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The importance of outdoor air In air conditioning systems


Mark Knowles BSc. (Hons), Mechanical Engineer • Email: [email protected]

Air Conditioning has become ubiquitous in modern living both in residential and commercial settings. The benefits of Air Conditioning are also well understood, both in terms of comfort and health benefits, as well as on productivity in the workplace. However, in consideration of Air Conditioning for any particular application, there is usually a significant distinction between a residential application and a commercial application. In fact most building codes are very specific to distinguish between residential and commercial guidelines.

One of the major differences between the design guidelines for Air Conditioning is with regards to Ventilation or more specifically “Outdoor Air Requirements for Ventilation”. To grasp the importance of this it is useful to understand one basic principle behind Air Conditioning (AC), and this is that most AC systems are re-circulating systems. This means that the air in a space is circulated by a fan in the space and passed over a cold surface which cools it and sends the cooled air back to the space. This means that the air is circulated over and over in the space keeping it cool. However, during the circulation process other substances accumulate in the air,
these include carbon dioxide and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). Volatile Organic Compound is a general term that describes any organic substance that can exist in gaseous form mixed with air. VOC’s can come from adhesives, fabrics and other items in an occupied space, which emit small quantities of substances such as Acetone, Ethanol, Ammonia and Formaldehyde. The concentration of these substances as well as Carbon Dioxide can increase over time because of the recirculation of the air by the AC system.

In a residential environment, it is normally assumed that small openings in windows and construction joints, etc. will allow air to infiltrate into the occupied space and this outside air will dilute the contaminants in the air and maintain an acceptable air quality. For this reason and also because of the relatively small size of most residences, most building codes do not mandate ventilation rates and mechanical ventilation for single family residences.

For commercial buildings, however, codes normally mandate a ventilation rate. This ventilation takes the form of outdoor air which is drawn in or forced into a building and mixed with the re-circulating indoor air. Mechanical exhaust is also normally used to remove part of the re-circulating air and balance the system. Contaminants will build up more quickly in a commercial building because of several factors, including more occupants per floor area, larger floor areas and tighter construction.

Increased concentrations of Carbon Dioxide can cause headaches, fatigue, changes in pulse rate and general feelings of ‘stuffiness’ to occupants. This is in addition to several other possible negative health effects associated with VOC’s. We can thus appreciate that outdoor air ventilation is essential to an efficient building and to the health and safety of the occupants. Any gains in occupant efficiency attributable to the AC systems cooling and de-humidifying effects can quickly be eroded if the ventilation is inadequate. Occupant discomfort and health effects will lead to losses in commercial activities.

Some building operators disconnect, disable or block off the fresh air intake into a building, effectively reducing the ventilation to a minimal amount. This is sometimes done with the misguided aim of trying to increase the cooling effect of the AC unit, with the assumption that if the unit makes the space cooler, the occupants will be more comfortable and productive, or to reduce the energy consumption of the system. This often has an unseen negative effect as
noted above. Negative human occupant effects will far outweigh any energy cost reduction if this strategy is employed. It is often better to allow a slightly higher indoor temperature than to compromise the ventilation in a building.

Arguably, the best approach to reaping the best benefits of your AC system is to have the
AC system properly engineered, with calculations done in advance to define the system to be
installed. This will allow proper ventilation rates and ensure a building that operates with the
highest level of efficiency.

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Preserving our environment

hansHans – Erich Schulz, MSc., M.B.A., MSc. (Environmental Management)
Email: [email protected]

Why are we failing to address sustainability and green construction issues within the industry? Today, as we are more mindful of anticipated climatic changes and look on as the rest of the world champions sustainability, we are bombarded by concepts such as green construction, sustainable buildings, reduced carbon emissions, eco friendly buildings and sustainable drainage to mention just a few. The jargon is indeed catchy but have we done anything at all to implement these concepts within our own building industry? For those of you who have answered “yes” can we say that we have done enough? The answer is most probably “no”. It is easy to say that we care about the environment, the very environment that we inhabit on a daily basis, yet so difficult to make a conscious effort to protect it.

We have had no shortage of construction projects within the last decade. Tall buildings, hotels, schools, sporting facilities and houses have all been built and handed over. As a client, home owner, construction professional or contractor have you ever wondered what impact your project has had or will have on the environment? Quite frankly, given that I have asked quite a few people these questions; you may be shocked by the responses provided. I did enlighten these individuals as to the damage caused by the activities performed on a daily basis. Although, we have paid scant attention to the long term ramifications of our actions, all is not lost…yet. There are still many ways by which you can assist in protecting and sustaining the environment.

