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Climate adaptive energy conserving commercial building envelopes with analytical tool COFA:Climate Optimized Fenestration Assembly.



The ongoing rapid urbanization of India has been posing a huge pressure on the urban environment. India’s urban population has increased to almost 380 million in 2011. A United Nations report suggests that the number of Indian citizens living in urban areas will reach 900 million by 2050 amounting to 55% of its population [1]. Massive construction is underway to respond to this urbanization and since the built environment make up for 40% of total energy use the cost of not doing anything would be enormous and seriously retard India’s growth progress.  

Newly elected Indian government wants to build 100 "smart cities" outfitted with high-tech communication across the country in a move to provide better infrastructure and employment opportunities for its citizens. This will be the biggest city building project in Indian history. It has been estimated that the total built space in India would increase five-fold from 2005 to 2030, and by then more than 60% of the commercial built space would be air- conditioned. Lighting and Air Conditioning account for over 80% of energy end use in a typical commercial building in India [2]. The current energy installed capacity in the country is approx. 160,000 MW and the projected energy load for 2030 is 8,00,000 MW.  Challenge before India is to plan and implement energy efficiency measures during the early stages of growth in the building sector.

To meet these goals, the building envelope especially the building fenestration systems play a critical role.The amount of energy consumed through lighting and cooling in a building is mainly influenced by its fenestration system. Since the overall heat transfer coefficient (U value) of windows is normally five times greater than those of other components of a building envelope, the design and selection of a proper climate responsive window fenestration system with consideration to building orientations is one of the important strategies for effectively conserving the energy of a building. 

Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action

What actions do you propose?

Development of Analytical Tool- “COFA: Climate Optimised Fenestration Assembly”    (Introductory cloud based website, where the future tool COFA will be available)

We intend to setup a lab scale test facility to experimentally validate the optimized building fenestration systems for the different hot climatic zones in India with respect to solar heat gain and day lighting elements. This research proposal focuses on fast growing energy intensive commercial building sector where passive design has its limitations but there is a need to maximize its potential within the hybrid system. The study will begin with the hot and humid climate.

The research proposes an analytical tool COFA – Climate optimized Fenestration Assembly for the Indian climatic zones. The research eventual intent will be to develop strategies for fenestration tools so that they are so designed that it opens itself to those climatic factors, which make seasonal conditions more comfortable and closes itself to the ones, which causes thermal discomfort, thus reducing the cooling requirement of the building. COFA will be an innovative program that encourages climatic design integrated with building envelope design. COFA will quantify the energy savings based on these climate based design strategies.

The COFA analysis tool will integrate and optimize the annual cooling and lighting energy consumption associated with installing different types of building envelope systems like glazing, wall assemblies, shading devices, diagonal fins ,complex fenestration systems in commercial buildings at different orientations for different climatic zones in India. COFA will analyze with respect to the envelope the impacts of passive cooling systems of Shading and Ventilation. The energy performance of a building refers to the process of modeling the energy transfer between a building and its surroundings. For a conditioned building, it estimates the cooling and heating load and hence, the sizing and selection of HVAC equipment can be correctly made.[3] Analyzing building envelope performance is challenging due to dynamic energy flows created by sun and weather conditions as well as changing interior climate needs. The complexity of these energy flows necessitates the use of computer modeling and simulation tools to analyze the effects of these relationships to quantify thermal performance.

Shading devices are directly associated with the solar gains of a building, the shading system rejects or limits the amount of solar gains, thus reducing the cooling loads.

The most common shading devices are the use of different shapes and forms of the facade to cover up windows or apertures and create shaded areas while using low transmission glazing to limit the amount of solar gain through the windows or apertures.

Also, the commercial buildings in the proposed smart cities will have complex building typologies and it is proposed that the building orientation, wind direction, sun path and other climatic design factors be considered before a fenestration assembly strategy, window wall ratio and fins/shading devices are developed for the building envelope for that climatic zone.

It is a strong recommendation to design all commercial-type buildings with operable windows, thus allowing the option of naturally ventilating the building when climatic conditions provide such a possibility.  It offers a great potential for significant reduction of energy consumption and energy costs required for cooling the building. COFA will evaluate the tradeoffs between the building envelope and the exterior environment.

In a rapidly urbanizing world, one of the critical requirements for public acceptance and usage for material is its cost effectiveness, so this study also proposes life cycle cost analysis. The lab test facility will also explore energy generating building facades which can partially supply the energy requirements of the commercial building or supply it back to the grid.

