Green Buildings: Lessons from Indian States

Co-authored with Prima Madan

States and cities in India are moving ahead with energy-efficient buildings as the country rapidly urbanizes - a major topic of discussion during the Green Building Congress 2020. Residential and commercial buildings in India already account for nearly 30% of total electricity consumption, expected to increase to 48% by 2042. Implementing the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) across Indian cities is critical to saving energy, combating pollution, achieving India’s climate goals, and reducing cooling demand.

To share best practices from state ECBC implementation efforts, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), hosted a  Green Building Congress 2020 session today. The session brought together senior representatives from state governments and industry experts to discuss how states can ramp up action on ECBC implementation and promote green building development.

Building energy efficiency codes are effective tools that ensure energy savings in the construction and operation of buildings. Designing and constructing buildings to the latest energy efficiency code can yield about 30% to 40% reduction in energy use. Sustained energy savings from the building sector is particularly crucial in India, since more than 50% of building stock that will exist in the year 2030 is yet to be built.

States play a critical role in notifying, adopting, and implementing the building energy efficiency codes. Fifteen states and two union territories in India have notified ECBC, making it mandatory; other states are in advanced stages of code notification.


Highlighted States 

Telangana: Telangana is the leading state implementing the ECBC and was the first to make compliance mandatory and integrated with new building construction permissions. Telangana, working with NRDC and ASCI, also set up an implementation framework that is a model for several other states. Mr. Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department (MAUD), speaking on the panel, emphasized how the state has prioritized green buildings and cool roofs. He also announced that the upcoming New Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Act will address energy efficiency and enable world class cities in a big way in the state. “New townships in the state will be ECBC compliant. Research indicates that cost recovery has come down to 5-6 yrs, and thereafter cost savings will be maximized. ECBC and cool roofing is the way out, and my personal experience with this is very positive,” added Mr. Kumar.


Andhra Pradesh:  Andhra Pradesh is a pioneer in ECBC adoption and has made the code mandatory for all non-residential buildings. Dr. Srikanth Nagulapalli, Principal Secretary, Department of Energy, Government of Andhra Pradesh thinks that globally, there will be a shift in building and construction styles in the post COVID world. "ECBC and energy conservancy should also be integrated into this new regime," he said, speaking at the session. Dr. Nagulapalli further highlighted the savings potential and said, “In Andhra Pradesh, we estimate 4-5k million units (MU) out of the demand of 20-25k MU to be potentially saved, which will result in savings of Rs 3-4000 crores in commercial buildings alone, and Rs. 9,000 crores by 2030."

ChhattisgarhThe state has adapted the code to its own climatic requirements and is working to making compliance mandatory for all commercial buildings. Speaking on the panel Mr. Manoj Koshle, OSD Energy, Govt. of Chhattisgarh, provided an update reiterated the state's commitment to implementing ECBC and making energy conservancy an important part of new constructions.  

Uttar Pradesh: The state was the first to notify the revised version of  ECBC 2017 and  has notified ECBC as part of the building by-laws in more than 27 development boards in cities across UP. Raj Verma from the ECBC Cell at the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA), highlighted that the state around 134 buildings in the design or implementation stage are ECBC compliant. UPNEDA in partnership with knowledge partners NRDC, ASCI, and Green Tree released a new case-study on Uttar Pradesh’s experience in implementing ECBC - “Building Smart from the Start: Implementation of Energy Saving Building Codes in Uttar Pradesh.”

While state agencies drive the notification of ECBC, the private sector is essential to execute and implement energy efficiency standards. Mr. Shekar Reddy, Past National President at @CREDAINational, CMD - CSR Estates Ltd, and Chairman IGBC, Hyderabad emphasized the need for real estate community to lead on green buildings. "Minimum IGBC energy efficiency ratings should be made mandatory for all building constructions across India, to create "smart" cities of the future," he said. Incentives such as single window clearance for building permissions can help reduce time for the construction while ensuring compliance with the code.

In a rapidly warming world, energy efficient buildings are vital in providing much needed comfort and cooling while keeping greenhouse gas emissions and energy use to a minimum. Key states in India recognize the enormous opportunity in transitioning to green buildings with cool roofs. To truly realize the potential savings, a greater focus on implementation and compliance is needed. 

A recording of the session is available here.

Prima Madan is an energy efficiency expert and works as a consultant with NRDC's India program.

About the Authors

Sameer Kwatra

Policy Analyst, Climate & Clean Energy, India, International Program

Anjali Jaiswal

Senior Director, India, International Program

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.