How To Improve Energy Efficiency of Buildings in India

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Introduction:
Rajan is the Executive Director, Centre for Advanced Research in Building Science and Energy (CARBSE) and he is a faculty at CEPT University in Ahmedabad. He is one of the most respected building energy efficiency experts in India. Rajan’s Bio is available on his faculty profile page at CEPT University. To listen audio, click here

Why do you think Building Energy Efficiency research is important in the Indian context?
We need to reduce our impact on the environment and we have not invested enough in buildings in the past. The kind of knowledge that is needed for building energy efficiency. We will be constructing a lot of buildings in the future.

What got you interested in the field of building energy efficiency?
Rajan is an Architect, and he was a practising architect. He started working in the building EE space during the course of his profession.

What is the mission of CARBSE within the Indian Building EE space?
The mission of CARBSE is to provide solutions for constructing and operating buildings in an energy efficient manner. Focus is on human habitat (buildings, neighborhoods and cities). CARBSE has two pronged agenda: Any research that is not a high priority for India will not be carried out. Secondly, CARBSE will not conduct any research methodology that will get questioned in international arena.

Implications of the research ranges from creating a material database or thermal comfort model or energy models for Indian context. This has resulted in realization that we need four things: a. A materials database, b. A thermal comfort model that is contextual to India, c. Weather information which is robust, and d. Calibrated simulation models.

The use of building material has changed and the implications of these materials (e.g. glass) are becoming evident now. Secondly, the climatic conditions in the future will be different than they are today, What is the type of research that Carbse is into?
Any model required a certain amount of base data (similar to pathological data that doctors use). This in building context requires testing of materials, e.g. traditional materials like bricks, stone, bud blocks, etc. Then there are highly industrialized materials like paint, glass, thermal insulation, etc.

What are some of the challenges related to building EE at present?
There are multiple stakeholders: Government, private sector. It is a challenge to bring all of them to a common level of understanding when it comes to benefits of building energy efficiency. People are aware but may not have the required level of understanding. The How is as important as the What. And that is where multiple stakeholders are struggling.

Lets’ talk about Government policies and incentives: Smart cities, Housing for All, ECBC, Solar Rooftop target as part of National Solar Mission; what is the role of energy efficiency in these government schemes?
The initiatives and policies address energy efficiency in various way, But policy alone is not enough. Policy needs to be enforced by Law or it needs to be practices by the market. That is where we are struggling.

How do you think technology will influence the building design, construction and maintenance in the coming years? e.g. Internet of Things, Smart and Remote monitoring, Big Data Analytics, etc.
Technology is useful, but relying more and more on technology is not prudent. “technology fix” will not give us the type of returns if we do not fix the basics. Example constructing the building and then relying on someone to make it energy efficient is not the right approach.

CARBSE has many first to its credit ­ state of the art materials testing lab, a net zero energy building facility, a highly impactful adaptive thermal comfort empirical research work that is being used redefine the comfort standard in India? What gives you the maximum satisfaction and what’s next for Prof. Rajan Rawal and for CARBSE?
CARBSE has established itself but now is the time to take the work forward- to take the research on ground, how to change the design and construction practices. Being a University, CARBSE believes that we need to have capable persons to take the agenda forward. Short term capacity building programs are not enough. There needs to be a cadre of people who undergo rigorous training for say a couple of years and have field experience.

 Do you think there is scope for partnering with organizations to take the research in building EE forward?
We believe that there needs to be more and more research in building Energy efficiency, They need to understand working with industry, government, etc. Different institutes could work on building materials, use of technology, operations and maintenance, et.c

How can listeners get in touch with you?
CARBSE website is www.carbse.org. Rajan’s email address is rajanrawal@cept.ac.in