invariably it is seen that buildings do not take advantage of
availability of natural light. It may be possible that in certain situations
full or even partial sunlight may not be available. But, whenever such
availability can be secured through proper layouts and designs or architecture,
it would be necessary that this consideration is kept uppermost in mind.
Similar approach is required for ventilation. Quite often when we visit some of
the ancient building complexes or monuments, we are pleasantly surprised seeing
the design features and architecture of these buildings which have taken into
account adequately the availability of natural light and ventilation.
In last five years
there have been sea changes in the landscape in the field of real estate and
more particularly in the sizes and types of office complexes and shopping
malls. This phenomenon is not restricted only to major metros, but in the last
couple of years it has extended to several towns and cities in the country.
According to a report prepared by Deutsche Bank on India's Commercial Real
Estate market, the office space is likely to increase by nearly 20 Million
sq.ft. per year in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to keep pace with the growing
demand. For the country as a whole, the office space requirement would of the
order of 55 Million sq.ft. per year. The demand for office space is being
driven by ever increasing share of service sector. The demand pattern is
clearly shifting from the old central business districts to secondary centers
such as office and I.T. Parks etc. This is so because modern buildings in
altogether in new areas are better planned and they provide high quality
construction and better office standards. The All India Office Space Market, as
mentioned, is predominated by service sectors, but more particularly by I.T.
Group. More than 7000 I.T. Centers account for almost 70% of the office space
market, 15% is contributed by the financial services group and the balance by
According to the
report of the Deutsche Bank, as referred to earlier, by the end of 2008 the
Shopping Centers and Malls would contribute to almost 80 Million sq.ft. located
in about 260 centers in 15 cities of the country. The way the development of
Malls is taking place, may be that the actual build up far exceeds these
In addition to the
large scale development of office space and shopping centers/malls, the country
is also witnessing and experiencing massive construction programmes of modern
residential complexes. In large cities and in satellite townships of these
cities. development of National Highways including the golden quantilateral and
express ways are further facilitating this process of development of integrated
townships. All these developments, however, are also becoming a cause of
serious concern on account of indiscrete approach to their planning and design
particularly from the point of view of the demands that they would place on
energy and electricity consumption. The approach of Town Development
Authorities, Municipal Corporations and Municipalities has, in most cases, not
captured this urgent need of designing energy efficient buildings while
sanctioning these projects and schemes.
Building Code is a reminder to all such authorities, developers, architects and
users that while designing and constructing, no doubt, it is important to
provide the required amenities and facilities, the required level of safety,
adequate fire protection systems, it is equally important to keep in mind that
these buildings also require most optimal level of energy and electricity
consumption. It is always a trade off between the capital cost and the revenue
burden. What is important to underscore is that just with a marginal increase
in the capital cost by way of energy efficient design and energy efficient
materials, there could be more than commensurate savings in consumption of
electricity. It has been seen that the energy efficiency project capital cost
are recovered invariably within a period of 2 to 3 years. Thus, such buildings
not only make economic sense but they also solve a national purpose of
mitigating the hardships caused by mismatch between demand and supply of
The objective of
ECBC is to establish minimum efficiency standards for design of buildings in
terms of consumption of electricity. Energy Performance Index of buildings in
India varies between 200 to 400 KWHR per sq.meter per year, as compared to, for
similar buildings in North America, less than 150 KWHR per sq.meter per year.
As a matter of fact, energy conscious building designs have demonstrated the
energy performance index of 100 to 150 KWHR per sq.meter per year. The general
experience has been that the builders have not been very enthusiastic about such
buildings because they entail larger capital costs while the benefit of reduced
energy consumption goes to the customer. In a way, this is a general road
block, proving to be an unassailable barrier for all areas of energy
conservation. Energy Efficiency Schemes, to start with, require capital
investment, savings come later. The question is a conviction on the part of the
developer that apart from other features of the building complex he could also
demonstrate the efficient electricity consumption to be more than offsetting the
larger capital investments. The issue is one of commitment toward
conservation. If architects, designers and builders all work in tandem, with
reduced energy consumption as an objective, it should not be an insurmountable
task to convince the clients and customers.
