Call for Energy Assessment during Construction stage - India
Prop-tech, energy audits and site planning will play a key role in the upcoming decades to achieve energy consumption targets.
Building construction accounts for nearly 36% of global primary energy consumption, 14% of which is energy demand during construction activities (International Energy Agency, 2022). Current energy monitoring practices in the construction industry focus on energy use during the operational tenure of the building and waste management during decommissioning. On-site construction practices are often overlooked due to the fragmented nature of the industry and the involvement of multiple stakeholders. This omission may be largely due to energy usage and impact on environment being the highest during the operation & maintenance (86%) and decommissioning stage. However, this leaves a gap in the energy monitoring practices in the building life cycle.
Government of India (GoI) statistics show that overall building energy consumption accounts for 37% of India’s total annual primary energy consumption. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has institutionalised energy efficiency services across the country, and established the Energy Conservation and Building Code (ECBC) to regulate standards for the design and construction of commercial and residential buildings in the country, albeit not mandatory. It also publishes the state-wise Energy Efficiency Index based on data collated from State Designated Agencies (SDAs). The Bureau tracks the building sector in these reports but does not regulate energy assessments and efficiency measures during construction.
Tracking energy consumption during the construction phase is tricky and probably why energy assessments are overlooked. The strategy to mitigate this issue could include appropriate planning and design of projects, identifying energy-demanding activities, and introducing energy-efficiency measures. Proptech plays a decisive role in the planning and design phase of buildings by incorporating IoT solutions to reduce energy demand. Technologies such as BIM that help reduce energy consumption by streamlining the construction process and reducing wastage are becoming more prevalent.
Energy Audits (EA) are done in the operational phase of a building (Whole Building approach) and sometimes on specific activities during the construction stage (Targeted approach). These audits can help investigate larger energy-demanding activities and equipment in the construction process. An EA can also help identify and resolve site energy-related issues, prepare energy reduction plans and explore alternative energy-efficient methods and techniques for identified energy-intensive activities.
Site planning includes site arrangement/layout, selection of easily accessible resources and construction equipment with suitable capacity. Proper supervision of construction activities ensures efficient use of machinery and labour, culminating in the responsible handling of activities. Practising sub-metering and fuel monitoring to regulate energy consumption and usage of renewable energy sources improves the industry’s sustainability.
The upcoming decade is crucial to energy conservation goals and demands the industry shift to sustainable construction practices and energy-efficient design. The GoI must devise a holistic approach to energy assessment in the construction industry by giving more weightage to the construction phase. Prop-Tech solutions, Energy Audits and site planning regulations could be added to existing norms for tracking the energy efficiency of the construction industry. Since energy use is the largest operating expense in buildings, long-term savings through energy efficiency is important to builders, construction equipment operators and building owners.