Lessons from the UK

According to the Rt. Hon. Nick Raynsford, MP (UK), setting the business case for environmentally and socially sustainable housing is crucial in enabling the construction industry to contribute effectively to finding solutions to global problems, such as climate and to put the UK industry at the forefront of sustainable design. Perhaps we should be setting similar standards for Caribbean based companies. The MP further went on to say that “as awareness of sustainability grows we must be able to meet the challenge of supplying homes, which are not only economically viable and desirable but also encourage a sense of community, and use natural resources efficiently. Again, maybe the necessary stakeholders can adopt this philosophy; it would be a welcome change from the mass manufactured houses which are being sold to the public.

Energy Matters

The consumption of energy on a daily basis to produce cool air, light and power creates ollution and greenhouse gases. It is almost certain that our homes account for over a large part of the Caribbean’s total emissions of carbon dioxide, so saving energy is one of the easiest ways to assist in preserving our environment.

Immediately one could save a lot of money (and by extension the environment) by using less energy. As I pen these thoughts together, it occurred to me that I am using all the natural elements of the environment namely sunlight and cool air. I refuse to use unnecessary energy as I am aware that it creates pollution and greenhouse gases. Similarly, I believe that we ought to be looking at simple and basic ways and means of reducing energy. Did you know that by the time electricity is used at home or at work it provides only around one tenth of the total energy that has been consumed to produce it? This means that ten kwh (kilowatt hours) of energy ran from material such as coal are needed to run a 1 kw electric water heater at
home for one hour. The generation process itself produces a great deal of heat but rather than being used, this heat is removed through complicated cooking techniques and thus effectively wasted (CEM, 2008).

Alternative Energy Sources

When I think about the amount of unnecessary energy we use, I often wonder if it is because we are unaware of what we are doing. For example, can you tell me:

  1. Why do we continue to leave on hot water heaters for the entire day?
  2. Why can’t we dry our clothes using the natural sunlight, do we really need electric dryers?
  3. Why are we still using normal light bulbs instead of low energy light bulbs?
  4. Any chance of exploring the benefits of installing a renewable energy system – perhaps solar water heating system? I am told by friends in Barbados and St. Lucia that these solar systems can provide around half of a household’s water heating requirements over the course of a year.

What about alternative energy sources? Have we seriously considered our options? I have been told that “Domestic Wind Turbines” may even be possible for some locations in the Caribbean. They seem to be quite popular in certain parts of Africa and Asia. We in the Caribbean have to start thinking in a different way. The Caribbean’s impact on the environment stretches beyond its immediate boundaries and beyond South and Central America effectively touching the entire global hemisphere. We must start thinking on a global scale. We should insist that our landscape architects, urban planners, architects, environmental, structural and services engineers conjure up images and visions similar to Miami, Los Angeles, Texas, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Madrid and the British Virgin Islands. Almost every major development throughout North America is instilling economical and ecological wastewater solutions. These systems are said to be clean, efficient, easy to maintain, easy to install and typically less expensive than the conventional system and are environmentally sound. What is our position on this?

The Future

Many of us might be wondering whether the current economic climate is the appropriate background for us in the Caribbean to be embarking on sustainability and developing the true Caribbean heritage of sun, sea and sand… all natural elements. Sadly but realistically it might not be. Perhaps in an effort to weather the recession storm, we should focus on preserving and making improvements to our local buildings. Get our architects to balance their designs. They should be committed to cherishing and protecting the character of our unique Caribbean cities. Designs should also take into account the importance of public transport and the growing problems of congestion, pollution, health and quality of life.

Whatever we decide, we must act now to make a difference in our own small way, so that we can once again start consuming cleaner air and water and at the same time save our natural resources. The environment belongs to all of us, so let us start caring for her as she continues to sustain us.

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Ocean One Barbados & the late Dipnarine Dhanoo, Structural Engineer.

Cover story (Issue 1. Vol 1)


When this issue of Caribbean Construction Digest (CCD) is published, we were happy that we would have taken the first and most difficult step in our journey towards making a valuable contribution towards the development of the region’s construction industry. At the same time,
perhaps our deepest regret wil be that our dear friend and colleague Dipnarine Dhanoo (deceased) will not be around to share in our celebration. Whilst the industry has lost the services of a talented and experienced Structural Engineer, we have lost a colleague and a friend.

Dip’s support, matter of fact opinions and humor during the compilation of this pilot issue shadows our achievement. However, it was never in Dip’s nature to be sad or reminisce about what could have been. He enjoyed life and all that it had to offer. He was always happy and nothing gave him more joy than seeing others happy. Thus, it is a pleasure for us to dedicate this issue of CCD to the memory of Dipnarine Dhanoo by featuring one of the last projects (Ocean One, Barbados) which he worked on, before meeting his untimely demise. May his soul rest in peace and may he continue to inspire us, even after death.

