Make buildings energy, water efficient — UWI

Make buildings energy, water efficient — UWI

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

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IF Jamaica is to survive the surging temperatures and other severe weather patterns brought on by climate change, its building stock will also have to be revolutionised.

Reporting on research under an Inter-American Development Bank-funded project being carried out by the Institute of Sustainable Development (ISD) at the University of the West Indies titled Develop Design Concepts for Climate Change Resilient Buildings, project coordinator Heather Pinnock said the buildings needed to be more energy and water efficient.

"Mitigating the extensive impacts of climate change requires a strategic approach, including better planning and developing building stock that is far more energy and water efficient and also can withstand higher temperatures and more severe weather conditions," she said.

Acknowledging that Jamaica has relatively good building practices compared to some countries, the report indicated that the devastation experienced during flood events, as well as reports on areas vulnerable to other hazards, show that there are still major risks.

It also pointed to gaps in the country's legislative framework, for while there are some laws that address environmental control and physical planning and provide the basics for the enactment of climate change resilience, they were not comprehensive. The pending Building Bill of 2011 is one example.

To that end, the report makes the case for "investment in construction concepts that support the efficient use of water, energy and resource efficient materials; enhancing public awareness of construction concepts designed to safeguard homes and businesses from the effects of severe weather conditions and other natural hazards resulting from climate change; and improving public awareness of the benefits of supporting climate change resilience construction initiatives".

Noting that the Caribbean has begun some work in this area with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs), guiding the adaptation process, Pinnock said that gaps exist in that programme including limited national level projects responding to individual needs, too few adaptation actions on the ground, and inadequate action related to various sectors including tourism, water, energy, and housing.

Still, Latin America and the Caribbean region has been able to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 11 per cent through improvements in land use and energy efficiency, Pinnock pointed out.

Reporting on the progress of the project, Professor Anthony Clayton, principal investigator, reiterated the devastating effect climate change is projected to have, especially on tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.

"An interim report, just completed, shows the urgent need for institutional changes, economic and policy review and changes in legislation and regulations regarding environmental protection and development in Jamaica," he said.

Professor Clayton added that the immediate impacts of climate change are likely to take place along Jamaica's coastal areas, which has significant economic implications for the island's areas of human settlement, transport infrastructure and tourism sector,.

"In order to mitigate the damage that climate change would otherwise cause to Jamaica, we need to make significant modifications to the country's regulatory and planning systems as soon as possible," said professor Clayton.

The main objective of the UWI/ISD project is to assess climate change-related risks and help increase resilience in the building stock of Jamaica and the Caribbean. The outcome will be the development of approaches and policies that will help reduce the loss of life and property and enable effective recovery in the aftermath of climate-related disasters in the Caribbean.

It has three main components: planning analysis & technical assessment; geographic information system mapping and dissemination; and an awareness- building programme.

In addition to Pinnock and Prof Clayton, other team members are Prof Tara Dasgupta, the
co-principal investigator; Dr Kwame Emmanuel, technical review consultant; Akilah Anderson, legislative reviewer; Collette Lewis-Smith, economic review; Tracy-Ann Hyman, green paper review; Anuradha Maharaj; and Ryan Nembhard, Mona Geoinformatics Institute, GIS Mapping; Brian Bernal, building codes review.

They are supported in dissemination and public awareness by Henry Williams, Karin Wilson Edmonds and Marcia Erskine.

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