Small changes can make a big difference in the efficiency of buildings. Determining the most effective changes hasn’t always been easy, though, and resource-efficient homes and commercial buildings used to be rare in emerging markets.
As part of the effort to expand energy and resource efficiency around the world, the World Bank Group through its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), recently debuted an online tool called EDGE that allows anyone, from contractors to hospital managers to homeowners, to model the efficiency of a building using various options and alternative materials.
The tool illustrates the cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions possible from choices such as efficient heating and cooling systems, natural ventilation, water-saving plumbing, and buildings materials with lower environmental impact. The effort pays off for owners and tenants by lowering monthly heating, electricity, and water bills while also reducing their climate impact.
“EDGE quickly and easily demonstrates the business case for building green in emerging markets,” said Prashant Kapoor, IFC’s principal green buildings industry specialist.
For example, in a typical high-end commercial building in Jakarta, a designer could choose to reduce the amount of glass to see how much energy could be saved. The designer could also test shading the glass to reduce energy demand. EDGE also offers options such as using a better air conditioning system or higher-quality glass. For each option, it presents the resulting reduction in energy consumption as well as incremental costs.
Adding ceiling fans to office spaces in an average-sized, six-story office building in New Delhi, as another example, could cut energy use by 16 percent. Insulating the roof and walls could reduce energy use by 10 percent more, while using energy-efficient light bulbs throughout the building could provide an additional 16 percent in energy savings. EDGE, which stands for “Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies,” offers climate-specific information for more than 100 countries.