by Jewel Fraser of Inter Press Service News Agency

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states are in the process of formulating an energy efficiency building code for the region that would help reduce CO2 emissions, but implementation of the code may depend heavily on moral suasion for its success.

 

Fulgence St. Prix, technical officer for standards at CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) who is overseeing the Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC), told IPS, “When we at the regional level propose a standard or code it’s meant to be voluntary…We do not have the mechanism to dictate to member states to make any standard the subject of a technical regulation thus making implementation mandatory.”

In keeping with WTO guidelines, he said, “A standard is a voluntary document. You cannot force any member state to implement any one standard.” The decision as to whether to implement the REEBC, therefore, rests with member states.

The REEBC project was officially launched at a meeting in Jamaica at the end of March. This followed consultations over several months by a Regional Project Team comprising representatives from some of the Caricom member states, as well as regional architects, engineers, builders and electricians, on the need for a minimum energy efficiency building standard for the region.

It was unanimously agreed that it was imperative one be established and the decision was taken to base the REEBC on the 2018 version of the International Energy Conservation Code that will be published in July of this year.

“The goal is to have a document that would reduce the CO2 footprint on the average,” said St. Prix, adding that climate change is just one of the considerations driving the REEBC initiative. “If we could develop that code and have it effectively implemented, we could realise at least a 25 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions, but this is just an estimate.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chapter on Buildings in its Fifth Assessment Report states that in 2010 buildings accounted for 32 per cent of total global final energy use, 19 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (including electricity-related), and approximately one-third of black carbon emissions.

GHG emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean from buildings were said to have grown to 0.28GtCO2eq/yr (280,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents of GHG emissions) in 2010.

The report also states, “final energy use may stay constant or even decline by mid-century, as compared to today’s levels, if today’s cost-effective best practices and technologies are broadly diffused.”

However, the IPCC’s report suggests that moral suasion may not be the most effective means of achieving the implementation of energy efficiency standards. It notes, “Building codes and appliance standards with strong energy efficiency requirements that are well enforced, tightened over time, and made appropriate to local climate and other conditions have been among the most environmentally and cost-effective.”

Trinidadian architect Jo-Ann Murrell, managing director of Carisoul Architecture Co. Ltd., a firm that specialises in green architecture, said effective implementation of a regional energy efficiency building code may have to wait until the region’s younger generation become the decision makers with regard to home purchases.

“We have a younger generation who will be older at that time, who will be interested in investing in energy efficiency. They are interested in the sustainability of the climate,” she said.

She said that the subsidised cost of electricity in Trinidad and Tobago is 3 cents US per kWh. So, “there is not a desire on the part of clients, due to the cost factor, for using alternative sources of energy or using energy saving devices. So when we tell clients they can achieve energy savings if they use certain building methods, they will choose the energy efficient air conditioning unit, they will use LED lights, and so on, but [not always] when it comes to other options,” Murrell said.

She stressed, “We have very competent architects in Trinidad and Tobago and the architects are quite knowledgeable in terms of sustainable design. What we do not have are clients who are willing to do the financial outlay to incorporate sustainability.”

St. Prix also cited economic challenges for Caricom states wishing to implement the REEBC. “You know that member states are at very different stages of their development. Any building code is a challenge. The major challenge is human resources and [the need for] economic resources to be able to employ the needed personnel to implement the code.”

The IPCC report also cites transaction costs, inadequate access to financing, and subsidised energy as among the barriers to effective uptake of energy efficient technologies in building globally.

The IPCC report goes on to state, “Traditional large appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, are still responsible for most household electricity consumption…albeit with a falling share related to the equipment for information technology and communications (including home entertainment) accounting in most countries for 20 % or more of residential electricity consumption.”

For this reason, CROSQ is also undertaking a regional energy labelling scheme for appliances sold in the region. Though common in European countries, they are not standard practice throughout the Caribbean. The scheme, said Janice Hilaire, project coordinator for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (R3E), is being funded by the German government.

“We also want to develop standards for PVC panels and water heaters,” she added.

Hilaire said the R3E would be training people to carry out the testing for this scheme at select labs in the region that has a limited amount of equipment for carrying out the tests.

“We are setting up an intense information and awareness campaign because we want to bring about a change in behaviour. We want householders to understand why they must adopt certain practices. We also want to bring about a more efficient use of energy.in the region which will positively affect GDP. The REEBC cannot operate in a vacuum. It must be complemented by other initiatives,” she said.