About Ocean One

Ocean One is an exclusive new beachfront boutique property of 21 privately owned units. The
accommodations offer ultra stylish and contemporary beachfront living unlike any other, featuring some of the most high end finishings and amenities in Barbados.


  • Unique and modern design.
  • Spacious: no less than 1389 sq. ft.
  • Luxuriously furnished including the Italian designed kitchens and bathrooms, each with their own individual style and flair, furnishings and list of available amenities, each offering its own flavor of the luxury and comfort
  • Large glass fronted ocean view balconies
  • Access to the communal pool, Jacuzzi, gym, beach front garden and terrace.
  • 24 hour security,
  • Private driveway and parking,
  • Manned reception
  • Elevator access to all floors.


  • Conveniently located: 15-20 minutes away (driving distance) from the airport and same distance from the main shopping and city centre, Bridgetown.
  • Situated away from the main road and offers tropical beauty, peace and tranquility in a luxury beach front setting.
  • Offers direct access to the quiet, pristine white sand Maxwell beach and to some of the best dining, shopping and nightlife in Barbados, including St. Lawrence Gap and Oistins.

Dip’s Role in Ocean One

Affectionately known as “Dip” to all the project team members who worked with him over the years in his role as Structural Engineer on the last two Ocean Living projects, Ocean One and Ocean Two (still under construction), Ocean Living’s Melissa Chalbaud recalls that Dip was an integral part of the team and a friend to all.

One of the unique characteristics of Ocean Onelies in the fact that it has a façade unlike any other condominium in Barbados. The inspiration for this came from the modern condos which were rising rapidly along the Florida coastline. However the many challenges faced by the team during planning and building were never overwhelming for Dip. His ability to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing demands of the project were central in making the project the success that it is. Dip’s simplicity as a person was contrasted by his expertise as a Structural Engineer. To fully appreciate the competence offered by Dip during this project, one has to listen only to the testimonial of a NASA engineer who purchased a residence at Ocean One. He expressed his complete approval and satisfaction with the structural integrity of the building and assured that he had inspected every beam himself.

The co-developer of Ocean One and Ocean Two, Peter deFreitas, met Dip through the co-developer of Ocean One, David Ellsmore and local architect, Anthony Hoad. Peter met Dip in 1995 on site at the Bougainvillea Beach Resort where he was the Structural Engineer on the project. Over the years, these two met on various occasions with Dip providing advice on South Beach Resort & Vacation Club and then becoming the Structural Engineer for
Peter’s two subsequent projects, Ocean One and Ocean Two.

Ocean One sold out upon completion and has remained in high demand for both re-sales and rentals. Dip then continued his work with the Ocean Living team on Ocean Two but unfortunately, Dip never saw the Ocean Two project to completion. Without a doubt, he has left his mark not only on the building but on all those he came into contact with. Dip was amiable, easy to work with, flexible and always pleasant; nothing was ever too large of a problem. These character traits ring true to Peter deFreitas who recalls that no matter what change he, as the developer, wanted to make, even during the course of the project, Dip’s response was always, “Peter, tell me what you want and I will design around it for you!”

Ocean One Project Team Developers:

  • Peter DeFreitas and David Ellsmore
  • Architect: Anthony Hoad of
  • Anthony Hoad Associates Ltd
  • Structural Engineer: Dipnarine Dhanoo of
  • Dipnarine Dhanoo & Associates Ltd
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer:
  • George Nicholson of ADeB Consultants Ltd
  • Quantity Surveyor and Project Manager:
  • Graham Bethell
  • Main Contractor: Innotech Services Ltd.

Interior Designer:

  • Nhora Quintero of NCQ Design

Dipnarine “Dip” “George” Dhanoo
31st May 1957 – 27th May 2008

Son of: Deonarine and Latchmin Dhanoo.
Place of Birth: #57 Matilda Road, Princes Town,
Education: Indian Walk Government Primary School in Princes Town.
St. Stephens College
The University of the West Indies
(Bsc. Civil Structural Engineering)
Early Work Experience: Ben Construction Limited, Lange Ballast, Trinidad Contractors and
Project Control and Associates.
Last Employer: “Dipnarine Dhanoo & Associates”. Services: Structural Designs, Architectural Designs, Project Management and Quantity Surveying.
Affiliations: Kenneth Charles, Nigel Ali, Barry Franceschi, Geoffery Agostini, Steve Rajpatty and Hakim Salim
Major Projects: Accra Beach Hotel & Resort (Barbados)
Bourganvilla Beach Resort (Barbados)
Personal Traits: Down–to-earth and simple with his happiest moments being spent with his family. He taught others: appreciation, thoughtfulness, generosity, impartiality and love

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Why engage a project manager? A client’s perspective


Mithra V Rampersad, MBA B.Eng C.Eng. MICE R.Eng. DipLaw Dip.F.M.

