Better Building

Across The UWI, efforts are being made to reduce energy costs and examine alternative, renewable sources of energy. As part of this effort, the People’s Republic of China is assisting with the completion of a co-generation plant at the Mona Campus in Jamaica, in order to provide a more efficient supply of energy to the campus. Co-generation is a more thermodynamically efficient use of fuel that both generates electricity and makes use of the thermal energy produced in fuel combustion, for heating and cooling purposes.

As part of the movement toward renewable energy, The UWI is constructing the region’s first Net-Zero Building (NZEB) on the Mona Campus in Jamaica. The US$500,000 building will serve as a prototype for the construction of similar structures in the region. This project is being implemented by The UWI’s Institute for Sustainable Development, with technical assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and funding from the Global Environment Facility.

Artist’s impression of the net zero energy building currently in construction at The UWI Mona. Artist's impression of the net zero energy building currently in construction at The UWI Mona.

Net-Zero Buildings present a ground-breaking reduction in energy costs for the region, since they produce enough renewable energy to more closely match their energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable energy in the building sector.

For instance, The UWI Net-Zero Building will reduce energy consumption by 40% and excess power generated by the building will be sold to the Jamaica Public Service Company under a net billing arrangement. It is also expected to save up to 30% in water consumption under everyday conditions. This is crucial on a campus that has faced water woes and in a country and world increasingly plagued by changing rainfall patterns and drought.

The building, which will be adapted to local climate conditions, will also be used as an emergency shelter, since its design includes greater resilience to natural disasters including hurricanes, storms, floods, drought and earthquakes. It will include conference facilities as well as a centre for research on renewable energy.

As part of The UWI’s commitment to fostering productive academy-industry partnerships that drive regional development, in addition to its primary funding and implementation partners, this innovative building project involves the cooperation of a wide range of public and private stakeholders in Jamaica, including the:

  • Bureau of Standards
  • Caribbean Academy of Sciences
  • Ministry of Environment & Climate Change
  • Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology
  • Incorporated Master builders Association
  • Hotel & Tourist Association
  • Institution of Engineers
  • Public Service Company Ltd
  • Institute of Architects
  • Meteorological Service

The UWI Net-Zero Building project is expected to catalyze a shift in building forms and technologies throughout the region, making net-zero energy construction the preferred option in the Caribbean.