Thursday 12 December, 2019

Public entities save $300m by embracing energy solutions

Energy Minister Fayval Williams

Energy Minister Fayval Williams

More than 40 public sector entities have saved US$2.2 million ($300 million) on their electricity bills between 2013 and 2018 due to the installation of heat-reducing film, cool roof solutions and energy-efficient air conditioning.

This was revealed by Energy Minister Fayval Williams as she addressed an audience of engineers and construction industry executives in Kingston recently.

She said the government is taking further steps to reduce the public sector’s energy use.

“The government is committed to creating a sustainable environment,” Williams said as she urged everyone to do their part to ensure the efficient use of energy.

She was the keynote speaker at an energy retrofit workshop themed: “Promoting Ultimate Energy Efficiency in Buildings in the Caribbean -Showcasing Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) and National Housing Trust Buildings."

The workshop was hosted by Build Better Jamaica, The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Institute for Sustainable Development and the UN Environmental Programme with funding from GEF.

For his part, Professor Anthony Clayton, Project Principal Research Director for the Net Zero Energy Building, pointed out that roughly 40 per cent of energy in Jamaica’s buildings is wasted.

“We are actually subsidising our own destruction as the energy being wasted contributes significantly to climate change," Clayton remarked.

He explained that improving the energy efficiency in buildings not only lowers energy demand but also saves a lot of money.

“This saved capital can be used as investment in the Jamaican economy,” he said.

Several of the workshop presentations highlighted best building practices and renewable energy options and their declining costs.

Some presenters showed off projects that have used retrofitting to cut energy use. These included: Free Form Factory’s case study of its expandable polystyrene blocks in ‘urban jungle’ Portmore to insulate buildings and build highways; and Gormann Corporation explained the multiple advantages of a raised access floor for underfloor air conditioning.

Public sector institutions with a stake in retrofitting also presented at the workshop.

Executive Director at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, Hopeton Heron, outlined for the audience Jamaica’s energy efficiency building codes. And Carlton Dunkley of the Development Bank of Jamaica explained how anyone can benefit from the DBJ’s Energy Audit Grant programme.

The workshop used the examples of the UWI Mona Net Zero Energy Building and a pilot project with National Housing Trust to raise public awareness of retrofitting. Dr Randy Koon Koon said NZEB, as Net Zero Energy Building is commonly called, was built to produce enough or more than enough energy for the site’s needs.

He said the staff at NZEB will be using renewable energy training kits to teach energy efficiency to those interested in retrofitting.

The NHT did an energy audit of its headquarters and is now implementing six recommendations for improving the building’s energy use.

Professor Emeritus Tara Dasgupta said he hoped for a change in the construction industry that would emphasise energy efficiency and implementation of building codes.

Dasgupta also announced a training course for December 4 to 6 at Knutsford Court Hotel on the theme; Investment grade calculation, forecasting and analysis of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

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