The Caribbean’s first net zero energy building was officially opened in Jamaica at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI). Officials are hoping the building will demonstrate emerging and best practices as it relates to energy efficiency, renewable energy and environmental design.
Center for Advanced Research in Renewable Energy
The 2,300-square-foot structure is designed as a model to encourage construction of sustainable and energy-efficient buildings throughout the region. The building will house the Center for Advanced Research in Renewable Energy (CARRE), the first such center in the Caribbean, promoting research in photovoltaic (solar), wind and biomass energy.
Benefits of zero building
A net zero building is one where the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. The long-term benefits are lower environmental impact, and operating and maintenance costs, better resiliency to power outages and natural disasters, and improved energy security.
Seeking more energy-efficient building designs
Jamaica’s Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, said now that the prototype building is complete and ready for use, Jamaica is looking forward to the results to make the case for more energy-efficient building designs and greater use of renewable resources.
It is estimated that more than half of the electricity produced is consumed by buildings, with 10 to 20 per cent of total life-cycle use going into manufacture and assembly of building material, construction, maintenance, refurbishing and demolition.
Eighty to 90 per cent of energy consumed over the life of the building is for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation.
The net zero energy building project was implemented by the UWI Institute of Sustainable Development with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and technical assistance from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
For more on other UWI initiatives, click the link: University of the West Indies launches Center for Reparation Research