UWI Makes History – First Net Zero Energy Building Opens
The Center for Advanced Research in Renewable Energy (CARRE), which is housed in the Caribbean’s first Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) was opened on October 25th 2017 by Dr. The Hon. Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Science, Energy & Technology of Jamaica.
An NZEB building is very energy-efficient and generates enough power (from renewable sources) to meet its own needs. There are times when the building is busy, and has to import some additional power, and times when it is quiet, and can export power to the grid, so the ‘net’ in ‘net zero’ means that the imports and exports balance each other out over the course of a year.
CARRE is located at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). It is the result of a research project called the ‘Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Promoting Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Building in Jamaica (LGGE) Project’. This research project was devised by Professors Anthony Clayton, CD and Tara Dasgupta, CD, and funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Technical assistance was provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Keynote Speaker at the opening ceremony, Minister Wheatley, said that “the adaptation and implementation of net zero energy buildings will go a far way in reducing the country’s carbon footprint by ensuring future utility cost savings and improved use of energy from the sun.”
The NZEB, the Minister said, “becomes even more significant when we take account of the fact that buildings account for over a third of the world’s energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions.”
Prof. Clayton noted that the long-term benefits of the NZEB are “reduced environmental impacts, lower operating and maintenance costs, better resilience to power outages and natural disasters and improved energy security.”
Prof. Dasgupta said that “the building will save approximately 50,000 kilowatts of energy annually, which translates to a reduction in carbon dioxide emission of 34.5 metric tonnes per year.”
UN Environment Jamaica Programme Officer, Alexandra Karekaho said “this is an exemplary demonstration not only to Jamaica but the Caribbean region on how innovative building designs and climate technologies supported by favourable national policies can eliminate the dependence on fossil fuels in buildings and subsequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Once the NZEB is fully occupied and active, its energy consumption and production will be monitored for one year and the final results submitted to an international accreditation body for zero energy building certification.
Above Photograph: Hon. Andrew Wheatley (2nd left), Minister of Science, Energy & Technology, cuts the ribbon to formally open the Centre for Advanced Research in Renewable Energy (CARRE), at Jamaica and the Caribbean’s first Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB), at The University of the West Indies, Mona, on October 25, 2017. Sharing the moment are (l-r) Principal Investigators of the Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Promoting Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Building in Jamaica (LGGE) Project, Professors Anthony Clayton and Tara Dasgupta and UN Environment Programme Jamaica Officer, Alexandra Karekaho.
NHT/Emancipation Park To Be Retrofitted For Improved Energy Efficiency
The National Housing Trust (NHT) headquarters in Kingston, the adjoining car park and the Emancipation Park are to be retrofitted for improved energy efficiency. This program is guided by an energy audit that was recently completed as part of the ‘Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Promoting Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Building in Jamaica (LGGE) Project’, which is managed by the Institute for Sustainable Development, UWI. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the NHT and The UWI in 2016 to cover the assessment of the most advanced retrofit solutions to increase energy efficiency and performance of existing buildings.
The audit found that the NHT building (like most of the older buildings in Jamaica) had inefficient lighting, electric motors and air conditioning technology, and identified twelve actions that could reduce energy consumption by 30-40% in total. This will generate immediate cost-savings for the NHT, so that the necessary investments will pay for themselves very quickly. The following retrofit solutions will now be executed:
1. Installation of solar window film
2. Improving lighting efficiency
3. Installation of roofing insulation to concrete slabs
4. Improvement of electrical motor efficiency
5. Installation of photo voltaic system
6. Instrumentation of major energy consuming components
The NHT headquarters complex is now a demonstration project under the LGGE. It is designed to show how energy efficient building technology can be used in both retrofit and in new construction, so that contractors and builders in Jamaica have a good example to follow. The retrofit ideas used in the NHT buildings can all be easily adopted and used in construction projects anywhere in Jamaica.