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Developing A Tiered Approach for ECBC Compliance

Developing a Tiered Approach for ECBC Compliance


The Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE), India, launched the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in 2007. Through mandatory compliance with the ECBC, India can achieve estimated annual energy saving of 1.7 billion kWh. The rate of compliance with the code is predicted to reach 65% by 2017.


The objective of this project was to develop a tiered approach to facilitate compliance with the ECBC. In order to achieve this objective, individual ECBC measures were evaluated for energy savings, incremental cost, and ease of enforcement. The findings were peer reviewed and the measures were then bundled into tiers. Lower tiers include ECBC measures that are easier for the market to adopt, and are enforceable through the current building permit process. This will help to build capacity over time and allow developers to get experience on the subject matter of building energy efficiency, without reducing stringency of the code. This approach can be enforced more effectively given the current construction and real estate practices. In the tiered approach for ECBC compliance, Tier 1 can include those requirements of the code that are easier for the market to adopt, have high return on investment, and are enforceable through the current building permit process. Tier 2 and Tier 3 can include additional measures that are more difficult to implement or enforce. Figure 1shows the market transformation that could be achieved through such an approach.

By keeping Tier 1 easier for market entry, the compliance rates for Tier 1 are projected to increase, resulting in significant energy savings.


The research methodology employed to derive the tiers included the following steps:

  1. Energy Analysis: Energy simulation was used to evaluate 75 individual Energy Conservation Measures ECMs for their savings potential for 90 different cases of typical office buildings differing in floor area, climatic zone, operation schedules and building plan proportions.
  2. Defining the Baseline or Business-as-Usual (BAU) scenario: Through ground level research for each climatic zone, a BAU scenario was defined incorporating current practices for building systems, building operation schedules, thermal comfort set-points, schedule for enabling cooling and heating systems, fuel types and electricity rates.
  3. Cost estimation: The BAU scenario and the improved efficiency scenario were estimated in detail to arrive at the incremental cost for each ECM. The estimates included cost of raw material at site, installation cost, taxes and prevailing business practices for profit margins. These incremental costs were then normalized to the floor area.
  4. Implementability and enforceability: Implementability of each ECM was evaluated for the current level of expertise in the industry and enforceability of each ECM was evaluated for the local government officials’ ability to carry out compliance checks.
  5. Peer Review: The evaluation for energy savings, costs, return on investment, implementability and enforceability was peer reviewed by industry experts at a workshop.
  6. Individual ECM Energy Results Summary: Annual energy consumption of BAU scenarios ranges between 140 and 633 kWh/m2with an average of about 360 kWh/m2. As compared to this average annual energy consumption, the energy savings from an individual ECM were as high as 40%. The incremental construction cost for an individual ECM was estimated to be Rs.5500 /m2. ECMs have a wide range of potential energy savings compared to business-as-usual scenarios.

Formulating the Tiers

The Tiers were formulated based on the feedback from the peer review and with special attention to issues of implementation as well as enforcement of buildings-approval processes administered by typical ULBs.Tier 1 contains ECMs that can be checked when the building shell is completed and ready for approval. Tier 2 contains ECMs that can be implemented by the developer/owner under labeling programs. Tier 3 contains measures that may require an independent third party assessor to do the compliance check, or require a change in the way ULBs currently provide building completion approvals. With this approach, the compliance check process is aligned with the current permit process for buildings. This makes enforcement by the ULBs easier than an approach that tries to enforce and implement ECBC in its entirety. The ECMs in Tier 1 add up to over 80% of lifetime energy savings based on Equipment Useful Life (EUL) as shown in Figure 3.


  • From a policy perspective, the requirements of the ECBC need to be incorporated into the model bye-laws by the central government and into the local bye-laws by the ULBs (Urban Local Bodies). Deconstructing the code in tiers will help in the implementation of ECBC at the state and local levels. Tier 1 requirements can be incorporated into the local building bye laws more easily for mandatory compliance enforced by ULB.
  • Within the tiered approach, occupancy certificate will be issued by the ULB for compliance with Tier 1 of ECBC. HVAC system efficiencies can be enforced through an expanded labeling program. Lighting system installations can be checked by independent Third Party Assessors.
  • A building owner who successfully implements only Tier 1 in the building will be recognized for complying a set of requirements, as opposed to being penalized for not completing the requirements in the higher tiers. This builds success stories and encourages builders and developers to attempt the higher tiers in subsequent building projects.
  • This approach is anticipated to result in higher compliance rates for Tier 1 and in larger cumulative lifetime energy savings.
  • As the market gains momentum in these areas, BEE can focus on updating ECBC to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency among buildings in India.

This work was done by CEPT University and the Weidt Group and supported by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation.

Click to view research presentation Click to view Brochure – Developing A Tiered Approach for ECBC Compliance

Supported by:

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Govt. of India, Gujarat Energy Development Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development iNDEXTb (Industrial Extension Bureau) Govt. of Gujarat, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, New Delhi