Making solar power a reality in Bermuda

  • Sunshine: There has been a substantial increase in the number of building applications that include solar energy elements

    Sunshine: There has been a substantial increase in the number of building applications that include solar energy elements

It is exciting to report that, in just three years, planning and building applications for solar energy have increased 253 percent from 56 applications in 2010 to 142 in 2013.

Even more exciting is that all of these applications have been driven by the property owner.

At the moment there is no requirement for energy efficient methods to be used in residential construction in Bermuda. The Department of Planning is looking to change that.

For the first time the draft Bermuda Residential Building Code 2014 proposes to include mandatory energy conservation measures in all new residential developments. This does not mean that every house needs to have solar panels but there are some elements outlined in Chapter 32 of the draft Bermuda Residential Building Code 2014 that will be required for all new residential development.

For example:

• The implementation of a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.25, which is the amount of solar heat entering the building through windows. Double glazing windows can reduce the heat transfer through windows keeping your house cooler.

• Programmable thermostats for split or central air conditioning systems are required and almost any HVAC technician will tell you that using programmable thermostats are an effective way to lower energy costs.

• There are specific insulation factors for R-3 for hot water pipes, R-8 for attic ducts and R-6 for all other ducts. (In simple terms, the R-factor is a material’s ability to resist temperature change. It is a measure of insulation value for a given material.)

• Electric towel heaters must have an easy to reach manual on/off switch.

• Seventy-five percent of all permanently installed lighting fixtures must be high efficacy lamps.

To complement the mandatory provisions, Appendix E of the draft Bermuda Residential Building Code 2014 provides advisory notes outlining additional energy efficient design options homeowners may choose to implement in their construction projects.

For example, the notes suggest that homeowners may wish to consider the installation of solar hot water heaters, as they are effective in reducing energy costs. Additionally, the advisory notes state that passive design and building orientation should be considered at the planning approval stage, rather than at the building permit stage.

Traditionally Bermuda building techniques have used external shading elements, particularly on the south side of structures, such as shutters, window louvres and verandas to increase the amount of shade immediately adjacent to the house. It is time to consider returning back to the basics in Bermudian house design and orientation.

These new provisions are subject to a one month public consultation period on until 30 July, 2014.

A full copy of the draft Bermuda Residential Building Code 2014 can be found on the Department of Planning website or by visiting the Department of Planning on the fifth floor of the Dame Lois Browne-Evans building on Court Street.

More information is available by calling 297-7756.

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Published Jul 3, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm)

Making solar power a reality in Bermuda

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