Telangana Announces a Groundbreaking Cool Roof Policy
A new state policy protects people from extreme heat and delivers substantial energy savings
This blog was co-authored with Ashish Jindal
In a major push to provide a low-cost, climate friendly solution to cope with extreme heat, Telangana state in India today launched a comprehensive state-wide cool roofs policy. This policy, which protects its 35 million residents – is the first of its kind in India and globally. Cool roofs, which reflect sunlight and thus absorb less heat, provide protection from extreme heat, while also helping save energy and money on air conditioning bills.
Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development, IT and Industries, K.T Rama Rao formally launched the policy today in Hyderabad, India. The policy is effective from April 1 this year and has already been incorporated with building permit applications. Through this new initiative, Telangana aims to install 300 square kms of cool roofs in the state by 2028. It is expected to save 600 million Units (GWh) of electricity per year after five years of policy implementation and a cumulative savings of 30 million tons of climate-warming carbon dioxide.
Telangana with the Cool Roof Policy has a vision to make the state more thermally comfortable, healthier, and more heat resilient, and to bring down energy consumption. This is a milestone many years in the making. In 2017, NRDC began working with knowledge partners- the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), International Institute of Information Technology- Hyderabad (IIIT-H), and the city of Hyderabad initiated a pilot cool roof program led by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD) Department of the Government of Telangana and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). The initial program included citizen awareness campaigns, cooperation with businesses, and targeting of cool roof installations in low-income communities. Since the initial pilot, NRDC and partners have been working with the state government to design models to scale up cool roof implementation. These efforts culminated in the form of this state-wide policy, which is backed by larger stakeholder support.
Cool Roofs Save Energy and Improve Extreme Heat Resilience
This year has already seen dangerous extreme heat threaten people across India, with elevated temperatures stressing huge swathes of the country earlier in the year than expected. As climate change intensifies around the world, and South Asia in particular faces worsening risks from longer and more intense heatwaves, cool roofs are an important strategy to help to keep people safe. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2022 report on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation highlighted cool roof installations in India as a promising innovation to address mounting heat hazards across Asia.
Cool roofs at scale bring in multiple benefits. These are roof surfaces coated with highly reflective materials that reduce the amount of incoming solar radiation absorbed by buildings. This technology improves indoor thermal comfort on hot days by helping to reduce heat flow from the roof into occupied spaces. Depending on various parameters such as location, type of roof, reflectance of the cool roof material, research indicates that cool roofs can help keep indoor air temperatures lower by as much as 2.1 to 4.3°C as compared to traditional roofs. Other research studies have shown that city-wide installations of highly reflective roofs and pavements, along with planting shade trees, has a potential to reduce a city’s ambient air temperature by 2°C in summer months, thereby reducing the urban heat island effect. This reduction helps everyone—even those people who have not installed the cool roofs. Peer-reviewed NRDC and partner research published in 2022 shows that cool roofs can more than compensate for the extra cooling energy demand in buildings triggered by climate warming by 2030.
How Telangana’s Cool Roofs Policy Works
Telangana’s Cool Roofs Policy focusses on implementing four key objectives: 1) drive rapid state-wide adoption of cool roofs, 2) create a robust institutional framework for implementation, 3) identify financing frameworks and undertake outreach to spread awareness on cool roofs and 4) support workforce development and training programs for cool roof installations.
With this policy, cool roofs are mandatory for all government, non-residential & commercial buildings, irrespective of site or built-up area. For residential buildings, it is mandatory for those with a plot area of 600 sq. m and above and optional/voluntary for the buildings that have plot area of less than 600 sq. m. Cool roofs will also be incorporated as mandatory materials in all new and existing government low-cost housing projects. For cool roofs implementation in low-income households not covered under government funded low-income housing projects, a program of implementation will be led by city level authorities through the Heat Action Plans.
The government will also incorporate cool roofs as one of the clauses in the ongoing Telangana State Building Permission Approval and Self-Certification System (TS-bPASS), which will ensure all mandatory compliances are met.
While releasing the Cool Roof Policy, Minister K. T. Rama Rao said, “With this Policy we aim to be an eco-friendly state with reduced dependence on energy consumption for cooling”, K.T. Rama Rao, Minister for Information Technology, Municipal Administration & Urban Development, Industry & Commerce, Government of Telangana
The Policy is available here.
Telangana's Cool Roofs Factsheet
From Policy to Practice
Today’s announcement is an important milestone for Telangana, and a promising step forward in scaling up this low-cost, no regrets solution for strengthening extreme heat resilience across the country. It is also a contribution to India’s target on reducing its cooling demand by 25% by 2037-38 committed under its India Cooling Action Plan.
Now, the focus shifts from policy development to on-the-ground implementation. NRDC and partners (ASCI, IIIT-H, Plaksha University) will be working with the state to the implement policy through further technical consultation, public outreach and communication, and facilitated engagement amongst state and city leaders, real estate builders and construction companies, and other local stakeholders. Achieving Telangana’s ambitious cool roof installation targets by 2028 will require sustained leadership and close partnership.
We congratulate Telangana government on this exemplary move, which is a source of inspiration for cities and states grappling with the challenges of rising temperatures around the world.
Watch a video of the Telangana Cool Roof Policy announcement here: