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)
Standards for solar water heaters and a number of energy-related appliances are coming to the Caribbean.
And key to this development will be policymakers, standards and energy experts who will meet in Barbados from May 17th to 19th, 2017, for a major workshop on energy standards and policy analysis, at the Divi Southwinds Resort, St. Lawrence Main Road, Christ Church.
The experts and policymakers will be exposed to a Policy Analysis Modelling System (PAMS), designed by the Collaborative Labelling and Appliance Standards Program (CLASP) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) which was developed “to help local policymakers assess the benefit of standards and labelling programmes”.
The one-day policy analysis workshop, which falls on the first day of the three-day training, discussion and planning forum on energy efficiency standards and labelling standards, is being held as part of CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)-implemented Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (R3E) Project.
The R3E Project focuses on developing standards for the energy sector in the region, namely energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, with supporting infrastructure for energy efficiency testing of appliances – namely, room air-conditioners, refrigerators and freezers, and lights – along with the development of standards for solar PVC panels and solar water heaters in the region. It is funded by a 1 Million Euro investment from the German Government, and is partnered by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB) and the Dominican Republic’s National Standards Body, INDOCAL.
CROSQ’s Technical Officer - Standards, Mr. Fulgence St. Prix explained that at the PAMS workshop, CLASP officials would explain how to estimate potential savings from implementing energy efficiency policies in the region.
“We talk a lot in the Caribbean about energy efficiency and introduction of renewable energies, but there isn’t that understanding at the national levels sometimes about how this actually benefits the countries in terms of dollars and cents. This is what this workshop is aimed at helping policymakers more effectively do.
“We are in the process of developing Energy Efficiency Building Codes for the region and this factor of savings will be a crucial one to getting Member States in the Caribbean to understand how it benefits their economies at the end of the day. So that’s what we aim to do through this workshop, and using actual case studies to further solidify our position,” said St. Prix.
He noted that this was but one day of what would be happening this week when energy, policy and standards experts from across the Region and Germany, gathered in Barbados.
“On the second day of the workshop, energy experts will sit together and plan a Road Map to determine the steps to the development and implementation of a labelling scheme for refrigerators, lighting and room air conditioners. And the following day we will sit as a group to determine which standard will be used from the several examples we’ve been studying over recent months, and plan our next steps in the development of the standards for labelling of energy efficient appliances,” he further explained.
Deciding on the approach and right standards to use as the basis for the regional approach which will then be adopted by CARICOM Member States, is a crucial part of the process for the development of the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards.
About The R3E Project
The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (R3E) Project is primarily based on the premise that the introduction of standards, testing and other quality-related services into the RE and EE subsectors, could result in significant changes to the way energy is viewed and the focus paid by policymakers, retailers, general public and other vital stakeholders in these areas.
Its main components are the development of standards for RE appliances – namely solar water heaters; development of standards for photovoltaic systems; regional energy performance standards for EE appliances – namely refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting; as well as an efficiency labelling scheme for the stated appliances. It also aims to establish centres for testing of these appliances in the region, and other supporting quality systems.
The aims of this project are:
· Support of regional standardisation activities for this sector, and use of these activities for the creation of binding directives and technical regulations.
· Establishment of technical expertise for testing and measurement services in individual countries.
· Awareness-raising, informational and public relations activities, as well as dialogue with persons in decision-making and other key positions.
IIt is funded to the tune of 1 million Euros from the German Government; managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB) and implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisaiton for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic.
Consumers need to be knowledgeable about the appliances they are purchasing, and for this among other reasons, the Barbados government underscored the importance of a new energy project launched recently.
Speaking at the CARICOM Member States’ launch of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, more commonly called R3E, Minister of Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce told the audience at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Bay Street, St. Michael that the project was needed “quite urgently” in the region.
“Why do we need it? We need it to ensure that consumers are knowledgeable and interested in purchasing efficient appliance; that retailers see the benefits of selling such appliances and that consumers and business places eventually recognise savings in their energy bills,” Senator Boyce stated.
He added: “In short, this project is important in order to maintain customer confidence in the industry ... and the installation of energy efficient and renewable energy devices thereby facilitating us to achieve the benefit of the reduction in fossil fuel usage and foreign exchange that we now spend to import those fossil fuels.”
He highlighted that the project would use the development of standards and testing services for adherence to standards to ensure the importation of energy efficient appliances, thereby reducing use of foreign exchange by reducing energy consumption and changing the source of generation of energy use in the region.
The R3E Project, said Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Jose Trejo, was envisaged to contribute to the improvement of lives of the average consumer in CARICOM Member States over the long term, by reducing energy bills in businesses, and assisting in making building more energy efficient through improvement in quality services.
How this project differs from others, Mr. Trejo, who is also Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards noted, was in its application of quality services the energy sector.
“The Project is timely given the regional and international focus which is placed on critical energy issues; and its negative effect on climate change and the impact on the region,” he said.
The aim of the project is to develop minimum energy efficient standards as well as a labelling scheme for refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting; to develop standards for solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels; to establish a mechanism to support standards in the testing of the appliances and the calibration of testing equipment and the temperature of the appliances; as well as an information and awareness campaign to bring about a shift in consciousness of consumers related to choice of appliances and behavioural change.
The Project is funded by the German Government, through the German National Metrology Institute, and implemented by CROSQ and the Dominican Institute for Quality in the Dominican Republic.
It is also expected to complement the work CROSQ in undertaking in relation to the development of Regional Energy Efficient Building Codes.
Regional energy expert and head of the CARICOM Energy Unit, Dr. Devon Gardner told the audience of dignitaries, heads of regional and international organisations, as well as the Directorate of CROSQ that the CARICOM Secretariat had placed matters of energy “very high on its agenda”.
He stated that in 2015 energy efficiency was placed as a priority within CARICOM, and in January this year, the Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for Energy, approved the pursuance of a strategy for energy in the region, a crucial part of that being sustainability.
“A critical part of that strategy is that we need to improve the efficiency within which energy is used in buildings; and so a part of that refers to the standards and regulations related to building energy use,” he said, noting that this partnership with CROSQ was hoped to bring about positive results in these areas for the region.
Dr. Alexis Valqui, Head of Technical Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean with PTB, stated that despite this being the fifth Regional Quality Infrastructure project Germany had undertaken directly with CROSQ, and partnering with INDOCAL, and it would be a learning experience for all concerned.
“Energy already is or will be visible in the future as one of the key issues and those countries or regions that solve the energy challenges will be also competitive in the future.”
R3E, which focuses on Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) in the Caribbean from a quality standpoint, is primarily based on the premise that the introduction of standards, testing and other quality-related services into the RE and EE subsectors, could result in significant changes to the way energy efficiency is viewed and the focus paid by policy makers, retailers, general public and other vital stakeholders in these areas.
Studies have found that “the use of energy-efficient devices, and the application of technologies for using renewable energies in the Caribbean, are impeded by the lack of important QI tools and services such as standards, testing, inspection, certification and labelling. Consumer protection is insufficient, as is the information on these instruments.”
It is a core issue the R3E Project seeks to address. It is funded to the tune of 1 million Euros by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.