New guidelines for India's building code to reduce energy consumption

1 June 2017

Research between India and Australia has produced a new set of guidelines for India's building code that aims to reduce the energy consumption of the second most populated country in the world.

India streetscape

The guidelines follow a four-year collaboration between the University of Sydney’s IEQ Lab (Indoor Environmental Quality Lab), led by Professor Richard de Dear in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, the University of Technology Sydney, and CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India.

“India’s population of more than 1.3 billion continues to grow and is expected to overtake China’s by 2022. The scale of building being undertaken makes Australia’s construction industry look miniscule by comparison,” commented Professor de Dear.

“Given the rate of building currently happening in India, we need to ensure we don’t end up with more air conditioned cities like Dubai. The guidelines that have been developed will ensure that air con is not the only solution for controlling India’s indoor climate,” he said.

The research project that began in 2012 aimed to provide the metrics that would shape a national standard for air conditioning, heating and mechanical ventilation in the building code suited to India’s climate.

The research included exhaustive field work in five cities representing the Indian subcontinent’s major climate zones. Tens of thousands of interviews with building occupants, accompanied by detailed instrumental indoor and outdoor environmental measurements were used to define specifications for commercial buildings in India.

The guidelines identify where natural ventilation is more suitable for human comfort than air conditioning alone. “It makes a strong case for natural ventilation rather than simply installing air con, which will clearly have an enormous impact on reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from India’s commercial building sector long term,” said Professor de Dear.

The idea for the project in India came as a result of Professor de Dear’s work in the 1990s with colleagues from the University of California at Berkeley. The US-funded project led to a new set of global indoor comfort guidelines – Standard 55-2004 Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy - for ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), which is referenced by countless national building codes around the world, including in Australia. 

“India is so large, so climatically diverse, populous and culturally unique, therefore a bespoke building guideline that was specific to the subcontinent was deemed a more appropriate strategy,” added Professor de Dear.

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