Thinking Energy Efficient Urban Design

The Urban Design Studio for Energy Efficient Design and Management focusses on holistic strategies and elements of energy efficiency. This workshop is an activity of the EU-ACP EDULINK II project Mainstreaming Energy Efficiency and Climate Change in Built Environment Training in the Caribbean (CarEnTrain). The facilitator is Dr Bart Janssens from the University of Antwerp, Belgium one of the partners on the project. It was held previously in Saint Lucia and Suriname as part of a pre-conference activity for the Caribbean Urban Forum. This time, it was held on the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine campus with a broader focus of not only university campus development but the development of urban areas in general.

Prinicpal's Office, U.W.I. St. Augustine. A building originally designed for the climate of Trinidad and Tobago. Some features have since been changed to facilitate air conditioning.
Prinicpal’s Office, U.W.I. St. Augustine. A climatically designed building. Some features have since been changed to facilitate air conditioning.

One of the main themes looked at was the link designing and planning for climate. This was focussed on by Dr Janssens and Mr Mark Raymond, Chairman of the U.W.I. Green Campus and UWI lecturer. One specific example was that of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The city was planned in such a way to take advantage of the breezes of the area and Dr Janssens took a look at how the city developed from its creation. Further to this examples of modern tropical structures from around world were looked at and their energy efficient design elements highlighted. Dr Janssens went on to discuss the elements that need to be looked at in planning and designing a building or town which fell into two concepts called Trias Ecologica and Pentas Ecologica.

Dr. Bart Janssens, University of Antwerp facilitator for the Urban Design Studio
Dr. Bart Janssens, University of Antwerp facilitator for the Urban Design Studio

Also introduced, were tools and international schemes and guides such as BREEAM, CLEAR, LEED which deal with green building and design. Dr Janssens believes that these can be used or used as a basis for a Caribbean guide. Prior to the workshop, participants were asked to do their own assessments based on information provided. Three participants were able to do this and presented their findings at the start of the workshop. Later, all participants formed groups and completed an assessment on an area of their choosing on the UWI campus. They were instructed to not only look at buildings themselves but the surrounding areas and how they connected to the campus. They then presented their findings as a final activity of the studio.
New with this studio was an additional day for round table discussions on energy efficiency and campus management on UWI and Built Environment standards, policies, codes in Trinidad and Tobago. The first discussion began with a presentation on the U.W.I.’s involvement with the UI Green Metrics. It was noted that much of the data was unavailable or had to be roughly estimated. For the Metrics, all campuses were included which was a difficult task which often skewed the data. In spite of the lack of data, from what was gathered one could see that there was still much room to improve. Participants from the university spoke on the lack of cohesion especially on St Augustine campus between the main campus and Mt. Hope campus. Out of this discussion participants agreed on the need for a regional UWI policy on sustainability and a UWI green metrics for the university to track the various campuses.

Participants in the Urban Design Studio discussion.
Participants in the Urban Design Studio discussion.

The second discussion was entitled ‘Green Building, Who Cares?’ It was held on the UWI campus and hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Green Building Council (TTGBC). This discussion focussed on building policies and codes and how green building and urban design could be incorporated. During the course of the discussion, two main points cropped up. The first point was that several committees had been created by the government previously to discuss policies and codes and the incorporation of these ideologies however there was no further movement in policy creation and update after the findings were submitted. The second point was that of implementation within the communities and among the general population.

'Green Building. Who Cares?' A discussion on Built Environment standards, policies and codes and how to incorporate energy efficiency into them.
‘Green Building. Who Cares?’ A discussion on Built Environment standards, policies and codes and how to incorporate energy efficiency into them.

Decisions and main points that came out of this discussion were:
1. Focus on education and sensitization
2. Reinitiate plans and policies for built environment and sustainability
3. Creation of simple guide for incorporating green elements into construction and building design

Climate and Society Master’s Program Scholarships Available for students from the Caribbean Region

Columbia UniversityScholarships are now available for students from the Caribbean to develop knowledge related to climate change adaptation and water resources management that can be directed back to the region. The scholarships are provided by “Building Capacity to Manage Water Resources and Climate Risk in the Caribbean,” a partnership between the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), and the Center for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of West Indies (UWI). The project is funded by Higher Education for Development (HED).

Applications for the Master’s Program in Climate and Society at Columbia University are due by April 1, 2013. However, earlier submission of applications is strongly encouraged for those interested in this scholarship. Two full scholarships are available for the 2013-2014 academic year. One full scholarship will be offered the following year.

Housed in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences within Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), the Climate and Society program shares its name and as well as its mission with the IRI, a research unit of the Earth Institute.

The core coursework is a set of tailor-made courses providing a scientific basis for inquiry that stresses interdisciplinary problem solving. Core coursework includes the dynamics of climate variability and change, regional climate and climate impacts, quantitative models of climate-sensitive natural and human systems, and the integrative policy course titled managing and adapting to climate variability and change. A professional development seminar and a choice between a summer internship and research thesis complete the required core. Five electives across the fall and spring allow students to tailor the program across disciplines including economics, energy, sustainable development, atmospheric science and more.

If you would like more information about the master’s program, or the application process, please contact

For inquiries related to the scholarship please contact:

To apply, please visit: Earth Institute Columbia University