It seems like every effort to “go green” requires a change of behavior. Hotels let you choose to use towels or sheets twice. Your parents instructed you to turn the lights off when leaving a room. These measures can affect change, but they usually don’t. Despite the clear benefits, people just won’t change. But, what if you could find a way to protect the environment without having to change any part of your life? This is the elusive goal of most eco-minded designers, builders and activists, but few have discovered the secret handshake.
David Sklar, it seems, has found the answer.
Star Island, located in Eleuthera, Bahamas, is designed to be carbon-neutral, even if you forget to turn the television off when you slip out to the beach. A unique combination of embedded power sources that harness natural forces and savvy architecture allow you to save the planet by doing nothing. Sklar’s project, which includes both resort and residential properties, is your ticket to guilt-free luxury.
The property is currently under construction in the Bahamas. Sklar, the president and lead designer, and his team at Dalu Design Group, envisioned a resort built around pragmatic environmentalism. Buildings account for about 70 percent of the factors that lead to global warming, he says, particularly around the consumption of energy. So, Sklar realized that a better design could have a pronounced impact on the environment. The key, however, is to affect conservation without thought. People won’t change, but you can change everything around them.
See artist renderings of Star Island, including an EXCLUSIVE shot of the pavilion.
Here’s where the essential tension lies. We all love fast cars, big rooms and oversized televisions. We like big and convenient and immediate. When traveling, we’re even worse. At home, my sheets are fine for a full week, but on the road, I can’t imagine using the same set two nights in a row. I have the same attitude toward towels. Conservatism doesn’t work unless I can have fresh sheets every night without damaging the planet. We all love big rooms, oversized television screens and fast cars. Even if we privately lament what we’re doing to the environment, we can’t let go of what makes us happy.
Fortunately, this is what Sklar has in mind. He believes you shouldn’t have to make these tough choices. A carefully considered engineering effort can deliver the lifestyle you crave without impairing the world around you.
Star Island does not tap the power grid to fuel the washing machines, lights and kitchens. The resort generates its own power. Don’t expect to see any wind farms or endless rows of solar panels on the 35-acre resort. The tools are built into the structures, with photo voltaic energy-generating roof panels, and water is gathered through a rain water collection system.
Once open, the resort will offer guilt-free villas, bungalows and homes, where visitors (or residents) can live guilt-free. The Star Island villas range from one to three bedrooms and include custom gourmet kitchens. And, they aren’t small, some reaching 2,000 sqft in size (much, much larger than my apartment). Restaurants and recreation (such as snorkeling) are available on site, a nice touch since you probably won’t want to leave anyway.
The amenities that Sklar promises are exactly what you’d expect to find at an upscale resort. You can dip into a private plunge pool at one of Star Island’s bungalows or refresh yourself in an outdoor shower. Of course, you’re never far from the beach, not to mention snorkeling and other on- (or under-) water activities. None of it happens with the help of oil, coal or split atoms.
What possesses a man to pursue green recreation and living with such zeal?
Sklar was not kidnapped by Greenpeace, and he didn’t have a mountain-top epiphany that changed his view of the world. Instead, he took his cues from his life. The experienced architect, who was “raised on fossil fuels,” as he puts it, realized when he looked at his son that the Earth would continue to be here well into the future. Even though he may not be around to suffer the most severe consequences of environmental mayhem, he understood that his actions would shape the world his son inherits.
Star Island began with this altruistic motivation … and a sense of defiance. Sklar sought to prove that he could create from scratch a top-tier resort that could operate without the support of a substantial, global energy industry. He plans to resist the convenient pull of traditional energy source and create an example to his peers, one that can be replicated. Sklar believes that Star Island can serve as a model to real estate developers and architects everywhere. If a trend emerges, he will have started a revolution in building design and construction.
But, we need to take this one step at a time. Star Island is still under construction. Houses have yet to be sold, and guestrooms need to be filled. Sklar doesn’t expect the warm, fuzzy feelings of environmentalists to get his business humming, though he certainly welcomes them. The call of luxury, he expects, will bring people to his resort, and their experiences will bring them back. Star Island is a business, after all, it just happens to be doing something great in the process.
Learn a bit more about Star Island in the NY Times.