Green Building Congress Strives to Make India a Future Building Efficiency Leader

With green buildings making up less than five percent of the booming Indian building market, developers, governments and experts reiterated the tremendous opportunity for expanding energy efficiency construction in India during the Green Building Congress 2013.  This 11th Green Building Congress focused on market transformation opportunities with new construction, retrofits, and residential buildings as well as the importance of codes and standards. 

“India is going to lead the world in new construction.  The opportunity is huge,” emphasized the Chairman of the Indian Green Building Council, Dr. Prem Jain. In fact, the conference set a target of 50% of new Indian buildings to be built “green” by 2025 once the National Building Code is amended.

Real Estate Developers

During the robust discussions, developers emphasized the need for local case studies to move developers and customers toward energy efficient buildings. The President of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Shekar Reddy, noted that customer awareness and demand in regional markets needs to be expanded.  He also underscored that a key way to increase demand is through case studies documenting both green building stories and financing solutions, including low-interest loans and subsidies. 

As a part of NRDC’s efforts to promote building efficiency through case studies, I had the opportunity to present our case study featuring the Godrej Bhavan building at the conference (“Saving Energy and Money: Case Study of the Energy-Efficiency Retrofit of the Godrej Bhavan Building in Mumbai”). During a panel on retrofits, we shared the key findings from the case study:

  • Electricity costs down by 28 %
  • Total electricity usage down 12 %
  • Payback period in as little as 4.7 years
  • Potential 15 year savings of 6,980,000 Rs

One common theme from the Godrej Bhavan case study is that the largest energy and cost savings came from upgrading the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.  Another takeaway is the value a building management system (BMS) adds by allowing the building operators to monitor, control and modify the building’s energy use, such as through lighting sensors and HVAC systems to control temperature.

Supporting these lessons, DLF, one of the largest developers in India, presented savings from BMS and HVAC systems in their Cybercity model. Case studies from Peter Rumsey, renowned expert, and examples such as the Infosys building were also referenced as underscoring these lessons at the conference. Developers also echoed the importance of local case studies during my colleague Bhaskar Deol’s presentation of the Godrej Bhavan case study to nearly 300 developers at the Gujarat Institute of Housing & Estate Developers (GIHED) annual conference in Ahmedabad.

State Energy Efficiency Building Codes

“We need strong government programs to support green buildings,” emphasized S Appavoo, the Chief Electrical Inspector from Tamil Nadu.  He explained that locally-adopted codes are critical to set standards for the majority of the building stock – especially given “the limits of fossil fuel, including coal and oil.”  To achieve this goal, Tamil Nadu has formed a steering committee focused on creating a road map toward code adoption including technical and policy analysis.

Andhra Pradesh, similarly, is moving toward code adoption.  This week, the Steering Committee convened in AP’s capital, Hyderabad, to examine what the roll out of the energy efficient building code would look like.  The International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) is also commencing training workshops in Hyderabad this week. The code has been reviewed by the law department and signed by the Chief Minister.  The next key step to full adoption in the state is notification of the code.

It is fitting that a conference focused on market transformation highlighted many different avenues to achieve this goal of more energy efficient buildings. As our report, Constructing Change, makes clear, increasing developer awareness, enacting building codes, and encouraging innovative financing are all critical approaches to lock in energy efficiency savings. The ambitious target set by the Green Building Congress will only be possible if every path towards market transformation is pursued. The conversations held at this conference among industry thought leaders was another step towards positioning India as a future green building leader.

Co-authored by Meredith Connolly, Energy Law and Policy Fellow