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Minimise energy consumption of a fast growing commercial building sector through implementing energy efficient building envelope designs.



The building sector consumes about one third of the total energy consumption in India. In the wake of predicted climate change and India’s voluntary commitment to reduce its Green House Gasses (GHG) emissions, the building sector becomes one of the high priority sectors. The creation of National Mission on Sustainable Habitat under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) by the Government of India with one of its key part being energy efficiency in buildings, highlights its importance. Moreover, the commercial building sector is the fastest growing sector in the buildings. The projected numbers indicate that only 33% of the commercial floor area that would exist by 2030 is currently built, and 66% is yet to be built. This presents a huge potential of saving in energy consumption in the commercial building sector. A study to calculate the probable saving potential would help decision makers to further exploit it. Specifically building envelope is chosen for the research because it is that part of the building that stays with the building for life, unlike HVAC systems or lighting systems that have a relatively smaller life span and also incur a greater amount of maintenance cost. Also, changes done towards efficiency in the core structure of the building, which includes the building envelope, gives the best lifetime energy savings.

The research attempts to estimate the current energy consumption pattern in the commercial building sector at the city level along with a broad study of the predominant building characteristics that would include details of building envelope, type of appliances used etc. Consequently, it tries to assess future energy consumption patterns at the city level, based on Business As Usual (BAU) and Energy Efficient (EE) scenarios. These different scenarios would help in calculating the energy saving potential at the city level for commercial sector.

Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action

What actions do you propose?

The undertaken research gives a detailed bottom-up break-up of the energy consumption pattern in the commercial sector of one of the fastest growing cities of India, Ahmedabad. It also projects the growth pattern for the future and compares the energy consumption with assumed implementation of energy efficient measures and business as usual scenarios. These measures are specifically limited to building envelope as this is that part of the building which stays with it for life. Moreover, it is the most difficult and expensive part to upgrade and make energy efficient. Based on these patterns, certain measures can be identified as the more profitable ones. These measures can then be discussed by urban local bodies and the real estate developers, and agreed upon to be implemented as:

1.        Compulsory measures,

2.        Tradable measures, or

3.        Voluntary measures.


The measures will jump one up the above mentioned categories as the implementation phase progresses. For example, achieving a U-value of 0.41 for the North facing envelope might be voluntary in the first phase, but jump to tradable in the next one and to compulsory in the last one.


Also, the increased cost of implementation shall be calculated by an independent research organisation. This extra cost can be given to the developers as subsidies by the urban local body(s). These subsidies would automatically be recovered by the urban body through collection of electricity bills based on the business as usual scenario consumption and not the energy efficient consumption. The occupants will pay normal bills till the time the subsidies, along with interests, are fully recovered. The real estate developer shall make sure that the occupants are well informed about it. The business as usual consumption shall be calculated by the independent research organisation.

Who will take these actions?

The urban local bodies, research organisations along with the real estate developers and occupants/owners.

Where will these actions be taken?

Emerging economies (India).

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Based on initial study, the energy savings will be around 20%-25% per unit commercial floor area. For example, there can be a maximum saving of 202 MWh for the year 2030, for a city like Ahmedabad (India). This can be converted to emission-reduction based on the location specific emission factor.

What are other key benefits?

1.        Increased thermal comfort of the occupants.

2.        Revenue generation for urban local bodies.

3.        Decreased Urban Heat Island effect, and thus further reducing energy demand on cooling.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The cost will increasingly depend on the location of implementation. Previously done studies suggest a cost of $80-$90 per square metre of floor area in the Indian context, taken on the higher side and at the current rates.

Time line

The implementation can be phased into three parts. The first phase will take 5 years (2020) and will look at specific targets. The next phase would be 10 years (2030) looking to modify specific targets on existing building stock and 75% of new construction. The last phase will be of 10 more years (2040) attempting to filter 100% of new construction and 100% of existing building stock that consume energy more than a certain decided upon benchmark. This benchmark would be calculated based on the performance of the first two phases.

Related proposals


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