Building Smart Cities: Online Systems for Energy Savings in Hyderabad

Hyderabad city view.
Credit: Indian Express

Co-authored with Karan Chouksey

As the cost and demand for power dramatically rise in south India, Hyderabad and the state of Telangana are turning to energy efficiency as a solution. The cost to purchase power doubled in Telangana from September to this month, raising alarms about energy prices and demands. Rising energy demand also increases pressure for more power sources, including thermal power plants amidst concerns on the environment, air pollution and climate change. To reduce energy demand, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation along with major real estate developers and stakeholders discussed the online system for constructing buildings—the first of its kind in India.

Recognizing that the power grid is already strained by an energy deficit that includes the huge growth of energy-intensive buildings, officials in leading states are seeking ways to save energy. Since over 70 percent of the buildings that will exist in India by 2030 yet to be built, energy efficiency is a critical solution that can lock in energy savings for years to come. Taking the lead on energy savings, the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh adopted mandatory energy conservation building codes for commercial buildings in 2014, applicable to both states after bifurcation. The Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) worked with state and city officials as knowledge partners to develop and adopt the code.

This month, Mr. Srinivas Rao the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Director Town Planning, as well as, Mr. G. S. V. Prasad the Director (Projects) Telangana New & Renewable Energy Development Corporation Ltd. (TNREDCL), a State Designated Agency for renewable energy and energy conservation, convened key real estate developers, building design consultants, architects and energy auditors to discuss the implementation of online system for energy-saving buildings that was launched in beta form in May 2016.  

To streamline the online compliance system, the Hyderabad government and partners released series of resources:

  • Draft Guidelines for Simplified Version of Telangana State Energy Conservation and Building Code (TSECBC) for Online Compliance
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Factsheet Explaining the Hyderabad Model for Energy Efficient Buildings

The strategy for code compliance was designed and built with extensive input from stakeholders, including real estate developers and architects from Hyderabad and elsewhere.

Online Compliance System Guidelines

In efforts to streamline the energy efficiency code for local conditions, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation along with the Telangana state’s Municipal Administration & Urban Development developed a preliminary Draft Guidelines for Simplified Version of Telangana State Energy Conservation and Building Code (TSECBC) for Online Compliance. The draft guidelines were developed after six months of discussions with experts, including engineers and architects with key developers, the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), among others. The draft guidelines are available for a further comment by developers and stakeholders to improve the system.

A Strategy for Code Implementation

Led by MAUD’s Technical Committee on the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), Telangana state and Hyderabad have developed a three-pronged strategy for effective implementation of the code, including awareness and capacity building; integration with the building approval process, and technical and expert support, as discussed in detail here.

Overall the stakeholder discussions and responses were positive. The key take ways are

  • GHMC’s Srinivas Rao assured, “The GHMC is creating an ECBC cell as well as resources, such as the FAQs guidelines and list of third party assessors, for developers for a smooth transition to adopt the code into practice.”
  • Real Estate Developer, G. S. V. Prasad assured TNREDCL’s cooperation to support ASCI and NRDC on implementation of the compliance system. In the coming months, an ECBC cell will be set up in the TNREDCL to provide technical support and consultation on building design components for the next year.
  • Architects, consultants and real-estate developers welcomed the work on online ECBC compliance system. Going forward, stakeholders suggested that this building code could be expanded to cover residential building sector (at least new high-rise buildings) on a mandatory basis, and also integrating elements such as power consumption limits to tap full potential from this sector.
  • Stakeholders welcomed the consultation workshop since it provided the necessary information and resources on new steps required to incorporate ECBC measures right from the design stage.
  • With the empanelment of third party assessors and the draft guidelines simplified TSECBC, developers can mainstream online compliance. The code is applicable to commercial buildings and other non-residential buildings that have a plot area of more than 1,000 Square meters or built up area of 2,000 square meters and certain categories of buildings such as multiplexes, hospitals, hotels and convention centers irrespective of their built up area.

Accelerating energy efficiency while India experiences skyrocketing growth in its buildings market provides a tremendous opportunity to reduce peak demand and generate energy savings that translate directly to financial savings. The reduced demand for energy also has public health benefits, combats climate change, and closes the widening gap between India’s energy production and demand. Armed with these tools, India can transform its cities to become leaders in efficient resource use and become true smart cities.

Stakeholder Consultation on ECBC Online Building Approval System, organized by GHMC, ASCI and NRDC on November 24, 2016
Credit: ASCI