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All about Energy Conservation Building Code

The code facilitates energy saving measures in buildings and would be made mandatory, write
Deepa Sathiaram and Tanmay Tathagat
Photo: AP

Act fast: Energy saving measures in buildings are necessary for a sustainable

Energy conservation is the practice of reducing the quantity of energy used while achieving the
purported outcome. Energy conservation reduces the energy consumption as well as energy
demand per capita, and thus offsets the growth in energy supply needed to keep up with rapid
economic growth and increasing needs of the population. India is fast developing and the
construction industry is seeing a boom as never before and any energy saving measure
implemented could go a lon g way in maintaining the current GDP growth.

Recognising this need, Indian Parliament passed the Energy Conservation Act in 2001. The Act gave
the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) the responsibility and authority to develop the Energy
Conservation Building Code [ECBC] for India and to take suitable steps to set out energy
conservation guidelines for Building Codes.

The code will be mandatory for commercial buildings or building complexes that have a connected
load of 500 kW or greater or a contract demand of 600 kVA or greater. The code is also applicable
to all buildings with a conditioned floor area of 1,000 m2 (10,000 ft2) or greater. The role of the
Central Government is to facilitate and enforce efficient use of energy and its conservation by
prescribing Energy Conservation Building Codes. The Government also has the power to direct every
owner or occupier of the building or building complex, being a designated consumer to comply with
the provisions of the ECBC. The code is recommended for all other buildings.

The provisions of this code do not apply to:

(a) Buildings that do not use either electricity or fossil fuel,

(b) Equipment and portions of building systems that use energy primarily for manufacturing
processes, and
(c) Multi-family buildings of three or fewer stories above grade, and single-family buildings.

Building envelope

ECBC lays a lot of emphasis on building envelope sealing and all joints around fenestration/door
frames, openings between walls and roof/foundation, openings of utility services and building any
other type of opening needs to be sealed, caulked, gasketed, or weather-stripped to minimise air
leakage. This means for a warm and humid climate like Chennai we would have to go in for double
glazing in all areas to achieve the desired values while a place like Bangalore may be able to meet
the code requirements with single glazing.

In layman’s terms buildings have to focus on over-deck insulation of various kinds to achieve the
prescribed. Under-deck insulation is not acceptable by the code. For Opaque walls, the requirements
are far more stringent. The recommended values of the code can be achieved only by going in for
insulation for all exposed wall areas.

Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning (HVAC)

Under HVAC, minimum equipment efficiencies for various equipment have been indicated in the
code and all equipment shall meet or exceed these requirements. In addition, all systems shall be
controlled by a time clock that can start and stop the system under different schedules, is capable
of retaining programming and time setting during loss of power for a period of at least 10 hours,
and includes an accessible manual override that allows temporary operation of the system for up to
2 hours. Exceptions to this requirement shall be Cooling systems < 28 kW (8 tons) and Heating
systems < 7 KW (3 tons). All heating and cooling equipment shall be temperature controlled and all
cooling tower motors shall either be two-speed or have pony motors/ variable speed drives for their
fans. Specifications for duct insulation have also been provided and need to be adhered to.

Service water heating

As a mandatory requirement, all residential facilities, hotels and hospitals with a centralised system
shall have solar water heating for at least 1/5 of the design capacity. Exceptions to these shall
include systems that use heat recovery for at least 1/5 of the design capacity. Similarly all water
heating systems including solar water heater, gas instantaneous water heaters and electric water
heaters shall meet the performance/ minimum energy levels indicated in the code.


The lighting requirements in this code shall apply to all interior spaces, exterior building features,
(including facades, illuminated roofs, architectural features, entrances, exits, loading docks, and
illuminated canopies) and exterior building grounds lighting that is provided through the building’s
electrical service. All emergency lighting that is automatically off during normal building operation
and is powered by battery, generator, or other alternate power source; and lighting in dwelling units
are exempted from this requirement.

Interior lighting systems in buildings larger than 5,000 ft shall be equipped with an automatic
control device. Within these buildings, all office areas less than 300 ft2 enclosed by walls or ceiling-
height partitions, all meeting and conference rooms, school classrooms, and storage spaces shall be
equipped with occupancy sensors to conserve energy. Each space shall have an individual lighting
control device that get activated by hand or through sensors. There are prescribed requirements
both for lighting power (W/sw ft) and lighting controls that need to be adhered too.

Benefits of ECBC
The intent of ECBC is to encourage energy efficient design or retrofit of commercial buildings so that
they are designed in a manner that reduces the use of energy without constraining the building
function, the comfort, health, or the productivity of the occupants and with appropriate regard for
economic considerations.

The ECBC compliance methods and procedures being developed for India would include the

Prescriptive Method: The prescriptive criteria consist of "Alternative Component Packages" (ACP).
Minimum standards for all building components like insulation, lighting, and equipment efficiencies
are prescribed. The building must satisfy every component criteria.

