The user needs to know his carbon footprint: Shrinivas Chebbi

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Weaving sustainability into daily life in India requires a range of stakeholders — to straddle the rapid pace of urbanisation and to enable a smarter balance between the country’s energy generation and consumption. The production of renewable energy is in the foreground, but it’s not happening fast enough. Going by some insights, in about 8-10 years, India will need double the energy it currently consumes. But the country will also need to cut its carbon footprint by half in the same timeframe. Shrinivas Chebbi, Vice President – India & SAARC, EcoBuildings and Partner Projects, Schneider Electric India, spoke to BusinessLine on how the company is working to realise its vision for sustainable buildings in India.

Where does much of India’s energy consumption occur?

Fifty per cent of all the energy consumption in the world is in buildings. Out of that 30-38 per cent is in homes. In India, buildings consume about 28-30 per cent. It’s where we expect a dramatic rise in consumption in the coming years. In industry, energy management is mostly looked after by professionals. So those buildings are about 70 per cent efficient. Our homes will soon consume about 45 per cent, thanks to rising demand in metros and gradually even Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. So the inefficient part of the mix is what will increase.

When companies talk Internet of Things (IoT), there’s huge interest in connected homes. What’s a ‘smart home’ to you?

I’m not talking of programming your home and switching on your laundry or your rice-cooker at specific times of the day. The technology for this is available. Consider all the digital techniques, the signal processing and the content creation and consumption in homes. The social fabric in India is also changing. We know senior people have different needs from the working couple with two kids. In multi-storey apartments, the security, domestic help and service folks come and go. The smart home should ideally help you manage all of this. So digital architecting is needed here, and bear in mind, it’s hardest to change behaviour.

So a smart home should help the individual understand his impact on the planet?

Yes, fundamentally what gets measured gets done. Hold a mirror up — what are you doing with your home, what are you doing with your energy? The user needs to know his carbon footprint. Consumption can be measured by activity, much of which is app-based. Today, it’s possible to have simple indicators that even kids understand.

Let’s talk buildings in general, and some of the work Schneider Electric has done in India…

Right now, we’re engaged in building what I think is the first large net zero building in India. It’s going to be a very large building, mostly for offices. Net zero because it’s being designed to not consume any energy.

We were in Puri for the yatra last year. It’s an 8 km stretch that’s about 200 ft wide and there are about 4.5 million people there for the big yatra. You read of stampedes in such places regularly. But we set up the infrastructure in a way that if a health eventuality takes place, cameras capture it, the system alerts the ambulance and even creates a road for the medical van. The security staff can be alerted in an emergency or in the case of an unattended bag.

We’re also helping hospitals and hotels digitise their processes and manage their energy consumption. We work with big names in both sectors.

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