CSE launches Guidelines for Affordable Housing in Telangana and convenes experts to draw thermal comfort strategies

CSE organized a conference titled ‘Operationalizing Thermal Comfort for Cooling Action in Cities’ on December 22, 2021 with Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) in Hyderabad. The aim of the conference was to identify levers and strategies for thermal comfort and its wider uptake and implementation in the state of Telangana. The conference involved a panel discussion and was attended by 103 participants. 

CSE publication titled ‘Guidelines for Affordable Housing in Telangana’ was also released at the conference by the CSE team, Mr. Arvind Kumar IAS, Special Chief Secretary, Department of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Govt. of Telangana and ASCI representatives. Ms Anumita Roychowdhury in her opening address highlighted that this research was started to understand what it means on-ground to design, construct and operationalise buildings. Hyderabad and Telangana were the first choice for this study based on their performance in housing implementation. 

Ms. Roychowdhury introduced that this publication includes a repository of thermal performance of affordable housing projects in different climate zones of Telangana. This repository underscores the potential and challenges of the implemented Dignity Housing Scheme which could be adopted nationally to set the reforms for thermal comfort in future housing.  

In a keynote address, Mr. Arvind Kumar IAS pointed that the learnings from CSE study and recommendations will be helpful in amending schedule of rates to ensure that the contractors use better materials in future for thermal comfort. This will be pushed to enable ENS compliance. Further, the affordable housing guidelines prepared by CSE will feed into building permission especially for group housing schemes to factor in layout planning, choice of materials and daylighting among other requirements for thermal comfort and liveability. Mr. Kumar introduced a series of measures taken by MA&UD such as Telangana Comprehensive Integrated Township Policy, Traffic Impact Assessment policy, green municipal budget, area development plan among others. 

Commencing the panel discussion, Dr. Vishal Garg, Professor, IIIT Hyderabad noted that a decrease of 1 degree Celsius in ambient temperature due to urban heat island effect mitigation measures can lead to 2 per cent citywide reduction in power consumption. Dr. Garg introduced Telangana Cool Roof policy and informed that 100 sqm of cool roof can avoid 10 tonnes of eCO2 emissions. Telangana draft cool roof policy aims to develop 100 sq km of cool roofs in 10 years in Hyderabad. 

Mr. Rajkiran Bilolikar, Director, Centre for Energy Studies, ASCI shared that for ECBC implementation, what has worked in Telangana is the involvement of each stakeholder since the very beginning of an initiative i.e. planning stage, development of code, its implementation and so on. There are four pillars to taking forward energy conservation in the state. These are i) Government ii) developers’ community iii) architects and engineers iv) material vendors, which enable ECBC implementation. Mr. Bilolikar remarked that training of masons on use of emerging materials has become very important. There are about 2500 masons, etc. affiliated with ITIs. Their syllabus is out of date. This needs to be updated. 

Dr. S. Kumar, Principal, School of Planning and Architecture, Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University pointed to a two-way strategy for cooling action: increasing comfort hours in naturally ventilated buildings and decreasing cooling load in air-conditioned buildings. Further, there are three layers/scale for cooling action in cities: city scale, site/neighbourhood scale and building scale, where each scale needs different strategies. Substantial reduction is possible just by working at city level interventions that is the first line of defense. City level measures for cooling include urban forestry, increase in public transportation use, transit-oriented development. Dr. Kumar highlighted that there is a need for ward plans and local vulnerability indices (for heat sensitivity, exposure and coping capacity) as these capture minute details such as location of trees, hydro-geomorphology, etc. Much can be integrated in local area plans. 

To bring industry perspective, Mr. Gummi Ram Reddy, Vice-Chairman, CREDAI National shared that as land costs are high, high-rise buildings are needed. And alternative walling assemblies are expensive for high rise buildings. Good materials like AAC blocks are good in performance as well as applications. Workers are also comfortable with using AAC blocks but there are issues linked with it such as development of cracks. There is a tremendous need for research, knowledge transfer and guidance on good materials and design. Need economically feasible materials as well. Construction industry will be happy to adopt them. 

Mr. Rajneesh Sareen, Programme Director, Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme, CSE concluded the panel discussion pointing to the fact that eliminating poor material choices is very important. A step-by-step approach i.e. primarily focusing on layouts for good orientation and clustering and then identifying materials that are thermally efficient and affordable as well needs to be adopted. States need to outline such approaches to enable thermal comfort for all. Further, states must ratify national codes like Eco Niwas Samhita to suit and address the local conditions.