Zero Peak Energy Building Design for India (ZED-i)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Architecture and Civil Engineering


In many developing countries, rising energy demand, and consequently carbon emissions, is seen as an unequivocal indicator of increasing prosperity. This trajectory has important consequences not just for global carbon emissions but for the ability of countries such as India to achieve its developmental goals. This is because, in most developing countries, growth in energy demand far outstrips growth in supply due to the large capital investment required to build energy infrastructure. Thus, even people *with* access to energy networks often find that they are unable to meet their comfort needs due to supply shortages.

However, the most critical problem is often not mean demand - e.g. mean per capita energy demand in India is only 13% that of the UK - but rather **peak demand** as it lays immense stress on already fragile networks. Hence, people's ability to attain comfortable internal conditions is compromised at the precise time that they need it the most - during extreme heat or cold.

This project directly addresses the problem of peak demand reduction by aiming to eliminate peak demand in buildings, where it is created. In most developing countries, the vast majority of the building stock of the future is still to be built, so there is a real opportunity to decouple economic growth from building energy use whilst ensuring comfortable conditions. We aim to achieve this through laying the foundations for a **new science of zero peak energy building design** for warm climates.

This will be achieved through a careful consideration of the weather signal (now and in the future) which is critical for any realistic assessment of mean dan peak energy demand. A second focus is on delivering a method of construction that is compatible not only with the Indian climate but also its building practices and social customs, thus avoiding the trap of an "imported" standard. This will be delivered through the creation of 60 pathways for a range of building types in 6 cities comprising different climates. Finally, we will also consider how loads can be moved between buildings to achieve a smooth demand profile at network level.

Planned Impact

There are five key elements to the work proposed in this project: (i) the creation of localised mean and extreme weather data for all of India (ii) the collection of empirical data from existing buildings in India; (iii) the development of carefully engineered solutions which will be prototyped and tested in the lab and in the field; (iv) the creation of a new Occupant Response Model for modelling human behaviours under peak load conditions and (v) the development of a Peak Suppression System that delivers zero peak load profiles at network level. Each of these elements are expected to have a range of non-academic impacts, falling into the themes of Knowledge, Economy, Society and People. A key characteristic of our approach is that the whole team is delivering impact.

Economic Impact will be delivered by the creation of the tools needed for the embryonic development of an industry dedicated to delivering zero-peak building throughout India. Some of this activity will be via consultancy services in the UK (Arup, Atkins, Hoare Lea), some mirrored services within India (e.g. PSI Energy), but eventually as construction industry jobs in India. This will require engaging with a broad spectrum of users - as detailed in the Pathways document. Alongside the building-centric activity, the weather files with lead directly to impact as users will be able to see how their designs will perform. This will be equally true for those not designing zero-peak buildings. Hence there will be industry wide impact from early in the project - as these files are one of the first deliverables. Linked to this will be engagement with organisations involved in the design, manufacture and delivery of buildings across the developing world. We expect the industrial partners to rapidly benefit, in particular, from our climate-localised approach. In the longer term, impact will arise from the project helping UK and Indian industries accelerate business opportunities in the mass production of zero-peak buildings.

With respect to knowledge, opening up of a new field of zero-peak energy design is the key impact. We see this as an industry-centric paradigm shift, which will have relevance to much of the world, but particularly to cooling dominated countries. Additional knowledge-based impact will be from the early stage tool, as this will embed knowledge and skills directly within the user base. In addition, we expect bi-directional engagement between the scientists in India and the UK to offer considerable impact via the development of the individuals in all teams, but also by the transfer of knowledge between teams.

Societal impact will be dominated by improved access to energy services at a reasonable cost and in helping to deliver a robust and reliable energy network, where the ability to afford backup services (which are not available to the less well of) is not needed. This will aid the public and private distributors (e.g. Tata Power, R-INFRA). At the next level, societal impact will include a new (zero-peak) way of developing cities and communities (Ministry of Urban Development, Bureau of Energy Efficiency etc). Other impacts will include informing the development of a new architecture for India that is free from of the existing colonial, or post-colonial, history - little of which placed living conditions for the majority of people at its core - and its replacement by a local weather-centric alternative.

Direct people-centric impact will be considerable due to the way the press offices of the various institutions will be used a promote the activities, but mainly because living in a zero-peak building with lower bills and 24/7 access to energy services will be transformative for India's less well off.
Description Climate-Resilient, Energy Secure and healthy built environmenTs (CREST)
Amount £200,706 (GBP)
Funding ID 877766384 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2021 
End 03/2023
Description Special Issue in the international journal "Buildings" 
Organisation MDPI Buildings Journal
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I led a special issue (SI) in the international journal "Buildings" on the topic of "Building Energy Consumption in the Global South", drawing on the ideas emerging from the international conference of the same title hosted in New Delhi by our project partners IIT-Roorkee and CSIR-CBRI.
Collaborator Contribution We published a series of articles in the SI and invited other teams involved in the Indo-UK Newton Fund programme to also contribute. This has resulted in a total of 7 papers.
Impact The Energy Cost of Cold Thermal Discomfort in the Global South by Abdulla N. Alnuaimi and Sukumar Natarajan Buildings 2020, 10(5), 93; - 15 May 2020 Multi-objective Building Design Optimization under Operational Uncertainties Using the NSGA II Algorithm by Shobhit Chaturvedi, Elangovan Rajasekar and Sukumar Natarajan Buildings 2020, 10(5), 88; - 07 May 2020 Understanding Residential Occupant Cooling Behaviour through Electricity Consumption in Warm-Humid Climate by Kumar Biswajit Debnath, David P. Jenkins, Sandhya Patidar and Andrew D. Peacock Buildings 2020, 10(4), 78; - 19 Apr 2020 Assessment of Current Energy Consumption in Residential Buildings in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Ahmed Felimban, Alejandro Prieto, Ulrich Knaack, Tillmann Klein and Yasser Qaffas Buildings 2019, 9(7), 163; - 07 Jul 2019 Life Cycle GHG Emissions of Residential Buildings in Humid Subtropical and Tropical Climates: Systematic Review and Analysis by Daniel Satola, Martin Röck, Aoife Houlihan-Wiberg and Arild Gustavsen Buildings 2021, 11(1), 6; - 24 Dec 2020 A Review of "Green Building" Regulations, Laws, and Standards in Latin America by Carlos Zepeda-Gil and Sukumar Natarajan Buildings 2020, 10(10), 188; - 21 Oct 2020 Keeping cool in the desert: Using wind catchers for improved thermal comfort and indoor air quality at half the energy by Jamal Saif, Andrew Wright, Sanober Khattak *, Kasim Elfadli (DOI to be generated)
Start Year 2019