Efficiency Best Practices from Godrej Bhavan’s Operations and Engineering Expert
Mr. Mihir Jagdish Save is Regional Manager – India & Asia Pacific of Godrej Green Building Consultancy Services. He helped lead the energy efficiency retrofit of the Godrej Bhavan, as chronicled in our case study of the project, Saving Money and Energy: Case Study of the Energy-Efficiency Retrofit of the Godrej Bhavan Building in Mumbai.
What role do building operators and engineers play in both developing and implementing a company’s sustainability strategy?
At Godrej, the Electricals & Electronics (E&E) team manages operations of all the utilities across the Vikhroli Campus, including the Godrej Bhavan located at Central Mumbai. E&E has a dedicated team of electrical & mechanical engineers handling new projects, retrofits and also operations and maintenance (O&M) of the all the processes and utilities across the organization. There is an Energy Management Cell (Encon) managing various sustainability initiatives, including:
- Energy, water, waste and material management
- Formulating our green purchase policy
- Inventory of greenhouse gases
- Sustainable reporting
- Assisting various divisions with their product certification
The O&M team has made significant contributions towards energy efficiency and the Encon team focuses on identifying and implementing energy efficiency measures. During implementation of the project, the O&M team’s involvement is critical. Afterwards, the team sustains the energy efficient measures built-in during the project design and implementation.
What motivates you to implement energy efficiency measures and operate the building efficiently?
Mr. Jamshyd Godrej had a vision to demonstrate the sustainability and feasibility of retrofitting an existing building, the Godrej Bhavan, to spur energy efficiency in India. Sensitizing the O&M team and building occupants to the benefits of energy efficiency and the actual savings has gone a long way to sustain the initiative. Since the Godrej Bhavan retrofit was completed, the O&M team’s consistency in maintaining the energy and water efficiency measures has built team confidence.
Additionally, to motivate the staff, Godrej’s O&M team is recognized for any energy efficiency measures implemented, even where such measures are minor upgrades or changes in operations. The company regularly carries out energy efficiency drives – e.g. an “energy efficiency week” is held regularly, bringing together people from different departments to increase awareness about what individuals can do to promote efficiency. These drives motivate team members to implement energy efficiency in their day-to-day practices.
What are the biggest difference and challenges between operating a building that is energy efficient and one that is not?
There are two major challenges to operating a building in an energy efficient manner. First, the O&M staff must constantly monitor the building’s energy use and be able to respond to changes in usage to ensure that the building is operating in the most energy efficient manner at all times. If there is no separate metering system that measures the energy and water usage, the O&M staff will not be able to identify inefficiencies.
The second challenge is keeping up with the pace of developing technology and keeping O&M staff trained and updated on technological aspects so they can identify the most cost-effective solution suited to the building needs using available technology. Regular maintenance and best management practices make a big difference in sustaining implemented energy efficiency measures.
What can building engineers do to make a building more efficient through their day-to-day work?
Follow a simple six-point plan:
- Monitor energy usage
- Analyze the data acquired and correlate it to the building’s operations
- Understand the systems installed and system operations
- Implement a maintenance plan
- Set goals for energy management and review them on a regular basis
- Document the economics of operations and maintenance as well as the savings accrued from energy efficient improvements
What new systems did you learn to operate for the Godrej Bhavan retrofit and what was the process of acquiring these skills? How is the process of learning an ongoing one?
A forty-year old system was replaced with the latest technology. There was a learning curve for Godrej Bhavan’s engineers when the new systems were installed on the premises. ENCON, with the help of O&M and the in-house maintenance team, organized a training session to help familiarize the building staff with new technologies. Equipment manufacturers led targeted sessions, taking a deep dive into individual systems. These sessions helped the Godrej Bhavan team understand the technologies and learn how the operations and maintenance of new systems was different. It was great to know that it is easy to operate and maintain the new system even though the new system was more efficient and the latest technology.
How accessible was the supply of efficiency materials? What can be done to make access to efficiency materials better?
