Rising crude oil prices, shortage of coal and the adverse effects of increased use of fossil fuel on climate change have once again turned the focus on ‘Energy Efficiency.’ Energy efficiency provides considerable potential to promote low carbon transformation for the world including India. No doubt India has done great strides in achieving energy efficiency through innovative programmes such as PAT scheme, Standard & Labelling, UJALA scheme, Energy Conservation Building Code, Electric Vehicle Mission and Smart Metering etc. During the years 2011-12 to 2018-19, India’s energy intensity decreased from 65.5 toe per INR crore to 55.5 toe per INR crore. The adoption of energy efficiency schemes/programmes has led to the overall energy savings of 28.06 Mtoe for the year 2019-20.
Energy savings in 2018-19
|Scheme/Program||Energy savings||Energy Savings||Total Savings Mtoe||Emission reduction MtCO2||Savings in Rs (INR Cr)|
|Therma Mtoe||Electrical Btu|
|PAT Scheme||Demand Side||7.193||8.176||7.896||35.939||18142|
|Standards and labelling Programme||0.008||65.009||5.599||53.307||39020|
|ECBC – Commercial buildings |
|BEE Star rating buildings||0.179||0.015||0.146||107|
|Building energy efficiency program||0.212||0.018||0.174||127|
|Other Green Building Programmes||0.070||0.006||0.057||42|
|MuDSM (Street Lighting Programme)||6.841||0.588||5.610||4105|
|AgDSM (Star Rated Pumps)||0.180||0.015||0.148||108|
|Corporate Average Fuel Economy||1.200||1.200||2.650||2208|
The table clearly indicates that India has covered reasonable distance in its march against climate change. However, what is disappointing is the poor performance of energy efficiency measures on built environment front. Various programmes like ECBC – Commercial buildings programme, BEE Star rating buildings, building energy efficiency program and Other Green Building Programmes could achieve, in rupee terms, only 0.26% of the total achievement in 2018-19. Even in emission reduction, in real terms, these measures and programmes’ contribution was not more than 0.26% of the total emission reduction.
With nearly 40% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions attributable to buildings and construction, it is imperative that performance of these programmes is pathetically low so far and we need to do something drastic to reach at least somewhere near our goal. If the goal of the built environment is to create safe, comfortable habitats that facilitate individual and community health and wellbeing, then addressing the climate and biodiversity emergencies is firmly within the remit of all those operating within this sector, including design teams, contractors, investors, developers, asset managers, educators, regulators, and building users.
Robust interim targets needed
Given the scale of existing built environment and the time it takes to transform systems effectively, we need robust interim targets to hit breakthroughs in the coming years and decades. Fortunately, India is in a much advantageous position as compared to developed nations as most of action on building front will be happening in the coming years. So, India need not worry much about retrofitting the existing buildings and can focus mainly on new constructions to achieve its goal.
In India, buildings sector (residential and commercial) constitutes 33% of total electricity consumption in India. If current scenario continues, electricity demand in residential and commercial buildings sectors is predicted to rise by 5 folds and 3 folds respectively by 2032.
Slow implementation of ECBC
Government of India have prescribed the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which specifies minimum requirements for energy-efficient design and construction of commercial buildings. This Code is applicable to buildings or building complexes which have a connected load of 100 kW or greater or a contract demand of 120 kVA or greater. The provisions of this Code apply to building envelopes; mechanical systems and equipment including heating, ventilating and air conditioning; interior and exterior lighting; and electrical power and motors, and renewable energy systems.
However, implementation of this code by the states is very slow till now. For example, as on 31st March 2020, only 47Municipal Corporations in five states of Telangana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Andhra and Kerala have made compliance of ECBC mandatory. At this rate, achieving the goal by 2030 is extremely difficult.
Increasing in residential building stock, coupled with increase in electricity use for space conditioning, is resulting in rapid increase in electricity use in residential buildings. As per projection done by NITI Aayog, electricity consumption for the residential sector is expected to increase 6-13 times by 2047. Another important aspect: thermal comfort, which is of utmost importance in all kinds of housing, but more so in case of affordable housing, so as to ensure health and well-being of the occupants. Unless we move fast in implementing residential building energy conservation code in a time bound manner, it may become extremely difficult to achieve our ultimate objective later on.
Alongside effective regulations, changes to policies affecting planning and permitting systems, public procurement, grants and incentives, and enabling infrastructure are required. Sub-national governments, including cities and regions, can accelerate the transition to decarbonised, more resilient, more equitable outcomes.
The built environment is central to our quality of life. With greater emphasis in government policy, it can become a central partner in addressing the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
Addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency requires the urgent, widespread deployment of our existing capabilities and technologies. We cannot – and do not need to – wait for emerging technologies: we already possess the skills and tools to help to restore ecosystems and limit the impact that the built environment has on the planet. We need action now to invest in the application of today’s technologies, while continuing to look for new ways to deliver net-zero emissions.