In a bid to achieve sustainable living standards, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has conceptualised a “net-zero energy complex” for its new headquarters.
The Akshay Urja Bhawan will be located in Lutyens Delhi, right opposite the premises which the ministry presently occupies in the CGO Complex here.
Designed by city-based Edifice Consultants Pvt Ltd, the primary objective of the building is to match the overall energy consumption with the energy generated on site itself.
“In the present-day context of our rising carbon footprint threatening our very existence, it is not possible to take on a building design project without serious consideration for sustainability.
“This building has been conceived as a flagship project to showcase the use of renewable energy, as well as a cutting-edge energy efficient building. Therefore, it went beyond the mandate of just a sustainable building to a net-zero energy facility,” Shaon Sikta Sengupta, spokesperson at Edifice told PTI.
The 2.76 acre campus will utilize technologies such as solar energy, on-site waste management, rainwater harvesting among others to get “off the grid”, thereby reducing the pressure on municipal infrastructure.
According to Sengupta, achieving the net-zero energy mandate was challenging, particularly because of the limited area stipulated for the complex.
“The small plot size limits the number of solar panels and hence the extent of solar energy that can be harnessed. Therefore, the strategy to achieve zero energy had to be to reduce the consumption,” she said.
Reducing air conditioning, maintaining a higher ambient temperature, optimising artificial light by reducing individual cabins and blocking out an entire portion of the building to prevent heat gain, were some of the lifestyle changes that needed to be adopted.
“On the energy generation front, the rooftop area for the accommodation of solar panels had to be maximised,” she added.
Akshay Urja Bhawan also checks off the basic requirements for a structure to be sustainable — it makes efficient use of natural resources like air and water, it reduces pollution and waste production, it helps in the reduction of operational costs and offers healthier standards of living.
By reducing the energy demand from the thermal-powered grid and relying on renewable energy (solar) generated on site, the building is expected to have an indirect impact on the air quality.
“On a micro scale, by using abundant biophilic elements within the project site, healthier air quality has been promoted within the building,” Sengupta said.
As far as architecture is concerned, Sengupta said it was designed on the traditional lines of the public and institutional architecture of the city and uses stone as the primary facade material.
While the architecture of the building arises from the energy mandate of the building, it is not limited by it.
The entire soffit of the building will feature jaalis (latticed walls/windows) that will mask the large projections required to hold the solar panels.
“The jaalis are also the central feature in the project which is very much in line with the Lutyens cityscape,” she added.
The building is expected to be ready by 2020.