India's Telangana State kick starts comprehensive energy efficient building program contributing to achieving India's climate targets

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Co-authored by Nehmat Kaur

As part of the climate summit next week in Paris, India declared its climate targets with a big focus on clean energy last month. To build a clean energy economy and achieve India's climate targets, the South Indian State of Telangana is leading the effort in making energy conservation the foremost consideration in new commercial buildings. Government officials, real estate developers and top experts gathered in the IT-hub Hyderabad for a high-level technical committee to kick start an on-the-ground program to make the state's energy efficiency laws a reality in the region's rapid developing buildings market while saving energy and costs and lowering India's emissions trajectory.

Over a dozen states are at advanced stages of incorporating the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) - a code that sets minimum energy efficiency performance standards for large commercial buildings - into the state law. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been pioneers by adopting a comprehensive state code for commercial and high-rise residential buildings lain 2014. Since then, NRDC partner, the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) has trained more than three hundred officials and real estate developers, aiding code adoption in the region.

With growing focus on smart cities in India, Hyderabad's implementation of the code generates significant energy savings and lays a strong foundation for the city to set a leading example as an energy efficient smart city. Special Chief Secretary for Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD), Shri MG Gopal called the high-level meeting to develop a roadmap to ramp up code compliance with key stakeholders from the state and city town and country planning departments.

Led by Shri Gopal, the meeting was attended by the Director, Town and Country Planning, Telangana Shri Anand Babu, Municipal Commissioner of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Shri Janardhan Reddy, Metropolitan Commissioner Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) Shri T Chiranjeevulu, and other senior officials from the GHMC, Road and Buildings Department. Technical experts from International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), ASCI and NRDC, are providing support to the state on implementation and were knowledge partners for the meeting.

NRDC senior advisor and international energy efficiency expert Dr. Satish Kumar highlighted that complying with the ECBC can lead to energy savings of 25 to 30 percent. Energy saving are a significant opportunity for the cities and state of Telangana given vast energy shortages[JA1] . Looking ahead, Shri Gopal recognized the need for increased and widespread sensitization on the ECBC as a need for effective implementation. "Demystifying" the ECBC for the private sector as well as further training of building approval officials in the urban local bodies was cited as an immediate need. Prof. Srinivas Chary, Director - Urban Governance, Infrastructure, Environment and Energy at ASCI further commented that monitoring of compliance was crucial to the implementation. Signaling a strong commitment on code compliance, the government has decided to take out advertisements in local newspapers.

Key Steps for 2016 on Code Compliance:

  • Increased engagement and training of private sector developers, architects as well as urban local body officials focused on compliance
  • Quarterly meetings of the Telangana ECBC Technical Committee to monitor compliance and address challenges
  • Monthly meetings of the Technical Sub-Committee consisting of technical experts from ASCI, IIIT and NRDC with pilot cities Hyderabad and Warangal
  • Code integration into online and offline building approval system, including updating government forms, simplified processes, list of empaneled third-party assessors, frequently asked questions among other activities.

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Telangana's leadership demonstrates local level commitment to ensure that newly constructed buildings are energy efficient, locking in savings for years to come, while combating climate change. Energy efficiency should be the first consideration for any new building project. Ensuring effective compliance with the building energy efficiency codes is a significant step to achieving both development and climate goals for Telangana and India.

Nehmat Kaur is an NRDC India Consultant based in New Delhi. Nehmat and Sameer were leading knowledge partners along with ASCI in Hyderabad earlier in the week