New Report: Building Energy-Smart Cities is Fastest, Easiest Way to Address Indian Energy Crisis

NRDC-ASCI Report Shows Energy-Efficient Building Construction is Essential to Meet Skyrocketing Energy Demand, Improve Health, and Spur Clean Energy Markets

HYDERABAD, INDIA (October 30, 2012) – Building on landmark energy efficiency standards announced today by the state of Andhra Pradesh, a new report shows that prioritizing energy-efficient building construction in India’s booming cities will help India meet its enormous energy needs, improve energy security, and propel India forward in the global clean energy race. Released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), the report stresses that state governments in India and other stakeholders must act quickly to realize dramatic cost savings and guarantee a sustainable future for India’s energy-stressed cities.

“India needs to build smart from the start. Seventy percent of the buildings that will exist in India by 2030 have yet to be built,” said Anjali Jaiswal, Senior Attorney and Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s India Initiative. “This presents a tremendous opportunity—by incorporating energy-efficient technologies right now, from energy-efficient windows to better lighting, India can dramatically reduce its energy demand and bring billions in savings to the Indian people.”

Today’s report from NRDC and ASCI, supported by Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, comes on the heels of a landmark announcement that the state of Andhra Pradesh is aiming to adopt energy efficiency standards for buildings by early 2013. The state is on its way to operationalizing the national Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), which will ensure buildings meet minimum energy efficiency standards when constructed or renovated. The ECBC sets energy efficiency standards for the most energy-intensive building features, capturing energy savings where they can be the greatest – the building envelope (walls, roof, windows), lighting, HVAC system, and electrical system. Andhra Pradesh has also constituted a high-powered Steering Committee and Technical Committee, chaired by municipal officials, to oversee statewide code implementation. As a hub of high-tech, energy-intensive industries, the state’s capital city, Hyderabad, will be better positioned to meet growing energy demand as it expands with these efficiency standards in place.

Prioritizing energy-smart building construction in Andhra Pradesh and across India will deliver dramatic savings, according to expert studies. McKinsey & Company estimates that unlocking energy efficiency in new building construction, as well as improving appliance and industrial plants’ efficiency, could deliver $42 billion (Rs. 2 lakh crore) in annual savings to India by 2020.

In addition to delivering significant long-term cost savings, increased energy efficiency in buildings will also create positive health impacts across India’s urban areas. Currently, most modern buildings in Indian cities are equipped with backup diesel generators for power during daily outages. Decreasing reliance on polluting diesel generators will cut dangerous emissions in the air, improve the health of urban residents, and help in India’s efforts to combat climate change.

Energy efficiency is also essential to moving India’s growing clean energy market forward. With India already investing heavily in solar energy, the country needs to accelerate actions on energy efficiency to ensure India continues to attract innovators and investors in energy efficiency solutions, and ultimately can compete in the global clean energy race.

“The actions we take to accelerate the decline of the country’s energy intensity today will drive innovation and ensure India’s sustainable development in the future,” said Ms. Minnie Mathew, Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, and Dr. Ajay Mathur, of India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency, in the report’s foreword.

As Andhra Pradesh’s historic announcement indicates, government leaders and stakeholders are recognizing the urgency of addressing India’s energy shortages. However, with hours of daily power outages still standard across India, more government action is needed at the state level to ensure India can continue to grow and urbanize while ensuring affordable and reliable energy access.

“It is the need of the hour and we are grappling with power crisis all over the country,” said Mr. Sam Bob, Principal Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Municipal Administration and Urban Development.  “Unless we have energy efficiency the power crisis will not be addressed and development will be stunted.”

At the Green Building Congress 2012, Mr. Sam Bob announced, “In Andhra Pradesh, we have recently appointed a technical committee to discuss proposed energy efficiency building standards and incentives for green buildings with the help of ASCI and NRDC.  I hope in early 2013 to come out with a policy where a code is adopted for all buildings to be green in Andhra Pradesh.” 

The report from NRDC and ASCI provides recommendations to guide Indian state and local governments, real estate developers, financial institutions, and other stakeholders in shifting India’s buildings market toward cost-saving, energy-efficient and modern buildings. These recommendations include:

Adopt efficiency codes and implementation strategies: State and local governments should accelerate energy efficiency by adopting local energy efficiency building codes, developing effective implementation and compliance structures, providing training programs, and offering policy incentives for efficiency projects.

Facilitate efficiency awareness among developers: Efficiency measures pay for themselves and lead to cost savings. Real estate developers can lead by encouraging awareness among the developer community about the cost-saving opportunities to ensure new buildings and major retrofits across India’s booming cities are energy efficient.

Encourage Innovative Financing:  Financial institutions are critical to reducing upfront costs for efficiency measures. These institutions should work with real estate developers and other stakeholders to provide creative financial mechanisms that encourage energy efficiency in building construction, upgrades, and purchasing.

“As the second-fastest growing economy in the world, India has enormous hurdles to overcome in ensuring a prosperous, sustainable energy future,” said Dr. Srinivas Chary Vedala, Dean of the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI). “Energy efficiency is the first step to overcoming those hurdles. With proper codes and standards, greater awareness of savings opportunities among developers, and innovative financing opportunities, India can drive its economy forward in the most cost-effective, efficient, and smartest way possible.”

The full report and fact sheet can be found online here:

Read more about India’s energy efficiency and clean energy progress in Anjali Jaiswal’s blog: