Energy Conservation Building Code

India is a country totally starved of energy so much so that most Indian states have a deficit in terms of energy utilized. Though India shows an enormous potential in generating energy, that requires high capital investment and technical know-how. Moreover, it takes years to revamp the energy generation in a large country like India. For example, we produce about 25 times the electricity produced in Sri Lanka and yet the per capita electricity consumption in India is one-third of Sri Lanka’s.

Hence, there is the need to conserve energy at every possible level. The government, in the recent past, has brought in many laws and policies, with the idea of minimizing electricity theft, low voltage problems, etc. However, the problem with all the policies has been that they have never proved to be a complete solution for the bigger problem of energy shortage and energy conservation. Some policies are just mere guidelines and have not been armed with any law to enact them strictly. Violation of some policies involve such meager punishments that no one really bothers to follow them. The policies also failed in terms of publicity and most of them are unknown to even builders and architects, leave aside the common man.

However, there does, now, exist a policy which serves to conserve energy in a holistic manner – Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC). ECBC was recently launched by Shri Shinde, our Minster for Power, on May 27, 2008. This was a launch much awaited by the energy conservation activists and building professionals. The team, that consisted of architects, town planners, engineers, design professionals, etc., took nearly two years to come up with this unique code. This code is made on the lines of National Building Code (NBC) that has already met with remarkable success.

In ECBC, the local design conditions and construction practices are addressed and it emphasizes on maximizing building envelop benefits like day-lighting and natural ventilation. The language of code is kept simple yet professional. An extensive data collection was carried out for construction types and materials, glass types, insulation material, lighting and HVAC equipments and base case simulation models were developed. The code was finalized after consideration of comments on a draft version.

The ECBC is very good in terms of approach and transparency; however, it has some shortcomings as well. ECBC is applicable only on new buildings. This leaves most of the problem untouched as the energy utilization in old buildings contributes to about 90 per cent of whole consumption. Secondly, it is recommended only for building with conditioned area of more than 1000 square meters. This makes it exclusive for only residential complexes and malls, leaving the retail construction, which contributes to about 75 per cent of total construction in Tier II and III cities.

These shortcomings of ECBC can be minimized by having a multilayer system. The government should divide the work of energy audits, counseling and legal action among different specialized departments and these departments must work together to provide faster implication of ECBC. Nonetheless, ECBC should at least cover buildings of 500 square meters area to be practical. Also, a policy as extensive as ECBC, should include private players for fair play…

Saurabh Sharma

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