GIBSS (Green India Building Systems and Services) is a Mumbai based clean technology startup which aims to use geothermal air-conditioning technology for making Net Zero Energy Buildings. It was founded by Arun Shenoy and Mandar Kaprekar in 2009, both of whom come with deep research backgrounds in the Geoexchange space and have worked on GeoExchange strategies (3 patents and 1 Copyright filed) that specifically apply to tropical countries such as India. GIBSS has been awarded India Innovation Award by Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India and Climate Solver award by World Wide Fund for Nature.
Conventional Air-conditioning systems
In India, a majority of commercial and industrial buildings such as shopping malls, airports, hotels use chilled water central air-conditioning systems. A conventional chilled-water air-conditioning system consists of two water loops. In the first loop, water cooled to 7°C at the condenser is circulated through the entire building by the use of a pump. It cools the space, picks up heat and returns to the condenser at 13°C. At the condenser, a separate water loop system with water at around 29°C picks up heat from the first loop raising its temperature to 35°C. This water is pumped to a cooling tower located in the annex of the building.
The cooling tower interacts with the atmosphere to reject heat by using the principle of evaporation. Cooling towers have large fans that continuously rotate to cool down the water that has all the heat from the building. But, in this cooling process, most of this water is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation. Water must be constantly added to balance the water lost through evaporation. Also this process is very much energy intensive due to use of big fans and large pumps.
GIBSS Air-conditioning system
The geothermal technology uses the principle that ground is cooler than atmosphere. For example, in Mumbai ground temperature below 10m is less than 20°C whereas the atmospheric temperature remains at 30-40°C throughout the year. GIBSS uses this characteristic of ground to build underground equipment that can be connected to water based air-conditioners. The system rejects heat to a 20-25°C environment. The electricity bills come down substantially as there is no need for cooling towers and large pumps. In peak summers, electricity bills can come down by 40-60%. Additionally, no evaporation of water takes place as it is recirculated in the loop. This process can save millions of liters of water per day.
Advantages and Benefits
As per WWF, accelerating implementation of GIBSS geoexchange systems can reduce the green-house gas emissions in India by 22 million metric tonnes. If implemented across India, the innovation has the potential to reduce the National Electricity demand by 35% and National Industrial Water demand by 30%. The advantages of GIBSS air-conditioning systems are as follows-
- Up to 60% reduction in air- conditioning electricity bills
- 100% reduction in water usage towards air-conditioning
- 100% reduction of chemicals used in air-conditioning
- Significant reduction in operating costs
- Space conservation – no additional space above ground
- Significant reduction in CO2 emissions
- Social impact
The founders say that with dearth of power resource in the country, every 1000 KWHR of energy saved can light up 2 small villages in India. Water harvesting and conservation through the innovation will significantly contribute to address water shortage issues. With buildings accounting for over 30% of energy consumption, if most buildings utilized the innovation, 10-15% of the total power usage can be reduced and diverted to areas where there is no power available even to light homes.
The other services being offered are LED lighting systems and hot-water cogeneration systems. These technologies put together makes the concept of Net Zero Energy Building true.
Market and Future
GIBSS introduced their product in Indian market in 2012. They have deployed this system in commercial buildings, IT/BPOs, five-star hotels, data centres for space cooling applications and industrial plants – pharmacy, automotive, cement, FMCG for process cooling applications. GIBSS is working with over 500 buildings across industrial, institutional and commercial setting to help them achieve the net zero energy building path by reducing their operating expenses by up to 60%. They also have innovative financing measures and policies for buying back conventional systems from their customers, thus reducing the overall payback period.
Related Read: CleanTech Startups in India- Who Is Doing What?
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is in the process of launching a National GeoExchange policy to scale up the benefits of this technology both for commercial/industrial buildings and for smart city district cooling project opportunities across India.