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Energy efficiency in green buildings- An integrated approach to building design

Mili Majumdar Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute Habitat Place, Lodhi Road, New Delhi -110003 Buildings as they are designed and used today, symbolise unrestrained consumption of energy and other natural resources with its consequent negative environmental impact. In India, the residential and commercial sector consumes 25% of the total electricity usage of the country and a major portion of this is utilised in buildings. Designing & developing new buildings based on sound concepts of sustainability and applying suitable retrofit options to existing buildings could substantially improve the energy use efficiency in the building sector with an associated reduction in both local as well as global emissions. An "integrated approach" to building design involves judicious use and application ofw w w w w Efficient materials and construction practices Bio-climatic/solar passive architectural principles Efficient systems and equipments Renewable sources of energy Efficient waste and water management practices

Incorporating the above features in a holistic manner would result in buildings that would impose a minimal impact on the environment while enhancing user comfort and productivity. Energy is used in various forms in a building e.g electrical energy is used to power various appliances and equipment and thermal energy is used for cooking. Typically electricity accounts for the major share in a building's energy consumption. The primary end uses in a building, that use electricity are air conditioning equipment, lights, fans, and office/household appliances or machines. In a typical unconditioned building in India, lighting accounts for maximum energy consumption, and in an air-conditioned building, 40-50% of the total electricity consumption is accounted for by HVAC system, followed by lighting system (20%). Other loads (pumps, equipment, etc.) contribute to balance 2030%.

An unconditioned green building would be designed to maximise thermal comfort and avoid use of air-conditioners/air-coolers/heaters for maximum part of the year. It would also have appropriate daylighting to reduce lighting energy consumption. This is done through judicious use of passive solar principles conducive to the climate in which the building is located e.g. in TERI-Bangalore office building (fig 1) located in moderate climate of Bangalore, south facing dark coloured solar chimneys create draft for exit of hot air, in turn drawing in cool air from the open windows on north, ensuring adequate air flow at body level to provide thermal comfort. Thermal performance of solar passive buildings varies with changing outdoor conditions and in largely dependent on weather conditions.

Fig 1: Cross section showing induced airflow pattern in Teri-Bangalore office building On the other hand, air-conditioned green buildings with maintained uniform thermal conditions round the year are designed to minimise load on conventional HVAC system. This is done by adopting appropriate passive solar design strategies e.g. orientation, fenestration sizing and shading, landscaping, day-lighting; and by using appropriate building materials and finishes, e.g. thermal insulation, insulating glass units, heat reflecting paints, etc. A recently concluded study by TERI has shown that for an institutional designed in a composite climate, the cooling load could be reduced by 40% from the initial estimated load (fig 2). The measures, which resulted in this load reduction, were: w Use of over deck roof insulation using expanded polystyrene slabs/spray applied polyurethane foam topped by reflective broken china mosaic flooring. w w w Use of double glazed windows with spectrally selective coating. Use of cavity wall construction with insulation infill. Use of energy efficient lighting.

Use of underground earth air tunnel (EAT) to supply pre-cooled air to the air handling units.

Fig 2:Reduction in cooling load for an institutional building by incorporation of energy efficiency measures
130 120 110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

120.0 99.0 87.1 82.0 81.5 78.4 72.1 35 40





Base load as Roof insulation Roof insulation Wall and roof Puf insulation Efficient per initial using EPS + efficient insulation + on roof (rest lighting with all estimate windows efficient same as in run measures windows 4) Energy saving options for building envelope

EAT for precooling

Tons of refrigeration (TR)

% savings

The thermal storage capacity of the earth being high, the daily and annual temperature fluctuations keep decreasing with increasing depth of the earth. At a depth of about 4m below the ground the temperature remains constant round the year and is equal to the annual average temperature of a place. For instance in Delhi this temperature is between 25-26 deg C. The principle of the tunnel is to take advantage of constancy in temperature throughout the year at a certain depth below ground. So if air is passed through such earth before funneling it to a room, we can expect it to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. An earth air tunnel is a system in which air is forced through underground pipes or tunnels and then circulated in the room. This system has been used to precool the fresh air input to the air handling units thus reducing load on the AHUs. The excess investment incurred to incorporate the above mentioned measures was estimated to payback in a year's time from savings in initial system costs and reduced energy consumption. Thermal modelling and simulation tools (Visdoe 3.1 and HAP 4.0) were used to accurately calculate the load reduction and energy savings.

While building and system design interventions help downsize HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning) systems, use of appropriate controls help to reduce consumption of the optimised systems. Lighting forms the major load centre in unconditioned buildings and next to HVAC systems in conditioned buildings. Energy efficient lighting provides for right quality and quantity of light with minimal energy requirement. To accomplish this step, the designer designs a lighting scheme for a specific application based on illumination levels recommended by BIS or IESNA standards. The aim of the designers should be to use efficient lamp and luminaire combination to achieve the required illumination level (lux or footcandle level). This help the designer in ensuring that the lighting power density (w/sq.ft) for a particular space is not exceeding the prescribed limits. The ASHRAE 90.1-2001 standards specify the lighting power densities for different space categories. Lighting simulation tools (e.g. lumen micro, etc) could be used to design lighting schemes for a given power density. Lighting schemes are normally designed for providing desired lux levels for night-time conditions, i.e. without considering presence of daylight. Suitable control strategies are then devised e.g. use of day-linked, occupancy sensors, time switches, etc. to switch off or dim lights during daytime or when an area is unoccupied. Design for day lighting further requires in-depth analysis of glare, visible light transmission of glazing, sill level, window position and height, orientation, outdoor obstruction, indoor reflectance etc: e.g. heat reflective glasses used in buildings to reduce solar heat gain (to lower cooling load) typically have low visible light transmission, thus reducing daylight into spaces. In a predominantly hot climate like ours, glass with low shading co-efficient and high visible transmittance should be selected to reduce solar gains and increase visible light transmission. Efficient design of building envelope and lighting is the foremost step in the integrated design approach which helps to minimise space-conditioning loads. The task of the designer is then to use efficient space conditioning equipment and controls to further reduce energy consumption. In an air-conditioned building use of efficient space-conditioning equipment and controls e.g. use of efficient chillers, air handling units, pumps and cooling towers ; use of variable speed drives at AHU fan motors, at cooling tower fan motors and secondary chilled water pumps; use of low leakage dampers, enthalpy control, dry bulb economiser are some of many energy conservation techniques possible for HVAC systems.

Use of natural cooling systems e.g wind towers, earth air tunnels etc. can be integrated with conventional air conditioning systems to save energy. Judicious building and system design can reduce energy consumption in a building by 30-40% over conventionally designed buildings. After maximising energy saving opportunities, in a building, a designer may consider use of renewable forms of energy to meet a part of the building's energy requirements e.g. use of solar assisted water heating system, solar photovoltaic system can reduce dependence on conventional/non-renewable forms of energy.

With increasing energy prices, diminishing reserves of conventional forms of energy, and increasing GHG emissions 'green buildings' are the need of the hour. Globally speaking, in 1990, the residential, commercial, and institutional building sector consumed 31% of global energy and emitted 1900 mega tonnes of carbon and by 2050 its share would rise to 38% and 3800 mega tonnes respectively (IPCC,Nov.1996) .On the brighter side, energy efficiency measures with paybacks in five years or less can reduce global emissions by 40% by 2050. With increasing threat on our planet earth caused by depleting resources and increasing emissions it is absolutely pertinent that all our future buildings should be designed to function as "green buildings".