Avia Collinder, Business Writer
The Institute of Sustainable Development (ISDF) has secured funding for research on new construction standards in the context of climate change.
That project is backed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
But the institute also has financing from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to research, assess and construct a prototype of a net zero energy building in Jamaica.
The smart-building project will get US$2.36 million of financial support from GEF and is expected to run for 48 months, from November 2012 to October 2016.
Technical assistance will be provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
"It is an ambitious project to research, assess and construct a prototype of a net zero energy building and related retrofit solutions in Jamaica. The prototype building will be a computer-controlled, smart, net zero energy, zero-carbon building," said Heather Pinnock, sustainability and project management consultant.
"It will be highly energy-efficient, highly water-efficient, supply most of its own electricity and gas, operate its own waste-treatment facility and be built to survive hurricane, flood and drought conditions," said Pinnock, who is also and project coordinator for the IDB project and consultant on the GEF/UNEP Project.
ISDF is expected to design a building with "practical, working solutions that will transform building policies and practices in Jamaica and the Caribbean region."
The project anticipates that the adoption of the technology to the development might require the revision of building regulations.
Researchers at ISDF, located at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, are pursuing the design of new building standards with funding of US$400,000 from the IDB.
The project - called 'Developing Design Concepts for Climate Change Resilient Buildings' - is jointly financed by UWI. It began in April 2012 and is expected to end in September 2013.
"The main objective of this project is to assess climate-change related risks and help increase resilience in the building stock of Jamaica," said Pinnock.
"Specific objectives are to develop new design and construction concepts using energy-, water- and resource-efficient material and improve the assessment of climate-change related risks as it relates to infrastructure," she said.
The location, geology and geography of Jamaica renders the entire island vulnerable to a number of climate-change related natural hazards including storms, hurricanes, floods and landslides.
"A 2008 study by the PIOJ claims that the island has experienced six storm events, including three major hurricanes and several flood events, between 2002 and 2007 that amounted to a total of J$73.19 billion in losses," Pinnock points out.
The UNDP Jamaica's website reports that a 2008 Natural Disaster Hotspot study by the World Bank ranked Jamaica as having the second-highest economic risk exposure to two or more hazards in the Caribbean and Latin American region.
Jamaica has since bought coverage in the World Bank-backed Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility to pay for such damage.
The consultant also notes as progress the establishment of the Jamaica Green Building Council, in accordance with the standards of the World Green Building Council, to monitor and guide regulation on sustainable construction.