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Sustainability Integration

Written By Bryant McClain

Sustainability is more than a buzz word

Over the years, we’ve witnessed a massive shift in the significance of sustainability for developers and homeowners. In the early 2000’s, we advocated for sustainability practices for our developments as the early adopters of environmentally responsible practices matched our purchaser profiles. Luxury buyers have really pushed developers to initiate sustainability practices in their development plans and operations. This focus on sustainability has moved from “trend” to “expectation”, especially in the luxury market. Prior to our work in the Caribbean, we spent time in DC working for the Environmental and Energy Studies Institute (EESI), where we prepared reports for Congress. The roots of our interest in sustainability run deep and have guided our advisory service from the beginning.
Early on, there was a consistent pushback developers as new technologies and ideas collided with the necessary realism of construction budgets and remote logistics.
However, common sense and cost-effectiveness have won over even the most reluctant developers and the real driver for consistent change has been the undeniable reality of consumer demand. No longer just the realm of the elites, most travelers are requiring a holistic approach to sustainability and rewarding the properties that provide it.

Putting it into Practice

An early example from 2008 is illustrative. We were in the preliminary planning stages for construction of Goldeneye’s first phase of new construction on Low Caye Beach. We’d commenced pre-sales six months earlier and there was so much excitement for moving forward, even though the world economy was crashing. We had purchasers ready and an experienced construction team mobilizing. In our first construction meeting, we were covering the infrastructure plan and it was noted that 13 Beach Cottages were planned to have a “Central Boiler” for their hot water source, planned like a vertical hotel unit. It’s rare for us to raise strong objections with construction professionals but this was an example where we had to speak up. Vacation homes that book 60-70% of the time, should not maintain hot water 100% of the time and the on-demand hot water heaters were a mature technology that offered superior maintenance and efficiency. Thankfully, we won that battle! At Itzana Resort and Residences, in Belize 2016, we had lagging sales of our 1BR Cottages from the outset. Keen proposed an aggressive re-branding and re-design exercise which included the addition of solar panels for lowering energy costs. The new “Solar Cottages” immediately became a hit with such a rapid sell out that the developer found a way to add more to the site plan. This initiative helped the developer embrace the overall exercise and we created “Mission Based Luxury” for the brand by exploring the many touch points throughout the property that could be improved for increased activation.
We search for properties that embrace a sustainability ethic because it makes economic sense and will increase the long-term viability of our projects and properties.
Today’s developers and resort properties are racing towards sustainability. It’s exciting to see the adoption of alternative energy sources, alternative building materials, higher efficiency lighting and fixtures, intelligent water use programs etc. Beyond the construction phase, successful operations are adopting plastic free services, recycling programs, conservation education in their communities, sustainability measures in procurement, etc.  

Our Sustainability Measures:

  • High-efficiency appliances
  • High-efficiency windows and doors
  • Efficient water use
  • Salt-water pools
  • Xeriscaping
  • Native plant selection
  • No VOC interior paints
  • Non-toxic pest remediation methods
  • Non-toxic chemical procurement and usage
  • Alternative energy sources
  • Recycling
  • Community organic gardens
  • Rainwater collection and use
  • Grey water collection
  • Responsible mangrove retention
  • Wildlife relocation
  • Local provision sourcing
  • Plant-based dining alternatives
  • Local procurement & logistics focus
  • Local labor commitments
  • Single-use plastic bans
  • Community Support and integration

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