The webinar brought on board the CEO of SIERRA Mr. Giridhar JG and the project’s green building consultant Mr. Yusuf Tarab to share insights behind this smart, high-performance building.
When he first conceptualized the training centre, Mr. Giridhar was committed to building one of the greenest buildings, especially for ensuring the health and wellness of his employees. When Mr. Yusuf came on board, the team identified the LEED rating system as a useful framework for acheiving various performance goals. The project went on to become the second highest LEED Platinum building under v2009 NC. But the team’s efforts did not stop here, and they ensured that the building maintained high operational efficiency as well. Let’s look at some of the project’s strategies and challenges as discussed in the webinar.
The building is extremely energy efficient with an Energy Performance Index (EPI) of 18 KWh/m2/year (with solar). Take its envelope- the 18-inch walls provide thermal mass, the glazing is high-performance and the cool roof further reduces heat gain. The cooling system is a VRF system with an exceptional Energy Efficiency Ratio of 13.85.
This lowered energy demand is largely met by on-site solar PV systems, integrated cleverly into the building. Approximately 60% of the energy demand is met by a 60 KW rooftop solar PV system along with a 4.3 KW Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) on the southern facade. 100% automation and integration with BMS take the building to the next level of efficiency. For example, public areas are not only fitted with occupancy sensors but also with lux level sensors, to reduce artificial lighting dependence. Another pioneering innovation is the Demand-controlled Diesel Generator- it only kicks in when the battery backup fails, thus cutting down carbon emissions. Many smart facility management features have been deployed to ensure optimal performance. The building has an outstanding LEED Arc score of 31/33 under the Energy category.
Let’s now discuss the strategies to reduce water consumption. Since Coimbatore city faces severe water scarcity, the design team ensured that the eFACiLiTY® was a zero-discharge building, with 80% lesser per capita water consumption compared to the baseline. Even the VRF system was deliberately designed to be air-cooled, rather than water-cooled.
The carbon-neutral building uses a host of strategies to enhance occupant wellness while reducing its carbon footprint. For instance, amenities like gymnasium and cafeteria provided within the building help reduce transport emissions. So does subsidized employee housing located strategically within walkable distance of the building. The building also incentivizes Electric Vehicles (EVs) for commute.
An interesting realization for us during the webinar was that SIERRA’s eFACiLiTY® is quite close to Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s benchmark of 15 kWh/sqm./year for nearly zero energy buildings! The innovative project demonstrates practical and scalable strategies for enhancing occupant wellness while minimizing its carbon footprint.
Learn more about the project on https://www.greenestbuilding.com/
He heads Sierra, a 20-year-old software company located at Coimbatore. He has created “eFACiLiTY®, a leading Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software that integrates with all popular Building Management Systems (BMS).
An Ecopreneur and an accredited Green Building Consultant, he is passionate about tapping into smart systems for enhancing performance of buildings.
Overall, the building performance is fantastic. Automation has helped us a lot to monitor the buildiing performance.
Q2. What were metrics to validate daylighting?
We used UDI and accepted levels were within 120 lux- 2000 lux. 86% of the floor area within that UDI
Q3. How are you maintain the solar PV system?
We used an automated sprinkler system twice a day to keep the panels and cool and clean. We still require manual clearning, especially under windy conditons.
Q4. Were any softwares used to analze facades for BIPV?
Onyx solar helped us design the BIPV. We weren’t involved in the calculations.
Q5. What were the cost implications of automation?
The BMS software and hardware cost about 4-5% of the total cost. The benefits outweighed the investment. Further, we were able to reduce the capacity of HVAC and lighting systems by 50% and cosequently saved on capital costs. We were able to use these savings for automation. Of course, some systems like the Somfy motorized blinds were expensive. But overall, automation is not very expensive for a building of our size.