Improving Energy Efficiency In Indonesian Built Environment

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Increasing energy consumption is amongst the biggest threat to our environment in this day and age. Rapid urbanization and industrialization coupled with the changing consumer behavior of humans is taking a toll on the environment. The current conventional methods of energy consumption is not only unsustainable and degrading to the environment but it is more and more inefficient at smaller scales. This consumption trend is estimated to grow by 20-30 % by the year 2040. We risk major environment degradation until we move to renewables and cleaner energy generation by having newer policies and technological advances.

Buildings are one of the most important contributors towards energy consumption which is about 30 %. With the changing trends of work and technology, building usage has changed over the centuries to become more energy intensive. The requirement for thermal comfort, adequate lighting and overall quality of human life inside the building is on an upward trajectory and will continue so in the coming years. Moreover, once a building starts operations, it emits more greenhouse gas and other emissions from electricity use and heat generation. It is for this reason that it is very important to have energy policies that focus on energy efficiency at the building scale.

Application of energy systems to building scale is complex and requires not only technological innovation and progressive market strategies, but also enhanced changes in energy efficiency policy framework with a good agency governance.

Implementation of Energy efficiency on the built environment in Jakarta is paramount to slowing down energy consumption at city or even the country scale. Development of green buildings and reducing electricity demand at building level has close ties to economic growth.

According to International Energy Agency “80 of the economic potential to improve energy efficiency in buildings remains untapped” (IEA World Energy Outlook 2012).

The Challenge at Policy Level

To discuss the challenge at building scale, we must first look at the challenges of Indonesia’s energy policies.

Even though the cost of renewables worldwide has dropped over the years, the sector is stagnant in Indonesia because bureaucracy has led to inhibiting investors unless the electricity board of Indonesia is willing to pay above the market prices. Thus, the policies that were initially set forward on renewables have deteriorated over time as the ministry of Energy sets prices on consumer electricity.

The feed-in tariff on renewables and pricing mechanisms has been changing and Indonesia is struggling with bureaucratic red-tape in this area. These problems have stagnated the approach to renewables and thus Jakarta still uses fossil fuels as a major portion for its energy consumption. Since there is very little subsidy on renewables, investors do not consider green building a viable option due to its high upfront cost.

Study of Energy Policies in Denmark

For the last 3-4 decades, Denmark has managed to keep its energy consumption constant while the economy has grown exponentially. Renewables in Denmark account for more than 40% energy consumption which is a huge victory towards a sustainable future.

  • Heavily taxing fossil fuels - In 1971, after the oil crisis, this country started thinking of ways to reduce energy consumption. This meant improving the efficiency of the building mass which directly had impacts on the country’s energy consumption. These taxes not only discourage the use of fossil fuels but also financed the state budget.
  • Heat Savings in buildings – Since 1971, the heating and energy requirement of the buildings have been tightened by policymakers to the point that the head demand of buildings now is only 25% of what it used to be 40 years ago.
  • Use of renewables in buildings – Heavy subsidies on renewable sources of energy and incentivizing energy taxes on fossil fuels helped
  • District Heating and Municipal Planning- Decentralization and use of renewables for district heat production such as promotion of wind energy and increased use of biomass.

Lessons learned

  • Government needs to be at the helm of affairs for coming up with a framework for energy efficiency.
  • To attract investor’s there should be long term policies that seem promising.
  • The policies need to be tailor made according to the type of technology and demand.

Challenge at Building Scale

“Indonesia's National Energy Conservation Plan (RIKEN) sets sectoral demand-reduction targets: a 15%–30% reduction in the industrial sector (for select industries), 25% reduction in the commercial building sector, and 10%–30% reduction in the residential sector. However, no information about implementing these targets is provided, nor are the targets included in the country's electricity-expansion plans.” 3

Indonesia has several legislations with regard to building energy efficiency. These regulations are classified into regulation on energy management, regulation on power consumption saving, regulation on Greenhouse gas emissions and instructions on energy and water efficiency. Apart from these general mandates, there are 2 specific mandates that focus on the building sector and these are the regulation on sustainable buildings. These regulations suggests that buildings with a substantial amount of energy consumption have to comply with the regulations and have also specified incentives for it like increase in FAR and retribution reduction.

Upfront Cost and Investment on Energy Efficient Buildings

This is one of the prime challenges that affects construction of new buildings in Jakarta today. Developers are inhibited by the cost of energy efficient design and high cost of technology related to building performance. With little awareness of set guidelines for energy efficient buildings and also bureaucracy on renewables, they would rather build a conventional building and let the tenants bear the brunt of electricity prices. Escalation on state electricity price can be a burden on the operational cost of any building in Jakarta.

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The obvious solution is to have better policy at the top level but to mitigate building level challenges we need to go past the thinking of policy making and need to look at making a building performance oriented. This is where green buildings come in. Not only new buildings but existing buildings are also in a state of very high energy consumption with very little being done about it. Almost 90% of Jakarta’s buildings now were built before any rating systems were introduced. Therefore there is a major problem of cost when the retrofitting of existing buildings is taken into account.

