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India’s Nationally Determined Contributions commit to reducing emission intensity of its GDP to 35% below 2005 levels by 2030. Any effort to achieve this target is contingent upon the increase in efficiency of energy use across all sectors, especially in the building sector. The building sector in India consumes over 30% of the total electricity consumed in the country annually and is second only to the industrial sector as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Building energy codes for new buildings are an important regulatory measure for ushering energy efficiency in the building sector. They are particularly relevant for countries like India where the building stock is rising rapidly. The commercial sector among buildings has been addressed by the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) for Commercial Buildings. The first version of ECBC was released in 2007 and a revised version was issued in June 2017. Given the current and anticipated rapid growth in residential building stock across India and the consequent opportunities as well as the necessity for energy conservation in this sector the Energy Conservation Code for Residential Buildings is being established by the Ministry of Power. Out of the total electricity consumed in the building sector, around 75% is used in the residential buildings. The gross electricity consumption in residential buildings has been rising sharply – it was around 50 TWh in 1995 and has increased by more than four times in the next 20 years and was around 220 TWh in 2015. Projections show it rising to anywhere between 600 -900 TWh by 2030.
Among various reasons, increased use of decentralized room based air conditioning units in homes is one of the important reasons contributing to this rapid increase in the electricity use in residential buildings. This increasing demand for air-conditioned thermal comfort, that will continue its exponential growth with improvement in household incomes, will become the most contributor to GHG emissions nation-wide. This calls for an urgent and immediate energy conserving action plan. Building envelope consists of the walls, roof, windows, and fenestration. Major parts of India have hot and humid climates.
Research presented in the National Building Code (NBC) and Handbook on Functional Requirement for Buildings (SP: 41), both published by the Bureau of Indian Standards, has established a direct correlation between the design of building envelope and the heat gains from the building envelope. Heat gains, in turn, determine the indoor temperatures, thermal comfort, and sensible cooling demand. Current designs of the building envelope are often not guided by considerations of heat gain and the resultant cooling requirement to achieve indoor thermal comfort. It is seen current practices of residential buildings design and construction show a large variation in heat gains and hence in the sensible cooling demand. The ratio between the minimum to maximum sensible cooling demand can vary by as much as 1:4. The production of the residential building stock in urban areas is shifting quickly toward multistorey residential buildings from the earlier mode of building individual homes. It is expected that, with the economics of land and the need for cities to be geographically compact, multistory residential buildings will be the dominant form of meeting the demand for housing in urban areas. This will be the trend for housing for people across the socio-economic spectrum, from low-income to the middle and high-income categories. This form of housing will be in the formal sector and subject to the building bye-laws and urban development regulations of the Local Urban Bodies (ULBs). Importantly, a large section of the multi-story housing e.g. Group Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (Part I: Building Envelope Design) Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) 2 Housing will also be supported by the professional services of registered architects and engineers.
The initiation of the Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (Part I: Building Envelope Design), addresses this category of residential buildings. Energy Conservation Building Code (Part I: Building Envelope Design) has been prepared to set minimum building envelope performance standards to limit heat gains (for hot climates) and to limit heat loss (for cold climate) as well as for ensuring adequate natural ventilation and daylighting. The code is applicable to all residential use building projects built on plot area = 250 m2. The code has been developed with special consideration for its adoption by the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) into building byelaws. This strategy enables the majority of new urban housing stock to be brought into the net for capturing the opportunities and the benefits of energy efficiency in residential buildings. The Part I – Building Envelope Design is the first component of the Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings to be launched. Its early and immediate introduction is to improve the construction and design of new residential building stock, as it is being built currently and in the near future, to significantly curtail the anticipated energy demand for comfort cooling in times to come. This critical investment in envelope construction and design made today will reap the benefits of reduced GHG emissions for the lifetime of the buildings.
The code is designed in a simple-to-apply format, requiring only arithmetic tabulation based on the architectural design drawings of the residential buildings. This will be usable by architects as well as engineers and will not require any specialized skills or simulation software. This also enables the Code to be readily adopted in the Building Byelaws and regulatory instruments such as Environmental Clearance for Large Projects. In the subsequent years, new components will be added to the Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings, which will address other aspects such as, Energy Efficiency in Electro-Mechanical Equipment for Building Operation, Renewable Energy Generation, Embodied Energy of Walling Materials and Structural Systems.
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