Engineers welcome net zero energy building model

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

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JAMAICAN engineers are keen to see how net zero energy (NZE) construction, which contribute less greenhouse gases than non-NZE buildings, can help Jamaica reduce energy consumption and reliance on the public energy grid.

At a seminar hosted by Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) late last month, which featured a presentation by The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Net Zero Energy Building Project, the parties noted the potential for a shift in Jamaica’s building practices since the technology is especially suitable for tropical and sub-tropical countries.

A net zero energy building, also known as a zero net energy building, net zero energy building or net zero building, is one in which the total amount of energy used annually is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on-site. They sometimes consume non-renewable energy and produce greenhouse gases, but at other times reduce energy consumption and greenhouse production elsewhere by the same amount.

UWI’s Net Zero Energy Building Project is being implemented by the Institute of Sustainable Development at the university, with financial support from the Global Environment Facility and technical assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme. It will see a model building being erected on campus by year’s end.

Gary Walters, president of the JIE, in welcoming the presentation by the project team, said "We engineers are very interested in sharing information on projects and ideas that involve the various engineering disciplines, and especially how new technology can positively impact Jamaica."

Project team leader Christopher Lue noted that the model building, which will feature a renewable energy centre, data rooms and seminar rooms, will not be air-conditioned and the design will make optimum use of natural light and ventilation. It will also be earthquake and hurricane resilient.

Engineer Louise Fletcher said all the energy required for the building would be produced on-site and the building would be "low maintenance, energy efficient and easily replicable across the region".

The UWI net zero energy building will consist of an advanced prototype constructed as a demonstration of emerging and best practices in the built environment, including energy efficiency, ideal building layout, window detailing, efficient lighting, and cooling.

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