The study will focus on the following hot climatic zones where most of the urbanization is projected to happen in the coming decades.

Hot and Humid, Hot and Dry, Composite and Moderate.

This will be a positive step towards developing energy efficient envelopes for buildings across India. The lab will also develop optimized parameters for the energy efficiency of the building envelope in order to reduce greenhouse gases.

Day lighting has a significant impact on buildings and occupants: it is essential to health and wellbeing, it is a fundamental design element, and it can offset a significant portion of a building’s electricity use. Because daylight is dynamic, it needs to be managed to assure that a sufficient, but not excessive amount of light is provided. Glare must be adequately controlled for particular building uses. Daylighting typically also has a close relationship with views and management of solar heat gain to achieve an energy efficient building.

Simulation programs like eQuest, COMFEN, DesignBuilder will be explored for the study.

eQUEST: is a whole building performance analysis tool that recognizes that energy responsive design is a creative process of integrating the performance of interacting systems, eg: envelope, fenestration, lighting, HVAC.[4]

COMFEN, a software tool designed for analyzing and comparing the annual performance data (including energy and comfort) of a number of facade configurations. This data can be used to compute window properties, daylighting performance, and whole building energy performance. COMFEN provides with Flexible Fenestration Facade Design, Comparative Facade Analysis and graphical display of analysis results.[5]

I propose to use simulation programs like above to investigate the impacts of building fenestration systems on energy consumption. Apart from these extensive field studies will be conducted to measure energy performance of various building envelope fenestration assemblies.  The analysis and inferences will help develop COFA for customized Indian climatic zones and a tool that delivers a climate responsive building envelope. COFA can be integrated with the local building codes for an energy efficient commercial building envelope thus having a huge positive impact on the environment.

COFA tool will analyze and develop design strategies for:

Reducing Air conditioning energy consumption for cooling: Controlling solar gains by avoiding excessive glazing and optimizing building envelope orientation as per the climatic zone, use of shading, blinds and double skin facades, glazing with the lowest solar heat gains factor.

Making use of thermal mass materials and night ventilation to reduce peak temperatures.

A building envelope design that maximizes natural ventilation through passive design will be explored. Design of effective directional window fenestration design with use of louvers to enhance ventilation as airflow pattern is dependent on the location of the openings as air flows from high pressure to low pressure areas.

Reducing energy use for lighting;

Appropriate window design and glass to make maximum use of daylight while avoiding excessive solar gain. Develop adaptive and climate responsive fenestration systems to maximize views and reduce solar gain.

COFA will analyse different climatic zones for integration of passive design measures with building envelopes.

COFA will be an innovative tool for architects quantifying the impacts of their climatic design interventions with respect to overall energy consumption.

Who will take these actions?

The proposer is Prof. Pradeep Kini who is an Associate Professor at Faculty of Architecture, Manipal University, India. Pradeep Kini completed his Bachelor of Architecture at Manipal University and Masters of Architecture at the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA. Pradeep Kini is a LEED accredited professional and has over 12 years of experience on commercial and hospitality projects in USA, India and China. Prof. Pradeep Kini is a licensed architect in India, an associate member of American Institute of Architects-Chicago Chapter and also a life member of the Indian Buildings Congress.

Pradeep Kini will work with his team to develop a lab facility that will work towards the experimental validating of building envelopes for different climatic zones of India and development of COFA , which will also be an innovative tool for architects.

Awareness programs with local government bodies are currently being undertaken, the potential collaborators for the project with whom formal discussions are in the pipeline: The Climate Change Division of MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) is India's nodal  nodal unit for coordinating the National Action Plan on Climate Change

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has developed the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)[6]. The ECBC is currently voluntary and is still in the early stages of development. The analysis results and research and development of COFA can help streamline the ECBC code.

Ministry of Urban Development,State and local governments will be engaged in discussions and communicated  to accelerate energy efficiency by adopting local energy efficiency building codes, developing effective implementation and compliance structures providing training programs and offering policy incentives for energy efficiency projects. Other stake holders - various building envelope component manufacturers who will be encouraged to innovate their products to meet the requirements of the proposed byelaws, potentially as per COFA.



Where will these actions be taken?

A McKinsey Global Institute study estimated that cities would generate 70% of the new jobs created by 2030, produce more than 70% of the Indian gross domestic product and drive a fourfold increase in per capita incomes across the country. Currently the commercial sector space is projected to increase from 659 Sqm to 1900 Sqm in 2030 [7]. 

Indian Governments flagship smart city project is the, International Finance Tec-City. The city's plans for high rises on an artificial island. Two 28-story towers have already been completed as part of the project. The city will have solar panels, automated garbage collection, and water treatment and recycling plants. Commuters will receive text messages alerting them of traffic and guiding them through the city's streets. The first phase of the city's construction is expected to be completed by next year, with the entire project to finish by 2020.

The $100 billion Delhi-Mumbai corridor effort has a 26 percent investment from Japan. Britain has extended a 1 billion pound credit line to help U.K. companies invest in Indian infrastructure. [8] These ambitious projects are required towards kickstarting the growth in the economy and creation of employment for the vast segments of India's young population, but it will create a major shift in India’s infrastructure and constructing these cities without a policy for energy efficiency of building design will be disastrous from an environmental perspective and requires a nationwide mandatory byelaws/codes addressing environmental sustainability to meet with this changing face of Indian cities. 

Action will be taken in rapidly urbanizing cities of countries like India. New commercial buildings across the country will be environmentally more sustainable. The climate responsive adaptive fenestration strategies in the building envelopes once incorporated in byelaws and made mandatory, it will have huge impact on reducing the emission of Green house gases.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

No other country in the history would have encountered the growth in the Energy load that India is poised to experience. Thus, India has this opportunity to capture energy savings in buildings which are not yet built. 66% of the commercial building stock is yet to be constructed so the climate based energy efficient envelopes will have a huge impact on energy savings. As per my estimation the nationwide enforcement of COFA guidelines in the energy codes  would yield annual savings of 2 billion kWh. The control of greenhouse gas emissions at such a large scale will have positive impact around the world.

What are other key benefits?

Lower carbon footprint, significant savings in capital and operating costs, increased economic benefits, Less pressure on Environment, reduced ozone depletion, improved worker productivity and morale.The research will make a strong case and provide the much needed quantitative basis for pursuing these environmentally sustainable strategies for new commercial developments in rapidly developing nations like India.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The proposal to cost around 1.5 million USD.

This includes: 

Development team including one PhD research scholar for 3 years + 4 consultants from varied streams for their consultancy.  = $300,000

5 research associates at $ 20,000 each for three years = $ 300,000

Setup of lab facility:   $200,000

Hard ware and Software development of COFA:  $ 200,000

Thermo graphic imagery, Wind Velocity,Relative Humidity Sensors:  $10000

Field testing/Site visits:  $200,000

Attending Conferences, travels, conferences: $100,000

Maintenance/promotion/certification/Communication: $200,000

Time line

3-5 Years

2014: Literature survey, Identification of relevant equipment.

2014: Setup of lab facility in Manipal, India

2014- Data collection and simulation with validated software of different fenestration assemblies and their envelope configurations for different hot climatic zones in India.

2015- Detailed comparative analysis of energy consumption as per the fenestration design within the building envelope and its adaptation to the climatic design factors. Field testing to validate the results.

2016- 2017- Design strategies for various fenestration configurations for the climatic zones and incorporation into the bye laws as per the collaborative agreements with the Central and state government bodies. Development of COFA Tool for adaptive building fenestration systems.

2017 Onwards- Further Development and increasing awareness.

Related proposals


[1]UNnewscenter,, accessed 01.08.2011

[2]Central Electricity Authority, India

[3] Ministry and New and Renewable energy : Thermal performance of buildings.

[4]Department of Energy [DOE], eQuest

[5] COMFEN 4.1-Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory.

[6] Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Energy Conservation Building Code 2007, New Delhi, India, 2008.

[7]. Mckinsey and Company (2009), Environmental and Energy Sustainability : An approach for India

-Faster,Sustainable and more inclusive growth, An approach to the 12th five year plan, Planning Commission, India, 2010

-LEED for New Construction 2009, US Green Building Council, 2009

-USAID ECO III Project, New Delhi


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- Pradeep Kini, ‘Optimal Urban microclimatic environment considering clusters of buildings and open spaces in warm and humid climate’ (Published in: International Journal of Earth Sciences Engineering (Indexed in Scopus Compendex and Geobase Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Chemical Abstract Services- USA, Geo- Ref Information Services- USA) Volume 05 No.01 SPL  Jan 2011    ISSN 0974-5904

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