29/09/2014 | Gary Hartley | Green strategy and politics | air conditioning, Azerbaijan, behaviour change, carrot and stick, China, fossil fuels, green building, incentives, India, international energy efficiency, Singapore, smart cities, Sustainable building
India’s booming economic and population growth means smart cities are being seen as the future. The country’s plan to speed up the growth of energy efficient building involves a top-level panel of experts and encouragement for state governments to create new powers to improve the energy performance of new buildings through strict building codes and strong incentives.
The scale and nature of the governance of India means this is a formidable task, but the effects could be huge: it’s estimated that with stronger codes and energy rating systems for commercial buildings, the equivalent energy needed to power 358 million Indian homes could be saved by 2030. China, the world’s second biggest economy, is considering making moves to clean up its consumption habits. It is said that plans are being finalised for financial incentives to encourage people to buy the most energy efficient appliances.
Perhaps a Chinese variant on the MarketWatch initiative that we oversee in Europe will be needed to make sure manufacturers and retailers are doing the best job possible in delivering real change that reduces grid demand. Trailblazing technologies and building techniques can also be very influential on the direction low carbon change takes. In Singapore, a new approach will see three floors of offices built where two usually go - all with no perceived change in floor-to-ceiling height, apparently.
The approach saves materials and energy - the latter largely due to a change in air-conditioning which sees cooling and dehumidification functions separated. Energy savings overall are set to be 40 per cent, in what is said to be the country’s most energy efficient office development. Energy efficiency is starting to creep into unlikely states such as Azerbaijan, where oil and gas resources and subsidised energy prices for citizens has meant using less has not been very near the top of the agenda up to now. But £3million in new grants through the Caucasus Energy Efficiency Programme (CEEP) which are offered for measures such as insulation, double glazing, solar PV and heating technologies may see that all change. The hard reality of the finite nature of fossil fuels coupled with appropriate incentives could start a great shift in mindset and action.