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Mr. Vikram Murthy, Member, The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE)

15 Jul 2015

Smart cities will require 30% less energy than existing cities

The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), was founded in 1981 at New Delhi, today has 40 chapters and sub chapters across India. ISHRAE’s primary objective is the advancement of the art and sciences of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration Engineering & other related Building Services. Its member Vikram Murthy speaks to InfralinePlus about the environmental benefits smart cities would bring in. Excerpts...

How exactly smart cities will have an edge over exiting cities. We have been hearing of ’Smart Cities’, but kindly tell us as to how would these cities be different from what we have today.

In essence Smart Cities optimize resources and are able to monitor performance of various parameters and are therefore able to manage the deliverables to all residents / occupants reliably. The experience of living and working in a smart city is like being on a well-managed large campus that inspires productivity and provides leisure and entertainment.

Smart Cities are vastly different than our cities today because they are built according to a plan and perform as per their design. Our existing cities are an amalgamation of public and private development that may or may not be in harmony with its own infrastructure and the aspirations of its occupants.

Smart cities will require more electricity and majority of India’s electricity generation is still through coal. Would that mean, we will have to pollute our environment for the sake of Smart Cities?

Smart cities will require over 30 percent less energy than existing cities that serve the same needs because they are designed and built accordingly and they optimize all resources of energy and recycle waste. It is therefore a myth to say that they require more electricity.

What role can clean energy play in the development and running of smart cities? How can we create awareness about energy conservation?

Smart Cities encourage the use of clean energy and energy conservation. Anyone who operates or occupies a smart city is fully conscious and is obliged to conserve energy as a part of his / her commitment.

(By having Smart Cities) Are we widening the gap between rural and urban areas? There is a school of thought that believes the urban and rural gap needs to be bridged (and not increased) to have parity in standard of living of an Indian citizen. Your views.

Smart cities are an aspirational goal of our Country - the more we have, the higher will the collective aspiration and development grow. Rural areas too require to be upgraded, to be served with technology at the micro level - on the farm and in the transportation and operation of the cold chain - that too is a part of our National development goal – therefore, the gap, if anything is getting smaller as development continues and private partnership increases and agriculture becomes a national priority and pride. As a country of over 3 billion - agriculture is our mainstay and will determine our survival, just as urban development continues. The two paths are inevitable.

It is said that technology will play the differentiator. What are the dos and donts, one should look for while adopting technology for any given purpose.

Technology is always a differentiator between long term progressive development and short term non sustainable development. The international focus is on sustainable development and India is adapting the best practices to ensure a sustainable future backed by appropriate technology that combines the use of renewable with energy efficient equipment.

What role do you see for small and medium scale sector in building of smart cities? What is the opportunity for MSME sector in this space?

MSME's have a role to play in sub contraction, component manufacture and a host of diverse services. The list is exhaustive and the opportunities for MSME s are vast. They must however be receptive to rapid advancement and change

What we see today is upgradation of existing cities to ‘Smart Cities’. Would greenfield construction of cities have given more flexibility to have a better designed city because existing cities will have their challenges in terms of changes that may be necessary?

Indeed upgradation is only a half way measure and cannot rival the quality and performance of greenfield smart city development. Nevertheless, that being said, upgradation is a good way to increase efficiencies and promote a sustainable future for such cities that undertake such a path.

Smart cities will require 30% less energy than existing cities