Abstract: The use of project management as a tool for execution is quickly becoming globally accepted across many industries. While being increasingly accepted within the local and regional context, there is still a tendency for clients to adopt the traditional hands-on role for the execution of their projects in lieu of the engagement of a specialized project manager. This article seeks to highlight the various factors influencing the need for project management services.

Project management has been gaining momentum in Trinidad and Tobago over the past 15 – 20 years having been adopted by some client organisations (both private and public sector) in the execution of their projects. It is considered that signals of this gain include:

  • Buy-in by client organisations – evidenced by recent advertisements for project management services.
  • Post-academic qualifications sought by potential employers now include the PMP (Project Management Professional) designation.
  • Increased professional support by organizations such as the PMI (Project Management Institute) and its local chapter the PMISCC (Project Management Institute Southern Caribbean Chapter).
  • Recognition as a specialist field –verified by new academic programmes being offered at both the Diploma and Masters levels.
  • Availability of a number of (international) standard conditions of engagement for the appointment of project managers.

The typical local or regional client organization therefore has a relatively robust infrastructure upon which to base a decision on the engagement of a project manager and does not necessarily have to start afresh on any such initiative. Influencing Factors In the development of capital projects, the client typically has three fundamental choices to make:

  • Should the management of the project be vested with existing operational staff?
  • Should a new manager or team be employed formally and specifically by the organisation?
  • Should external project management expertise be procured under a service agreement? All three approaches have features that define their advantages and disadvantages. On the client’s side, this decision is primarily influenced by:
  • The complexity of the project
  • The availability of in-house resources
  • The expertise of in-house resources
  • The size and duration of the project
  • Economic, risk management and feasibility drivers.
  • Client organization’s history of executing similar projects

Naturally, within any organisation, some, if not all, of these factors will exist to varying degrees, and therefore the rationale for procurement of project management services will be informed by the degree of confidence which the client has in these factors.

Notably, the client’s assessment on the availability of resources should not be limited to staffing only, as successful project management is also based on the efficient use of physical, financial, time and informational resources. A typical client organisation will possess all of these in some form.

Project Parameters & Resources
Naturally, the more complex a project is by definition, the more likely it is that the client will require project management services. The choice then redounds to the source of the expertise – a previous history of similar projects executed within the client organization would have led to an accumulation of in-house expertise which can then be built upon. This then follows the model of internal project management.

If the project is one where the client organization has had no similar experience, then a case is made for adoption of externally procured project management services.

It should be noted that in theory, internal and external project management define opposite ends of the spectrum within project management procurement. In practice, most projects are executed within these boundaries, i.e. a suitable mix of both in-house and externally sourced resources.

Risk Management

The second consideration that the client organisation should address is risk mitigation.The chosen approach should be tailored to suit the risk appetite of the organisation.

Robust risk assessment and management techniques will satisfy the triad of economic, technical and financial outcomes. Typical avenues available to the client are scenario modeling, contingency planning, and risk allocation. The simple exercise of procuring external project management serves to manage risk by adoption of the risk transfer principle.

A contingent risk factor associated with the appointment of external resources is the issue of corporate confidentiality. Despite client confidentiality arrangements, the possibility exists that competitive business projects in the development stage may be compromised. Economic choices made by the client should consider two levels of comparison:

  • Whether the cost of using internal resources exceed the cost of external resources.
  • Whether the secondment costs of internal resources to the project team outweighs the opportunity cost of the productivity of those resources in their substantive positions.

In this respect, a full and objective cost-benefit analysis should be carried out, preferably using life-cycle costing techniques.

Further Steps
The client’s objectives will be the ultimate drivers for any project. Therefore, the method of project procurement and execution should be aligned as closely as possible to these objectives.

Engagement of a project manager is a critical step towards project success and it is argued that in making this decision, the client must carefully consider all factors that influence the judgment.

It should be equally appreciated that each project undertaken is different in both scope and approach. Hence, the adoption of one model on one project may not be appropriate for another, regardless of the similarities.

Where the client organisation forecasts an orientation towards several project developments, consideration should be given to the establishment of an in-house project division. Conversely, where projects are sporadic and intermittent, a more appropriate approach may be the procurement of external project management services.

There are many arguments for and against the appointment of a Project Manager. However it is clear that the opportunities to be derived far exceed the economic benefits of utilizing ‘in – house’ resources. Additionally, the risks associated with large projects can affect the overall performance of the organization.

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The role of the professional in the building industry in a developing or underdeveloped nation


Canute Edd Spencer, FRICS, FCI Arb, MRSH
Email: [email protected]

In attempting to write an article on this subject, one must first define the term “professional in the building industry”, “developing and underdeveloped nation” and perhaps one must also explain why “in the building industry”, are they the only professionals with a contribution
to make?

