Key Messages

The Sustainable Alternative Futures for India (SAFARI) model (Kumar et al., 2021) estimates that the buildings sector—directly and indirectly, through its interlinkages with industry and power sectors—accounts for around 30% of India’s annual energy demand and 26% of the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With the increasing rate of urbanisation and the associated infrastructure development, this is expected to rise further.

For limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, India’s fair share of the remaining carbon budget has been estimated to be around 89 Gt CO2e (Climate Equity Monitor, 2024). A study by the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) found that in a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, the direct and indirect emissions from the buildings sector alone will exceed this national budget by 2070.

The study explored alternative pathways for remaining within the budget and we presented two broad approaches in our report 'Pathways to Steer India’s Buildings Sector Towards a Net-Zero Future'. Of these, one is a buildings-led decarbonisation scenario (BLS), where the focus is on interventions solely within the buildings sector, and the other is an industry-led decarbonisation scenario (ILS), where the focus is on industries that have linkages with the buildings sector (like cement, steel, aluminium, and power). BLS—which entails a higher uptake of energy-efficient appliances and rooftop photovoltaics, and incorporates passive design strategies—could lead to a substantial reduction in buildings sector emissions, cumulatively using up 72% of the remaining carbon budget by 2070 (as against the overshoot seen in the BAU scenario).

In this policy brief, we examine the gaps and challenges in the existing policy landscape and put forth recommendations for operationalising the BLS pathway. We categorise our analyses into three buckets—existing buildings, new buildings, and city-level action plans.

Click here to read the report 'Pathways to Steer India’s Buildings Sector Towards a Net-Zero Future'

Policy strategies to decarbonise the buildings sector