A standard is only as strong as the agreement on which it rests and widely agreed-upon quality standards help business to flow freely within the Caribbean and throughout the world. An awareness of this fact guides the efforts of the  CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

Since 2002, the organisation has been tasked with facilitating the development of regional standards, promoting the compatibility of measurement systems and supporting the sustainable production and trade of goods and services throughout the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Through a collaborative network of 15 Bureaus of Standards (one for each CARICOM Member State), CROSQ works to ensure that the region has a common definition of quality, a common way of testing quality and a common way of inspecting and certifying quality of goods and services traded across a variety of industries.

In 2018, CROSQ stepped into the sustainable development arena via its quality infrastructure and energy efficiency programme, executed through two key initiatives: the CARICOM Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (CREEBC) and the CARICOM Regional Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme (CREELS). CROSQ collaborated with the CARICOM Secretariat Energy Unit, the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to tailor these projects to the region’s unique needs. They were designed to work in tandem to help CARICOM Member States manage their energy usage through building infrastructure and appliances, respectively. Where the CREEBC focused on boosting energy efficiency through the creation of regional building codes and compliance programmes, the CREELS aimed to harmonise the standards for energy performance and energy efficiency testing of the domestic and commercial equipment that would be used within the new energy-efficient structures.

CROSQ’s collaboration with TAPSEC began in 2019 with the signing of a one-and-a-half-year grant agreement with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. This grant agreement (which was later extended by an additional year) facilitated CROSQ’s drive to roll out and encourage implementation of the newly-developed CREEBC at the national level among all 15 CARICOM Member States and pilot test the CREELS in five Member States. The approach was divided into three components: policy market regulations, institutional strengthening and capacity building, and knowledge management and awareness raising.

Through this framework, CROSQ was able to encourage implementation of the CREEBC via a digital awareness campaign, the production of two companion training documents (which were also translated into French for the Haitian market) and the hosting of a training programme and an online certification programme. For the CREELS, CROSQ launched a pilot programme testing energy efficient labelling for air conditioners, refrigerators and lights in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. The pilot project included public outreach to raise awareness of the importance of buying appliances that meet the minimum standards, outreach to retailers and importers to educate them about the need to voluntarily comply with the new standards and capacity building among regional Bureau of Standards and customs officials to enable them to inspect appliances and utilise the regional energy efficiency labs housed in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Reflecting on the collaboration that underpinned these efforts, CROSQ Chief Executive Officer Deryck Omar praises, not just the support provided via the grant agreement, but the “camaraderie, the expert knowledge, the project management skills and advisory services” which “came pro bono” courtesy of the GIZ and TAPSEC. He also highlights GIZ’s “great listening” in providing a one-year extension of the grant agreement when the pandemic shutdown created global supply chain issues that impeded project execution.

Looking towards the future, Mr. Omar sees the rollout of the CREEBC and CREELS as catalysts for creating a better regional understanding of the value of energy efficiency and the ways that standards and quality assurance programmes can help support the drive to increase it. Noting that “sustainability is the ability to efficiently use resources today such that there’s more resources for tomorrow”, he expresses the hope that these projects will have helped CARICOM learn “how to use less energy today so there are more and better quality energy generating resources for tomorrow”.