Energy Code Implemented in India

What that means for glazing professionals
By Sahely Mukerji
August 1, 2007
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION : CODES & STANDARDS

The Indian glazing community’s reaction to the implementation of the Energy Conservation Building Code is not clear yet. The code is the first of its kind in India. (See story on Page 64 in February issue of Glass Magazine). Indigenous glass shops such as GSC Toughened Glass Pvt. Ltd. in Greater Noida, and foreign companies such as Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd. in Sriperumbudur, declined to comment for this article. K.K. Trivedi, secretary general, All India Flat Glass Manufacturers’ Association, said, “I’m in the process of obtaining feedback from the industry; so, after some time I’ll be in better position to answer.”
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The Union Power Minister of Power, Sushil Kumar Shinde, formally launched the ECBC at a special function in New Delhi May 27. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency, which finalized the code, is responsible for planning and managing energy efficiency programs and activities in the country.

“Are all the technical specifications in the ECBC to the satisfaction of the glass industry? Maybe not,” says Satish Kumar, chief of party for India’s energy conservation program, International Resource Group, New Delhi. “However, instead of getting stuck on a number for SHGC [solar heat gain coefficient] and visual transmittance that will be acceptable to the industry, it should be realized that inclusion of aggressive technical specifications is an indication of the will of the government to make changes quickly. ECBC is likely to be in a voluntary mode for the next two to three years, which gives the glazing industry enough time to start gearing up for the mandatory phase of the ECBC.”

Any building code is unlikely to satisfy every stakeholder, but a fairly open and transparent process was followed during the ECBC development, resulting in a document that provides clear levels for compliance in unambiguous terms, Kumar says. “This kind of guidance was lacking and must be viewed as a positive step, because more often than not it is not the stringent levels of performance but the uncertainty surrounding the levels of performance that cause more damage to the industry,” he says.

“ECBC will be a benchmark for the construction industry to comply with,” says Ajay Mathur, director general, BEE. “This will hopefully provide the incentives to product manufacturers to bring quality products in the marketplace and generate much needed competition. … ECBC is creating a level playing field in the market place for the entry of high-performance building and construction products, which should bring in foreign direct investments in the manufacturing sector and generate quality jobs in the country.”

Window glass quality standards are likely to improve with the implementation of ECBC, says S. Padmanaban, energy adviser, USAID India, New Delhi. “There is likely to be less of a trade-off between air-conditioning and indoor electric lighting through the design of improved glazing that avoids solar heat gain as well as glare. Markets for efficient windows such as double glazed windows and the like will increase.”

The glazing industry, clearly, will play a big role in the successful implementation of the code. “We worked very closely with the glass industry in the process of developing the ECBC, and we believe that ECBC will result in a significant increase in demand for high-performance glass,” says Tanmay Tathagat, senior energy efficiency and green building specialist, Environmental Design Solutions, New Delhi. “At a minimum, the glass requirement will shoot up just because double glazing becomes more or less mandatory for ECBC compliance. The glass processing industry will also see a significant change in the quality and quantity of processed glass requirements because of ECBC.”

The code is a step in the right direction for India, says Bipin Shah, international coordinator, National Fenestration Rating Council, Greenbelt, Md. “The code will promote the use of advance glazing and wall insulation, much required in buildings in India. Glass manufacturers making low-E products will now have reason to establish manufacturing facilities in India as these products will now be used to achieve energy efficiency.” 

The code
The ECBC sets the minimum energy performance standards for design and construction of large commercial buildings, Padmanaban says. “ECBC is applicable to all buildings with peak demand in excess of 500 kW, or connected load in excess of 600 kVA. It addresses systems such as building envelope, lighting, heating ventilation and air-conditioning, service water heating and electric power distribution within the building facilities while enhancing the thermal and visual comfort and productivity of its occupants.”

The ball started rolling in 2001, when the Indian parliament enacted the Energy Conservation Act that empowered the Government of India to prescribe and notify ECBCs. The BEE is the authorized agency of the GOI for the implementation of the ECA. In 2003, BEE initiated the development of ECBC with support from USAID and, over a three-year consultative process under the guidance of a committee of experts, completed the draft ECBC for five climatic zones in the country: hot -dry; warm-humid; composite; temperate; and cold. The Energy Code Act empowers the state governments to amend ECBC to suit regional/local climatic conditions and notify ECBC for implementation in their respective states.