The approach of
developing the Building Code has generally followed the principles covering (a)
extensive consultation with the stake holders, (b) due regard to the local
conditions including the climatic features of the area, customs and construction
practices, (c) emphasizing on maximizing building envelop so as to capture
daylight and natural ventilation, (d) extensive data collection across the sizes
and types of buildings in different geographical areas, (e) development of
simulated base line case. This approach has helped in evolving realistic norms
of consumption. Right from the beginning the approach was not to cover all
buildings but follow the principle of A-B-C control. Accordingly, the Building
Code has been notified to cover all such commercial buildings where connected
load is more than 500 KW, or contract demand is more than 600 KVA. These
buildings have been mandatorily included. The Code also prescribes a
recommendatory approach for such air-conditioned buildings whose area is more
than 1000 sq. meter. The whole country has been, for the purpose of this Code,
classified into five climatic zones and the norms that have been developed have
given due regard to the climatic conditions.
It has been
estimated that if we follow the ECBC norms we could reduce our consumption from
about 200 KWHR per. sq. meter per year to about 120-160 KWHR per sq. meter per
year, i.e. reduction of the order of 30 to 40%.
August, 2007, the India Energy Forum had organized a discussion on energy
conservation in Designated Industries, Building Codes and Labeling. Apart from
other subjects on the agenda, with reference to the issue of Building Codes, Dr.
Ajay Mathur, Director General of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, made a
comprehensive presentation on all the issues involved. The impact that an
exercise of energy efficiency in buildings and committed compliance to the
initiative of Building Codes can make may be demonstrated the two examples that
he gave. The charts given below present the case study of I.I.T., Kanpur and of
Fortis Hospital. In the case of the building at I.I.T. Kanpur, it can be seen
that the electricity consumption can be reduced through various initiatives from
the base case of 240 KWHR per sq.meter per year to as low as 90 KWHR per
sq.meter per year. In the case of Fortis Hospital the reduction is from 605
KWHR to 312 KWHR per sq.meter per year.
Study - I : CSES, IIT, Kanpur
study - II: Fortis Hospital
One of the issues
that really poses a serious concern is in relation to enforcement or
implementation of the norms that are prescribed in the Building Codes. The
challenge is two- fold - firstly, response and action by architects, designers,
developers and builders and secondly, the agency which will be made responsible
for enforcement. In a way this is a general problem for any such initiative in
the country on any issue which has a connection with governance or with
regulatory mechanism. In the case of energy conservation, right in the initial
years of Bureau of Energy Efficiency it was deliberated that a huge bureaucratic
system or an Inspector Raj should be avoided. It was a well considered
conclusion that for honest implementation, substantial involvement of stake
holders at the stage of evolution and formulation of guidelines and norms could
fetch a more responsive and sincere approach from them during implementation.
For enforcement again, it was a well considered conclusion that developing
suitable expert agencies, granting them recognition and accreditation, with
random auditing mechanism, could serve the purpose better than creating a huge
governmental agency. This approach could, however, require a lot of activities
for capacity building. We need to create such independent agencies and empower
them with knowledge and skill.
In conclusion the
following outline could be put forward by way of next steps and action for
meticulous implementation of the Building Codes. The whole scheme is
wonderfully well conceived and structured. Its formulation with participation
of all concerned has made it a fully workable initiative. However, all care and
caution are needed to ensure its proper implementation. Role of state
government agencies and their full commitment would be a must. It is here where
Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Power Ministry would have to seek and secure
the new buildings, Municipal Authorities must be charged with the responsibility
to ensure that the Building Codes are followed. Before allowing construction,
energy audit of design and features should be made mandatory.
Architects and designers have a very important and specific role to make it a
success. Through a suitable administrative order, but more importantly through
proper interactions with them, it should be ensured that no new building is
proposed without due regard to the requirements of Building Codes.
There could be a period of transition, say three years, after which
non-compliance at the stage of design and construction should lead to
disqualification of the concerned architects/designers and builders.
Ministry of Power and Bureau of Energy Efficiency need to take suitable steps
for capacity building to create energy audit agencies so that they could be
given accreditation and be relied upon for certification by them.
large developers should be encouraged, subsequently even obligated, to engage
Energy Managers in the process of their design and construction activities.
lot of efforts and work have to go in for making in the market energy efficient
products namely building materials, fittings and fixtures available so that they
are used in construction of buildings.
labeling programme is already in implementation. Energy efficient lighting,
heating and cooling systems must be encouraged to replace inefficient and less
existing buildings, starting with State and Central Government buildings, phased
programmes for energy audit and retrofitting should be drawn and implemented.
Green Building Rating System to be administered by Bureau of Energy Efficiency
could, with suitable rewards, motivate and inspire all concerned.
but not the least, awareness programmes will play the most important role in
making the whole scheme successful. Bureau of Energy Efficiency, with the help
of network of NGO's, Academic Institutions, other agencies as well as through
deployment of latest of communication strategy including conferences, press and
media, could co-ordinate an integrated approach on this issue.
Copyright : R.V. SHAHI