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Construction : Smart Viewpoint | August 2015 | Source : CW-India

Cutting-edge clean

The latest clean technologies for buildings ensure a lower carbon footprint and safeguard the well-being of future generations, says THANIK B, Director-Business Development & Strategy, Eco-Buildings Business, Schneider Electric India.

As urbanisation has gathered momentum during the past few decades, the ubiquitous growth of buildings - residential, commercial and industrial - has accelerated the serious effects of climate change. Given their tremendous use of energy, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems have exacerbated the impact of global warming. Nevertheless, the latest clean technologies can ensure that modern buildings have a lower carbon footprint. Even older buildings can achieve better energy performance through retrofitting.

With green building norms gaining traction globally, developers and owners of buildings are under increasing pressure to ensure energy-efficiency guidelines are met. Today, builders and owners can turn to energy-efficiency experts to ensure their structures follow green guidelines.

Integrated energy solutions
These experts take a comprehensive, holistic view of a building, how it functions and operates, and who will occupy the space. Companies such as Schneider Electric take an integrated approach to building management that can reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, curb capital expenditures, lower operating expenses and boost overall business performance.

However, every building is unique in its design and operation. Office complexes, hospitals, hotels, airports and universities all have different functional requirements and occupancy patterns. The solutions to each may, therefore, differ in some ways. Broadly speaking, however, the solutions are offered via automatic room control as well as HVAC and lighting solutions. To benefit from world-class clean technologies, it´s best that developers contact energy-efficiency experts during the planning stage of the building. This way, before construction begins, plans are in place to maximise the energy-efficiency of all the systems in the building.

Automatic room controls could offer efficiencies that optimise room conditions based on four main variables: Time, access, function and occupancy. Room controls can range from small, all-in-one-box solutions to extremely advanced multi-application centralised solutions that are part of a building management system. Simultaneously, these systems provide comfort for occupants and keep energy costs down.

Lower operational costs
When done right, using state-of-the-shelf technology, green buildings can consume about 30-40 per cent less electricity with no added capital costs. Existing buildings can achieve 25-40 per cent less electricity use with simple paybacks of less than two to three years. Further, through water-efficient plumbing, ultra-low fixtures, rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling, among other things, water consumption can be reduced by over 40 per cent. Through green guidelines, other benefits accrue too - such as excellent daytime lighting, better indoor as well as ambient air quality, improved well-being of residents, lower usage of scarce resources, etc.

As energy-efficiency experts such as Schneider Electric possess global footprints, which include several offices and factories in India, the latest technologies are available in India too. As the nation prepares to undertake a major urbanisation drive through the 100 smart cities and AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) programmes, there is immense scope for energy-efficient technologies being used in constructing buildings. With smart cities and AMRUT slated to receive central grants of Rs 48,000 crore and Rs 50,000 crore, respectively, over the next five years, it should augur well for energy-efficient technologies.

R&D in clean energy, including energy-efficiency and solar energy, is ongoing. At periodic intervals, breakthroughs have helped lower clean energy costs, making them more affordable. As India seeks to drive its ambitious housing, infrastructure and energy development programmes, it would do well to make efficient use of clean technologies to ensure a better quality of life for its citizens through a lower carbon footprint. That is the only way to safeguard the well-being of future generations.

"Smart cities and AMRUT programmes - slated to receive central grants -- should augur well for energy-efficient technology.´

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