Green wares on display

Making buildings in Cayman more environmentally friendly is so easy, it seems a 10-year-old can do it.

Young Hugo Tyson built the stall for Small Engineering Limited, his stepfather Sam Small’s company, to show off the virtues of building a home or office with insulated concrete form blocks that insulate houses, cutting down on air conditioning and heating bills.

The display was one of several at a World Environment Day event on the Glass House lawn on Friday evening.

Companies showed off their wares which included Mr. Small’s building blocks, solar energy equipment, geothermal air conditioning units, KVAR electricity systems, green computers and printers and propane gas.

Director of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie said she was very pleased with the turnout and the interest shown.

The Sustainable Development Unit of the Department of Environment also used the event to launch the first of a series of guides to help businesses and organisations reduce the energy footprints of their offices.

Sophie Halford, research officer at the Sustainable Development Unit, said the guide as in five parts. ‘It covers energy, water, solid waste, procurement and purchasing and travel and transport,’ she said.

Interest in making buildings greener and reducing energy footprints is growing in Cayman, although creating a home or building with alternative and sustainable energy is an expensive undertaking.

Mr. Small explained that Quad Lock ICF is more expensive than simple concrete blocks, costing $13 to $14 per square foot, compared to concrete which is $10 per square foot.

However, he said the saving in electricity bills would mean that the new block are cost-effective, as 25 per cent less tonnage of air conditioning is needed to keep a Quad Lock home cool.

Five firms in Cayman sell the insulated concrete form, or ICF, blocks.

The idea is simple, two layers of the fire-retardant foam blocks, each two inches wide are erected, and concrete is poured between the two layers. Interior and exterior cladding can be added to the foam layers.

Mr. Small said three houses in Cayman are under construction using ICFs.

Also on display was a geothermal air conditioning unit, which has a life span greater than normal air conditioning units and which use less energy to cool the air.

The air conditioners installed by Geocomfort Cayman Islands are indoor air cooling units, so they do not need to be secured during hurricanes and are not subject to rust.

These units also save money on power bills, according to Don Effhauser who was demonstrating the equipment.

‘You can save up to 30 per cent on energy bills,’ he said, adding that the units can also heat water tanks, as well as cool properties.

Owner of Geocomfort Derek Thomas said the first home to use the air conditioning units was in Patrick Island in October.

Mr. Thomas said the air conditioning units, which come with a five year warranty, were also much quieter than normal air conditioners, thus cutting down on noise pollution.

Other exhibitors at Friday’s even included Arch Solar, Home Gas, Megasystems, Caribbean Utility Company, the Department of Environment, Department of Tourism, ElectraTech, Cayman Electrical Supply, Cayman Business Machines and Essential Services.