Anthony Clayton, a professor of sustainable development at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, says those statistics make buildings vital to developing resilience to climate change and to reducing pockets of entrenched poverty in the Caribbean region. “At the moment, most of the buildings in Jamaica are very energy inefficient with very expensive electricity that reduces the level of disposable incomes, which is one of the factors acting as a break on the economy. If we build to a higher standard of energy efficiency,” the country will also be more resilient to climate change, he added.
Clayton and his colleague, Professor Tara Dasgupta, are currently working on the prototype of a smart building whose key features would be “optimal sustainability and efficiency” with particular attention given to water efficiency, renewable energies, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.
The proposed “net zero energy” building, which is the first of its kind in the region, is now in the design phase. The University of the West Indies’ Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), where Clayton holds the Alcan chair, is working in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the seven-million-dollar research and building project.
Clayton, who is also a member of several advisory groups serving the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told IPS that a major hazard of the current housing stock in Jamaica, in light of climate change, is its proliferation of informal settlements...