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UCCI UNVEILS PLANS TO BECOME A NET-ZERO ENERGY CAMPUS AS PART OF SUSTAINABLE UCCI

Friday, Dec 08 2023

The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) has today released the valuable findings from its extensive ASHRAE audit which took place at its UCCI Grand Cayman Campus in September 2023. 

Carried out by New York Engineers (NYE) as part of its EU-funded RESEMBID supported project and its newly launched” Sustainable UCCI” initiative, the aim of this audit was to identify potential energy efficiency and carbon reduction opportunities, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable; revealing that UCCI has the potential to reduce its annual energy usage by approximately 103%, effectively achieving a net-zero energy campus.

The energy audit encompassed 11 buildings, with a total area of 67,132 square meters. The buildings range from those constructed in the early 1920’s to more recent additions in the early 1970’s. The audit was conducted to create a special energy model based on utility data, building drawings, and information about the site provided by UCCI.

The audit followed ASHRAE Level II requirements and involved an exhaustive review of existing drawings, annual utility bills, and on-site inspections over a one-week period. The NYE energy analysis employed advanced engineering calculation procedures and utilized the eQuest software, an hour-by-hour energy usage modeling program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

One of the key findings of the audit was the identification of multiple Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) that can significantly reduce energy consumption at the campus.

 These measures include:

  1. Replacing old HVAC (air conditioning) systems with newer, more energy-efficient ones.
  2. Adding variable frequency drive (VFD) controls; special controls that make equipment use just the right amount of energy it needs, to reduce energy consumption.
  3. Using smart technology and sensors such as lighting controls, occupancy sensors, and daylighting sensors to make sure lights are on only when needed and adjust brightness based on natural light, which helps save energy.
  4. Setting up a centralized Building Management System (BMS) that makes it easier to control and manage all the building's equipment, leading to better energy efficiency.
  5. Evaluating the potential for on-site energy generation through solar PV installations on roofs and parking lots.

The audit report also explored on-site generation measures, particularly solar PV systems. Preliminary assessments indicate a high potential for solar PV installations, with an estimated annual production output of 777,300 kWh, potentially saving the college up to $163,233 per year in electricity costs.

Cleveland Julien, RESEMBID Project Manager, stated: "The results of this audit are truly exciting. We have uncovered tangible opportunities to significantly reduce our energy consumption and contribute to the Cayman Islands' sustainability goals. This collaborative effort between UCCI, RESEMBID and NYE underscores the commitment to sustainable energy practices and aligns with the Cayman Islands' energy policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy sources.”

Additionally, the study highlighted several energy-efficient practices that can be adopted, including reducing air leakage, optimizing thermostat schedules, and checking for and sealing duct leakage. These practices can further enhance energy savings and promote sustainable campus operations.

The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) is partnering with the Resilience, Sustainable Energy, and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) Programme to embark on a transformative journey towards sustainability. This collaboration seeks to create a greener and more resilient future by developing a comprehensive renewable energy and sustainability plan for UCCI. Their vision is to reduce their carbon footprint, empower future generations, engage with the community, and create a legacy.

RESEMBID is a 47-project programme funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France - the development cooperation agency of the Government of France and supports sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) - Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos. 

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