India: Minimizing Energy Demand, Maximizing Comfortable Indoor Condition

kalpataru square

Back in 2009, a six-level building in Mumbai, India earned the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Platinum Core and Shell certification. Called the Kalpataru Square, it was the first building in Asia to achieve US Green Building Council (USGBC)’s world-class standard. Several substantial factors were taken into account to adhere to this certification, including energy and water conservation, health and safe environmental effect to the occupants, carbon emissions reduction and waste minimization to landfills. But, apart from that list, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system assessment was also used to meet the criteria.

Blackouts and Their Connection to Air Conditioning System

In summer 2012, India suffered the largest power outage in history. More than 600 million people were affected by this event. This mega blackout was caused by India’s inability to meet high demands of energy. Air conditioner (AC) was one of many electronic devices that took a big part in this issue because it accounted for 40% to 60%share of electricity in the summer in many Indian cities. AC had been considered as a solution to prevent extreme heat. As a result, more and more people in India use AC and refuse to switch it off during the hottest days of summer. In addition, AC sales showed a dramatic increase in line with the growth of middle class. Meanwhile, the late arrival of monsoon made the hydropower plants in India generated less energy than they usually did. Apparently, it was not enough to meet the towering power demand.

Attaining Comfortable Environment

The technology behind the Kalpataru Square should be a solution for energy saving related to air conditioning system. The building has been using HVAC system to provide a favorable condition inside the building. By means of HVAC system, medium to large office building can obtain a safe and healthy condition regarding temperature and humidity. This is due to the system’s ability to cleanse the air. It can provide warm or cool air, depending on the specific climate requirements. The air conditioning system itself can be classified into 2 types, air-cooled system and water-cooled system.

Kalpataru Square was designed using water-cooled system, meaning it uses water as refrigerant, making it environmentally friendly. Some of the water for refrigerant comes from sewage water reclamation. Furthermore, water-cooled system makes it possible to apply central HVAC in the building. The installation of central system is completed with a series of equipment to distribute cooling media to exchange heat and supply conditioned air from one place to more than one room. Besides that, this system redirects heat from multiple places inside the building to the outdoor atmosphere by heat exchange equipments.

HVAC system requires a higher investment on the first run, but it gives long-lasting advantages. The obvious benefit of this system is that it provides cooling and heating functions in a single unit. Even more, Kalpataru Square uses a renewable energy source such as biomass plant to run the HVAC system.  In 2010, another building in Mumbai was retrofitted to increase its energy efficiency. The owner of Godrej Bhavan Building invested in upgrading the HVAC system, which is proven to give the largest contribution to energy saving. The first year after retrofitting, Godrej Bhavan Building saved 11.4% in electricity use. In the second year, the number climbed up to 12.3%.

These case studies are evidence that there are more and more options to get a better indoor air quality for building occupants, HVAC is just one of them. Yes, it has a high initial cost, but will be paid back in the future as it saves more energy. ( – YTA)

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1 Comment

  1. Farooqui Safir

    11/06/2014 at 1:47 am

    Kalpataru Square is an example of Best High Performance Building in India..

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