Monday, September 8, 2008

Engineers Week Activities are Picking Up!

We are now in September, and it has been a very busy few weeks for us. Things have been pretty interesting following the Olympics, the passing of Tropical Storm Gustav, and rains from Hanna, Ike and possibly Josephine.

Anyway, the organizing team for the 5K road race has been very busy. There have been a few practice runs of the last few Saturdays (in between the rains). The interest in the event is great too. The last time I looked at the Facebook group, there are 80 persons confirmed to participate, and another 109 maybes. Check the link.

To make the process of signing up easier, we have included an online registration link. Those of you who prefer the traditional way of signing up, you can download a form here as well. Remember, the Run is on Sunday, September 21st, at the Hope Gardens. Start time is 6 a.m., so get your rest the night before.

Plans for the Expo and Presentation series are also advanced as well. So far, we have confirmed exhibitors from the USA as well as locally. The slate of presentations is almost ready, and we will share it with you as soon as we have finalized the details.

Remember, the official opening ceremony is Wednesday September 24th, and the Expo starts on the same day, and runs until Thursday, September 25th. Again, for details, visit the Engineers Week page on our website.

click on the image to enlarge.

Looking forward to seeing you at as many of the events as possible.

Monday, July 28, 2008

China Olympics

All the focus is now on all the athletes getting ready for the Olympics in China, and especially us here in Jamaica, as the battle between Bolt and Powell heightens, but for us engineers, there are a few other things that we might be interested in.

Visit this slideshow on Yahoo, and see the marvels of engineering and architecture that will be on display. Click here

Friday, July 25, 2008

NHT to give $1m solar panel loan

published: Friday | July 25, 2008

Richard Morais, Gleaner Writer


AS PART of its thrust to play an integral role in com-munity development, the National Housing Trust (NHT) has introduced a $1 million solar panel loan, which will allow home-owners to use sun-energised electricity power supplies.

"As a developing nation with a fragile ecosystem, Jamaica has increasingly incorporated, within its overall sustainable development strategy, sustainable energy policy," NHT regional manager, Norris Rainford, said. "As such, we have acknowledged the integral role which solar and renewable energy sources must play in fuelling development."

Rainford was speaking at a solar forum and exhibition, under the theme 'Alternative Energy the Way Forward', hosted by the agency's St James and Trelawny branches in Montego Bay on Wednesday.

15-year repayment

The maximum loan amount is $1.2 million, which is about the cost of the plant, repayable over 15 years. Persons who access the maximum amount will access the funds at interest rates of two and eight per cent.

The solar panel systems are said to have a 25-year warranty and require virtually no maintenance with a minimum battery life of seven years. It is built to withstand 125 mile per hour wind and will start losing power after about three days of total overcast conditions.

According to one of the presenters, Louise Henriques of Automatic Control Engineering Limited, solar system energy conservation is paramount. She said that, with the current system of energy, all items using energy can be on while, with solar power, the more energy used is the less the system has available.

"Therefore, a highly conservative household can still have energy even after the three days of no sunlight."

The NHT will continue its solar water heater loan, as high as $100,000 repayable over five years at a three per cent interest rate.

Other presenters at the forum and exhibition included Pete Hylton of Hylton's Plumbing, Welding and Solar Heater and Glenbert Comrie of Solar Technologies Limited.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

“Towards a One-Stop Shop for Approvals in Jamaica” The New Building Code and The New Building act

