Energy Efficiency and Resource Economy in the Households

The primary intention to maximize the use of passive control to the maximum possible level is to reduce the building dependencies on conventional energy resources and mitigate building environmental impacts on the surroundings.

Dec. 12, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol:09, No 11, December 11, 2015 (Mangsir 25, 2071


Because of large gap between the supply and demand of electricity in our country, greater focus has been given on generating more electricity i.e. more focus on supply side of it, though it is not happening as per expectation. Serious attention hasn’t been paid into demand side management and energy efficiency. Comprehensive energy efficiency strategy as well as integrated energy policy cannot be seen in place so far.

Though, there are some government policy interventions regarding the energy efficiency. The current Three Year Plan (2010-2013) has already mentioned the need of energy efficiency and government’s commitment to move further for better efficiency in the energy sector. The plan has specifically highlighted energy efficiency issues under the headings of industry, hydroelectricity, alternative energy, and environment & climate change. In Nepal, building codes have been made, but only in terms of their safety, which is of course the first basic priority, and not in terms of energy use and efficiency.

The need for an internationally agreed agenda for sustainable construction to meet the objectives of the Rio Summit in 1992 was identified earlier. In order to guide the industry in preparing for and implementing the principles of sustainability and support Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda, a separate Agenda 21 for Sustainable Construction in Developing Countries was commissioned by the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) to address a different approach in different regional understandings of sustainable construction in developing countries. This has resulted in two worldwide agenda setting publications: the CIB "Agenda 21 on Sustainable Construction" and the joint CIB-UNEP "Agenda on Sustainable Construction in developing countries".

Beyond this there are also other wide range of foundational texts and references on sustainable construction and settlements such as the UN Habitat Agenda and the UN Millennium Development Goals. Nepal being a member country of UNFCCC has extended her commitment towards common but differentiated responsibilities to combat climate change. In addition, Nepal being the member state of the United Nation family has best interest in showing her resolution to comply with the international multi-lateral accords signed in the best interest of the humanity.


One of the common practices of improving energy efficiency in the residential sector is establishing and implementing Green Building Technology Guidelines. Taking consideration of the current energy crisis at national level and complying with the national commitment to global climate change issues (Department of Urban and Building Construction (DUDBC), the government organization responsible for formulation, planning and implementing of urban plans, housing plans and policies, is taking a lead of  an effort to formulate the green building technology guidelines for Nepal and review the existing building standards in synergies to sustainable development philosophy. The Green Building Technology Guidelines is meant to provide reference to the all kinds of building types; residential, institutional, commercial, hospitality building system etc. However, the guidelines have not been published yet.

The measures of policy interventions  should actively promote the resource efficient construction of new or renovated buildings in Nepal to minimize the adverse environmental impacts of the built- environment, while maximizing positive social and economic impacts through development of set of guidelines and regulations which may help in overcoming existing barriers, like absence of legal, regulatory framework; limited information and awareness which makes it difficult to create broad interest in energy efficiency; insufficient access to technology and technical capacity which makes energy efficiency an expensive option and challenging to find a consistent platform to evolve, build and deepen energy efficiency activities etc. Some of the recommended guidelines are as follows:

•        Increase the energy, water and material efficiency of the building.

•        Protect occupant health and improve productivity

•        Reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation throughout the building lifecycle

•        Identify knowledge gaps regarding the future capacity of building and development of more comprehensive guidelines development in the coming days.

•        Review the existing building codes of Nepal with respect its energy requirements in line with sustainable development and green building initiatives.

•        Assist and aware the building designer, building occupant and the related in-between stakeholders of the building (engineers, developer, supplier, service providers, decision makers etc.) about the green building and its significances.

The following sections will provide some of the recommended measures for residential sector energy efficiency:

Improved Energy Use Practices

The overall energy performance of the building throughout its life cycle is determined by its function for passive environmental control and active environmental control or the optimization between two.  Passive environmental control function is characterized by responsive design of the building to the local climate, site, local amenities etc. through maximizing the use of ambient resources such as sun, daylight, wind and diurnal temperature ranges. On the other hand, active environmental control function is characterized by the use of non-ambient resources for control of internal environment. However, it is almost impossible to meet all the energy requirement of the building through passive controls. Hence, the primary intention to maximize the use of passive control to the maximum possible level is to reduce the building dependencies on conventional energy resources and mitigate building environmental impacts on the surroundings. The rest need is complemented by the active environment control.

The basic strategies need to be adopted are reducing energy demand through climate responsive building design, maximizing system efficiency by use of efficient heating and cooling system, energy efficient lighting, solar water heating and lighting optimizing the usage of renewable energy, .passive design to reduce the conventional energy demand, thermal comfort by design and roof treatment and encouraging use of energy efficient appliances.

Proper Site Selection, Building Layout Planning and Construction

It is very important to take following measures regarding site selection, building planning and construction while designing a building and carrying out the building implementation activities.

•        Site selection should be done considering availability and possibility of basic infrastructure, and topography of site.

•        Preserve and protect landscape during construction so as to protect its own biological and geological identity landmarked by various ecological zones and even man-made heritages of cultural importance.

•        Include existing site features since ecological zones play vital role in the maintaining the ecological balance of the place and retaining the importance of the place.

•        Provisions for pre- and post-disaster risk management.

•        Building planning and construction techniques should be on passive design concept as far as possible for sustainability.

•        Reduce paved area/impermeable paving to protect from heat island effect.

•        Provision of accessibility for person with disabilities.

Use of Appropriate Building Materials

Healthier, environment friendly with long life span and reusable materials are always preferable. The following measures can be taken to improve it to use of low embodied energy of material, encourage and promote on use of availability of material. This also reduces the transportation cost of material, use of recycle material or green material which does not pose problems in dumping and end up as long lasting waste, reuse of material on site and encourage on reduction in waste during construction and use of material for human comfort and health safety.


In order to improve the residential sector energy efficiency, a set of measures, such as efficient technology encouraging the use of environment friendly building material are needed to be developed and adopted. Improved energy efficient residential sector can deliver additional co-benefits in addition to the energy saving, e.g. on present issues of climate change, reducing operating costs, compliance with tightening international and national legislation and standards such as Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), limiting the requirement for additional power to adhere with the national power crisis and market, client demands and increasing concerns of environmental ethics. These benefits ultimately can contribute to sustainable economic growth of the country. However, establishment of strong and effective enforcement of control mechanism is a precondition for getting positive results of the suggested interventions and policy measures.

Dr. Chaulagain is an energy Expert. The views and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not necessarily reflect the views of the organization he is associated with

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