Net Zero Architecture: A growing trend in Indian Infrastructure Industry

According to the Bureau of Energy Standards, around 30% of total power consumption in India is consumed by buildings alone. Additionally, infrastructure is India’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitting sector after industries. As the population grows and infrastructural demands increase, India’s power demand also rises. Considering this growth, turning to Net Zero Architecture is not an option anymore, it is a necessity. As sustainability gains popularity in India, NZE Architecture seems like the next crucial and significant step in mitigating the negative environmental effects of construction in the infrastructure industry.

Net Zero Energy buildings are buildings that produce enough clean, renewable energy to accommodate the overall energy consumption of the building, making their net energy consumption Zero. These buildings are extremely energy efficient and categorised by fundamentally low energy consumption, supplemented by the clean energy produced on-site. This eliminates the need for external energy sources, making the project both sustainable and cost-effective.

The first step in designing NZE Architecture is reducing the energy consumption of the structure. The best option to reduce your overall energy requirements is by including the right kind of design of the building, including more climate-responsive elements around it. Passive design strategies regulating the indoor temperature and comfort level reduce HVAC-related energy consumption and costs significantly. With the right decision and approach, a building can reduce anywhere between 10%-30% of its energy demand. The subsequent step is to generate clean energy on-site using renewable resources, which can be achieved through solar panels, wind turbines, harnessing geothermal energy, etc. and can be included within the design.

India has seen a rise in NZE Architecture in recent years, but there is a lack of recognition from the government considering the lack of regulations, recognition and incentivisation. The Indian Green Building Council, a part of the Confederation of Indian Industry, which has been known for rating Green Buildings in the country, started rating “net zero ” buildings in 2018. The Indian Green Building Council rating, which is intent oriented and voluntary in nature, rates net-zero buildings based on their usage of renewable energy, energy efficiency, passive design strategies, and thermal comfort (comfortable room temperature). It gives merely 25% weightage to the use of renewable energy and focuses more on energy-efficient designs and other architectural parameters.

LEED Zero is another rating organisation that recognises projects that have reached net zero or net positive status in carbon, energy, water or waste categories. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) recently announced India as a top country with the highest number of LEED Zero green building projects. The findings show India as a global leader in LEED Zero certifications, outperforming both the United States and China. India has 73 LEED Zero-certified projects, comprising 45% of the more than 150 total LEED Zero certifications, with Haryana and Tamil Nadu leading the way in certifications. The United States and China have the second and third most LEED Zero certifications, with 47 (30%) and 15 (10%) certifications, respectively.

With growing awareness and increasing need, Indian Infrastructure is undergoing a green revolution, and with Net Zero Energy becoming a popular concept today, the country is looking towards a greener and more sustainable future.