Building energy efficient cities across India, with Hyderabad as a starting point

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Co-authored by Meredith Connolly, NRDC Energy Law & Policy Fellow

Energy is a red-hot topic in India. Power Minister Piyush Goyal recently announced the Modi government’s goal of providing 24/7 access to power for homes and industrial, and commercial users within five years. With such ambitious goals in a country that already faces significant energy shortfalls, energy efficiency – especially for buildings – must be a key part of the strategy.  With 70% of the buildings that will exist in India by 2030 yet to be built, energy efficiency measures offer tremendous potential to build cities that lock in energy savings for decades to come.

A new publication being jointly released by NRDC’s Mona Yew and our partner, the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), at the IX World Metropolis Congress Hyderabad on this coming Wednesday, October 8th, will highlight lessons learned from current energy efficiency programs and policies underway across India, but particularly in the city of Hyderabad, and a possible path forward to greater building energy efficiency in India. Mona Yew, the Deputy Director of NRDC’s China Program, leads NRDC's efforts in China to help central and provincial government partners scale up "efficiency power plant" development and implementation, and will also be presenting on the Chinese experience grappling with these same pressing issues for rapidly urbanizing cities.

The booming city of Hyderabad, a high-tech hub for the IT industry that has earned the nickname “Cyberbad,” has recognized the need for energy smart buildings to meet its growing energy needs. The city has adopted many policies prioritizing energy efficiency in its building stock. Solidifying their place as energy efficiency leaders among Indian states, the recently-split states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which currently share Hyderabad as their capital city, adopted a tailored version of the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC).

As our analysis has shown, adopting energy conservation codes to ensure buildings meet minimum efficiency standards can result in huge energy savings for Indian cities and states. Even with just minimal compliance with the ECBC adopted in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana earlier this year (40% complying with the ECBC and 5% exceeding the code), could mean 86 terrawatt hours (TWh) of cumulative energy savings for those states by 2030, enough to power up to 8.9 million Indian households annually over the next 17 years based on current energy consumption levels.

Nationally, the picture is equally compelling. If states across India adopted the ECBC, even with minimal compliance of 40% of commercial buildings and 5% of developers exceeding the code through building ratings programs like LEED or GRIHA, cumulative savings by 2030 could reach as high as 1,254 TWh of saved electricity. That’s enough to power 130 million Indian homes annually until 2030, based on current consumption rates for homes with electricity. With greater participating in rating programs, that number could be as high as 3,453 TWh or 358 million Indian homes between 2014 and 2030.

More highlights from our report and its release in Hyderabad to follow soon!