A Revolution in Going Green

Local company encourages energy efficiency.

By Kathy Borsuk

It was with joy that I covered Fortis TCI’s foray into offering solar energy options to its customers for our Summer 2016 article “Let the Sun Shine.” The country’s electricity providers now offer both                     customer-owned and utility-owned solar photovoltaic systems that are interconnected with the grid.

After he read the article, Paul Chaplin, co-owner of Green Revolution, a local renewable energy/energy efficiency solutions consulting firm, called to gently chide me. He said, “Energy efficiency is the first step before moving towards renewable energy solutions. If we are energy hogs but install a renewable energy system, it doesn’t necessarily make us green.”

Point taken. For according to this “green guru,” energy efficiency and energy efficient technologies have far quicker paybacks than, for instance, a whole house solar installation.

Energy efficiency is the first step before moving towards renewable energy solutions.

Energy efficiency is the first step before moving towards renewable energy solutions.

Green Revolution’s mission is to introduce renewable energy and energy efficiency into the everyday lives of the citizens and residents of the Caribbean. Paul Chaplin and Jim Dunlop started the company in 2011. Paul, a Quantity Surveyor with a construction background and Jim, a Master Plumber, are both passionately interested in helping people “go green.” The pair focuses on ideas and technologies that offer low maintenance, speedy paybacks, and are suited to the region’s idiosyncrasies and weather variations.

In order of fastest payback, following are some of the suggestions they make to clients:

1.) Adopt simple energy management strategies such as turning off lights, cooling/ventilation systems, and appliances when not in use. (Immediate payback.)

2.) Switch to energy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. (One to two year payback.)

3.) Switch to an energy-efficient HVAC system with a high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. (One to two year payback.)

4.) Use solar pool heating to take your pool heating off the grid. (One to two year payback.)

5.) Use solar water heaters to take your water heating off the grid. (Two to three year payback.)

6.) Use solar pumps to take your pool or irrigation pump off the grid. (Two to three year payback.)

Green Revolution encourages homeowners to conduct a basic home energy assessment using either a professional auditor, a FortisTCI representative, or doing it yourself following some of the techniques listed on their website, www.greenrevolutionltd.com. This is the first step in assessing how much energy your home consumes and where you may be losing energy. It can also determine the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems, and how to conserve hot water and electricity.Green Revolution can prepare a basic report of recommendations, including the savings of each recommendation and paybacks of that technology. (FortisTCI auditors will send you a report with recommendations, as well.)

Green Revolution’s best sellers are solar pool heating, solar water heaters, and solar pumps. The company’s 100+ projects range from small, one-off installations in existing homes to more extensive work in most of the new villa developments that are expanding across the Islands. For instance, the company is currently providing solar solutions to BE Developments, Wymara Villas, Parrot Cay Villas and other local resorts.

According to Rob Ayer, principal of Wymara Villas, “Offering energy efficient homes is important to us, especially given the fact that utility costs are expensive in TCI. Similar to what we did at the Gansevoort Resort, we researched possible solutions to implement for our new oceanfront villas and sought the advice and expertise of Paul Chaplin. He and his team were great in suggesting and then designing the right applications to fit our needs. They showed us all the possible products and what the costs and payback periods would be so that we could make informed decisions. They then worked with our architects and engineers to coordinate the design and implementation of these solutions.”

Paul explains, “Developers and designers are keen to pursue greener, more energy efficient homes. In addition to ‘help the planet’ motives, they are seen as a good sales incentive for purchasers, as electricity will be one of their largest operating costs.” In fact, worldwide growth in the use of solar power has increased by an average of 60% per year for the last 10 years.

You could say that Green Revolution is one of the pioneers in TCI’s green energy movement. Paul is a director of Norstar Group, a long established, full service construction company with a 12 year history in the Turks & Caicos and Jim is a partner in Estel Plumbing. When the late-2000s recession struck, the pair thought that retrofitting existing construction with green energy technologies would be a way to both stimulate their business and help the local community save money on energy costs. Paul recalls, “We basically  approached the architects, mechanical/electrical/plumbing consultants,  and developers to consider solar energy solutions. We went through a process of building up a business case for the technologies we were suggesting, to demonstrate what kind of payback and savings could be achieved for each suggestion. It was a bit slow-going at first, but now architects and engineers are suggesting solar options to clients and owners/developers are asking for these technologies to be included in their early designs.” Green Revolution has completed many projects, both residential and commercial, throughout the region, saving residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs each year.

With a background of over 20 years in construction in the UK, US, and TCI, Paul Chaplin’s passion for green energy is matched by a drive to keep up with new technologies and inventions, as well as maintaining a good network of worldwide suppliers. He is currently excited about a solar hybrid “earth cooling” system that uses solar-powered ventilators to draw warm air through a series of tubes placed underground, cooling the fresh air to ground temperature (75ºF) and then distributing it through the building to provide electricity-free air conditioning. It sounds like a brilliant idea!

He is also carrying out extensive testing of a wireless, remote energy management system with a large Providenciales-based hotel and villa development which monitors real time energy consumption, provides energy consumption reports, sets ongoing targets for consumption, and benchmarks against historical consumption. It also controls the main power consumers. The idea is to encourage resorts and villa owners to adopt a simple energy management strategy. This, coupled with the power consumption reporting and control of the large energy consumers, will provide significant cost savings to owners. Initial results indicate attractive paybacks of around three years.

Green Revolution encourages clients to take advantage of Scotiabank’s finance options for selected products, including solar hot water heaters and solar pumps. This is a win-win opportunity, as the monthly repayments on loans taken to purchase and install the equipment are LESS THAN the cost of the electricity saved!

For customers who choose to go “all the way” and install a solar photovoltaic system, Green Revolution notes that the payback periods vary depending on the installation and on the choice of system used. Based on an average 5 kW system, you can expect a grid-tied system to payback in 4 to 20 years depending on the rate the utility is willing to pay for the power you produce and an off-grid system to payback in under 10 years.

Paul and Jim see TCI’s future as incorporating more green energy systems into resorts and hotels. They believe that the type of tourist coming to the Islands would be attracted to and impressed by such measures.

For more information or to schedule an energy consultation, contact Green Revolution at (649) 232-1393 or visit www.greenrevolutionltd.com.

Case study

Paul Chaplin, co-owner of Green Revolution, described to me a typical client case study. “We were called by the owner of a Providenciales luxury villa that was built in 2005. When occupied, the average monthly electricity bill was in excess of $6,000; unoccupied it was $2,500. We conducted a thorough energy audit, using a power monitor to determine real time power consumption and where the power was being consumed.

With our client’s blessing, we began a two-year energy management program, taking a step-by-step approach. Early-on, we discovered that the landscape lighting was on 24 hours a day, pumps were running 24 hours a day, and water heaters were running 24 hours a day—that was an easy fix. We replaced the air conditioning system with an energy efficient VRV system, changed the configuration of some of the duct work, and increased insulation in the home. We installed solar hot water heaters for the domestic water heating and solar pool pumps for the infinity edge, jacuzzi filter pump, and pool filter pump.

We encouraged the client to implement a simple energy management strategy through their property managers. When all was said and done, we dropped the power bill to $900 per month when the villa was vacant, and under $2,000 per month when occupied; this in spite of the fact that the interior temperature is kept at a maximum of 80ºF year-round when unoccupied to avoid damage to furniture and possessions.”

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