Performance Method: The Systems Performance Criteria is only available for the building envelope
and the lighting system within a building. All other components must comply with the Prescriptive

Energy Cost Budget (Whole Building) Method: This method allows greater flexibility and innovative
energy conservative designs. . The whole building energy use target is set and the building can
trade-off between systems.

The code itself will not be mandated for the first three years and most likely will be modified one
more time before it becomes a mandate in 2010.


At Eco-Building & Forestry, LLC. we can help guide you through the maze of choices
in environmental building.

We are constantly searching out better ways to do things. In many cases the
products and services we created and began using ten years ago are just now
becoming popular. Eco-Building & Forestry, LLC. was one of the first businesses in
Wisconsin to:

Insulate under concrete slabs

Install cement siding
Build masonry heaters
Use engineered wood products
Design sunrooms that heat homes
Install and regularly use a wood-fired brick oven
Install a wind generator
Design exterior LED light fixtures
Install large rain harvesting systems
Build a simple composting toilet
Replace pressure treated lumber with local rot resistant hardwoods
Experiment with edible plants for home and roof shading
Build and install drip irrigation kits
to more rapidly establish vegetation on disturbed building sites

The need

Buildings, as they are designed today, contribute to serious energy and

environmental problems because of excessive consumption of resources (energy, water &
land) by them during both the construction phase and use. Studies show that residential
and commercial sectors in India together account for 25% of the countries total electricity
consumption, a major portion of which is used in buildings. Energy Efficient Solar
Buildings are the need of hour and solar passive architecture needs to integrated into the
planning and design process and all buildings.

What is Energy Efficient building design ?

Energy Efficient Solar Building is defined as a building that makes maximum use of
Renewable Energy ad resources during construction and operation. An energy efficient
solar building:

· maximizes use of efficient building materials and construction practices;

· optimizes use of onsite sources and sinks by bio-climatic architectural


· uses minimum energy to power itself;

· uses efficient equipment to meet its lighting, air-conditioning, and other


· maximizes use of renewable sources of energy; and

· uses efficient waste and water management practices and provides

comfortable and hygienic indoor working conditions.

Sustainable buildings re evolved through a design process that looks into all aspects of
building and systems planning, design, construction, and operation and critically
evaluates the impacts of each design decision on the environment to arrive at viable
design solutions to minimize the negative impacts and enhance the positive impacts on
the environment.
HAREDA is implementing a programme on promotion of solar passive architectural

concepts with

an objective

-To promote energy efficient building designs.

-Building construction with optimum use of solar energy.

-Other forms of ambient energy in energy management.

Solar passive architecture

Providing comfortable buildings, while reducing the use of conventional fuels and
electricity, can be obtained through solar passive architecture. The benefit of solar
energy is utilized through designing energy efficient buildings.

Climatically responsive, energy efficient architecture

Auroville is situated in the hot humid zone, a zone where solar passive measures are
the least effective. Natural lighting and proper ventilation, shading of the walls and
good insulation of the roof are important features for creating comfort zones within

Low energy content building materials

Appropriate building technologies are an overall part of passive solar
architecture. Auroville Building Centre has gained expertise in two low
energy content technologies: compressed earth blocks and ferrocement. Both
technologies use in their category substantially less energy than the more
traditional applications of fired bricks and RCC structures.

Passive design is design that does not require mechanical heating or cooling.
Homes that are passively designed take advantage of natural energy flows to
maintain thermal comfort.

Incorporating the principles of passive design in your home:

 Significantly improves comfort

 Reduces or eliminates heating and cooling bills
 Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from heating, cooling, mechanical
ventilation and lighting.

Building envelope is a term used to

describe the roof, walls, windows, floors and internal walls of a home. The envelope
controls heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Its performance in modifying
or filtering climatic extremes is greatly improved by passive design. Well designed
envelopes maximise cooling air movement and exclude sun in summer.
In winter, they trap and store heat from the sun and minimise heat loss to the
external environment. The fundamental principles of passive design, explained
above are relatively simple but they must be applied to a vast range of climates,
house types and construction systems in Australia.
On average, 39% of energy consumed in Australian homes is space
heating & cooling. Using passive solar design dramatically reduces this


Passive solar heating is the least expensive way to heat your home. It is also:

 Free when designed into a new home or addition.

 Appropriate for all climates where winter heating is required (generally
latitudes south of 27.50S).
 Achievable when building or renovating on any site with solar access - often
with little effort.
 Achievable when buying a project home, with correct orientation and slight
floor plan changes.
 Achievable when choosing an existing house, villa or unit. Look for good
orientation and shading.
 Achievable using all types of Australian construction systems.

Put simply, design for passive solar heating is about

keeping summer sun out and letting winter sun in.