Progress on sustainability in government

The Public Entity Saba is progressing in the area of sustainability within the government organization, but there are still areas with room for improvement. Tom van Haaren, architect specialized in sustainability in a built environment, arrived at that conclusion during his five-month stay on Saba as trainee.

Van Haaren looked at five categories: energy, materials, waste, water and health & wellbeing. He took the government administration building, the archives building and the Planning Bureau as case study, but the findings can be generally applied to the 15 to 20 government buildings.

Van Haaren also looked at how the traditional Saban building style includes sustainable values. The use of white walls on Saba are a sustainable element in the building style because white reflects heat and as such less energy is needed to cool the inside of buildings. The relatively small windows are also a positive element because less heat gets inside the building and the cool air stays inside.

Cisterns

The use of cisterns is super sustainable, in Van Haaren’s opinion. “The Netherlands can learn something from Saba where the catching of rainwater and the very efficient use of water by the Saban people is concerned,” he said. According to Van Haaren, Saba is doing well in the area of sustainability, but he did have a number of recommendations for further improvements.

Van Haaren recommended replacing the old central air conditioning units in the government administration building which are not energy efficient. The insulation of roofs is a very effective manner to prevent the loss of energy and it can save 5 to 10 percent of the total electricity bill. Also, the reduction of the number of printers at the offices can be reduced to save energy, to decrease waste, to improve the air quality and to stimulate employees to walk more.

Government has started to apply its general objective to drastically limit single use plastics, which is a good thing. The use of plastic bottles and Styrofoam cups within the government organization is being phased out. Government workers have been given their own mug that they can reuse. Styrofoam cups will be replaced by paper cups.

Water dispensers

As a pilot project, water dispensers will be installed in the different government buildings. The idea is to initially import the large refillable bottles with water from St. Maarten until the water bottling plant on Saba has become fully operational. The close to 200 government workers will receive a personal Dopper water bottle that they can refill at the water dispensers.

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