Green Ministry Sees Red Over Littering of Solar Panels by Staff

Solar panels at the Rs 209-crore green building Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, which houses the Ministry of Environment and Forests, are choked with leftover food and garbage dumped.

Published: 17th May 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2015 08:30 AM   |  A+A-

Green Ministry

NEW DELHI: Solar panels at the Rs 209-crore green building Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, which houses the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), are choked with leftover food and garbage dumped by the ministry’s employees. This is affecting the solar power generation in the building. Worried by the littering, the green ministry has issued a directive restricting entry to the terrace area where the panels are installed and a list of dos and don’ts for its employees.      

The recent directive issued by MoEF Deputy Secretary P J Michael says officials occupying fourth to sixth floors are littering the solar panels. In case a panel is destroyed, the whole string attached to it will be affected and there will be a drastic reduction in power feed into the grid. Instructions have also been issued to avoid throwing food outside, which will attract birds and monkeys to the terrace area.

Doors to the terrace will be locked. Employees have been told that they may borrow keys to the terrace from a designated official in case of an emergency. The ministry has also launched an in-house drive to sensitize the employees by screening environment-related short films in the auditorium every Friday.

Indira Paryavaran Bhavan in South Delhi’s Jor Bagh has the largest rooftop solar-powered panel in the country. It is India’s first ‘Net Zero Building’ which produces its own energy and doesn’t require outside power supply for the seven-storey building. It was planned by the former environment minister Jairam Ramesh and was inaugurated by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in February 2014.

Another worry for the ministry is excess power consumption in the last one year, which it fears may lead to the loss of its green building status. “From analysis to production of solar power and energy consumed over the past one year, it is seen that we are consuming more power than what we are generating. If we are not able to control the consumption, we will lose the GRIHA and LEED ratings. We will also be not able to project Indira Paryavaran Bhavan as a green building,” said the circular sent to all divisions in the ministry earlier this month.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) plaque is a US green building certification programme that recognises best-in-class building strategies and practices. GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) is the National Rating System of India.

The circular added that all employees should ensure that lights are switched off whenever unnecessary and special care is taken to switch off equipment when employees leave the premises or there is no need to use them. Efforts have been made to maintain a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius in the working area and windows and corridors may be kept closed to maintain the temperature, the circular stated.

“The power consumption of the building initially was calculated on the basis of official working hours 9 am to 5 pm five days a week. But sometimes employees work past midnight during parliament sessions and even on Saturday and Sundays, so the power consumption has shot up. It is centrally air-conditioned, so even if one employee is working, the whole system is operational. We need to take measures else we will lose the coveted status,” said a senior ministry official.

The building has been certified by international agencies for its environment friendly features and is expected to be a trendsetter in the country, inspiring people towards adopting green technology. MoEF conducts guided tours for architects, experts and schools to study the building. It has been designed as the highest green-rated building with effective ventilation that has been achieved by orientating the building in an east-west direction. The design is such that 75 per cent of natural daylight is utilised to reduce energy consumption.

Green Wonder

■ Indira Paryavaran Bhawan was inaugurated in 2014 and built at a cost of Rs 209 crore

■ It’s India’s first Net Zero Energy Building. It produces its own energy and doesn’t required outside power supply

■ 75% of natural daylight is utilised to reduce energy consumption

■ It has the largest rooftop solar-powered panel in any Indian multi-storied building

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