All new buildings in Maharashtra must now be green & efficient

All new constructions in Maharashtra will have to be eco-friendly and comply with the energy-efficiency regulations; this is one of the highlights of the electricity-conservation policy that was cleared by the state cabinet on May 30. The state government will be amending the development control rules (DCR) to make it mandatory for all new constructions to follow 'green building guidelines'. If the new norms are flouted, then the final occupation certificate can be withheld and notices can also be issued to the developer. The guidelines will have a bearing on upcoming construction projects in the state. "The policy has to be practical. Nearly 90% of new construction sites in the city are SRA or BDD chawls redevelopment projects and in these projects there is hardly any space on the terrace for a solar panels. One policy will not work for all kinds of construction," said Nayan Shah of Mayfair Housing. "There should a provision for self-certification. It will add to the number of approvals that a builder has to secure from the authorities," he added. Green buildings are equipped with efficient systems to save 40-50% power consumption and 20-30% water consumption, besides enhanced ventilation, strong 'daylighting', superior sanitation, well-being and systems that boost occupants’ productivity. There is a record 750 such buildings in the city. "New buildings will have to adhere to the green building norms especially for energy conservation. No permission will be given if the plan is not in line with the norms," said power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule. Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to have an energy-conservation policy and is hoping to save an estimated 1,000 megawatt in the next five years. The policy also makes it mandatory for all the government and semi–government buildings to replace their existing tubelights and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to LEDs and the government will also give incentives to individual households that wish to replace bulbs and tubelights. Officials from the energy department said that the state government will be installing 1 crore LED lights, 15 lakh energy-efficient ceiling fans and 1.5 lakh energy efficient air-conditioners in 1,500 government buildings in the next 5 years. This will result in saving 128 million units of power across the state. The Maharashtra government has budgeted Rs 840 crore to implement the policy. Under the guidelines, agricultural pumps, which require nearly 30% of the total electricity supply, will be powered by solar energy. Similarly, water supply projects in the state that generate a bill of Rs 25 lakh annually will switch over to solar energy. Large-scale power consumers like malls and multiplexes will have to undergo a mandatory audit every two years. Meanwhile, power utility firms are already promoting the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme to encourage lakhs of power consumers to conserve energy. This includes selling energy-efficient bulbs, tubelights, fans and ACs at a reasonable cost. "An ordinary bulb is an extremely energy inefficient form of lighting with just 5% of the electricity input converted to light. LED bulbs consume only one-tenth of energy used by an ordinary bulb to provide the same or better light output," said a source.