Recently, T&T has sought ways to promote and implement energy efficiency policies, especially as it relates to the design and construction of buildings, plants and other projects. In last year's budget, the Government announced a tax break for companies undertaking energy audits. This policy measure has the potential to change the way we evaluate not only future, but also our past construction projects. If the country is to join the green building revolution, there are several lessons and new trends we must pay attention to. During the T&T Energy Conference 2011 at the Green Building and Energy Efficiency Workshop, participants and facilitators explored ways of greening new construction as well as implementing models for energy efficiency in existing buildings.
This workshop highlighted the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification process, energy audit gap analyses and facility assessments, new business opportunities in green building construction, international best practice in energy efficiency regulation and legislation and lessons for T&T. At the workshop, Barry Giles, past chairman of the US Green Building Council Curriculum Committee, Mandilee Newton, associate, acla works, and Greg Upwall, founder of Studio Upwall architecture firm, gave presentations.
During the workshop, several major issues were ventilated and below are a few policy recommendations which came from the discussions.
• Assignment of a singular government agency to monitor facility maintenance and energy efficiency
• A state entity should be charged with the proper authority and budget to coordinate, oversee and monitor implementation of energy efficiency programmes.
The agency's role would be to ensure a well coordinated set of delivery mechanisms for energy conservation including the setting of targets, guidelines and regulations, monitoring, regulatory compliance, and evaluation and review of energy efficiency incentive programmes for existing and new construction whether industrial, commercial or residential.
Energy rating system
Adopt and modify, as needed, a proven energy rating system for lighting and appliances. These ratings benchmarks should be included in Town and Country Planning Division's regulations and made applicable to all building types.
Institute feed-in tariffs and net metering
These initiatives will act as incentives and enablers to T&TEC and electric utility customers to use power more efficiently and to lower electricity expenses.
Develop T&T methodology for ESCOs
An ESCO, or energy service company, is a business that develops, installs, and finances projects designed to improve energy or building performance efficiency and reduce operations and maintenance costs for its customers' facilities. ESCOs generally act as project developers for a wide range of tasks and assume the technical and performance risk associated with the project, deriving their payments from the actual cost savings realised by the client, on the basis of a long-term, performance contract. T&T must explore ways to make ESCOs work locally, thereby ensuring that the Government's incentive programmes produce measurable energy and cost. Effective ESCOs can be achieved via adoption of appropriate legislative frameworks and incentives for performance-based contracting. The Government's definition of ESCOs should also anticipate the energy service needs of a range of client types and should therefore encourage provision of energy services by several experienced and qualified suppliers.
Unconditional tax rebate
The tax relief given to companies for undertaking building performance and sustainability audits should be unconditional and non transferable.
Institute uniform standard for audit
There should be a recognised audit standard adopted by the State to ensure uniform clear, compatible standards and rating systems, for example, ASHRAE Level I or II or LEED-OM (and LEED –NC for new construction). There should also be third party verification of audit to ensure transparency and best practice is adhered to.
Develop and institute a green building code
Similar to OSHA statutes, this code will instate a system to regulate new construction starts and ensure they follow an accepted green building code. The T&T Green Building Council will help in developing the defining framework and policy for the code. The code will promote passive design strategies and conservation (designing local building to appropriately respond and optimise to local climate and site conditions) as well as helping expedite bureaucracy associated with the Town & Country plan-check process. Following up from the workshop, the Energy Chamber, with the aid of the T&T Green Building Council, is currently working on a green paper which would be made available to the public. As always, the Chamber is committed to playing our part in promoting the wise use of our energy resources and recommending policy directives which enable businesses to be successful with green building and energy efficiency projects.
For more information, contact: Sherwin Long at: sher[email protected]ergy.tt visit www.energy.tt, or call: 6-Energy.