The REEBC and the associated R3E are in their early stages, St. Prix pointed out. As these projects are rolled out, CROSQ will begin collecting data that shows the actual dollar savings the region enjoys through these initiatives. The CROSQ team will then be able “to go to our policy makers and say, if you make this mandatory you will be saving this amount.” Member states would be urged to put legal mechanisms in place, St. Prix said.

 

(This article was originally published by the Inter Press Service News Agency)

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A Regional Project Team (RPT), established to develop a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC), among other mandates, will be launched in Kingston, Jamaica, next week.

The launch and the first face-to-face Working Meeting with the contracted consultant will be held 30-31 March, at the Jamaica Bureau of Standards. Nine Member States – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago – are represented on the RPT which consists of 19 Members.

The RPT is tasked with developing the REEBC, as well as its associated application documents and Minimum Energy Performance standards for buildings. To do so, the RPT will review the Minimum Energy Performance Standards for buildings as proposed by consultant, Solar Dynamics, in their final report of the consultancy on the Development of Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) for public and commercial buildings in CARICOM Member States. The team will also review the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) in an effort to adapt it, where necessary, and present for acceptance and adoption by Member States as a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code.

This development comes against the background of steps the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has been taking to implement energy efficiency measures and renewable energy resources into their energy mix. The much-needed economic transformation, energy independence and security and the reduction of environmental effects from the combustion of fossil fuels, are expected to flow from the implementation of these measures.

In general, energy efficiency measures are highly cost-effective as investments and all stakeholders in the Region need to re-examine the way in which energy is used and to identify ways of using energy more efficiently. The energy intensity index in CARICOM is higher than the energy intensity index of the world and about two and a half times that of the European Union. A continued focus on energy efficiency practices can help mitigate the increase in the atmospheric temperatures and climatic changes over the years. The CARICOM Energy Strategy recommends a 33% reduction in energy intensity to be applied in all CARICOM Member States by 2027.

Improving the energy efficiency potential across sectors and economies is crucial for countries to deliver not only on climate objectives but to also improve their energy security, economic development and citizens’ health. Despite the benefits from energy efficiency, the current “low” oil prices pose a risk for the serious investment and application of more energy efficient mechanisms. Nevertheless, reducing the energy demand through improved energy efficiency makes renewable and non-renewable energy more affordable. In a world of finite resources; improvements in energy efficiency must be maximised.

Buildings account for over one-third of the world’s total energy use and associated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions; more than half of the electricity produced is consumed by buildings. Typically, 10% to 20% (depending on building type) of the total life-cycle energy consumed is used for the manufacturing and assembly of building materials, construction, maintenance, refurbishing and demolition; 80% to 90% is used, over the life of the building, for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation, house appliances, etc.

Recently therefore, there has been an increasing trend to promote supranational collaboration to develop international energy efficiency requirements or standards for buildings, such as, via the International Standards Organisation (ISO), International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

In the same manner, the CARICOM Secretariat and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) are seeking to develop an REEBC. This initiative is being supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, through the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) Programme.

The REEBC is expected to address all of the aspects of energy use in buildings which comprise of, but are not limited to: thermal performance requirements for walls, roofs and windows; day lighting, lamps and luminaire performance; energy performance of chillers and air distribution systems; the electrical wiring system; solar water heating; appliances; renewable energy; zoning of buildings, climate classification and building energy management systems.

(Submitted by CARICOM Secretariat)

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Energy security and the efficiency of use of energy in the buildings of CARICOM is the focus of a three-day workshop in Grenada from July 13-15, 2016.

The regional workshop on Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations brought together over 40 experts from the 15 Member States of CARICOM to examine two key objectives: the establishment of benchmarks for the energy performance of buildings in the form of agreed Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs), and the provision of a firm basis for the development of a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC).

CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar remarked that the organisation’s directive to develop energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings was one handed down by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2013. Such a directive was embraced by CROSQ which committed to the development of the REEBC.

“We also recognise the importance of development of standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy as it enables us as a region to meet our obligations under international agreements, meeting millennium goals and reducing carbon foot print; as well as relieving pressure on our governments as it relates economic transformation, providing for energy independence and security.

 “To guarantee success of fulfilling the directive it is both necessary and important for CROSQ to partner and explore synergies with other organisations with similar goals,” said the CEO at the opening ceremony of the workshop.

CROSQ is partnering in this initiative with agencies and projects, including the GIZ-funded Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA), the CARICOM Energy Unit, and the Caribbean Development Bank, alongside hosts of the workshop, the Grenada Bureau of Standards.

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