There has been a paradigm shift in technological development over the past decade. The efficiency of equipment and systems have improved considerably, particularly in chillers, Variable Frequency Drive motors (VFD motors), pumps and cooling towers. A number of manufacturers now supply efficiency products and due to increased market demand, most products are easily available and the prices are being driven down, lowering the payback time on investment.
What advice would you give to other building engineers to help them operate their building more efficiently and encourage owners to make investments in energy efficiency?
Return on investment must be clear from the start when undertaking any initiative to make energy efficiency improvements. To combat the view that efficiency is an additional building maintenance cost, one must develop a business case to demonstrate the savings. To develop a compelling business case, the appropriate energy end usage data must be available. Therefore, coming back full circle, the entire initiative starts with monitoring and analysis of the building’s energy data.
Energy efficiency is always driven from top to bottom. In order to make operations and maintenance engineers operate a building efficiently, they need top management to motivate or encourage the engineers to adopt energy efficiency in their daily work schedule. A well-managed building also includes constant monitoring of operations, routine checks and maintenance, which ensures the building continues to perform in an optimal fashion, reducing costs in the long run.
Does Godrej Bhavan comply with the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)? What are the considerations for building operators when making decisions about complying with the ECBC?
Godrej Bhavan was built forty years ago before the ECBC existed, and it is not entirely ECBC compliant. However, considering all the challenges presented by the retrofit, the team did their best to meet the requirements of the code to the extent possible. Godrej Bhavan’s HVAC system, lighting systems, and roof are ECBC compliant, but the building façade does not comply with ECBC. However, modifications to the façade keep ECBC compliance in mind.
Do building operators/engineers view state-adopted building energy codes positively for enhancing the building’s infrastructure, just as building fire and safety codes protect the building? Why?
Building and fire safety codes are taken seriously by building designers and architects as they are basic requirements for any building infrastructure to maintain safety for the building occupants. As a step towards meeting safety requirements, Godrej Bhavan installed a fire alarm during the retrofit as it was not part of the original infrastructure built forty years ago. State energy codes will also achieve similarly high compliance levels as awareness about the codes increases and increasing energy prices drive architects and building owners to attach higher importance to the energy performance of buildings.
Godrej Bhavan is certified as LEED Gold. How smooth was the certification process and what was your role in it?
The LEED Gold certification process was managed by Godrej’s green building consultancy services team. As this team regularly deals with LEED certification, the process was made easy, but Godrej Bhavan presented unique challenges such as the building’s age factor and its operational needs. Mr. Rumi Engineer provided direction and I played a role as LEED consultant for the project.
Installing efficiency measures can require a higher cost, which provides returns over time as lower energy expenses. How has the Godrej Bhavan overcome the higher cost barrier?
Here the vision of Mr. Jamshyd Godrej had a huge impact. He had a clear goal in mind to make Godrej Bhavan an energy efficient building and a role model for other similar buildings in Mumbai and across the country. Godrej Bhavan is a good example for other building owners who are dealing with challenges presented by an old building, where the equipment has outdated technology. It shows how even old buildings can adopt energy efficiency measures without making expensive modifications, and investment made for efficiency can be recovered in a short period of time.
What would you say to developers who are concerned that their investments in efficiency measures will not pay off over time?
My advice to developers is to always look at sensible investments. There are many grey areas that a team can look into to save costs in any project. These costs can be diverted to energy efficiency measures that can reap cost savings over the long term. A project’s equipment life is more than 15 – 20 years and it would definitely cost more if short-term capital cost savings are looked upon as a priority. Judge your investment keeping in mind life cycle costs, as these have a major cost impact, and the needs to be borne during the entire life cycle of the equipment.
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About the series: With support from the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) partner with leading developers, government officials and experts to advance energy efficient buildings. ASCI and NRDC are interested in the building industry’s perspective on energy efficiency in buildings as states adopt mandatory efficiency building codes, such as Rajasthan, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. A prior Q&A with CREDAI chairman Lalit Jain is available here.
© Natural Resources Defense Council
Photo courtesy of Bhaskar Deol, NRDC.