The government will, for the first time, rate the energy efficiency of building projects in India.

For instance, buildings using solar energy instead of conventional coal-power electricity would be given higher ratings.

Power guzzlers:Buildings account for over 30% of the total electricity consumption in India, says a report released on Tuesday.

An announcement is expected later this week, said Mili Majumdar, associate director of The Energy Research Institute (Teri), an independent research organization, which, together with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and other arms of the government, set out the rating criteria.

“The thrust of this programme is to quantitatively measure how much energy a project proposes, or has saved, using superior technology," Majumdar said.

Government officials associated with the project didn’t respond to calls.

Though initially it will be on a voluntary basis, the ratings, to be awarded by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), will gain more teeth as they become popular and help new building projects applying for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects get a government-signed credibility boost.

The CDM has been evolved under the Kyoto Protocol, wherein companies from developed countries can buy carbon credits to comply with carbon emission cuts.

Making buildings more energy efficient is becoming an increasingly popular method among governments and industry to reduce their carbon emissions.

Teri and the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) are organizing a two-day conference, beginning Wednesday, to exclusively focus on energy-efficient buildings.

BCSD, with 63 members in India, consists of both public sector units, such as Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and NTPC Ltd, and private companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd.

A report released on Tuesday by the BCSD’s parent arm, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, says that buildings account for over 30% of the total electricity consumption in India and employing energy efficient systems can reduce energy demand by as much as 40%.

The private sector seems interested. Manoj Mathur, regional head, Trane India Ltd, said, “I think it will do industry a lot of good because once the government gets involved it will encourage many more private builders to actively implement energy-efficient systems."

Energy-efficiency ratings for buildings are not new, even in India, with the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating being a popular ratings standard for energy-efficient buildings across the world.

The Confederation of Indian Industry actively promotes ratings called LEED-India ratings which measure the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the country.