Last things first, given that I am practicing in the building industry as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor (otherwise known as a Construction Cost Consultant I have been exposed and involved to this industry for many years. Because of my “tenure”, experiences and encounters throughout the years, I believe that I have developed a keen understanding of the subject matter. Equally important is my belief that I cannot or should not attempt to comment on other professionals (e.g. doctors and lawyers) since I believe that there are enough of them to speak for themselves. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the building industry is the latest recognizable innovation for developing an underdeveloped country.

In my youth, the favored professions were medicine, law and religion. Engineering ran low on the required professional charts as too Architects, we still prefer to use Draftsmen not recognizing the difference, even at the so called sophisticated society social level. Interestingly, the only surveyor known in Trinidad at the time was the Land Surveyor (or “Severere” as locally pronounced).

When I arrived in England in 1959 to pursue Quantity Surveying, it was only then that I realized that there were Land Surveyors, Building Surveyors, Valuation Surveyors, Housing Surveyors, Planning Surveyors and Quantity Surveyors, all of equal importance to and in the building industry.

After completing my studies, I believed (as I do today) that our first responsibility as returning professionals is to educate our society as to our function(s) as well as the limitations imposed upon our efficiency by the sheer circumstances of practicing in an underdeveloped country. For
example, pricing a construction project depends upon an efficient system of collecting data, once the system relied upon is flawed; no amount of qualification on your part can produce correct results.

To be successful, the professional in the building industry (Architect, Engineer or whatever type of construction professional) must consider education as his priority; education of the general public, the various stakeholders within the building industry and the business and financial sectors of our society who should most benefit from our contribution, i.e. mortgagers and financiers. Our role as an educator goes beyond educating the public generally, we are also responsible for the understanding of our fellow professionals with whom we are called upon to work and produce effectively. Specialists are trained to practice within the normal daily purview of their training. In an effort to reduce or even eliminate conflict with their lesser qualified or educated colleagues they must therefore educate themselves and their colleagues on standard practices and new developments as much as possible. With this degree of sharing, the various professionals and even their professions develop daily.

Another important aspect of our education is that of research in local techniques especially since in construction one must apply and understand the theory for its application. For instance in my Construction II class, we were required to provide the solution to a certain construction problem. Out of a class of thirty odd students, only one person produced the right answer, a Trinidadian student who had some experience in the construction industry at home. When asked how he was able to solve the problem, his only answer was “Trinidad construction boy!” However, I always recall that whatever he learnt was correctly learnt and successfully applied away from the English construction climate. In our role as educators, we must also be mentors to our young graduates and craftsmen. This task is easier said than done since many of our consultants are so bent on earning a living that they are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices towards training their locals. Consequently, at the local level we have a list of skilled artisans whose skills are acquired by on the job “pick up” training, which is adequate for some jobs locally but only thus far.

Apart from education, research into our entire building industry, within the Caribbean is also vital to our success. Many years ago, some of us started compiling statistics (on labourers, concrete works, formwork etc.) to apply to the pricing items in the construction industry. However we were advised that this exercise was a waste of time or an exercise in futility since no one would either read or apply it. Sadly, we heeded the negative advice and today we have no statistics on what to base realistic pricing in the industry. In order to emphasize my point that research in local phenomenon, theorized and put in academic form can be the basis of theorizing our local industry for the application of local solution(s) to local problems, consider another example; the ITCA did a complete research study on every type of wood in Trinidad eg. cheynette, mango, cedar etc. identifying all physical characteristics and evaluating its uses, however although this research lies somewhere in our archives, few people know of its existence. Maybe, as professionals we also need to develop some system to prevent knowledge from being lost from lack of use (which could result in the said research being redone) and maintained in some permanent manner.

My era of returnees bombarded every financial institute eg. lending agencies and the general public with quantity surveying  formation. Our approach included our fellow professionals i.e. Architects, Engineers and any other group involved in planning and organizing any aspect of the industry. As a result, today we have a much more knowledgeable cadre of building professionals who should now be more efficient in servicing the general public and financial sector. However our responsibility as professionals does not end here.

Our next challenge is to replace external examinations such as City and Guilds, Clerk of Works examinations, Institute of Builders etc. with similar local programmes which are overseen by local examining board consisting of our professionals who would have designed and compiled the syllabus.

Finally, professionals must reflect a high level of integrity in not only their everyday conduct but in their professional demeanor and practice. We must earn the respect of our community both professionally and generally. Dignity is not handed to you because you are a professional. You must earn it by your general conduct and all its members must be a party and comply with the necessary requirement. Having been a member of the building industry for nearly 50 years, I strongly believe that professionals in developing countries must:

a. Educate the public and their fellow professionals as to their function.
b. Train not only your fellow professionals but all the subsidiaries in your field. It is an investment well made.
c. Conduct research in all aspects of your profession so that one’s performance and its basis must be recorded to be in a form to be passed on and
d. Finally, strive to achieve integrity in both general and professional behaviour.

