Special Project

Here's how eFACiLiTY in Coimbatore became among the world's greenest software development centres

October 2017
Here's the buzz: SIERRA's eFACiLiTY Building, a software development centre in Coimbatore, has been rated as the world's second highest ranking green building by GBCI LEED NY v2009, with an awesome score of 103 out of 110! As Giridhar JG, CEO & Managing Director, SIERRA ODC, elaborates: 'eFACiLiTY Building is just below 25,000 sq ft of built-up area with the ground floor reserved for parking, two floors of work area (18,568 sq ft of air-conditioned space) and the third floor housing the cafeteria and gym.' The lush green and flowery garden with primarily native or drought-resistant vegetation covers 25 per cent of total site area and promotes natural species. He adds more on the project's green features:

Optimising daylight: The building has been designed ensuring that about 86 per cent of regularly occupied space gets adequate daylight and 97 per cent of occupants have nature views.

The building is oriented towards the north and south with plenty of windows that provide natural daylight views; skylights from the roof provide daylight for the central part of the building.

The windows use high-performance glass for maximum daylight and controlling heat gain.

An advanced Somfy sun-tracking and shadow management system opens and closes the blinds automatically, based on the sun's position and outside light conditions, and maximises daylight entry while controlling glare and heat gain. It also minimises light trespass at night.

Materials used: Usage of materials with recycled content and reuse or recycling of construction waste reduce the waste sent for landfill, creating a positive impact on the environment. The regional procurement of materials saves on the carbon footprint. The rapidly renewable materials and FSC-certified wood reduce the impact on the forest cover. In this building, 20.15 per cent recycled content in civil materials has been used; 78.3 per cent of materials have been sourced within 800 km; 3.15 per cent of rapidly renewable materials have been used; 100 per cent FSC-certified wood has been used; and 82.5 per cent of construction waste was either reused or sent for recycling.

Controlling power: Sixty-four per cent of energy needs are met with an onsite solar plant and the balance green power was purchased in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Solar power is generated using an on-grid 60-kW rooftop solar plant and fatade-fitted, building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solar to meet the energy needs of the building. Apart from savings achieved by the reduced air-conditioning and ventilation load, the regularly used lighting is 100 per cent automated and the regularly occupied space receives 86 per cent daylight. LED lights have been used with a 0.26 W per sq ft lighting power density, which is 80 per cent better than the ASHRAE standard. Foam concreting and cool-roof tiles have been used on the roof to reduce thermal load; AAC blocks and fly-ash bricks have been used for walls; and the wall thickness has been increased for better insulation.

Further, the building is supported by smart automation features such as access control system integration; measurement and verification; and early fault detection and rectification. Other features include automatic switch-off of lighting and air-conditioning after meeting time at conference and meeting rooms; demand-controlled diesel genset operation to save on diesel usage; automated operation of pumping systems to avoid wastage; and a power management policy implemented for all IT systems.

Efforts on HVAC: The facility is air-conditioned and uses a VRF system that is said to be 55 per cent more energy-efficient than others, providing precise temperature control within the building.

The system installed boasts of an energy-efficiency ratio (EER) of 13.85 per cent, among the world's best. Temperature sensors across all densely occupied spaces monitor ambient temperatures; these are compared against set temperatures to determine any faults in the air-conditioner thermostat, cooling effect of specific areas, etc.

Fresh air is pumped from the roof using multiple, zone-wise heat recovery ventilators (HRV) to the air-conditioned areas; controls CO2 build-up inside the facility. While taking in fresh air, the HRV exhausts the return air from workspaces and enables heat transfer between the warmer fresh air and the cooled exhaust air to reduce the air-conditioning load. Similar to the temperature sensors, CO2 sensors are installed in all densely occupied spaces to monitor CO2 levels. The building automation system continuously monitors differential CO2 levels and pumps fresh air into the building at required speeds based on the differential, implementing the demand-controlled ventilation concept, which reduces the CO2 levels automatically while controlling the head load for the air-conditioning system.

The workspaces are also monitored by another IoT device called Foobot, which senses the level of VOCs, humidity and particulate matter 2.5 levels within the workspace.

SIERRA's eFACiLiTY software fetches data from this IoT device from the cloud and operates the HRV in different speeds. This is unique to this facility as normally only CO2 levels are monitored using sensors and the rest are tested only periodically. What's more, plenty of indoor plants keep the facility green and healthy. Additionally, the metallic mats installed in all floors contribute in controlling dust levels.

Conserving water: Water savings to the tune of 89.31 per cent have been achieved through the implementation of waterless urinals; STP to recycle 100 per cent wastewater; 100 per cent rainwater harvested, filtered and used; water-efficient plumbing fixtures; aerators for all taps for reduced flow rate; sensor-operated taps for wastage reduction; dual-flush toilets; highly water-efficient dishwasher; 100 per cent recycled water for gardening and flushing; sprinkler and drip irrigation for reduced water usage for garden; and drought-tolerant and less-water-use plants for the garden. As part of smart automation, features like automated operation of pumping systems to avoid wastage, threshold-based alerts for quicker identification of faults, etc, have been incorporated.

This apart, 100 per cent of the wastewater, grey water and sewage is recycled using an advanced sequencing batch reactor (SBR) from KLARO, Germany. The treated water is used for flushing and gardening, leading to enormous water savings. The system is fully automated and requires only low periodic maintenance.

The kitchen water is passed through a grease trap and an anaerobic digester to reduce the oil, fats and grease entering into the SBR. The treated water from the SBR is filtered using a pressure sand filter and activated carbon filter; at the delivery point, it passes through the UV filter as well to reduce suspended impurities and control microbial growth.

Project Details
Cost: Rs.100 million.
Completion: November 2016.
Certification: June 2017.
Contractor: Saffron Shelters, Coimbatore. Tel: 0422-244 2381. Website: www.saffronshelters.com
Architect/planner: Dharmalingam Associate, Coimbatore. Tel: 0422-247 0469. Website: www.dharmalingamarchitects.com
LEED consultant: YT Enterprises, Coimbatore.
E-mail: info@ytenterprises.com Website: www.ytenterprises.com
Structural consultant: Dharmalingam Associate, Coimbatore.
Elevators and escalators: Otis. Tel: 022-2844 9700. Website: www.otis.com
HVAC consultant: Design support by C Venkatesu and Arul.
Building management consultant: Metronic India. Website: www.metronic.co.in
Air-conditioning: LG.
Website: www.lg.com/in
Roofing and glazing: Saint Gobain. 022-4021 2121. Website: www.saint-gobain.co.in

To share details of any green initiatives, write in at feedback@ConstructionWorld.in