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Reducing energy costs

renovations at conference centre to help lower it’s high electrity bill

The Barbados Government is moving towards making Barbados a green economy and is using the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre as an example.

At a meeting to report the progress of renovations to the facility yesterday, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, disclosed that the largest cost associated with running the centre was electricity.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY he said some months they pay between $130,000 to $180,000 on electricity alone and they were desirous of finding an avenue to cut that cost by half.

In conjunction with the Bank of Nova Scotia, which is also assisting them with the renovations, they have embarked on an additional $3 million project that is designed to reduce the conference centre’s high electricity bill. The project, he said, would incorporate the use of photovoltaic panels on the car park and, possibly, on the centre itself to aid with the reduction.

LECS was constructed close to 20 years ago and the minister blamed the air conditioning system as the major culprit in the high use of energy.

“You see all these large ducts, there is one big unit downstairs you turn it on and it air conditions the whole building, it is very inefficient and outdated and it needs to be retrofitted, and that process is expensive.

Modern air conditioning units are modulate so you can literally air condition in sections. A building like this would usually be modulate so if for example you have an event in the Flamboyant Room, you could turn on just for that area. Even if the module may include more than the Flamboyant room, at least it won’t be the whole building and you can have those options.

“Separate units are being worked on in the context within the overall work being done on the building. There is no way you can improve air conditioning in this building in one go so it would be dealt with over time,” he said.

Sealy further acknowledged that Government was also looking for other ways to deal with the high energy costs. He said the architect had so far designed according to all the ergonomic concerns and also designed the windows in a way which would allow and take advantage of sunlight so more natural light could enter, hence less use of artificial light.

There are many benefits to Barbados going green, Sealy said, adding that one major olus would be the reduction in fuel imports, thus saving foreign exchange.

“There are environmental benefits of not burning all the fossil fuel so we can then also feel good by playing our part and not damaging the ozone layer. They are many benefits — it can create careers, there are opportunities for young Barbadians to go into this technology and I believe if Barbados can emerge as a leader in it, it is technology that we can export.

“If you tuned into the Budget you would have heard that this Government is determined to create an entire new axis of the Barbadian economy via renewable sources; what you hear referred to in general terms as the green economy. So it is not only institutions, but also at the household level and so on. We have to change the thinking and the appreciation for the tremendous potential we have.

“As you know, Barbados has a very high rate of penetration as far as the use of solar water heaters, so the transformation to photovoltaic should come a lot easier for Barbadians and we are driving that; this Government is driving that.

“There is also a modern sewage treatment facility and plans to recycle water also. So in addition to photovoltaic panels treating water and disposing of it through irrigation there are plans to try as much as possible to be renewable and that is very exciting,” he said. (KC)

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