When we have developed a culture of knowledge sharing and mentoring, issues like research and development as well as professional development progress naturally finally resulting in the growth and development of the building industry.

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Construction sector outlook: Finding a place in an economic downturn

kavenaKavena Ramsoobhag, MSc. Economics
Email: [email protected]

The global economic downturn has now engulfed the nations of the Caribbean and has reached the shores of the booming economy of Trinidad & Tobago. This resourced based twin island has come a long way from the 1980’s and today stands in a much better position than many of its CARICOM counterparts in withstanding the global economic slowdown. The sovereign was  given an A- rating from international rating houses, such as Moodys’, based on several factors, which included strong growth in its foreign exchange reserves, reduction in the unemployment rate, comparatively low debt ratios and is currently holding on to the position as a net external creditor. The economy has shown strong growth patterns over the period 2002-2007, growing on average of 9%. The construction sector is one of the many sectors that has benefitted significantly from this expansion.

The construction sector has grown an average of 10% over a five (5) year period, 2002- 2007, and has increasingly contributed to the growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the economy. In percentage terms, this industry contributed 9.4% to GDP in 2007; up from 7.1% in 2004. This comes as no surprise as the main driver of the sector has had its feet on the accelerator moving full speed ahead to attaining a ‘developed’ nation status by the year 2020.  In recent years, whilst facing supply-side constraints, the construction industry has been one of the main driving forces in the expansion of the non-energy sector. This sector has accounted for 5.2% of the growth within the non-energy sector in 2007; up from 4.2% in 2006.

Employment within this sector has been on a steady decline since 2004, declining to 9.2% in 2007 from 10.5% in 2004. One proposes that a reduction in employment within this sector would have been a result of the reduction in the supply of skilled workers coupled with rising labour costs within the industry. The Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago noted in its Annual Economic Survey 2007, that a shortage of skilled workers exists within this sector. The government of Trinidad and Tobago has attempted to address this scenario with its many training programmes offered by agencies such as the National Training Agency (NTA). However, as the economy begins to feel the effects of the slowing global growth, the government has now decided to decrease its speed towards infrastructural development. The recent reduction in the proposed government expenditure for fiscal year 2008/9, in large part, affects the construction industry. These cutbacks have been geared towards a reduction in the construction of various infrastructures such as housing, schools and hospitals. Amidst calls from the Prime Minister to “tighten our belts” one must then ask the question, “Can the construction sector survive a belt tightening?”

The answer to this question depends a great deal on the ability of the construction industry to increase its productivity, the skills of their workers and their ability to access relatively cheaper cost of funding from international creditors. In recent times, the construction sector has been forced to rely on international workers, many of whom are from the Asian continent and Latin America, to satisfy their need for skilled workers. The Asian workers are known for their unique mindset to increasing productivity and efficiency with a seemingly genuine pride for the products/services that they provide at the lowest cost (cost efficiency). Therein, lies very important lessons for all parties within the local construction industry. An understanding between all parties that increased cost efficiencies from the local contractors, lowered wastage, and an increase in the number of productive hours by workers may reduce the expenditure of the public sector. This, in turn, may result in a steady flow of revenues during this period of slow growth.

The planned expenditure for the continued expansion of the energy sector has been left untouched in the recent government expenditure cutback. This unaffected expenditure translates into a continued demand for skilled construction workers within this sub sector (those construction workers who apply their skills to the construction of plants within the energy sector) of the construction industry. The construction company that can quickly adapt its capital equipment and labour to fill this need should be able to maintain a steady flow of revenues during the slowdown. One suggests that for the companies who are unable to access credit readily in the local market, a look towards low cost credit facilities within the North American market would be beneficial. The US Federal Reserve has recently reduced their federal funds rate to a target range between 0 – 0.25%.

The construction sector has contributed to the overall growth of the economy and with the willingness to adapt to the changing economic environment one believes that the construction sector can find a place within the local economic slowdown. However, this is dependent on the willingness of all parties within the sector to commit to increasing cost efficiencies, lowering the wastages of raw materials, increasing the number of productive hours on the job and the ability to adapt itself to meet the needs of the various sectors within the economy. In essence, for the construction sector to rise above the downturn, a ‘tightening of the industry’s belt’ is not just an option but a necessity.

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TTTI Welcomes Caribbean Construction Digest

Victor Hart Chairman, Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute.

The Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) welcomes the launch of the Caribbean Construction Digest (CCD) and the opportunity to contribute to its Pilot Issue. We note the aims and objectives and identify with many of its areas of interest, particularly that of ‘procurement’. If all plans are achieved, CCD will make an important contribution to the development of the construction industry. For those of you who may not be familiar with TTTI, or our parent body Transparency International (TI), I shall introduce both organizations briefly.

TI is a civil society organisation based in Berlin, Germany, that leads a global coalition in the fight against corruption. The organization has been at the forefront of the world’s anti-corruption movement since its formation in 1993.TI is also a non-profit, independent, nongovernmental
organisation, dedicated to increasing transparency and accountability and curbing both international and national corruption. The organization operates in conjunction with all stakeholders to seek a consensus on ways and means to combat corruption, mainly through the promotion of good governance in both the public and private sectors. TI’s long-term vision is that of a world in which government, politics, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free from corruption. Furthermore, its mission is to work towards creating change towards a world free of corruption.

TTTI is one of nearly 100 National Chapters of TI worldwide and was formed in 1998. Our vision is the same as TI’s but our mission differs in the sense that we work towards a country and region that are free of corruption. We emphasize the word region because, as the only TI National Chapter in Caricom, we have committed ourselves to spreading the TI message to our neighbours and to assisting those who may wish to form National Chapters. Membership of TTTI is usually by invitation but persons or companies can apply for membership without solicitation.

There are two categories of membership available:

  • Individual membership at an annual fee of TT$200.00.
  • Corporate membership, depending on the size of the company, at an annual fee ranging from TT$1,000.00 to TT$5,000.00.


Amongst all the issues that have occupied TTTI’s attention during the past 10 years, procurement generally and construction procurement, in particular, take pride of place and it is not difficult to see why. Procurement is easily identified as the activity which has attracted the most corruption in our country. I recall that, as a child, the first time I heard of corruption was in the 1950s in connection with the construction of the Caura Dam.

Thereafter, other major corruption scandals (proven and unproven) were mostly associated with procurement: The Gas Station Racket, Caroni Racing Complex, Airplane purchases for BWIA, Tesoro Scandal, Piarco Airport Project, Inncogen and Desalt Plant, to name a few. More recently corruption accusations against UDe- COTT led to the formation of the ongoing Uff Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Industry. It is beyond doubt that, because of the large sums of money involved in procurement this activity acts as a magnet for those who wish to corrupt the process and illegally enrich themselves.

We at TTTI see it as our duty to seek to reform the procurement systems currently in use in T&T. To date, we have done this by carefully monitoring procurement practices and procedures in order to identify any shortcomings and so be able make recommendations and lobby for reform. Our efforts have been supported globally through the work being done by TI on the international “stage.” Corruption in procurement is a worldwide phenomenon in response to which, TI has developed and continues to develop a broad range of tools and strategies to combat the problem. These mechanisms begin with promoting government’s ratification of and full compliance with International Conventions such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

The process continues with monitoring the enforcement of laws such as OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and the USA Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It extends to campaigning at the national level for systemic changes through legislative reform to introduce and enforce the best procurement practices among practitioners, at the risk of criminal prosecution for breaches. The process further involves lobbying for the enactment of new laws such as Whistleblowers Protection Act to encourage civil society to expose suspected corruption. Finally, it also includes the development of tools to introduce additional checks and balances in the procurement process in order to increase transparency, to make circumvention more difficult and to emphasize the issue of accountability to everyone involved in the process, through the exposure of transgressors.


Many may wonder about the challenges which TTTI faces in confronting corruption in T&T. One major challenge faced is that people traditionally have a very high level of tolerance for corruption and this continues in today’s society. Stories and/or jokes about Trini ‘smartmen’ who try to outsmart others to make a fast buck are legendary. We grew up hearing the exploits of some of the more famous (infamous?) Trini “smartmen” lauded in calypsos and in local literature. We have grown up hearing about major corruption scandals and not seeing anyone being made accountable. Over time, this situation has caused our people to become more accepting of corruption almost as though it is a norm in society. The general consensus is that nothing can or will change.

That mindset leads some to believe that the voice of TTTI is a voice crying in the wilderness and no one is hearing, let alone listening. They feel that we are wasting our time as nothing will change. Notwithstanding the pervasiveness of that perception, members of TTTI do not succumb to that point of view. We know that the country’s future, in general, and the future of our youth, in particular, will be imperilled if corruption is allowed to continue unchecked. We also unwaveringly believe that the battle against corruption can be overcome if it is attacked by more people who care. However, to be successful in our quest, we must be mindful of our challenges; the specific challenges facing TTTI are:

  • identifying and implementing, with limited resources, effective anti-corruption programmes;
  • securing the human and financial resources needed to materialize programmes;
  • designing and constructing a governance model that effectively supports its mission;
  • overcoming the perception that TTTI is anti-government (regardless of which political party is in power) when in fact we are only ‘anti’ corruption and poor governance, in both the public and private sectors, as both elements work against the best interests of the civil society, especially its underprivileged members.

