Action is being taken by the Government to promote energy efficiency within the public sector, through the implementation of a $1.2 billion Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme.
Work has already started under the two-year initiative, which aims to reduce public sector energy consumption and cost, with Project Manager, Richard Gordon, outlining that focus will be placed on the use of electrical energy.
"First, we need to establish some benchmarks, so that we can sustain what measures are being implemented and monitor the effectiveness of the programme. The first thing we are doing is establishing a data base of the electrical bills and consumption for all the public sector entities,” Mr. Gordon tells JIS News.
He adds that so far, Cabinet has approved measures for the "energy efficiency (programme), to give a mandate to the public sector, that we should adopt certain behaviour changes, in addition to physical interventions to result in a reduction in energy consumption."
"We are going to use that data base as a benchmark as we roll out various measures, then we are able to verify against the benchmark at May/June 2012, whether there is a reduction in the consumption in the various entities," Mr. Gordon explains.
A number of workshops will be staged to sensitise personnel in the public sector about the project.
"We plan to have workshops for the public sector, so that all personnel from Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, heads of agencies, technical officers and all the various players will be aware of the programme and together come up with a plan for their particular entity to reduce energy, which will all integrate into a national plan to add up to a reduction in our energy consumption,” the Project Manager says.
For this project to be effective, a behaviour change is required for all players in the public sector, and as a result, persons are being encouraged to use the stairs instead of the elevator for the first two floors.
In addition, Mr. Gordon says the programme aims to undertake physical interventions, such as improving the efficiency of cooling buildings to reduce the amount of heat load on buildings, and to improve the efficiency of the lighting of the buildings.
“Those three interventions are the physical components of the programme, for which bids should be in by the end of the year. Some we have already started…like the improvement on some of the buildings, such as the Office of the Prime Minister,” he informs.
Already, some public sector agencies have been receiving attention under the project, with audits carried out on some government entities with the highest consumption of electricity.
“For example, we did audits of Up Park Camp, which had electricity bills of about $12 million per month, some high consuming schools, and some other office buildings. Those audits helped us to determine what were the high energy consuming factors within the public sector, and the highest one was air conditioning, with lighting being second,” Mr. Gordon says.
He points out that older and less energy efficient air conditioning units will be replaced with more energy efficient models, as part of the project.
Mr. Gordon also informs that the programme has been working closely with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), with the aim of addressing the varying needs of the force.
"We think it’s a priority to make them as comfortable as possible by doing what we can to reduce the heat load on their buildings. The hospitals are also a priority and we are looking at improving the efficiency at all the hospitals," he adds.
The Project Manager says there was a vacuum “when it comes to data on what is happening in the public sector in terms of energy."
"The programme has been able to take the lead in pulling together that information, in setting the benchmarks and standards, working with the various entities to make them aware, and to educate them on energy standards and the techniques that can be deployed to improve energy efficiency. Out of that, I think, will come a more comprehensive approach to the co-ordination of the public sector use of electrical energy, so that is an additional benefit overall,” he notes.
At the launch of the programme at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on May 2, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining(STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, declared that the high public sector electricity consumption is untenable and action is needed.
"We've talked the talk long enough. Today, the Government of Jamaica is taking the first step in walking the walk," he said.
At the end of the two years, Mr. Gordon says there should be a marked reduction in electricity bills for public sector entities.
"We are expecting a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in the energy consumption of entities that have adopted behaviour changes and where buildings have been retrofitted. We find that there are quite a few areas of inefficiency, and if we eliminate them, we should be able to achieve that goal,” the Project Manager says.