Lighthouse Point a lesson in living lightly

Known as Lighthouse Point, this stunning stone building is not only home to high-quality, oceanfront apartments, it is also doing its bit for the environment.

As the greenest building on the island and a registered member of the United States Green Building Council, Lighthouse Point is redefining the concept of eco-friendly living.

Co-owner Nancy Easterbrook says that when the project was first proposed, she and husband, Jay, were looking for a second location for their Divetech scuba diving outfit. They enjoyed diving at the point and, after noticing a ‘for sale’ sign at the property, decided to go for it.

“We really wanted to build something that was environmentally-sustainable and an eco-concept. We attended a lot of builders’ shows in the United States, returning with loads of literature and slowly but surely narrowed down the product selection [of suitable materials].”

Jay has been in the building business in Cayman for 30 years. As the designer and architect of Lighthouse Point, his goals were that the property require no maintenance and reduce operating costs for owners. There was an emphasis on eliminating repurchasing, replacing, repackaging and waste.

“We wanted an exterior that was nautical and also blended in with the environment and we ran into a manufacturer that had concrete that resembled stone,” Jay explains.

It was labour-intensive, Nancy says, but the exterior will look the same in a century, as will the balustrades, which are made of materials impervious to ultra-violet rays and salt staining.

The basic structure is certainly sturdy, having been built to category-five hurricane requirements because of the seafront location.

“The floors are 13-inch solid concrete with cables running through them and all the external and some of the supporting walls are 12-inch supporting concrete,” Nancy says.

The interiors were a real challenge as the couple wanted to use solid wood. It was important to look at the impact of their purchase on an environmental level. The Easterbrooks did not want to contribute to depleting tree stocks or deforestation, so they chose the fast-growing white pine.

“The producers are a seventh-generation family that have been using the same land and replanting for many generations. It was then stained and re-stained three times. It won’t fade in the sunlight and all you have to do is wash the walls now and then,” Nancy says. “The same goes for the porcelain tile on the floors.”

Every single appliance or fitting adheres to the highest standard for that product. Furthermore, the products were sourced from companies with good business practices.

“That means they look after the environment, have good employment policies and so on,” Nancy says.

The internal brickwork came from a company with reclaimed old brick cut to a thin fascia. Internal walls are not grouted, giving a kind of classy New York bar effect.

Water management was an important part of Lighthouse Point from the outset. Nancy says the goal was to be responsible and reduce water usage as much as possible.

“We put in a grey water system so all the water that goes through the bathroom sinks and showers gets filtered then used again in the toilets, which accounts to 35 per cent of water usage.”

There’s also an underground cistern and a rainwater collection system. This water is used for outdoor hoses and taps as well as washing machines, all of which account for a further 15 per cent of water usage. The underground, state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant processes and uses the water for landscaping.

Lighthouse Point was required to put in a 100ft-deep water storm well but actually used four instead. The four rain drains prevent fresh water from immediately entering the marine environment, which if allowed to occur can damage the sea’s natural balance and could have an impact on marine life.

Each apartment is solar-powered with a battery back-up system, a common way to capture Cayman’s sunlight and use it at night, says Nancy.

“In general terms, you tend to use more power at night when you’re at home watching TV and cooking so we chose to store the excess power in this way.”

Lighthouse Point is still tied to the main electricity grid in case of cloudy weather. It is part of a multiple-solution to the power question.

“We had a difficult time in shopping to get one single solution to anything we were planning so we used a combination of solutions,” Nancy says. “We had the first permit for a wind turbine on the islands. We use propane gas stoves, dryers and hot water on demand. People need to have their amenities; solar hot water is great but when you have four or six people in a condo the last thing you want is to run out of hot water. It’s not a renewable resource but it is a clean-burning fuel and doesn’t generate carbon.”

Every aspect of the complex was considered to the highest degree as Nancy believes people are increasingly choosing eco-friendly initiatives. Being the only development of its kind in Cayman has helped Lighthouse Point spread the word.

Lighthouse Point is the benchmark for new developments in Cayman as a highly-innovative, aesthetically-pleasing, environmentally-friendly complex with brilliant shore diving. Nancy sees eco-friendly tourism as the future.

“Tourists are demanding environmental stewardship and will go to countries, resorts or shopping malls initiating good working processes,” she says. “There’s also pressure from our fragile marine life, beaches and land-based systems so development and environment must go hand in hand.

It’s incumbent upon us and incumbent upon the country to push forward and protect the planet. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”