India’s 1st Online Building Efficiency Compliance System

In a significant milestone to save energy and reduce power use in fast-growing cities, the State of Telangana and its hi-tech capital, Hyderabad launched a groundbreaking online system for mandatory energy efficiency codes for commercial buildings during Energy Conservation Week in Hyderabad. This is huge news. It is the kind of transformational change that leads to Indian cities that can save energy, while building healthier communities and fighting dangerous air pollution.

Commercial buildings and city view in Hyderabad.

Indian Express 2016

The State of Telangana’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) launched in Hyderabad, as its first city, is the first compliance system in India to go online. The online ECBC system will ensure compliance with energy efficiency codes and streamline building approvals for new commercial buildings and major retrofits. The energy efficiency building code framework and online system are nearly eight years in the making and the result of a collaboration among city and state officials, the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Energy Efficiency & Building Codes

With skyrocketing energy demand, rapid urbanization and increasing pollution levels, India critically needs an energy transformation. Energy efficiency is an immediate solution, locking in energy savings in India’s growing cities. Buildings account for more than 30% of India’s electricity consumption, and the total built-up space in the country is growing at a tremendous rate. The ECBC has the potential to transform the way buildings are constructed and to unleash significant energy savings. Constructing energy efficient buildings is also a central strategy to achieve India’s climate target to reduce emissions intensity by 33 to 35% from 2005 levels by the year 2030 as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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. ASCI and NRDC collaborated with state and city officials as knowledge partners to develop the code in 2010 and to guide it through official adoption in 2014 (followed by state bifurcation) and launching a city-wide compliance system that can be expanded across the state and the country, today.

Leadership in Action

There is a lot that we want to address here, including details on the online ECBC system and the new “Building A Better Future: Telangana ECBC Resource Guide” that was released during the inaugural address by the Principal Secretary Navin Mittal, Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Telangana as well as Municipal Commissioner Janardhan Reddy, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. We especially want to focus on the leadership in action that made the online system a reality.

Yes, there are many important government officials and partners involved. For example, Chief Secretary Minnie Mathew for Andhra Pradesh, who before bifurcation, cleared the path and constituted the ECBC Steering Committee in 2012 working toward adoption, as well as, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, who developed the national code and encouraged code adoption. Through the years, the strong leadership by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD), Telangana State Renewable Energy Development Corporation Ltd (TSREDCO), Ministry of Power, and others worked to develop a system through extensive outreach and research. Real estate developers proved critical, ensuring that they system worked to strengthen the market for the “organized sector” to build better buildings. UNDP supported capacity building to train third party assessors. And, of course, our local partners, IIIT with technical support and ASCI, our strategic partner through the years in leveraging NRDC’s nearly 50 years of experience on efficiency served an invaluable role.

Yet, the leadership that matters the most is the government staff that plugged away day after day, for years. We are talking about the quiet leadership of staff such as Mr. Devender Reddy, the now Additional Secretary of the Town & Country Planning Department in Hyderabad.  We first met Mr. Devender Reddy years ago when he worked at MAUD to support the then principal secretary.

Mr. Devender Reddy studied the code and guided the stakeholders toward code adoption. He was then moved to the city government in Hyderabad and,  with our diligent NRDC-ASCI team, worked toward implementation. After all, it is all about implementation, implementation, implementation. Through Mr. Devender Reddy’s management, Telangana and Hyderabad working with developers and stakeholders created the ECBC framework and online system.    

While we focus on India, we cannot help but underscore the importance of career staff at government agencies. India is moving forward with action on climate change, and the online system launched today is transformative and will usher healthier cities, and play a major role in India achieving its climate targets. In stark contrast, the current leadership of the United States under President Trump is working to move in the opposite direction. We hope that, like in India, we can look the dependable and knowledgeable career staff in government agencies to safeguard our progress. We were fortunate to find the dependable leadership in action of Mr. Devender Reddy and truly countless others. We commend him, and them, for their service to a good and just cause.  

Looking ahead to 2018, we plan to continue implementing the pioneering system in Hyderabad and then work with key stakeholders to expand  it to several Indian cities and states. Through more energy efficient buildings, we aim to help transform cities to meet energy demand, build healthy communities, and fight climate change.

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Quotes from the Launch of Online System for Mandatory Energy Conservation Building Codes During Energy Conservation Week, Hyderabad

“As India’s economy and real estate market continue to grow, builders need to incorporate energy efficient measures into their construction projects to ensure an energy-smart future for our cities. States play a critical role to motivate the market’s investment in energy efficiency through incentives, mandates and strong state building codes that enable stakeholders to capitalize on available energy and cost savings.”

—Principal Secretary Navin Mittal, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department for Telangana.

“I am focused on how to use technical and non-technical solutions to save energy in Hyderabad. Community awareness, technology, implementation with capacity building, incentives and enforcement are the key steps.”

—Municipal Commissioner Janardhan Reddy, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

“Hyderabad is pioneering a system for online energy code compliance that can potentially be a role model as several Indian cities continue to grow at a rapid pace while striving to meet energy demand,”

—Devender Reddy, Additional Secretary, Town and Country Planning. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

New Telangana ECBC Resource Guide highlighting resources for implementing the ECBC for commercial buildings in Telangana State, including FAQs, guidelines, fact sheets, issue briefs, case studies, and more.

A new video featuring NRDC energy expert David Goldstein on the online tool is here, and a shorter, 5-minute version of the video is here.

About the Authors

Anjali Jaiswal

Senior Director, India, International Program

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