Building Efficiency in Hyderabad

Last week in Hyderabad, I had the unique opportunity to discuss strategies for galvanizing building efficiency from theory into practice in the rapidly growing hi-tech capital.  We learned a lot about how to ramp up building efficiency in South India, and also shared our experiences from the US and elsewhere.  While there is significant momentum, as Sriphani Vissamraju from YesSV aptly summed up, “A lot needs to be done and the time is now.” 

Efficiency in new buildings and retrofits is especially important given that Hyderabad is projected to grow 21 times larger than its 2009 size.  And commercial floor space in India is expected to increase four-fold.  The Hyderabad energy experts that we met definitely understand the opportunity and challenges this growth represents.    

In addition to individual discussions, we engaged with experts during a building efficiency workshop, co-hosted by the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), with over 30 stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds.  Government officials, builders, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Terra Viridis, Dupont, and the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad, to name a few, discussed strategies for implementing efficiency measures in buildings in the rapidly developing region.  

We learned more about sustainability efforts in Hyderabad, including the Environmental Building Guidelines, developed by Terra Viridis and TERI.  We also discussed strategies on how the new guidelines could be part of a larger effort to operationalize the Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) - and the tremendous opportunity for energy efficiency in India. 

Some of the issues identified for ramping up building efficiency are:

  • Regional Government Support - Increasing support by municipal and regional governments to signal to the market that efficiency is a priority for smart growth and energy savings.
  • Green Jobs & Skills - Representatives from the National Academy of Construction expressed enthusiasm for efficient buildings and the need to create a green workforce skilled to build the next generation of commercial buildings. 
  • Green Buildings, Saving Money & Energy - Hyderabad’s green building leaders, including the CII Green Building Center, the new Park hotel, and Dupont’s new campus, emphasized all how LEED certification significantly improved building performance without major increases in costs, and actually save energy and money. 
  • Building Awareness - In addition to raising awareness amongst builders, consumers, officials, and banks about cost savings from efficiency, clarifying confusion between India’s two rating systems, LEED and TERI’s Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) is crucial to incentivizing the market. 
  • Utilities – Electric utilities play a key role in encouraging building efficiency through the rates they charge for electric power and demand side management programs as incentives for efficiency measures.
  • Misaligned Incentives - Builders, also, often fail to implement efficiency because of misaligned incentives- renters or tenants will often immediately see a drop in energy costs, but payback for the building as a whole can be less certain.
  • Financing – Involving banks is essential for structuring favorable loans and mortgages necessary to finance efficient buildings.

A chief issue discussed was increasing awareness and partnering with champions for energy efficiency among politicians, bureaucrats, and builders.  In the coming months, NRDC and ASCI will be working to do exactly that by highlighting case studies of the benefits of efficient buildings - in Hyderabad and beyond - and will continue outreach to the leaders in Indian government, businesses, academics, and civil society, who can take building efficiency to the next level. 

(Co-authored by Christopher Bennett, NRDC MAP Fellow)