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Feature | September 2014

Energy Saver

With the share of green buildings as high as 20 per cent in the construction mix of the future, many opportunities lie at the doorstep of insulator makers.  

Ever-changing urban lifestyles and the expectation of higher comfort levels contribute to a rising energy demand as people become more and more reliant on air-conditioners. Buildings are one of the biggest energy consumers using about 30 per cent of the overall energy in Asia. Around 60-70 per cent of the total energy generated across the globe are from buildings and are a major contributor to greenhouse gases.


As per a research report published by McKinsey, the maximum share of energy usage is in conditioning (heating or cooling) building interiors. It is estimated that by 2030, usage of air-conditioners in the world´s largest economies such as the US, China and India will triple. For, as of now, considering the importance of climate change, ¨Go Green¨ is the new mantra being adopted by realty players domestic as well as international. Meanwhile, the construction industry, which is growing at a rate of 10 per cent, it is observed that buildings in India consume about 20 per cent of the total electricity consumption in the country. Hence, real estate activity in India has a significant impact on the environment and resources. This indicates that there exists an opportunity to develop green buildings in the country.


Moreover, the Indian green building movement is now so deep and vast that it promises to change the course of the construction industry. The country with 1.2 billion square feet of green buildings being built or are ready, and pre-certified by LEED, of which IGBC is the representative in India, has another 105 million square feet of ¨Griha¨-certified buildings built or are being built. Broadly, the country´s total built-up space in the green building space is around 25 billion sq ft, and it is expected to increase to 80 billion by 2030. Ostensibly, the share of green buildings in the construction boom could be as high as 20 per cent.


New cities, such as those coming up along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), would have a substantially higher green building component, an excellent opportunity on the cards. Since energy keeps the world in motion and without it everything would come to a standstill, the onus is on the owners of buildings and industrial plants, who face a challenge with the task of reducing their energy consumption as much as possible in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations.


As the trends follow, insulation of buildings has become one of the key practices across the globe to manage incident heat to the buildings and save on increasing energy costs. An external thermal insulation enhances enormous savings in electricity costs in a significant way, besides providing comfort, healthier environment and minimising damage to buildings.


According to experts in the industry, advanced thermal insulation stands out as the one that could reduce energy consumption most effectively. Apparently, it is indeed a sound investment because of the immediate payback from energy savings and also those that accrue with reduction in A/C plant size selection. In fact it is necessary that the appropriate insulation must be selected on the basis of temperature, thermal conductivity and other limiting factors that are appropriate for their application. The economic thickness must be determined for the particular application. While doing the payback calculation on insulation, one has to consider the cost of capital investment, interest on investment, depreciation period and maintenance cost.


Growth opportunities
 Many insulation manufacturing industries are now coming up in India. They are in collaboration with foreign companies. Even the government provides excise benefits for some of the insulation products. Thus, it should match the price and hence a very good potential is available for the insulation industry in India.


Thermal insulation plays an important role in every process/manufacturing plant from the viewpoint of energy conservation. In applications like hot/cold insulation, a properly designed Insulation System can achieve any of the targets set through a focused Energy Conservation program implementing the designed insulation system. Scientific erection practices at actual work-site are the key to achieving these goals. However, industry experts believe that in terms of demand, as of now, the main thrust will be on power plants, petrochemicals and refineries. Besides, the opportunities will also start picking up in the pharmaceuticals industry.


Thus, the opportunities are big, as infrastructure projects continue to grow, and the supply of insulating materials is linked with new projects. Construction is the second largest economic activity in India after agriculture, and has been growing rapidly. In this context, the sectors such as power plants, cement plants, refinery and petrochemical plants, and other manufacturing units are upcoming, therefore offering major opportunities to the insulation business.


 Insulation products depend upon their constituent properties. Thus, the properties like good thermal conductivity, easy availability with good economic rates, low installation cost, and advantage against other comparative products are required. The sectors like chemical industries, pharma companies, cosmetics industries, automobile industries, hotel industries, builders and developers, hospitals, auditoriums, studios, corporate houses, roof sheds, HVAC project companies, major project consultants, etc., are the demand drivers for this industry.


Major challenges 

  • Tough competition
  • Product as per specifications
  • Fast delivery
  • Cost effective
  • Credit terms

Where does India stand?
 As of today, in this globalised world, all major insulation products are being produced in India or the equivalents that are used abroad. Hence, India is progressing fast for the insulation industry with good market potential. Most of the insulation products are also exported to other countries.


Building insulation
 Housing and commercial buildings in India generally feature brick-work for wall construction, and reinforced cement concrete (RCC) for the roofing. With brick and concrete construction, the building structures have a very limited thermal barrier. They are incapable of meeting the present Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) norms and added insulation has become absolutely necessary in every building that is air conditioned. Moreover, todays space efficient designs feature substantially thinner lightweight walls, interspersed with considerable glazed areas to admit daylight. Such buildings need careful design, incorporating substantially upgraded insulation, as well as thermally rated double glazing.


ECBC norms have spelt out bare minimum standards for insulation. Locations with extreme summer temperatures call for added insulation without exception. Wall and roof systems are required to be designed with correct insulation on a case-by-case basis in order to deliver comfortable working and living conditions. Major areas of our country have very high summer temperatures. Many areas also experience low to severe winter conditions. Low winter temperatures account for a substantial drain on energy used for heating. Adequate insulation is needed to ensure economy during both summer and winter seasons In many instances, insulation provided for energy conservation, also helps in control of noise. With application of mind at the right stage, designers can achieve excellent acoustical performance of buildings by correct design of the insulation system.


Benefits of insulation

  • Conserves energy by reducing heat loss or gain
  • Controls surface temperatures for personnel protection and comfort
  • Facilitates process temperature control
  • Prevents condensation on cold surfaces
  • Prevents or reduces damage to equipment from exposure to fire or corrosive atmospheres
  • Controls noise.

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