Energy efficiency in buildings

Last Updated 28 January 2010, 11:31 IST

The report is from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It states that although energy consumption in India is below the world average, it still lacks implementation of effective energy efficiency measures in buildings here, resulting in significant energy wastage.

 In addition, the report also assesses the inter-play between two factors – rapid urbanisation and climate change. With huge projections of population growth in the developing world, it is important that this growth is managed in such a way that it addresses energy issues as well as provides a decent level of housing.

Authors Anil Kashyap, Prof Jim Berry, Prof Stanley McGreal and Prof Alistair Adair have collectively cited the impact of planning policies in reducing energy use, through the course of this study. In addition, they have emphasised that there is pressure to reduce the amount of energy used in buildings, which can be achieved through better design, orientation and planning of built space.

 The research explores the actual and potential energy impacts of policy measures to formalise informal settlements in the developing world. The contention being that, while such policies could deliver substantial social benefits, it may well come at the expense of increased energy use.

Based on an in-depth analysis of Sonipat, it involved a detailed energy audit of housing development in both informal and formal settlements. It examines the influence of urban form characteristics on energy use in buildings in both planned and unplanned neighbourhoods.

Based on a detailed survey of 240 buildings in each of the two study areas (representing about 24 per cent of the total buildings), key characteristics such as orientation, street width, opening size, height and length to breadth ratio have been

Various measures such as fiscal policies, new sustainable technologies, educational awareness and regulation for tackling the environmental impacts resulting from mobility and emissions from buildings have also been recommended.

When developing new settlements to re-house the existing inhabitants of unplanned settlements, specific planning policies need to be introduced to reduce travel distances by better allocation of land uses spatially. This promotes lower use of motorised transport and incorporates building design that uses renewable sources
of energy.

 Mobility between areas of economic activity in neighbourhoods could be addressed through planning policy and the innovative design of new formal neighbourhoods. Transport management measures that can be used to support and enhance the effect of land use planning policies include parking charges, vehicle and fuel switching and a fuel surcharge, road user and congestion charges, public transport priority measures and restrictions in car access.

The impact of planning policies on reduction in energy use, identified in this study clearly demonstrates the key role that planners and the planning process can play in achieving sustainable development. It is therefore important that energy efficient neighbourhood design principles are integrated from the start of the development process.

On the release of the report, Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director and Country Head, RICS India, said, “This report is part of RICS’ global efforts to explore the contribution that the built environment profession can make in moving towards a low carbon society and economy. Given the enormous housing shortfall and the magnitude of infrastructural developments that are taking place in India, the anticipated growth in energy demand is projected to be high in the building construction sector.”

He further added that with the economy shifting towards services located in urban areas, it has been cited that approximately 40 per cent of the country’s population will inhabit cities by 2020 as compared to the present 28
per cent.

Considering the complexity of the issue, there is need for concerted action using a combination of economic and regulatory measures, skills training and awareness campaigns among the public as well as policy makers.

(Published 28 January 2010, 11:31 IST)

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