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Mona Goes Green

With the University’s energy demand lowered and controlled, attention is now turned to the supply of electricity and alternative energy uses.

Efforts to effect a greener, more environmentally-friendly space are underway at The UWI, Mona campus. Commencing four years ago, a number of plans have been put in place to revolutionise the 652-acre campus in response to the needs of the environment. These include the vertical, instead of horizontal, development of new buildings, to allow for the preservation of more green areas. A prime example is the new Basic Medical Sciences Complex set to open in September which will total 300,000 square feet on completion on four acres of land. Older buildings, such as the halls of residence – Irvine, Taylor and Chancellor – were built on 20 acres.

“There has been a paradigm shift from sprawling developments to taller buildings in order to not overly abuse the environment. by adding more storeys, we reduce the use of the green space,” said Campus Projects Manager Devon Smith.

Attention is also being paid to building placement and orientation. As far as possible, existing trees have been retained and buildings erected around them, such as the old cotton tree surrounding the Basic Medical Sciences Complex. According to Smith, “We encourage our designers to preserve the features of the land and we build according to the dictates of the land, so we try to minimise the cutting down of trees. If we have to cut, we replace.”

The campus will also be utilising what Smith terms the “Manhattan Concept“ in the architecture of the Basic Medical Sciences Complex, thus placing grass and flowering shrubs on the rooftops. This concept has been extended to parking areas which now feature more grass with the use of grasscretes instead of asphalted concretes.

Another area of focus is the use of environmentally-friendly paint products, such as the trowel-on finishes on some of the buildings, instead of the standard paints. The limestone-based trowel-on finish has been used predominantly on the new Faculty of Law building next to the Mona School of Business. A cost-saving initiative, the trowel-on can last 15-20 years with just a wash with water once per year.

The fitting of aluminum panels to some walls at the Basic Medical Sciences Complex has also replaced the time-consuming painting and rendering exercise and reduced operating costs while adding a long-lasting, elegant appearance. The campus plans to continue in this vein and to employ landscaping on every development. “We must be trendsetters and all involved – the contractors, subcontractors and suppliers must be just as environmentally focussed as we are,” the Campus Projects Manager said.

Energy Conservation Initiatives The campus has also been taking strides to restructure its internal operations in the area of energy conservation. Precipitated by a budget cut in 2005, the status of the university was assessed in relation to its energy consumption. An energy audit was conducted which revealed that the majority of the campus’ energy usage was from air-conditioning (47%) and lighting (23%). The following measures were therefore implemented to address this situation:

• The refrigerant in the air-conditioning system was replaced with a more costeffective, environmentally-friendly type.

• A power capacitor bank was installed to enhance the efficiency of power usage.

• A lighting retrofit project was conducted at the Bursary, Senate Building, which involved changing the ballasts to a more energy-efficient type and replacing the lighting tubes with T-8 and T-5 tubes. This resulted in improved lighting conditions so the exercise was extended to 15 other high usage buildings on campus.

• A central Computerised Energy Management System was installed at the university to measure the improvements gained from the implementation of various energy conservation measures. It allows greater monitoring and control of significant energy consuming equipment as well as lighting. Water consumption for various areas will be accurately monitored and this system will assist in the overall reduction of the campus’ utility costs.

Another project to improve lighting was implemented using Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. This was conducted in the West Indies Collection Section of the Main Library and produced positive results.

With the University’s energy demand lowered and controlled, attention is now turned to the supply of electricity and alternative energy uses. “Lighting has improved substantially. It is now brighter and burns less energy. Also, consumption has remained relatively stable despite the addition of new buildings. We now need to focus on alternative energy and cogeneration,” said Campus Bursar Elaine Robinson.

More conscious of how it consumes energy, the university is looking at the establishment of modern cooling, lighting and solar heating facilities. An Energy Centre is planned to cool areas such as the Basic Medical Sciences Complex, the Call Centre, the Faculty of Law, the Mona School of Business and the Administrative Building, thus replacing air-conditioning units.

For more energy-efficient lighting, an electronic Building Management System has been established in the Faculty of Law to regulate temperature and lighting and will be in force in the Basic Medical Sciences building as well. Solar panels to heat water and some of the equipment at the Basic Medical Sciences Complex is also being considered.

Additionally, to maximise energy efficiency and minimise the heat load, buildings will be designed and orientated to guard against the sun, with the addition of aluminium panels acting as shading devices. Insulating devices will also be placed on some of the roofs to prevent heat build-up.

With these plans coming on stream, the mandate is for the entire university to get involved – not just the administrators, but the students as well. “We need to integrate our concepts into the curriculum. We are trying to link with the halls to get the students to become more energy conscious,” the Campus Bursar said.

Category/ies:Jamaica News, Regional News.
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