- June 30th, 2010
- in Yachting
What do eco-sensitive design and 171 species of birds have in common? Probably not a question you’ve given too much thought to, but one to consider. As the sun peeks over the horizon, and the alarm clock buzzes you out of your island slumber, stop for a moment and listen.
Not just to the everyday mundane sounds but to the voices of nature. Did you know that on the British Virgin Islands there are 171 species of birds—13 rare and 4 globally threatened? The BVI are also the unique home to a handful of beautiful species of butterflies, wasps, centipedes, and the whistling Coqui frog, all happily coexisting with us and our desire to build new homes.
Some of BVI’s greatest assets—its stunning landscapes; steep, hilly terrains and rocky cliffs also pose its greatest challenges when building a new home—from plotting the location to delivering machinery and materials to the job site. More often than not, hills are carved into and precious trees and shrubs are razed to create roads and flat land for building. While this is a necessity, consider that entire communities of birds, insects and critters lose their natural habitat— an excellent reason for eco-sensitive design to be a priority.
How do you build your dream home and support the environment? A good place to start is by talking with your architect, surveyor and landscape designer. When you have a shared vision, amazing things can happen. Ask questions. Consider your priorities. Obviously the million dollar ocean view is a must have if you can achieve it, yet do you really need to remove as much dry woodland or scrub as you thought? Can your home be built to maximize its natural surroundings, rather than destroy them? And, how will you use the razed land?
A great way to give back to the environment is to plant new trees and shrubs indigenous to the BVI that grow with ease and encourage our friends in nature to return. A talented landscape designer can skillfully install flora around your home to give the feeling that it’s always been part of the natural landscape.
The exterior design of a home goes beyond its ability to support its natural surroundings. It has to work for you, too. Since outdoor living is an integral part of the BVI lifestyle, it’s important to design the exterior spaces of your home to fit your needs. If you love to throw parties, a large terrace is a must have, and a well designed pool always adds value to a home. Have your architect design some covered or shaded areas that allow you to enjoy your outdoor space no matter what time of day.
No exterior design is complete without comfortable and great looking patio furniture. Over the last few years, the market has exploded with new and exciting sustainable furniture designs, fabrics, rugs and solar lighting. This means your outdoor living spaces can look just as fabulous as your interior spaces. New technologies have enabled vendors to create materials, such as faux rattan, that can withstand the elements and last for years. Given the high cost of shipping goods to BVI, buying good quality, sustainable patio furniture is a smart investment.
The colour you paint your home defines its personality, and the good news is that there are environmentally friendly exterior paints available plus many sustainable exterior floor coverings to complete the design. So, with mindful planning and sensitivity to the land, you can build a beautiful home while minimizing the impact to the environment. And wake up to hear those precious birds singing!