Camana Bay has saved nearly $5,000 in electricity costs since the installation in September of 302 rooftop solar panels at its 89 Nexus Way corporate offices.
Paul Chivers, resource efficiency manager at Camana Bay developer Dart Realty, said the panels atop the 129,000-square-foot four-story building have generated 12.8 kilowatt hours since their commissioning, saving $4,805 in electricity bills.
The figures are on a par with the array’s first month of operation, which produced 6.873 kilowatt hours at a savings of $2,577. “We are encouraged by the results so far and still are refining to get the systems working with optimal efficiency.” Mr. Chivers said.
Defraying power costs
The results appear to bear out Dart Realty’s efforts to defray power costs throughout the multi-structure Camana Bay development, which includes four dedicated commercial office buildings.
“Dart Realty has been analyzing costs and benefits in solar feasibility projects for Camana Bay’s major commercial buildings for the past few years,” the efficiency manager said. “Planning to adapt the first office building [89 Nexus Way] commenced in late 2013, with the system coming online in September 2014. The Nexus Way building opened in 2009 and houses Ogier, Citco and Dart head offices.
18 Forum Lane
“Solar power is also an integral part of the design [at] 18 Forum Lane, Camana Bay’s newest commercial building,” he said.
The 85,000-square-foot, four-story structure is scheduled to open in 2015, and will be the Caribbean’s first mixed-use – retail and commercial – building with a LEED Gold certificate.
LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a designation by the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council, which rates buildings, homes and neighborhoods on efficient resource consumption. The “gold” award is second only to platinum on a four-level scale.
One member of the U.S. Green Building Council is Ray Johnson, president and founder of US Solar, whose Cayman Solar division built the array, employing almost entirely Caymanian labor, at Nexus Way, also known as Block 8. “Dart Realty’s Camana Bay Block 8 … is actually the largest commercial rooftop in the country and only took a couple of months to complete,” Mr. Johnson said.
“It is a 75,000-watt system, which equals enough electricity to power up to 15 homes every day.” James Whittaker, CEO of Greentech Solar, which he founded in 2008, and chairman of the recently created Cayman Renewable Energy Association, is building the 304-panel, 100-kilowatt-hour array at Forum Lane, also known as Block 5.
“We provide the world’s most-powerful, most-efficient and best-warranted solar panels,” he said. “We have done several residential and commercial projects, [and] are currently doing the Camana Bay Block 5 building as a notable project.”
GreenTech projects annual savings on Block 5 electricity bills at $65,602. “We also provided all the solar street lighting for the Yacht Club,” Mr. Whittaker said.
Dart Realty funded the $7 million, three-year renovation of the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, which reopened on Sept. 24 after having been ravaged by Hurricane Ivan years earlier. The renovation included 24 solar-powered street lights, fed by batteries with a four-night reserve, installed by Greentech.
The company also installed solar lighting on the Camana Bay roundabout and the nine-panel demonstration array outside Caribbean Utilities Company’s North Sound Road offices.
In addition to nearly 20 private residential projects, GreenTech is installing renewable power in the Dart-built Belle Verde residence in neighboring Salt Creek. Listed at $3.6 million, the single-family dwelling will be among the Caribbean’s first LEED Gold private homes.
“I started GreenTech almost five years ago with the desire to bring the highest levels of sustainability to the Cayman Islands and broader Caribbean,” Mr. Whittaker said, doing “everything from designing and building energy-efficient green homes to providing renewable energy.”
Mr. Chivers said Dart invested more than $200,000 in 89 Nexus Way, which, Mr. Johnson said, would “recover the total capital investment in construction and development in less than five years.”
The system would last more than 20 years, he said, pointing out that span roughly equals the length of CUC’s government contract. “Over the useful lifespan of the rooftop installation, the owners will profit an estimated three times the original cost to build.”
Mr. Chivers did not name Camana Bay’s overall power requirements, or the extent to which the solar arrays had defrayed that demand, saying only that the projects are ongoing.
“We have not set a demand target for our solar. At present we are simply trying to reduce our load in locations, which makes sense as part of our overall energy-efficiency initiatives,” he said.
Other energy-saving elements
Prior to the Nexus Way installation, Mr. Chivers said, designers had “already provided energy-saving elements, such as high-efficiency air-conditioning systems, tinted windows and shading to keep the building cooler.”
“Retrofitting this building with a solar array was the logical next step in cutting energy usage and ultimately costs to tenants.”
Already, he said, a smaller solar project “on Market Street, across from Jessie’s Juice Bar, produces 23kW. There are also 20 panels atop the parking structure at the corner of Forum Lane and Market Street that offset the power used by Camana Bay’s two electric vehicle charging stations which opened in 2012.
Finally, he said, two more solar projects will open in the immediate future: one at the Mourant Ozannes building, No. 94 Solaris, and one at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Cayman International School.