NBC 2016: Focusing on Construction Material, Technology & Equipment for Sustainable Buildings

DSK Sundarban

Vinod Behl

The revised version of National Building Code- NBC 2016, the state-of-the-art and most contemporary building code to regulate building construction in the country, focuses on new innovative construction materials and technologies, equipment, and machines for future sustainable developments.

In view of the growing trend of green/sustainable buildings, the revised National Building Code seeks to promote ecologically appropriate practices, use of eco- friendly construction materials and conventional and alternate technology towards the creation of sustainable human settlements. It describes comprehensive sustainability stand- ards for the building construction and related built environment. The approach to sustainability is founded in the principles of Code to adequately protect public health, safety and welfare, and to meet requirements that do not unnecessarily increase construction-cost nor restrict the use of new innovative materials, products or methods of construction.

Building material choices are important in sustainable design because of extensive network of activities such as extraction, processing, and transportation steps required for making material and activities involved thereafter till building construction and even after that. There are many frequently used building materials like reconstituted wood products, paints, glues, carpet, and upholstery which may release gases, fumes etc., from chemical components used even long after installation. These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) affect the environment and human health. The use of rapidly renewable material, recycled materials, minimize the adverse impact. With proper selection of materials, techniques, equipment installations, cost-optimization can be achieved. National Building Code (NBC) spells that such materials should be selected which can be easily dismantled and reused or recycled at the end of their life-cycle. An ideal sustainable building material is environment-friendly, causes no adverse impact on the health of occupants, is readily available, can be reclaimed, recycled and made from renewable raw material and also has predominantly renewable energy in its extraction, production, transportation, fixing and ultimate disposal. The new National Building Code lays emphasis on broad selection of materials which fulfill most of these criteria.

The growing trend of glazed windows/doors in buildings and structures, has considerably increased the importance of glazing and need for proper workmanship. Considering the importance of glazing in building construction, glass, the primary glazing element has to be selected to cater to several requirements and the glazing has to be designed to meet various engineering requirements. Considering all this, National Building Code (NBC), for the first time, has introduced a separate section on glazing which provides guidance in the selection of appropriate glazing for various types of building construction, energy, and light aspects besides selecting thickness of glass for glazing and human impact safety. With a view to boost sustainability, the building code for the first time includes process for glazing in buildings with respect to their effect on energy, light and selection and manifestation of glass with respect to safety. It also focuses on energy conservation, use of solar energy by way of solar water heating systems, solar steam systems for cooking and laundry, solar-assisted refrigeration/air conditioning systems, solar photo voltaic systems, and efficient lighting.

Keeping in view the unprecedented growth of high-rise buildings with increasing demand for lifts and growing trend of escalators and moving walks, National Building Code (NBC) includes a special chapter on them with their updated performance measurements, especially the requirements for high speed lifts.

Taking note of the rapid urbanization that is set to expand built-up area by 4 times by 2015, posing major challenge to environment, the Code lays emphasis on sustainable buildings which have demonstrated reduction in energy and water consumption to less than half of the consumption in conventional buildings and complete elimination of construction and operational waste through recycling. As modern buildings consume 25-30% of total energy, National Building Code (NBC) 2016 focuses on energy efficiency through high technology, innovation, and use of products, materials and designs with lower embodied energy. Ventilation has now taken the centre-stage for sustainability in design, construction and operation of buildings. National Building Code (NBC) has covered lighting and natural ventilation with further strategies for sustainable buildings. Aiming towards these objectives, in this Code, due consideration has been given to these important dimensions in building planning, design and construction and during operation through effective utilization of natural light, material selection including recycling and reuse aspects, design approach, proper management practices, efficient electrical and other building services, plumbing services, energy conservation, rain water harvesting, etc.

Emerald Court

Keeping in view the growth of high-rise buildings with increasing demand for lifts and growing trend of escalators and moving walks and high impact of lifts and escalators on environment, the revised National Building Code focuses on lifts and escalators with a view to ensure that they are energy-efficient. National Building Code (NBC) in its 2016 version, has included a chapter on lifts and escalators, with their updated performance measurements and provisions as per the revised standards of lifts. The Code also focuses on requirements for high speed lifts including ones for firefighting and emergency evacuation. In order to meet the new challenges associated with high-rise buildings, the new building code has come up with detailed guidelines on construction management and comprehensive regulations and certification of structural safety of buildings with a series of improvements in safety provisions.

Today. when the construction/real estate sector is bogged down by large scale project delays, National Building Code underscores the need to speed-up projects through use of appropriate construction technologies like Pre-fabrication in order to meet the goal of 'Housing for All'. As such, the provisions relating to pre-fabricated systems and on-site pre fabrication have been updated. Pre- fabricated construction is meant to meet the timeline challenges of super tall buildings while at the same time, ensuring quality construction. For faster building construction, the Code also spells out provisions on integrated and faster approval process, single window approach and computerization in building permit process, updated mechanism for safety including certification of buildings against natural disasters, urban planning including concepts of high density group housing and integrated townships, updated norms for low-income housing, rural habitat planning, development planning norms for hilly and coastal areas and requirements for buildings and facilities for universal accessibility, etc, to ensure orderly and sustained development for better quality of life.

Today when the construction sector is bogged-down with unprecedented and large scale project delays, National Building Code underscores the need to speed-up projects through the use of appropriate technologies like pre-fabrication.

As telecommunication plays a vital role in modern society today, the residential and commercial buildings have a broad variety of telecom systems. In view of this, the building code puts a special focus on 'Information & Communication- Enabled Installations', describing the essential requirements, technology systems and cabling. The telecom infrastructure in the building, has to be supportive for multiple technologies, products and requirements of telecom service providers. The Code puts an emphasis on considering modern telecom technologies such as Distributed Antenna System, Wifi and others, in building solution during the planning stage of the building. The enabling infrastructure includes cable-riser systems, conduits, cable trays etc. Space needs to be created for installation of equipment at the entry point of service and running the cables etc., through shafts and horizontal conduits inside the walls, centre of corridors and centre of work space, etc. This telecom infrastructure, according to the Code, needs to support future needs. Also, in view of the emerging trend of smart homes, National Building Code (NBC) 2016 talks about high-tech systems. It has upgraded the clause on building automation system to include the latest practices for web- based monitoring and control of performance parameters. Similarly, testing, balancing, commissioning, and handing over of heating and mechanical ventilation system clause, has been extensively revised to include adoption of state-of-the-art procedures.

In line with 'UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities', 'National Policy for Persons with Disabilities' and Modi Government's mission 'Accessible India, Empowered India', the Building Code, for the first time, comes out with comprehensive provisions for barrier-free environment for elderly and disabled persons. The universal barrier-free design of buildings for urban and rural areas, is meant to enhance safety and ease of use for not just disabled persons but for every citizen.

The National Building Code (NBC) 2016, a revision of National Building Code (NBC) 2005, intended to help regulate the building construction in the country with its applicability to municipal corporations, local urban bodies, Public Works Departments (PWD), and other construction agencies, has been finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and is being readied for release this year.

NBM&CW November 2016

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