CSE convenes experts and practitioners for Thermal Comfort in Affordable Housing

Date: November 26, 2019
Venue: India International Centre (IIC) Annexe, New Delhi 

CSE's Habitat Programme organized an orientation and consultative workshop titled ‘Mainstreaming Thermal Comfort in Affordable Housing’ at the India International Centre Annexe, New Delhi on 26th November 2019. Themed at thermal comfort, the workshop raised questions like what should be the larger housing policy framework to address the same, how to regulate design and material choice for affordable housing at state (implementation) level and what should be the next steps. Programme’s latest policy brief ‘Beyond the Four Walls of PMAY’ was introduced, which comprises an overview of how the states have adopted PMAY and how effective their approach is with respect to the larger sustainability and liveability agenda. 

Affordability has become a key parameter of liveability and sustainability in our rapidly transforming cities. This is why the affordability of the poor for living in the government-provided formal housing was also highlighted in the discussions. A poor household incurs various expenses when they move to formal housing, which mostly makes it impossible for them to dwell in a formal housing unit. Highest of these expenses is the cost of commute followed by basic services such as electricity, water supply, cooking gas and operation & maintenance charges for the group housing. CSE understands and advocates that much of this cost burden to the poor can be minimized by appropriate master planning, installation of sustainable and cost-effective techniques for common environmental services, building design and choice of materials. 

The sessions commenced with an address by Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, CSE who discussed why the issue of thermal comfort is gaining centre stage in our discussions regarding affordable housing. “We need a departure from energy efficiency perspective and towards thermal comfort to be able to truly adapt to changing climate and improve liveability and inclusivity of our cities” – Ms. Roychowdhury pointed.

Rajneesh Sareen, Programme Director, Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme, CSE continued the deliberations by discussioning CSE’s policy brief and giving a more detailed overview of the topic of thermal comfort. He introduced the current regulatory frameworks for thermal comfort and energy efficiency — Energy Conservation Building Code for residential buildings (ECBC-R) and National Building Code’s Adaptive Comfort Model and highlighted that current housing stock is being built indifferent of these frameworks. Mr. Sareen also underscored the inadequacy of ECBC-R to encompass thermal comfort and opportunity to improve the same. This was followed by a question-answer session that gathered interesting feedback and inputs from the audience.

For the second round of presentations, three experts were invited. Deependra Prashad, of DPAP, who has been involved in research on materials, sustainable & low energy architecture gave a presentation on the practical aspects of designing thermally comfortable affordable housing. He was followed by Swati Sharma from the Future Institute, who presented the construction industry perspective for affordable housing. Prasanna Desai of PDA presented his experience of working with community in building affordable housing - especially in-situ slum rehabilitation and the scope for innovative design and materials for improved liveability. The presentations were followed by a plenary discussion and conclusion. Around 60 participants, with representation from HUDCO, CPWD, IGBC, CII, thinktanks, architects and academia participated and contributed to the workshop