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UCCI’s sustainability centre in the pipeline

Cayman Conversation 10 Jun, 2024 Follow News

Cleveland Julien, Project Manager for RESEMBID

Tracey Hargrave Dean of Stem & Health

Giving people an update on the RESEMBID projects currently being undertaken by UCCI, Tracey Hargrave, Dean of Stem and Health, and Cleveland Julien, Project Manager for RESEMBID at UCCI, spoke with Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis.

Mr Cleveland explained that the first grant received by UCCI under RESEMBID (Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories’ Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme) established a labour market assessment and trained three Caymanians across four sectors. That project is now in its final stages of reporting to RESEMBID. The second grant is more of a physical grant, he explained, where they are implementing physical changes to the campus, starting with a sustainability plan which has been completed. The team have installed a 150Kw system on the Sir Vassell Hall which serves as a shelter during hurricane season, so it’s timely, he advised.

The solar project led by the affordable solar team took the team two to three weeks to install but it has taken over two months to get it approved. They are still in a conversation where they are pushing for approval, he advised.

“We’d like to be saving money!” he confirmed.

They are also currently putting in six inches of insulation in the Hall to help manage energy efficiency and replacing windows with hurricane resistant windows. In addition, they have just awarded a building management system project to a local company and that will begin on 12th June. The “crown jewel” of the project is the digital library for which they are currently writing their RFPs, he advised.

Mr Cleveland spoke about the sustainability centre which would be the driver of such initiatives and which would provide a framework for UCCI, allowing them to push through other such sustainable initiatives.

The centre has been named and agreed upon: the Centre for Biodiversity, Innovation and Sustainability, and will be launched on 26th and 27th September as part of a larger regional symposium that will involve regional and international speakers and workshops. The target audience for this is all stake holders, government and anyone interested in what the future of Cayman looks like, he advised.

“If the UCCI team is successful in establishing the centre, then this begins a whole new chapter in what it looks like to serve our community specifically in this area,” he advised. “We believe people will take notice when you’re seen to be doing something more interesting, but they will get vested when they begin to feel the impact from it,” he confirmed.

He said, for example, with the establishment of the centre in collaboration with the Business Department, they would have an innovation hub that would launch green start-ups in Cayman.

“And so now this becomes a way to track external funding to help support local business,” he said. “That is a journey that will take us for the next two years plus.”

Mr Cleveland said he hoped with the launch of the centre they are able to demonstrate that they are not only handling RESEMBID funds successfully, but they could also be trusted to handle funds from the government and vested partners within the community.

“At the end of the day this is our legacy and our future,” he stated.  

The UCCI will be holding a home energy audit course for homeowners on the 23rd and 30th of June for any home owner in a bid to help people reduce their energy bill and their carbon footprint. This is a test pilot of a course that they wish to offer in the future, he advised.

Dean Tracey said sustainability was becoming intrinsic within the UCCI. Sustainability was part of everything at UCCI, moving forward, Dean Tracey said, adding that students could undertake a variety of sustainability courses but that they were aiming to embed sustainability through all their programmes eventually.

Dean Tracey said their highly popular STEM camp would be taking place from 8th to 12th July on Grand Cayman but only had a few places left. There were more places on the Brac STEM camp which runs from 2nd to 4th July. Interested parents should go on to the UCCI website to book for their children.

Mr Cleveland said the RESEMBID programme had an aligned interest with the STEM camp, so, for the second year running, they will be sponsoring a maximum of ten students, giving them scholarships. He called it a “beautiful partnership” for them because it allowed them to start to influence the younger generation about sustainability and they had already seen youngsters get excited about the idea.

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