The India BlogThe India Blog is about the socio-political-economic landscape of the country, its cultural moorings and the challenges it faces – whatever affects the lives and future of the people living within its boundaries and beyond.
As Telangana is moving closer to becoming Indias 29th state, energy efficiency is more important to the region today than ever before. The region is in dire need of solutions to meet its energy demands, develop its local economy and create jobs. As one of Indias most underdeveloped regions, one of the key drivers for the Telangana movement is economic development. To remedy these problems, energy efficiency is a key solution. Energy efficiency means more economic growth, fewer Rupees going out of state, more resilient communities and more jobs. Todays buildings use one third of Indias electricity and the total number is expected to triple by 2030. Enacting and implementing building energy efficiency standards will drive much needed sustainable growth, cut costs and save energy for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Recently Andhra Pradesh demonstrated strong leadership by announcing the adoption of the Energy Conservation Building Code, a standard for large commercial and public buildings that will dramatically reduce their energy consumption, increase electricity reliability, and enable consumers to save money. These are clearly benefits that Telangana would also want to take advantage of should it become a state.
Improving building efficiency presents a huge opportunity for developers, investors, building tenants and the country as a whole. Worldwide, building efficiency is the single largest opportunity to combat resource depletion, according to a 2011 McKinsey & Company report. Another 2008 McKinsey analysis found that improving energy efficiency in India would save more money in 2020 than the national governments current annual spending on health care and education combined.
As one of the most populous areas in India, with an estimated 85 million people and a major IT hub, the region can create jobs and increase energy reliability by enacting and implementing the building code now. This should not be another law that just sits on the books. To that end, key government leaders along with the building industry and energy efficiency experts should focus on three key areas:
- Build capacity with planning agencies to put in place the technical knowledge and policies needed for new efficiency code requirements.
- Hold code implementation workshops with developers, builders and architects to develop the skills, processes, and materials that will be incorporated into new buildings.
- Develop a program for professionals to certify building compliance.
One of the features of the code is that it allows for flexibility by offering a Prescriptive Method that lists requirements for code compliance, and a Whole Building Performance Method that uses architectural design software to optimize the buildings energy performance while minimizing costs. This flexibility gives developers, architects and designers the ability to respond to changing technologies and prices over time. The code was developed by an Andhra Pradesh government steering committee made up of developers, builders and efficiency experts as well as the Administrative Staff College of India, the Indian Institutes of Information Technology and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The code also directs using energy-saving CFLs and LED lights, more natural lighting, improving efficient electrical systems and solar water heaters simple technologies proven to save money and energy while increasing comfort for building occupants. The Godrej Bhavan energy efficiency retrofit in Mumbai shows the huge savings potential that can be reaped from energy efficiency upgrades with a remarkably low payback period of less than five years. Similarly, several of the green buildings in Hyderabad such as the Confederation of Indian Industries-India Green Building Centre and the Infosys campus show that energy efficiency pays.
Hyderabad, as the heart for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, can be a catalyst for change. As it has done before, by transforming to an international high-tech capital, now Hyderabad can seize the energy efficiency opportunity to once again transform into a national leader of healthy, sustainable cities. The critical question is, will the conflict over Telangana statehood propel or delay sustainable development in the region?