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Empowering Sustainability in the Cayman Islands: UCCI and RESEMBID Forge the Path Forward

Front Pages 18 Apr, 2024 Follow News

Empowering Sustainability in the Cayman Islands: UCCI and RESEMBID Forge the Path Forward

In an era where sustainability has global imperative, the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) is leading the charge towards a greener future for the Cayman Islands and beyond. Thanks to a collaboration with the Resilience Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) programme, UCCI has embarked on a transformative journey, underpinned by a €1.1 million grant that is setting the stage for groundbreaking advancements in renewable energy and sustainability education.

At the heart of this ambitious project is a comprehensive renewable energy and sustainability plan for the UCCI campus that aligns with the Cayman Islands’ National Energy Policy. UCCI’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and fostering sustainable practices is a beacon of leadership in the Caribbean region’s clean energy transition.

The Cayman Islands’ heavy reliance on imported diesel and vulnerability to climate change underscores the urgency of UCCI’s mission. As one of the island’s largest energy consumers, UCCI is pivotal in the national goal to shift towards 80% reliance on renewable energy by 2037. The UCCI and RESEMBID project is not just about energy; it’s about building a community-wide legacy of sustainability through education, stakeholder engagement, and innovation.

A cornerstone of this initiative is the Sustainability Centre on the UCCI campus, envisioned as a hub for collaboration, education, and research in renewable energy and sustainability. This centre is poised to enhance UCCI’s reputation as a leader in sustainability planning, providing a model for sustainable development that resonates throughout the Caribbean.

But the project’s vision extends far beyond the confines of the campus. By engaging students, government bodies, private sectors, and regional universities in a sustainability hub, UCCI is fostering a culture of sustainable living across the whole country. The initiative also promises tangible outcomes from its energy efficiency retrofits, the integration of a 150kW DC Solar array into Sir Vassel Hall, and the creation of a Living Laboratory and Digital Library to support sustainable solutions development. A huge amount of progress towards this goal has already been made:

Recent achievements include:

Comprehensive Environmental Sustainability Plan: UCCI completed the draft of its Comprehensive Environmental Sustainability Plan (CESP), a roadmap for integrating sustainable practices into its operations and curriculum. This plan underscores UCCI’s dedication to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental stewardship, laying the groundwork for a greener campus and community.

150kW DC Solar Array Installation: A cornerstone of UCCI’s sustainability initiative, the installation of a 150 kW DC solar array at Sir Vassel Hall, has been completed. This installation marks a significant milestone in reducing UCCI’s carbon footprint, providing at least 15% of the campus’s energy needs and demonstrating the viability of renewable energy solutions in the Cayman Islands.

Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Following the recommendations from an ASHRAE Level 2 Energy Audit, UCCI has completed the retrofit of five buildings on campus to improve energy efficiency. These retrofits include insulation improvements, double-glazing, and the introduction of energy-efficient lighting and appliances, significantly reducing the university’s energy consumption.

Sustainability Education Initiatives: UCCI has launched new educational programmes aimed at embedding sustainability into the curriculum. This includes workshops, courses on energy auditing and sustainable practices, and the establishment of a digital library to support research and education in sustainability for the UCCI community and beyond. Also, UCCI has become a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) whose mission is to transform management education and develop the responsible decision-makers of tomorrow to advance sustainable development. There are more than 800 signatories from 96 countries committed to the PRME principles.

As UCCI continues to pioneer sustainability efforts, the next steps are focused on broadening the impact of these initiatives and fostering a culture of sustainability that extends beyond the campus.

These include:

Launching a Living Laboratory: UCCI will launch its Living Laboratory, real-time monitoring systems across the campus. This will provide valuable data for ongoing research and development in energy efficiency and sustainable practices.

Launching a Digital Library: The Digital Library will be developed to include a range of resources on sustainability and broadcasting the real-time data from the Living Laboratory. This online platform will serve as a key tool for knowledge sharing among students, researchers, and the wider community, promoting awareness and education on environmental issues.

Community Engagement and Partnerships: UCCI plans to increase its outreach and collaboration with local and regional partners. This includes hosting conferences, engaging in public education campaigns, and working with government bodies to inform policy making on sustainability.

Sustainability Centre Initiatives: The Sustainability Centre on campus will launch new programmes and initiatives aimed at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in renewable energy and environmental conservation. This will include support for student-led projects and startups in the green sector. Also, the curriculum will be updated to include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for sustainability.

Ongoing Infrastructure Improvements: Following the solar array and building retrofits, UCCI will continue to invest in sustainable infrastructure, including water conservation systems and waste management solutions, to ensure the campus remains a model of environmental responsibility. A campus master plan is being completed to guide these physical enhancements.

President and Chief Executive Officer of UCCI Dr. Robert Robertson notes that the sustainability efforts at UCCI have been designed in a collaborative manner with community engagement at all stages of the process. “The goal is to make the university a best practice case study for education institutions throughout the region. We thank the Government of the Cayman Islands and RESEMBID for their support of these ambitious and critically important sustainability initiatives”. 

The UCCI and RESEMBID initiative will create a sustainable future for the Cayman Islands. One in which the whole community can learn, engage, and lead in the transition towards renewable energy. With the whole community on board, the impact on the Cayman Islands, and wider Caribbean, can really be felt.

For more information and to learn how you can contribute, visit the Sustainable UCCI website at www.ucci.edu.ky/sustainable-ucci  and follow us on social media.


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