India is among the most rapidly urbanising countries in the world. In 2018, nearly 34 per cent of the country’s population lived in the cities — this is expected to increase to 40 per cent by 2030, contributing 75 per cent of the GDP. Driven by growing urbanisation, the real estate sector — which is the second-largest employer after agriculture and contributed 6-7 per cent of the GDP in 2017 — will increase to 13 per cent by 2025, notwithstanding temporary setbacks due to the pandemic.
The exponential growth in urbanisation implies using up most of the open spaces in urban and semi-urban areas and creating more of paved surface cover, heat-trapping roofs, buildings and roads. Often, buildings are one of the major contributors to incremental heat generation. More than 60 per cent of the roofs are made of concrete, metal and asbestos, all of which tend to trap heat. Over time, these hot surfaces worsen the heat island effect and drive temperatures higher. Further, buildings account for more than 30 per cent of India’s electricity consumption and a significant share of annual carbon dioxide emissions. It is thus imperative that any effort towards energy conservation must include a focused approach to urban areas and more specifically on buildings and built-up areas.