“The code is mandatory although the compliance approaches are flexible keeping in view three different approaches depending on the expertise available and the preference of the designer/architect,” Padmanaban says.

The three approaches are:
• A top-down or prescriptive approach or the “component-based” approach, which lays down the least or minimum performance requirements for windows, HVAC, lighting, etc.
• A holistic approach that covers the entire building and compares its design with a reference design. In such a situation, the proposed design is shown to be more energy efficient than the reference design. It requires use of building simulation models that permit architects and engineers to try out ideas and designs to understand the impact of their decisions on energy consumption and the environment.
• A system based approach, which is a trade-off between savings achieved by using one component, say, lighting, over another component, say, mechanical systems.

Energy savings
Implementation of the ECBC will enable energy efficiency practices and technologies to be introduced in the building envelope, lighting, HVAC, service water heating and electric power distribution within the building facilities, Padmanaban says.

“Some analysis was done during the development of ECBC that indicated energy savings of 27 percent to 40 percent in an ECBC compliant building over a typical commercial building with an annual energy consumption of 200 kwh/square meter,” Padmanaban says. “The savings varied over different climatic zones. For instance, in a composite climate, such as Delhi, the savings could be as high as 40 percent for a 24-hour operation building. A similar building in Bangalore, where the weather is cooler, the savings would be around 27 percent.”

The BEE will be primarily responsible and is expected to work with the National Building Code that is being implemented by the Ministry of Urban Development in association with state governments and municipal authorities. “While these existing structures are expected to plan and discharge their responsibilities, there is no program in place to coordinate the tracking and reporting of ECBC enforcement,” Padmanaban says. “However, to the extent that the Ministry of Environment & Forests is able to include the provisions of ECBC in the environmental clearance process of large scale commercial buildings—20,000 to 150,000 square meters—there would be a mandatory check.”

There are no penalties for not meeting the code, Padmanaban says. “But there could be serious repercussions, especially for large commercial buildings—20,000-150,000 square meters—whose owners might not obtain environmental clearance if ECBC is not met.”

Looking ahead
“The code in the future, just like in developed countries, will be tightened to achieve more targeted energy savings, driving market transformation and attracting adoption of advance technologies from other countries,” Mathur says. “ECBC is a good starting point; as the codes get implemented and used, there will be a learning curve for both the government and the manufacturers, and amendments will be made to the current code before the mandatory version is launched.”

For the successful implementation of the code, a framework for verification of product performance needs to be created. “How can a consumer be assured if the product is meeting the performance requirements?” Kumar asks. “The BEE has launched a product labeling program in 2006 that is causing awareness among consumers and helping them make informed decisions based on the energy use of products.”

However, there is an immediate need for the establishment of an infrastructure: testing and simulation laboratories with appropriate equipment and skilled personnel and a recognized, unbiased rating body to provide product performance labels, Kumar says. “The National Fenestration Rating Council labels for the fenestration in the U.S. or the CE marking in Europe provide product performance labels for code personnel to verify at the time of inspection. India needs to establish this ‘rating organization’ on a priority basis which will provide product performance labeling services that will in turn help facilitate ECBC code adoption process.”

The U.S. Department of Energy and the NFRC are working with the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology in Ahmedabad [India] to establish an energy center with all testing facilities, Shah says. This effort is also supported by the state government of Gujarat and the All India Flat Glass Manufacturers Association.

“There is still a long way to go for the government to ensure adoption of codes at the state and local level,” Mathur says. “There is broad government support and commitment for ECBC implementation, and it is in the interest of everyone that architects, designers, developers, consultants, and industry associations and product manufacturers come together to improve ECBC and make it a success in the years to come.”

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Sources
S. Padmanaban, USAID India, American Embassy, Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021, 91-11-2419-8153, spadmanaban@usaid.gov

Satish Kumar, International Resource Group, AADI Building (Lower Ground Floor), 2, Balbir Saxena Marg, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, 91-11-2685-3110, skumar@irgltd.com

Ajay Mathur, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Government of India, 2nd Floor NBCC Tower, 15 Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi 110066, 91-11-2617-8316, dg-bee@nic.in

Bipin Shah, WinBuild, Inc.,11103 Redford Court, Fairfax, VA 22030, 703-273-4981, bvshah@verizon.net

K.K. Trivedi, All India Flat Glass manufacturers Association, 4-7C DDA Shopping Centre, New Friends Colony, New Delhi 110 065, 91-11-2692-6923, kktrivedi@aifgma.com.