TTTI’s main objectives contained in our Strategic Framework for the period 2007 to 2009 are the promotion of integrity and reduction of corruption in:

  • Public contracting
  • Politics
  • Law Enforcement
  • The Judicial System
  • The Private Sector, in general, and the financial sector, in particular.
  • The daily lives of citizens, particularly in their relations with public officials.

TTTI would welcome a continued dialogue with readers of CCD on some of the corruption related issues facing the construction industry. These issues prevent the creation of a level playing field for all involved and have taken much of the joy from working in the industry. They also hinder greater transparency and accountability and prevent the country from realizing maximum value for money from public and private sector projects.

TTTI’s contact information:
Telephone: (868) 663-2322
E-mail: [email protected]

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Genesis of a Regional Contractors Association

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The contractors associations of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Dominica have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form the Coalition of Caribbean Contractors Association. Presently sitting on the organization’s steering committee are presidents of the various regional associations Ronald Cooper (Jamaica), Achal Moorjani (Barbados), Mikey Jospeh (T&T), and Stuart Parris (Dominica’s immediate past President). According to Cooper, the  committee’s chairman, the coalition was formed with the objective to protect and promote the region’s construction industry and facilitate corporation between Caribbean contractors as well as to provide a lobby at the level of CARICOM.

Secretary-treasurer of the association, Mikey Joseph compares the new association to CSME. He says that one of the most prominent characteristic of the association is to enable contractors from around the region to freely operate in any island without having to immobilize mass amounts of resources. Both presidents have indicated that once the coalition is fully operational there will be funding available for the strengthening of institutions, training, etc. Once accessed, this funding is anticipated to work in tandem to bring the entire regional construction sector to a higher standard of performance through a combination of business interest and industry development.

Cooper further stated that since the organization’s inception there have been a few joint venture initiatives in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as well as between Jamaica and Barbados. The next step for the coalition will be the establishment of a secretariat as well as an invitation to all interested regional associations to sign the MOU. Other countries which have expressed interest in the coalition are Bahamas, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada. The Coalition of Caribbean Contractors Association is hoping to meet again in Jamaica between June and July.

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Leveraging Project Management

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – On September 15th and 16th this year the Southern Caribbean Chapter of the Project Management Institute will host its 5th Biennial International Project Management Conference at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, Trinidad. There will be 27 presentations in three tracks by international, regional and local professionals to an anticipated 400 delegates from across Asia, Europe, North America, South America and the Caribbean. The two main keynote speakers will be Dr. Rober K Wyscocki and Gopal K Kapur, both acclaimed writers, trainers and professionals in the field of Project Management.

Under the theme “Leveraging Project  Management in Today’s Economy: Innovation – Efficiently – Partnership”, the conference seeks to provide a forum to discuss, challenge and devise effective methods to operate in the current environment of global instability. Among the topics to be covered at the conference are Resource Management: Keys to Survival in an Economic Crisis, Excelling in a Recession Driven Economy, How to get 40% more Productivity from your Team, and Cash Flow Management during Project Execution. It is anticipated that delegates who attend the conference will benefit from exposure to diverse training, global trends in project management and professional development for a fraction of the cost as well as excellent networking opportunities across diverse sectors.

The PMI Southern Caribbean Chapter (PMI SCC) is the leading non-profit advocacy organization and professional network for the project management profession in our region and is a chartered component of the Project Management Institute (PMI).

For more information about theconference log on to or contact Steve Sankar at [email protected] or call (868) 384-5693.

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Guyana to build Hydro Power Plant

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The government of Guyana has given its commitment  to pursuing renewable energy in the form of hydro power. Guyana’s Power and Light Inc Chairperson, Winston Brassington has stated that construction of the Amaila Falls Hydro power plant is anticipated to begin by year’s end. The project, which has the capacity to provide over 140 megawatts of electricity will be located along the Kuribrong River in Potaro, Region Eight and will be managed by New York based project developers Sithe Global Power, LLC. Sithe is also willing to provide equity in the sum of US$100M.

Guyana’s Amaila Falls Hydropower Project is part of a larger effort to revolutionize the country’s power generation infrastructure. Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo indicated that Guyana needs to secure approximately US$600M for the construction of a hydro power plant which can provide electricity to the entire country. He further indicated that another US$50M may be needed for the creation of systems and transmissions. In total, the cost of construction and implementation is approximately three times more than that required for fossil fuel investment; however, even though a major undertaking, the construction of the hydro plant is expected to be fully subsidized by the international community since is it a renewable energy project.

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