Kerala Energy Conservation Building Code is expected to be notified within two months

Energy conservation is no more a choice but a must.

Kerala Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) is expected to be notified within two months, and it will make compulsory for all new commercial buildings with a connected load of 100 kilowatt or more to incorporate energy conservation elements at the design stage.

Kerala Energy Management Centre (EMC) submitted a draft notification to the electricity department and will be vetted by the law department before being notified. The electricity department has asked for clarifications on some aspects of the proposed notification and the centre will reply to the queries.

Once rolled out, commercial buildings would be permitted only if they comply with the new notification, said a senior scientist at the centre.

The builder will have to fork out 15 to 20 per cent more money to incorporate the mandatory features. But the cost can be recouped in electricity savings. Cost reduction can also be achieved through design optimization, an official at the centre said.

Incorporating the energy efficiency features prescribed in Energy Conservation Building Code at the design stage will cut down energy consumption by 30 to 50 per cent in commercial buildings, which account for roughly 15 per cent of the total energy consumption of 17,181 million units (2012-13) in Kerala.

An official of the Energy Management Centre said Kerala was ahead of other states in implementing conservation code. States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa are at various stages of implementing it under Section 15 of the Energy Conservation Act 2001. Section 15 (a) of the Act provides for amending building codes to suit the requirements and conditions in a particular state.

Energy Conservation Building Code is the technical code and guide to achieving the best energy performance by a building — that is to minimize energy consumption per square meter per year, which is called the energy performance index of a building. The code has both mandatory and prescriptive segments.

For example, the conservation code prescribes a specification for plastering the building to reduce heat absorption as it will cut down the need for air conditioning. The code also asks builders to tap natural light to wean people off artificial lights during day time.

The official claimed that the code would be the most authentic and technically proven manual on design interventions for energy efficient buildings, prepared after 240 commercial buildings across Kerala were studied for incorporation of energy efficiency measures.

The Kerala ECBC had also incorporated some of the recommendations in ASHRAE Handbook (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers), the renowned repository of knowledge on the various usages of energy in heating and refrigeration, the official said.

He said 30 of the buildings that were studied underwent modifications according to the proposed energy conservation code to achieve energy efficiency. Even minor modifications resulted in 15 to 20 per cent savings in electricity.

Energy efficiency features under the new code will not be mandatory for domestic and manufacturing or processing units. However, standalone godowns or storage facilities serving manufacturing units fall within the purview of the coming notification.

More In: Kerala | National | Kochi