Taking the case of Shopping Malls in Jakarta

A case of shopping malls in Jakarta can be studied to understand the challenges in a certain building type. Jakarta has a large number of commercial buildings especially shopping malls, the number for which stands at around 160-170 to date and this number is only increasing every year. These buildings are energy guzzling machines that operate 7 days a week and have very little priority given to energy efficiency. These buildings have an enormous energy saving potential in Jakarta.

However these buildings come with a huge capital investment which means that even a 5% cost premium towards green building techniques would make a huge difference. This discourages many investors due to the following reasons:

  • Low priority on energy efficiency
  • Inadequate knowledge about technologies
  • Little understanding of the benefits of green building investment.

“Green Building Council Indonesia (GBCI) chairman Iwan Prijanto said on Tuesday that the lack of awareness has hampered green building projects in Jakarta and nationwide”- The Jakarta Post – Match 14th 2019

“A shopping mall in Jakarta could spend the same amount of electricity as two cities in different part of Java, combined. At its peak, use of electricity in a large shopping mall in Jakarta could reach the capacity of 40 MW (Nurismarsyah 2014).” -

Taman Anggrek Mall (Jakarta)

Area: 360,000 sqm centre

Height: 7 Storey

Taman Anggrek Mall also hosts the world's largest LED display recorded by Guinness World Record. Being one of the most energy hungry malls in Indonesia, this mall makes a good case for understanding the challenge of cost for achieving energy efficiency. This mall although attractive has very poor building performance. The question is how to address the issue of cost that does not inhibit the investors but rather help in creating a greener portfolio thus giving more incentives to both the developer and the user.

Following are some of the suggestions which could be undertaken to help reduce the energy consumption of this mall and also for new malls that are to be proposed.

Suggestions for achieving Energy Efficiency in Constructed Buildings

City Specific Air Conditioning

For retrofitted buildings one the go to measures to address energy challenge is to reduce the cooling load.

'Globally, the greatest challenge for energy is going to be cooling' – Martin Freer, director of the Birmngham Energy Institute, University of Birmingham’

In an article “Energy efficient strategies for JSX building in Jakarta, Indonesia”, the author suggests how the air conditioning system in the building can be tweaked to reduce the energy consumption drastically without any dire effects on the building end users. The argument here was that the system is designed for a thermal comfort of temperate countries where the temperature is from 21 degrees Celsius to 24 degrees Celsius.

Thus, the goal here was to understand the thermal comfort of a user in the tropical context and it was found that most of the users are comfortable even at the temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius.

Therefore, the chilled water temperatures in the air conditioning system of the tower was shifted to a higher temperature. On monitoring the resulting energy consumption, there was a huge reduction in energy consumption which led to lower electricity prices for the tenants.

Requirement Specific Retrofitting

Energy building retrofitting has important effects on economic recovery. Retrofitting encompasses renovation of the physical as well as active components of a building to improve performance of the building as well as addition of renewable energy sources to produce electricity at site. For example just by replacing the existing fixtures to greener fixtures would reduce the consumption by a substantial amount. Adding Solar PVs to reduce dependence on state electricity which has fluctuating pricing would encourage tenants and developers to pitch in.

Suggestions for achieving Energy Efficiency in New Buildings

Energy Efficient Design

One of the biggest ways to tackle the upfront cost of a green building is to make provision for not only energy systems but also have a suitable passive design that takes into consideration all the factors that can passively reduce energy demand of the building. Most of the shopping malls in Jakarta have paid very little attention to building design that is climate responsive and are just energy guzzling glass boxes.

Making a Case for Funding

Once the main problems in become energy efficient is Funding. There should be proper investment made on matter construction of a new building. Now the main question that arises here is who will pay? Where will the funding come from? This can be attributed to the difference between a cost oriented building and a revenue oriented building. While there is a low initial cost for a cost oriented building, there is no scope for a return on investment (ROI) from the energy savings in the future like in a revenue oriented building. There should be a basis to the Return on Investment, a Life Cycle Cost and a Payback Period which would make the argument for funding issues.

Conducting Energy Audit

To know the energy potential of a building, an energy audit must be done in ways such as surveys, appointments, assessment of funding and so on.

“According to SNI 6196:2011, energy audit is evaluation process of actual energy consumption and identification of potential energy savings as well as recommendation to increase energy efficiency in the framework of energy conservation”

Data is the basis to our understanding of energy efficiency potential. Therefore there must be a proper process employed for data collection by constructing a model for the building to analyze the data. The Energy Audit process can help in forming a basis for recommendation of ROI and PBP.

Implementation of Efficiency Targets and Monitoring

After energy audits and setting of energy targets, its implementation can be done through a proper action plan that addresses not only the retrofitting part but also education of the users through training and other such programmes. This will be particularly useful for monitoring and studying the proper performance of the building by finding any variation or faults at the initial stages and thus rectify any problems.


The shopping malls in Jakarta have enormous potential for energy savings. With better policy on renewables for attracting developers to adopt them as well as more awareness of the benefits of green buildings, the total share of energy consumption of the commercial sector which is almost 25% in Jakarta can help in becoming a pioneer for a move towards a sustainable future.

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