SMART building technology will be a major feature of the Ascent @ the Oxford, the structure that its developers say will be the tallest of its kind in Jamaica and which, they hope, will become a benchmark for future developments across the island.
“We are on the path of a new Jamaica. The time has come to ensure that Jamaica’s talent doesn’t need to leave here, and those countries we have built now see the opportunity to come to Jamaica. Whether you are a foreigner, an expatriate or you are part of the Diaspora, you can now come and invest all the experience you would have gained, back in Jamaica,” said Lyttleton “Tanny” Shirley, CEO of Stratosphere Development Limited, the company building the planned, 27-storey Ascent at 1B Oxford Road in New Kingston, St Andrew, for which ground is expected to be broken before the end of 2022.
“We have the brains, we have the people. Our most brilliant minds are migrating to other countries to build those countries. Yes, there are reciprocal benefits in terms of remittances coming back to Jamaica, but if only a portion of those funds are coming back to Jamaica and that portion represents the second-largest revenue outside of tourism for our country, can you imagine if those full revenue had stayed in Jamaica how better off as a country we would be?” he questioned.
The project, as well as the developers’ intention to reverse brain drain and attract investment in the country, has won support on both sides of the political divide.
Julian Robinson, the People’s National Party Member of Parliament for St Andrew South Eastern, the constituency in which the planned development is sited, on Saturday described the project as an “iconic development” and, best of all, one that is “locally owned and conceived”.
“I believe we have the capacity and capability locally to execute the project. There are many Jamaicans who work overseas on these types of projects so I believe it’s important to demonstrate that the capacity is here to sucessfully execute it,” he said.
Councillor Kari Douglas (Jamaica Labour Party, Trafalgar Division), who has been one of the project’s advocates, expressed excitement that it will give Jamaican professionals overseas good reason to return to the island.
“This will facilitate the return of Jamaican professionals who have the expertise dealing with engineering, architecture, and construction. You have the urban planners, quantity and land surveyors, and these projects will help to keep them here and give them more work to do as well as give them the opportunity to earn on par with international counterparts,” she said.
Sharing details of the smart technology features of the building — which will be a mixture of residential and commercial spaces — Shirley said they will include an advanced security system that will protect against threats from inside and outside the edifice.
The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units will be connected directly to smart building systems to facilitate energy saving while, at the same time, keeping owners, workers, and visitors cool in a manner that will reduce the building’s carbon footprint on the environment.
Much of the energy that will be used to power the building will be generated via a solar power system and complemented by high-efficiency insulation and LED lighting.
Some of the future owners of these units who own and have heightened appreciation for eco-friendly vehicles will be provided access to special parking areas equipped with charging ports and other amenities for electric cars or hybrids.
Additionally, the Ascent will be equipped with sensors to restrict and control access in and out of the building. Sensors will also be installed to determine light intensity and trigger the necessary adjustments at the property, while motion sensors will trigger LED lights.
By integrating a photovoltaic system into the building’s façade, the glass windows will double as ventilation and as solar panels to harvest the sun’s heat, transforming it to electricity.
The building’s energy management system will control all electrical and mechanical functions, including heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
Shirley also said that at nights the exterior of the building will be illuminated by hundreds of programmable, colour-changing, LED and metal halide luminaries that will be highly visible from every angle of the structure.
Special sensors will keep track of and gauge the temperature inside and outside the building, balance carbon dioxide and noise levels, as well as detect water leaks.
The building will also have an automated system relaying real-time information, through the use of smart algorithms, to identify and analyse suspected issues and maintenance problems. Property managers will be able to use this information to improve building maintenance and asset reliability, and to mitigate unnecessary costs.
Rainwater-harvesting technology will complement water supply from the National Water Commission, which will allow the building to sustain itself in the event the main supply is disrupted.