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Companies and energy costs

Companies have to deal with increasing costs in several areas. Especially an increase in the energy costs is noticeable nowadays. The Curaçao Business Council for Sustainable Development (in Dutch: Bedrijven Platform Milieu or BPM) observed this and tries to respond
adequately. For example, they organized a seminar in October about the subject. As a board member of BPM, Tim van den Brink (Managing Director of EcoVision & Sustainable Solutions) was willing to discuss the subject of ‘companies and energy costs’.


Seminar
The BPM was established by a group of companies that deal with making environmental management more accessible.

6 Curaçao Companies: Aqualectra, Selikor, Maduro & Curiel’s Bank, Analytisch Diagnostisch Centrum, Eco- Vision, Arbo & Milieuconsult Curaçao are the founders of the platform. The BPM currently has 13 members, including the founders. On October 14-15, the platform organized a two day seminar on the subject ‘Energy Effi ciency in Offi ces’ to share with entrepreneurs how easy it is to operate in a more
energy-conscious way. One of the speakers at the seminar was the American expert Mike Hess, board member of the U.S. Green Building Council. He explained what can be done to save energy in offi ce buildings. He focused on the effi ciency of air conditioning systems and lighting systems and the qualities of offi ce buildings. He also explained to what level energy usage by a Curacao offi ce building can be reduced using the different (U.S.) benchmarks.

Mike stated that Curaçao should aim for less than 10 kWh/sf per year (or less than 110 kWh/m2 per year). There were also speakers from Aqualectra and Korpodeko (Curaçao Development Corporation) and BPM welcomed the Commissioner of Economy and Tourism, Mr. Rhuggenaath who held an inspiring speech on the process of the preparation of the Curaçao Energy Policy. Commissioner Rhuggenaath’s
personal preference is that Curaçao takes bold and courageous steps towards a new energy structure.
In this vision there is also a role for households and companies as small producers of renewable energy.

The speech ‘For the entrepreneur by the entrepreneur’ is, of course, more effective than one in which the governmental point of view is expressed. That is why Korpodeko presented possibilities for funding of energy-saving measures. The funding – by the name of EcoFiansa- is not a subsidy, but a low interest loan.

The loan is adapted to the pay back time of an energy project. Mr. Rosaria of Korpodeko explained that when you choose to take out such a loan, you start to lower your energy bill right away. You will have
to pay back, of course, but you will not notice that as the net amount of your bill will stay the same. Consequently, when your loan has been repaid after e.g. 2 years, your net costs are lower and you save a lot of energy. In this way energy saving is made more accessible for entrepreneurs.

Mr. Tujeehut of Aqualectra illustrated the role that Aqualectra can play for companies in general, specially with respect to benchmarking and the process of reducing energy usage in the building.

Mrs. Guda (FAPE) showed that the software tool ‘Alivio’ can be of assistance in the process of gaining more insight in the energy consumption in a building. She invited all participants to send comments to further improve the tool. In the afternoon part of the seminar 3 speakers shared ‘real life’ data from
Curacao with the public. The first speaker (Van den Brink, EcoVision) talked about a demonstration project in the Korpodeko Building and the results so far. He showed that over a period of several weeks the energy usage was reduced by 15% using Airco Efficiency Controllers. The building was benchmarked
by the Energy Star method as a very effi cient building.

The second speaker of the afternoon, Mr. Rosalia of Fatum explained how entrepreneurs can monitor certain matters in their company by using a building management system. For instance, when using temperature sensors, the temperature in certain offi ce spaces can be set and monitored. Whole sections can even be switched off when unoccupied, which saves a lot of energy. The insurance company Fatum, for example, uses such a system.

Mr. Trapenberg closed the afternoon sessions and stressed the importance of a good design of a cooling system as well as proper maintenance.

Trends
There is an increasing interest in sustainable entrepreneurship in Curaçao. Companies are aware that damage to their image can lead to the downfall of the company, while society requires companies to act according to ‘sustainable entrepreneurship’. Organizations inform their personnel more and more of energy costs, and together they look for solutions. Some companies even have it as an item on the agenda of meetings or briefi ngs. Members of personnel bring forward ideas on how to save energy; they stick notes on doors such as ‘Switch off computers, lights and the air conditioning before you leave the building!’

‘Saving energy’ has become an agenda item. Especially in the hotel business it offers many advantages. At the Renaissance Hotel Curaçao, for example, the condensing units of the air conditioners are cooled by using sea water. In this way heat is transferred to water instead of to air, which improves the efficiency of the air conditioning system and thus energy can be saved considerably. Energy can also be saved by setting room temperature at 24 degrees (offi ce) or even 25/26 degrees C. in combination with a ceiling fan in your home. This measure saves energy by 5-7% per degree of a higher setting. So you can save a lot of energy when you switch from 20 to 25 degrees – and often it is just a matter of getting used to it.

A promising device as far as energy saving is concerned is a new component in air conditioners. It switches off the compressor soon after the evaporator reaches its lowest temperature. Normally, the compressor continues to work, even long after the evaporator has reached its lowest temperature. So
that means a waste of energy.

Wind and solar energy Nowadays the use of wind turbines and solar panels is often discussed. Infortunately, it is not possible to use these methods together with the regular supply systems of energy in Curaçao. Therefore, wind mills as well as solar panels can only be used as stand-alone systems and cannot be connected to the Aqualectra grid. However, the possibilities of using of wind turbines and solar
panels are actively researched by the Utility. As it is not possible yet to connect these systems with the regular system of energy supply and they are still expensive, EcoVision advises companies (and private individuals) to reduce costs by simple conservation methods and adapting behavior: reduce light intensity in offi ces at places where not needed (walking areas), replace TL tubes by more efficient ones, use shades to prevent the sun from shining inside; collect rainwater in butts to water plants instead of using tap or well water. ‘It can be that easy,’ says Van den Brink.

The secret of Curaçao
Curaçao can work with deep sea water for cooling the airco’s. It’s easy to pump the water out of the sea and use it as energy. That’s the only way we can beat the U.S., says Mike Hess who did a lot of research on building energy efficiency and building codes and benchmarks (such as CBECS; Commercial Building
Energy Consumption Survey). Think about automatic systems that switch off airco and other appliances in the evenings and weekend, devices that sense sunlight or light intensity in the room and dimmers. Also use reflective roofs and glass in your offi ce that transmits less solar heat. Look for more information on www.usgbc.org

TIPS // HOW TO SAVE ENERGY?
• Set the air conditioner to 25 or 26 degrees instead of 20 degrees. You will notice that this temperature is still comfortable to work in. Often you will get used to it.
• Appliances using 50 Hz and 220 Volts usually use less energy than those using 60 Hz – 110Volts.
• Tip for the top: buy a small company car that saves energy; try to minimize commuter traffi c and deal with business matters by phone. Check the use of gasoline.

A useful website: www.hetnieuwerijden.nl