The complexity of our development approval process is now common knowledge to the stakeholders and the public. This was highlighted by the recent compilation of the “Development and Investment Manual”. The manual was the result of phase one of the Legs and Regs/ Government of Jamaica/USAID Development Approval Process Project (DAPP). Two large folders divided into seven volumes. This document recorded the approval process that currently exists in the agencies and, in most cases, presented a flow chart to simplify the process. This multiple agency process has proven to be time, as well as resource consuming. In the past, quite often frustration and confusion were by-products of the interaction during submission and tracking of the submitted project. The time for project approval has been reported with a large degree of inconsistency even for projects of similar complexity, design, density and location. Phase three of the DAPP main goal is to eliminate this inconsistency, provide a constant time frame and a suitable user friendly tracking system. Oversight and enforcement are also high on the agenda and are key factors for sustaining the established time frame and guidelines. With this in mind our phase three mission statement was developed “To achieve a maximum turn around time of 90 days for all the relevant approval agencies to respond to building and subdivision applications, while ensuring that approved projects conform to the new National Building Code and properly established Planning and Environmental requirements for the Sustainable Development of Jamaica”. The 90 days deadline referred to in the phase three mission statement is by no means new. On the 24 of November 1999 a 90 days approval process was proposed jointly by the following organizations:
  • The Jamaica Developers Association (JDA).
  • The Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE).
  • The Jamaican Institute of Architects (JIA).
  • The Jamaica Institute of Quantity Surveyors (JIQS).
  • The Land Surveyors Association of Jamaica (LSAJ).
  • The Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ).
This document was in the form of a flow chart which noted all the agencies involved in the approval process from start, to receipt of building permit from the parish council. The process required the submitted plans to be sealed by registered professionals and, at the end of construction a “Completion Certificate” to be issued by the parish council. I cannot think of any reason why this plan could not have been adapted, enforced and sustained. Nine years later we are again proposing a 90-day approval process. What is different this time and what do we need to make it work? I must start my answer by saying that the 90-day turn around time was always achievable. I say this based on recent information received by the DAPP which shows that 82% of all applications received by the parish councils are for single family dwelling units. These simpler applications could have been dealt with separately from the more complex applications and allow a refocus of resources for dealing with the other 18%. In my personal investigations I have discovered that attempts were made to implement a 90 day approval process in some parish councils however this was not consistent or sustained. The 90 days in our mission statement is based on the following:
  1. Incomplete plans will not be accepted.
  2. All plans will be submitted by registered professionals.
  3. All plans will be submitted based on our new building code.
  4. All plans will conform to properly establish planning, zoning and environmental guidelines.
  5. Developers of “large scale commercial and residential properties” will enter into pre consultation meetings with the relevant agencies.
  6. From pre consultation the need for Environment Impact Assessment studies should be established.
  7. Establishing a One-Stop Shop to manage the process.
The current legally enforced building code in use in Jamaica was produced in 1908. This has encouraged the use of a variety of building codes by our designers. With the recent completion of our new code production effort Jamaica will now have a modern and international building code which deals with our specific local situations. This code will require the passing of the new Building Act into legislation in order for it to become a legally enforceable document. Without this legal support the new code would have a similar fate as some of our recent code effort - another document for the shelf. Our new building code would provide us with a single building design and checking platform. All building plans would be designed accordingly and like wise all plans would be assessed according to the new code. Training would focus on one code only. This will modernize; create focus and harmony in our approval system. In my capacity as president of the JIE, I have sat and listened to numerous complaints by my colleagues and developers. Some of the most infamous ones are listed below:
  • I submitted a simple addition and it took almost a year before I got approval.
  • My project was approved and I discovered that after three months.
  • Project was approved however letter was not done after two weeks.
  • Project was approved letter was done we cannot locate the drawings.
  • Letter was done but not signed yet.
  • We are unable to locate your file and drawings.
  • Subdivisions that took more than two years.
  • I am still waiting on my sign to be approved after submitting it six months ago.
I made several enquiries to the same agency on the same day and got conflicting answers. The most painful was sitting and listening to a developer whose project took so long to get approval that he lost the “window of opportunity” and his source of funding. The finger was also pointed in our direction with complaints from the agencies about the quality of application submitted, incomplete or inadequate designs and the omission of critical information from drawings. Housekeeping on our part is also required. The formation and implementation of the One-Stop shop will be the only guarantee that the 90 day response time will be adhered to for all applications. From here, all tracking and monitoring will also be done. This operation could be central or regional as in Cornwall, Middlesex and Surry. The regional approach would solve the possible logistics problems that might be associated with the central method. In recent times we have been awoken by numerous incidents on large construction sites along the north coast, some of which have caused major embarrassment for the parties involved and even instances that resulted in the loss of life. This is pointing to a serious weakness in our current enforcement and monitoring system which needs to be addressed from a new approach. We cannot allow this approach to continue. The problem of a lengthy, inconsistent and cumbersome approval process has haunted us long enough. The end result is counter productive, anti-development and is fueling unemployment. We need to move forward or we will be left behind. It is not our intention to point fingers or play the blame game. We are geared toward locating the solutions and pointing in the correct direction. This problem has plagued us long enough; we have the tools and the skills to solve it so let us do so for the sake of our nation. If we intend to become a developed country by 2030 this is one hurdle we must jump. Onward to the "One-Stop Shop". Desmond Young President Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) Member of the Development Approval Process Project (DAPP) Technical Advisory Committee. Chairman DAPP Planning Sub - Committee.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The JIE presents the final in a series of workshops designed to educate engineers and related professionals in the new Building Codes. The final session will be on International Code Council Electrical Code/ National Electrical Code and the Jamaica Application Document.

The seminar will be held July 21-25th, 2008 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
Contact the JIE for details

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Engineers Week Coming Up

For 2008, the JIE will be celebrating Engineers' Week big time with a series of activities that will interest all. The theme of the week is "Exploring Alternatives".
Not only will we be having the usual presentations, but there will also be an Exposition of Engineering companies, a Road Race and more.

The schedule of activities will be as follows:

Thursday Sept 18th - JIE Supplement in the Gleaner
Saturday Sept 20th - Church Service, Meadowvale SDA Church, Meadowbrook Kingston (folowed by brunch at the President's home)
Sunday Sept 21st - Road Race in support of the Hope Gardens & Zoo.
Tuesday Sept 22nd - Launch of Expo and Presentations - Ja. Pegasus
Wednesday Sept 23rd - Expo & Presentations
Thursday - Forum on Green Building Designs

We will update you on the details of all the activities in the coming weeks.

MEET THE ENERTIA: an all-electric, plug-in motorcycle

As we strive to become green and reduce carbon footprints, alternatives to traditional modes of transport are becoming more available.

We have heard of the Hybrid Toyota Prius and the new Honda FCX Hydrogen fuel vehicle, but here is something just as interesting....

Feel More Human

The meaning of "electric bike" is about to get shaken up something fierce. Brammo Motorsports, an Oregon-based company, has designed one of the newest forms of guilt-free transportation: The Enertia.

Due out this Summer/Fall, it's an all-electric, plug-in motorcycle that goes upwards of 55mph, has a 40+ mile range and takes just 3 hours to charge.

The zero-emissions Enertia utilizes six powerful lithium-phosphate batteries and claims that riders give nothing up in performance or handling. In fact, it only weighs 275 pounds, making it the eco-vehicle of choice to maneuver around urban environments.

"The opportunity to design a vehicle that people can feel good about using while at the same time love the way it looks and performs is extremely satisfying," says Brian Wismann, Director of Design at Brammo.

But don't gas-powered motorcycles get almost double the fuel efficiency of average cars anyway? Why even design an electric bike? Better fuel economy does not always mean better emissions. According to Brammo, most modern bikes produce up to 15 times the emissions per mile as the average new car or light truck.

Roll on at to learn more or place a reservation.