Radhika Khosla, Welch Environmental Innovation Fellow, New York
Next week, Anjali Jaiswal and I will be in India to kick-start dialogues on building energy efficiency in three rapidly growing cities – Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Chennai. Energy efficiency is at the forefront of India’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Among the top four nations in the world with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified square footage, India increased its “green” floor area from just 20,000 square feet in 2004 to more than 20 million square feet in 2009. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency announced that the implementation of the Energy Conservation Building Code — which focuses on scaling up energy efficiency in new construction — will be mandatory for commercial buildings in eight states from 2012.
To accelerate the adoption of building efficiency standards, NRDC and ASCI produced a report that highlights the energy efficiency potential of India’s building sector. Based on this report, we have released a new factsheet, Saving Energy: Taking Building Efficiency to New Heights, that explores the benefits of and barriers to maximizing energy efficiency and details the major steps involved in its implementation.
The factsheet calls for action across the spectrum of stakeholders that are affected by, and benefit from, energy efficiency – real estate developers; financial Institutions; state and central governments; utilities; corporate entities; tenants; a skilled workforce; efficiency vendors; media, civil society, and non-government organizations.
Working with three of these stakeholder groups – state and local governments, real estate developers, and financial institutions – is the focus of NRDC’s second phase of work on scaling up building energy efficiency in India.
Stakeholder Focus: State and Local Governments, Real Estate Developers, and Financial Institutions
The city of Hyderabad, under the new leadership of Commissioner Krishna Babu of the Greater Municipality of Hyderabad Corporation, is ramping up its commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability. State and local government policies can accelerate the momentum to promote efficient construction, especially by addressing the slow movers and the least efficient segment of the buildings market. NRDC is continuing its active engagement with the city and state governments, by providing technical and capacity building support on building codes and implementation. NRDC is also working in the states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, both of which are taking impressive steps to be leaders in scaling up efficiency.
The second stakeholder group NRDC is focusing on is the real estate developer community, which is currently largely fragmented within the country. The premium components of this market that cater to the high-end paying client are champions of energy efficiency, with in-house sustainability teams that set international best practice. However, majority of the market is unfamiliar with both the processes and the business case for energy efficiency. NRDC, ASCI, and Mercados are leading the effort to form a network for energy efficiency for real estate developers in the country. This will be a unique forum for peer-to-peer education, facilitating conversations between leaders and other participants in the market about experiences with adopting efficiency practices. Like the Real Estate Network for Climate and Energy Policy in the U.S., the goal is for the real estate network in India to evolve into a collaborative voice for the builders’ community that advocates for energy efficiency policy and interacts with the efficiency industry.
Last, but not least, NRDC is also focusing its efforts on financial institutions. Developing financial products for efficiency represents a tremendous untapped opportunity in India that is waiting to be unleashed. Currently, the financial industry is skeptical about offering products in this space. It is concerned about the lack of demand for these products from building owners and developers. At the same time, building owners point to the lack of financial products that can help overcome the initial higher upfront cost of efficiency technologies as one of the obstacles that prevent them from adopting these measures. We aim to open a dialogue between the two groups and share international best practice with them to overcome this gridlock between the demand and supply of efficiency related financial products.
The buy-in and support of each of these stakeholder groups is critical to the top-down and bottom-up approach to scaling up the rapid expansion of the energy efficiency market in India. We are excited to help facilitate these conversations. The first step in this effort is a focused workshop in Hyderabad, at the ASCI campus, at the end of September. Join us, in helping make building energy efficiency an integral component of India’s commitment to combating climate change.
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