How much can building energy use be contained in India to enhance CO2 savings?
Among the four GBPN priority regions, the greatest relative growth in buildings energy use is predicted to take place in India.
If today’s policy trends are followed, India’s building thermal energy demand will grow by almost 700% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels and the associated CO2 emissions are likely to increase tenfold (1.1 Gt). It is therefore critical to implement the “Deep Path” strategy (Our Vision). Even with the very ambitious “deep” strategy, India’s building thermal energy use is expected to grow by 130% by 2050. The “deep” scenario would also contain the CO2 related emissions from a growth of 1.11 Gt to a growth of 0.44 Gt.
Considering the projected increase of floor area in India, population and thermal comfort levels, containing the growth of consumption levels of building thermal energy use by 200% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels will be a huge achievement. Yet, this can only be realized through the implementation of ambitious policy packages that require high levels of energy performance for new constructions.
In India, the residential building stock holds the greatest potential of energy savings by far, but its energy use will increase by 800% without any action. This confirms, once again, the urgent need to develop solid energy-efficient policy-packages in India to prevent the Indian building sector’s energy use to dramatically impact on climate change and in particular in the residential sector, which is by means much larger than the commercial sector.
The unprecedented challenge of improving the world’s fastest growing building stock
Between now and 2050, rapid social and economic changes will significantly increase India’s population, the size of its cities and set a huge demand on the construction industry. India will soon have the greatest share of the world’s building stock, consisting mainly of new buildings.
By 2050, India will have seen an unprecedented floor area escalation of almost 400%. This growth combined with improving levels of comfort is expected to have a very dramatic impact on energy consumption.
To maximize energy savings, it will be essential to focus on constructing new energy efficient buildings. The largest growth is expected to occur in the residential building floor space between now and 2050, but energy efficiency in new residential buildings is still to be regulated.
To contain the energy use and enhance CO2 savings of all new buildings in India, it is fundamental to develop ambitious building energy efficiency regulations and policy packages aiming at limiting the energy consumption for new buildings.
Building Energy Performance Policies
India is in the process of implementing its first building energy code. In 2007, the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) launched a nationwide commercial building energy-efficiency code, the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) and revised it in 2008. The code remains voluntary until it is adopted into the by-laws of the individual states.
The ECBC sets minimum energy standards to buildings or building complexes with connected loads that are greater than 100 kilowatts (kW) or 120 kilovolts-ampere (kVA). The Code has primarily focussed on commercial buildings though, it is applicable to residential complexes with the same connected load as the commercial buildings.
The ECBC has yet to be adopted by most of India’s states and therefore the majority of new commercial buildings are not built under the requirements of the ECBC. However, the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency have outlined particular areas where the code could become mandatory, so far, two states (Rajasthan & Odhisha) have already mandated the ECBC, six others (Gujarat, Karnataka, Punjab, Kerela, Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand) have initiated the process and seven additional states (MP, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal & Maharashtra) have been identified as focus states by the BEE for the year 2012-13.
Although the ECBC does cover a small part of the residential sector, the majority do not apply and their energy and emissions savings potential are not addressed. Residential buildings, which represent the largest share of India’s future building stock, have no dedicated building code: this must become a national priority.
We see a huge potential for energy savings and CO2 mitigation in the Indian building sector, and a massive lock-in risk. At current rates of code adoption, building energy demand in India will increase by five times that of 2005 levels by 2050 representing a lock-in of about 1.2 Gt of CO2 emissions. If no actions are taken the residential building stock will increase its energy use by around 800% and CO2 emissions by 840% compared to the baseline year of 2005. Currently there is very little coverage of the residential sector by India’s ECBC.
Residential buildings consume three times the electricity consumed by commercial buildings, and represent 8 to 10 times greater floor area as compared to the commercial sector. Growth in residential floor area is also predicted to be substantially larger than commercial. There is an urgent need to understand this savings potential and how it can be addressed effectively in order to avoid long-term lock in of inefficient, high energy consuming buildings.