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An architect’s impression of the Net Zero Energy Building being constructed at The UWI, Mona.

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UWI Net Zero Energy Building project will save Jamaica millions – Minister Wheatley

A PIONEERING PROJECT TO construct a prototype of the Caribbean’s first Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) at The UWI will save the country and the region millions if the technology is adopted in the construction industry.

The project is being implemented by the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) at The UWI with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and technical assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The project will entail the construction of a building which will demonstrate emerging and best practices in the built environment including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental design. It encompasses resilience to changing climatic conditions including hurricanes, storms, floods, drought and earthquake. It will incorporate designs and technologies complementary to the location, climate, and use of the building and will include conference facilities as well as a research centre.

The 214-square metre (2,300-sq ft) building is expected to be completed by December 2016 and is expected to transform building policies and practices, influence the implementation of regulatory tools that will mainstream the lessons and transform opportunities for promoting energy efficiency.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley said government intends to implement a Green Energy policy to encourage the most efficient type of electricity generation alongside alternative energy sources. He was speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project on May 10 at The UWI, Mona. He told the gathering that this move would enforce energy-efficiency standards and codes for appliances and buildings, reduce energy consumption of new buildings by 50 per cent by 2020 and ensure that all new buildings use net zero energy by 2050.

Geordie Colville, Senior Programme Manager, Energy, Climate & Technology Branch, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Kenya, said that the NZEB at The UWI would “show what’s possible, challenge professionals to use materials and technologies available in Jamaica and the rest of the region and change the way we build”.

He noted that the building design maximizes the use of natural sunlight for lighting, minimizes the sun’s heat effects and uses air currents for cooling and
energy-efficient technologies to reduce the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting.

In his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, Professor Anthony Clayton, Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development, ISD, said, “If we could make every building like this, we could eventually start closing down some of our power stations. We could dramatically reduce our national imports of oil and our national outflow of cash. By reducing everyone’s light bill, we could leave everyone better off with more disposable income to be invested. And we could help to save the world.”

Professor Tara Dasgupta, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, UWI, Mona said that based on baseline data the building will save approximately 50,000 kWh of energy which translates to reduction of emission of 34.5 metric tonnes of CO2.

Noting that this is quite significant for a single 3,500-sq ft house, he said, “It is simple math to calculate the extent of reduction of Greenhouse gas in Jamaica by constructing all new houses as NZEB.”

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