Bhutanese architect bags UN Environment Sustainability Grant

An environmental architect from Thimphu has won a US$10,000 grant from UN Environment to help improve energy efficiency across the country in Bangkok, Thailand, last month.

As a winner of the Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge in the Energy Efficiency category, Deependra Pourel will also receive business and marketing training from global experts, and pitch to win an additional US$10,000 prize to augment his efforts.

UN Environment’s Director for the Asia-Pacific region Dechen Tsering said, “Improved energy efficiency is key to reducing greenhouse gases. For consumers to act, they need reliable information about their own impact. With efforts like Deependra’s we can hope to see better awareness in Bhutan of exactly what we as individuals can do to fight climate change.”

Bhutan’s construction boom and increasing incomes are driving a rise in energy consumption. Yet energy bills do not offer consumers insight into what can be improved. There is a need to change consumer behavior, including encouraging the purchase of more energy efficient appliances. Due to a lack of data, there are also no minimum energy consumption standards for buildings.

Deependra Pourel’s ambition is to install smart energy meters in homes, offices and hotels to provide building owners insight into their energy use. The smart energy meters offer real time and socket-specific information on energy consumption and cost. By purchasing the smart meters, owners stand to save significantly on energy costs by analyzing where reductions can be implemented. Pourel will also offer consulting services on how to become more energy efficient, and use the data to provide analysis of energy use patterns to the government.

He said, “As an entrepreneur and responsible citizen, it is my wish to contribute my knowledge and experience to support Bhutan’s vision for a more efficient built environment. My startup will empower building owners to invest, by providing personalized information about their energy use. I hope the data generated can also be useful for policymakers to frame rules that support the greening of the building and energy sector.”

Meanwhile, Deependra Pourel is an environmental architect with specialization in environment and energy modeling. He has worked in the building sector for the last decade and has experience in energy auditing and sustainable consumption and production practices and approaches. Deependra has audited 40 industries for resource efficiency and energy consumption as the technical expert for Sustainable and Efficient Development, an EU-funded project. He is also an active researcher, and has presented his works in numerous conferences and journals.

Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge aims to mobilize and support young people with business ideas on how to foster energy-efficient, low-waste and low-carbon lifestyles.

12 winners each receive a US$10,000 to support their business venture focusing on one of three different categories: mobility, plastic waste and energy.

The initiative was funded by the Ministry of Environment Japan, as part of SWITCH-Asia’s Regional Sustainable Consumption and Production Policy Advocacy Component, the Asia-Pacific Regional Roadmap on Sustainable Consumption and Production and One Planet. This initiative is carried out together with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, the Thai National Science and Technology Development Agency and Sasin Entrepreneurship Center.

Staff Reporter from Thimphu