A new project at the University of the West Indies (UWI) is showing the way for Jamaica to improve energy efficiency, reduce light bills, increase disposable incomes, reduce energy imports, minimize exposure to the risk of energy price volatility in future, and reduce the national contribution to climate change.
The prototype Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) being constructed at UWI Mona is designed to minimize energy consumption and increase resilience to climate change. It will also be earthquake and hurricane-resilient. It will be used for meetings and short courses on energy management.
The NZEB is being constructed under the “Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Promoting Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy in Building in Jamaica” (LGGE) project and is being implemented by the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) at The UWI with financial support from the Global Environment Facility and technical assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The project is designed to research and develop practical working solutions that will transform building policies and practices. The NZEB will generate electricity from renewable energy on site. Any excess energy produced will be available to the local grid.
Special features of the NZEB building include careful positioning of the building to reduce heat gain from the sun, a smart grid system to balance supply and demand, and integrated water and electricity management to reduce waste.
A grey water (rainwater and drain water from faucets) system will be used for flushing toilets. The public areas of the building are naturally ventilated, and the air-conditioned spaces are insulated from the sun by utility areas (such as storerooms). Occupancy sensors will turn off the lights when rooms are not occupied, so that lights can no longer be left on by accident.
The UWI NZEB is the tangible demonstration of The UWI’s commitment to helping resolve the world’s energy and environmental problems.
The lessons will be actively disseminated across Jamaica, the Caribbean and other sub-tropical and tropical regions of the world.