Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) : AEEE Collaborates with NITI Aayog

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In a first of its kind exercise, Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) in partnership with NITI Aayog and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), supported by the UNDP-GEF programme, conducted five ECBC regional workshops (Chandigarh – February 9-10, Ahmedabad – March 15-16, Guwahati – March 23-24, Ranchi – April 19-20, Hyderabad – April 27-28) covering all 29 states and 7 UTs of India. These regional workshops, organised exclusively for government officials belonging to the Urban Development Departments (Town and Country Planning, Roads and Building or Public Works Department, major Municipal Corporations or City government officials – many of them from the initial list of 108 smart cities, Development Authorities and Sate Housing Boards) and Energy Department (State Designated Agencies, Chief Electrical Inspectorates). The workshops highlighted the critical need to immediately amend and notify ECBC in all Indian states and UTs, and for the state energy and urban development departments to work together to accomplish this task without any further delay.

NITI Aayog conveyed a sense of urgency through a communication sent by Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO to all the Chief Secretaries of the states, Principal Secretaries of the Energy and Urban Development Departments and to the Municipal Commissioners along with Chief Town and Country Planners, Chief Architects and Chief Engineers Office, Chairman and Directors at the State Designated Agencies, Chief Electrical Inspectors and to the city officials responsible for modifying building bye-laws and enforcing its compliance at the design and construction of buildings with a connected load of more than 100 kW.

Through these five workshops, AEEE has reached out to more than 500 government officials across India who will be involved in ECBC notification, enforcement and ensuring design-based compliance to start this process. There were more than 300 government officials who participated in the workshops, learned about the administrative aspect of ECBC and were also exposed to the best practices among all Indian states that have led the ECBC notification and enforcement process.

Mr Abhay Bakre, Director General, BEE also reinforced the need for urgency by sharing details of the launch of 2nd version of the Energy Conservation Building Code in 2017, which is much more stringent than the first one launched in 2007 and will have three levels of compliance (ECBC, ECBC+, SuperECBC) to incentivise government and the private sector to not just meet ECBC criteria, but to exceed it. This is possible today because of the availability of materials, appliances and equipment, and advanced technology apart from the availability of trained professionals well-equipped to design and construct ECBC-compliant buildings. BEE has further communicated that the impending notification of ECBC rules and inclusion of residential buildings in the EC Act, energy efficiency practices will be incorporated in all types of buildings in a mandatory fashion. UNDP-GEF has provided technical assistance in the form of awareness and training programme, ECBC cell creation and design assistance to ECBC-compliant buildings, and support in organising these workshops.

Mr. Anil Jain, Additional Secretary and Energy Advisor at NITI Aayog emphasized the need for government organisations to lead by example in adopting ECBC and mainstream ECBC compliance across India, which is largely missing even after 10 years of its launch by the Ministry of Power on May 27th, 2007. One of the main reasons behind the poor ECBC enforcement has been the lack of capacity, coordination and focus on energy efficiency across most of Indian states and UTs reflected in a handful of staff responsible for all EE activities at the state level. While the Government of India has done an admirable job in setting ambitious renewable energy targets, only focusing on generation without plugging energy wastage and embracing energy efficiency will prove very costly for India and is akin to putting water in a leaky pot.

By conservative estimates, India is building 300,000 sq. ft of commercial floor space every day and will see one of the largest commercial and residential building construction boom over the next two decades. In the 5th workshop, Infosys, owner of 45 million sq. ft. of grade-A commercial real estate, demonstrated how building energy efficiency espoused by ECBC has led them to reduce their corporate average energy performance index (EPI) from 200 kWh/m2/year to 75 kWh/m2/year and monthly energy consumption per employee from 297 kWh to 145 kWh over nine years without incurring any extra cost, which is the conventional belief. By delaying mandatory enforcement of ECBC, India is negatively impacting its Nationally Determined Contribution, Sustainable Development Goals commitment. At the same time, the lack of mandatory enforcement will have an adverse impact on India’s Smart City Mission because its building stock will have a lock-in inefficiency of 40-50 years putting a negative burden on India’s energy security situation.

AEEE, NITI Aayog, BEE and UNDP-GEF urge for immediate intervention to significantly improve the energy efficiency of its existing building stock and new building construction and take action by focusing on the following interventions:

  • Make ECBC enforcement mandatory in all Indian states and UTs by October 1st, 2017 and direct the development authorities to not issue design approvals until building design show compliance with ECBC;
  • Ask all the government ministries and departments to immediately comply with ECBC for all government building design and construction with a connected load of 100 kW or more;
  • Mandate disclosure of energy use (Energy Performance Index) for all public and private commercial buildings with a connected load of 100 kW or more and immediately install meters to start monitoring energy consumed by air-conditioning and fans, lighting, plug power and elevators to instill a culture of data-driven energy management.