India : Energy Management Centre, Kerala, a green, energetic building

The main campus of Energy Management Centre, Kerala is a global star in the campaign for energy efficiency

After riding for half an hour in the blazing sun, entering the new building of Energy Management Centre, Kerala(EMC), near Chavadimukku, is, literally, a cool experience. The 43,000 square foot office building inside Sree Krishna Nagar was one of the six in the world and the only project listed from India in UN’s ‘Global Status Report 2017: Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector’ released in May 2017.

For a long time EMC, an autonomous institution under the Government of Kerala, was operating out of a rented building near Thycaud. “It was in 2006, when I got to visit the Confederation of Indian Industry - Sohrabji Godrej Green Businesss Centre, that I set my mind on building something similar for EMC in Thiruvananthapuram. Although a plan was on paper by 2011, it took another five years for getting the required funds, administrative sanction and construction,” says K.M. Dhareshan Unnithan, director of EMC-Kerala. The building was inaugurated in 22 February, 2016.

Built on a hillside, the building is designed to be in tune with the terrain to avoid landscaping and tampering with the natural slope of the land. Offices, auditoriums and laboratories are all set around a central green courtyard, which slants from one end to the other. “This helps in draining of rain water from the top to the other end where they are diverted to two ponds that we have in this compound,” says Dinesh Kumar A.N., an energy technologist working at EMC, while showing me around the office.

Also, the building is oriented in such a way as to get maximum sunlight on the roof, where the solar panels are located, while the spaces inside it are designed for maximum availability of natural light. On a bright day, most of the spaces inside the building is lit completely by natural light, while artificial lights inside the building are all LED lamps and that is another way of saving energy. “At the same time most of the windows face north and south directions, which means they never face direct sunlight and that brings down the heat entering the buildings in a huge manner. It has contributed a lot to the energy efficiency of the building as we didn’t have to spend a lot on cooling,” Dhareshan adds. The cross ventilation and turbo vents too help in avoiding things from getting heated up inside the EMC office while solar reflectance index coating and high-albedo painting aids in insulation.

The entire campus is powered by 30 kilowatt grid-connected solar capacity. “We are only using a portion of what we are producing and the rest is being diverted to the grid and that makes us an energy positive structure,” says Dhareshan. All this has made the EMC building four times more energy-efficient than the highly energy efficient five-star rated buildings.

Green buildings, EMC scientists say, are the way to future. Although it might cost the common man a bit more than constructing a regular house, going for the green option would mean saving money in a big manner in future. Dhareshan adds, “There are already powerful wall-mounted batteries in the market that can be charged using solar panels. They don’t come cheap, but anything extra you spend on setting such a system would be retrieved within a time period while saving you a lot of money which would otherwise be used for paying energy bills.”


Source :

Smart Grid Bulletin July 2019

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