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UWI net zero energy building, a study in sound construction

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
An architect’s representation of the Net Zero Energy Building.

SOARING ENERGY demand, together with increased populations and the dangers of a warming planet are intensifying the conversation around better building practices worldwide.

In response, the prototype Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) being constructed at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona utilises construction concepts designed to minimise energy consumption while increasing climate change resilience.

The NZEB is being constructed under the "Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Promoting Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy in Building in Jamaica" project and is being implemented by the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) at the UWI, with financial support from the Global Environment Facility and technical assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme.

The project is designed to research and develop practical working solutions that will transform building policies and practices. To that end, among other things, NZEB will be earthquake and hurricane resilient and used for meetings and short courses related to energy.




It will also generate renewable energy on site, with any excess on-site energy produced made available to the local grid.

NZEB also features deliberate geographic positioning of the building to reduce energy demand, taking into account the setting/rising of the sun; smart grids to balance supply and demand and integrated water and electricity management to reduce waste. A grey water (rainwater and drain water from faucets) system will be used for flushing toilets.

"All the general circulation areas of the building are naturally ventilated and the air-conditioned spaces are insulated from the direct rays of the sun by utility areas (storerooms, etc). Occupancy sensors will turn off lights when rooms are not occupied," ISD said in a release to the media.

"The UWI NZEB is the tangible demonstration of the UWI's commitment to helping resolve the world's energy and environmental problems. The lessons will be actively disseminated across Jamaica, the Caribbean and other sub-tropical and tropical regions of the world," it added.