(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government will be using a European Union grant of more than €1.2 million (around CI$1 million) to improve the energy efficiency of government buildings and National Housing Development Trust (NHDT) homes. The funds, awarded by the Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID), will be used by the new Cayman Islands Energy Efficiency Programme to facilitate retrofits for existing public sector buildings and affordable homes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs.
Premier and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency Wayne Panton said the programme would reduce burdensome electricity costs for affordable housing residents, while the public sector project has the potential to avoid tons of greenhouse gas emissions and save millions of dollars on electricity consumption.
Panton congratulated the ministry team, particularly Senior Policy Advisor for Energy Kristen Smith, who was instrumental in securing this award. Smith noted that in addition to the benefits of energy, emissions and financial savings, the projects aim to build Cayman’s local energy sector capacity and act as a catalyst for increasing energy efficiency uptake in the Cayman Islands.
“Our 2020 home energy efficiency competition demonstrated how switching to an energy-efficient air conditioner and applying spray foam insulation can dramatically lower electricity consumption and help homeowners save hundreds of dollars every month,” she said. “Taking on these pilot projects will help reduce the cost of living for NHDT residents, help government save on recurrent expenditures and raise awareness about the social, financial and environmental benefits of increasing energy efficiency, which are essential to achieving the objectives of the National Energy Policy.”
The programme will include energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits, as well as the installation of renewable energy for NHDT homes from the 100kw CORE allocation designated to the NHDT in 2020. Both aspects of the programme include training components, establishing minimum energy efficiency standards for new builds, and an assessment of the best financing mechanisms to support the retrofit of additional public sector buildings and residential buildings.
Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn said implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency measures are complementary tactics that contribute to a more sustainable Cayman.
“Reducing electricity consumption is essential to meeting global goals to combat climate change and lower emissions,” she said. “These programmes will be a step in the right direction towards meeting these objectives. Electricity supply and consumption account for approximately one-third of our national emissions. While we work to increase renewable sources of energy, we can simultaneously work to reduce the amount of power needed to keep our homes and offices running.”
RESEMBID Sustainable Energy Programme Manager Nnyeka Prescod visited the Cayman Islands to take part in the official launch of the University College of the Cayman Islands’ free sustainable development training programme and attend the soft launch for the Cayman Islands Government Energy Efficiency Programme.
“Under the pillar of sustainable energy, the Cayman Islands Government continues to demonstrate its leadership and commitment to the national renewable energy transition by mobilising existing frameworks and undertaking substantive action,” Prescod said. “Through a residential programme and public sector building retrofit programme, the government provides an example of the relevance, applicability and replicability of sustainable energy actions in public facilities – yielding technical benefit for staff, workers and proof of concept and awareness opportunities for the general public.”
RESEMBID is funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, the development cooperation agency of the Government of France, which 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 Barthelemy, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos.