India’s Energy Conservation Building Code, 2017: Why the IEA called it a ‘notable exception’ among developing countries
Context- India was cited as a “notable exception” for being among the few emerging markets and developing economies to have energy efficiency building codes. Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), in its World Energy Outlook 2023, report has highlighted that India’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), 2017 for commercial buildings sets it apart from other developing economies where “energy efficiency in buildings stands out as a laggard”.
The ECBC was first released by the Ministry of Power’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in 2007, followed by an update in 2017. Currently, 23 states have notified rules to enforce ECBC compliance, while large states like Maharashtra and Gujarat are still in the process of drafting rules.
Implementation of energy efficiency building codes like ECBC is important as buildings in India account for 30 per cent of total electricity consumption.
What is ECBC?
- ECBC sets minimum energy standards for commercial buildings, with the objective of enabling energy savings of between 25 and 50 per cent in compliant buildings.
- The code is applicable to commercial buildings like hospitals, hotels, schools, shopping complexes, and multiplexes which have a connected load of 100 kW or more, or contract demand of 120 kVA or more.
- It primarily looks at six components of building design including envelope (walls, roofs, windows), lighting systems, HVAC systems, and electrical power system, and the requirements under each of these components are split between mandatory and prescriptive.
- ECBC is for both new buildings and retrofitting existing buildings. Compliant buildings are assigned one of three tags in ascending order of efficiency, namely ECBC, ECBC Plus, and Super ECBC.
- Compared to ECBC, 2007, the updated 2017 code has additional priorities of renewable energy integration, ease of compliance, inclusion of passive building design strategies, and flexibility for the designers.
- While ECBC acts as a national standard, states across India have the flexibility to modify the code depending on unique regional needs. To enforce the code, states have to draft rules and notify them as state laws.
Where do states stand in ECBC implementation?
- Although 23 out of 28 states have notified ECBC rules, only 15 states have notified rules based on the latest ECBC, 2017. These include states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Kerala.
- Five states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, J&K, Ladakh, and Manipur — are yet to notify ECBC rules.
- By delaying the notification of ECBC rules, these states stand to lose out from the benefits of ensuring energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
- BEE published the State Energy Efficiency Index (SEEI) in 2022, which rated states on various parameters of energy efficiency. As per the index, Karnataka was the top state in SEEI’s ratings for energy efficiency in buildings receiving 22.5 points out of a total of 25.
- It was followed by Telangana, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Punjab as the top five large states with the best scores. Bihar was given the lowest score of 0.5 points. With Bihar, states like Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Jharkhand were the five worst rated states for energy efficiency in buildings.
What can we expect moving forward?
- Energy Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2022 provides for the transitioning of ECBC into Energy Conservation and Sustainability Building Code by incorporating measures relating to embedded carbon, net zero emissions, materials and resource efficiency, deployment of clean energy, and circularity.
- Energy Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2022 also makes ECO Niwas Samhita, the residential building energy code, mandatory. This is crucial as residential buildings use 75 per cent of total electricity consumed in the building sector.
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Source- Indian Express