Low Energy Cooling and Ventilation for Indian Residences (LECaVIR)

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Civil and Building Engineering


Energy security, climate change and economic growth are matters of critical international importance which are affecting billions of people around the world. The way they are tackled impacts on the sustainable infrastructure of our planet. One of the most significant global development challenges is how we mitigate against the proliferation of energy intensive air-conditioning (AC) for cooling and ventilation in buildings in response to a globally warming world and the greater expectations for thermal comfort in buildings that accompany growing affluence. This is particularly pertinent in developing countries such as India as disposable income increases, making AC more easily accessible. Many of India's most populous metropolitan areas such as Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta have hot and humid climates, and are seeing growth rates in the use of AC of approximately 30% per year. The electricity demand for space cooling comprises up to 60% of the summer peak load in large cities such as New Delhi, and most air-conditioners are inefficient and use refrigerants with high GWP (global warming potential). A solution to this problem is needed urgently. This makes energy efficiency and thermal comfort a priority area for the Indian government in recent revisions of its National Building and Energy Conservation Building Codes which emphasise the need to design buildings for natural ventilation (NV) and mixed mode (MM) operation. The floor area of Indian buildings is expected to increase by 500% by 2030. Without the knowledge of how to achieve comfortable, cooler conditions through ventilating these new buildings effectively and efficiently, AC will continue to be specified, installed and used copiously. The UK is just as vulnerable to these adverse trends, and similarly needs to address the unsustainable increase in portable AC in homes. This project will develop building designs comprising low energy cooling and ventilation technologies that employ smart self-learning control algorithms to provide countries like India with viable market solutions.

For each climatic zone in India, the project will quantify the periods of the year (or day) for which NV is likely to be feasible. For those periods when NV is unlikely to work, such as hot, humid (monsoon) periods, MM solutions, using a combination of NV, low energy cooling and AC systems will be developed and tested. Although it is inevitable that some AC will be necessary, there is significant scope within this project to work with technologies which are more energy efficient and which use fewer GWP chemicals or eliminate their use altogether. Once the NV and MM strategies are established, the work will focus on developing building energy management systems for controlling these hybrid systems to optimize building energy use. This will involve deciding when to switch between building operation modes, when to start AC systems, and which key variables should be controlled. These algorithms will also have self-learning capability which will automatically and continuously improve the operation of a building.

There will be three significant outputs from the project: (i) guidance for developing and sizing low energy cooling and ventilation strategies in residential buildings in India to help architects, engineers and facility managers design and operate buildings; (ii) smart self-learning control algorithms for use in building energy management systems, capable of optimizing energy use in residential buildings and which will be adopted by the building automation industry; and (iii) design tools for predicting the likely performance of buildings based on these new strategies which will be used to inform policy directives by encouraging lower energy cooling systems as part of code compliance. Our impact plan ensures that these market-ready building design and control solutions are capable of rapid adoption by our collaborators and industry partners for market deployment in Indian residences.

Planned Impact

The impact of the research proposed here will be healthier environments within residential buildings in India and reduced energy consumption for building ventilation and cooling. This benefits the Indian people and the Indian government. These impacts will be realised through engagement with teams who design residential buildings in India and those who inform energy policy. There will be benefits to the UK also through transferability of new designs and ventilation strategies which will be valuable to UK-based designers working on international schemes, especially in developing countries where populations are increasing alongside economic growth and affordability of equipment and energy for cooling.

The outputs of the research will enhance the skills of building design teams in India by providing them with carefully conceived solutions for low energy cooling and ventilation that have been tested and developed in collaboration with stakeholders. Design teams will be able to quickly put into practice this powerful new knowledge, thus increasing company profitability and enhancing the country's economy. The end result will be residential real estate that delivers healthier indoor environments for less energy consumption. The work will open up new marketing opportunities for manufacturers of control equipment by helping company growth in the residential sector in hot climates, enhancing business revenues and increasing innovation capacity.

Energy policy makers in India will be empowered as a result of the scientific rigour underpinning solutions for low energy cooling and ventilation. Armed with the knowledge that such solutions are feasible together with details of which strategies to employ according to the prevailing climate, policy makers will have the confidence and the scientific justification for raising energy performance standards in India. This will have a direct impact on society as a result of revised regulations.

Beneficiaries also include the researchers working on this project. In particular, the project will build capacity by developing the skills of the three research assistants at CEPT University in India, and the research assistant and PhD student at Loughborough University. Disseminating the project through social media, film, web sites and public engagement events bring benefits to the wider public by raising awareness of the growing energy consumption by the residential sector and the link to indoor health and wellbeing.


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Description We have developed the dwelling types, including geometries, in India which are most likely to benefit from the low cooling and ventilation strategies developed in this project.
Exploitation Route They can be used as a basis for modelling energy consumption and indoor environmental performance such as thermal comfort and indoor air quality.
Sectors Construction,Energy

Description Collaboration with SE Controls UK and SE Controls India. 
Organisation SE Controls Ltd
PI Contribution Development of leading-edge technology.
Collaborator Contribution Sharing of expertise, supply of key equipment and provide technical support, provide access to significant and extensive database.
Impact Transference of ideas and knowledge, development and test of leading-edge technology and of new products, ensuring the applicability and implementation of outputs.
Description 1st LECaVIR Advisory Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The 1st Advisory Panel congregated the research team with several stakeholders and police-makers. The AP aim was to secure appropriate case study sites and provide access to significant and extensive networks within the region/country for targeted dissemination and tried and tested mechanisms (e.g. member guidance and policy documents, fora, etc.) for exploiting the research outputs, ensuring that impacts will be realised in practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Seminar presented by Yash Shukla, LECaVIR team member 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar presented by Yash Shukla, project team member, to an audience of academics, researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018