By Nick Dimling, Camana Bay Times
Sustainable development can be defined as that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
This is easy to achieve with developers that look several generations ahead in everything they plan, design and build. Long-term vision is a quality many developers do not possess, but Dart Development does and the positive impact sustainable development can have on Cayman’s environment, economy and society cannot be understated.
Equally impactful is Dart Development’s relentless focus on quality. It’s a prerequisite and a mindset adopted by anyone associated with a Dart project prior to setting out. What was discovered over the course of working on Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and The Residences at Seafire was that a culture of excellence had been created.
Dart defines excellence in real estate development as buildings and places that are fundamentally useful, durable and delightful. Sustainability goes hand-in-hand with this – especially the durability aspect. Sustainability involves creating long-term value through timeless methods of planning, designing and building; it promotes wellness through thoughtful design and maintenance of the built environment; it enhances existing ecosystems and native species; and it seeks continuous improvement through shared knowledge and measured progress.
On Seafire, Dart Development decided to pursue a LEED-certification for the resort and residences buildings. LEED provides a rating system that is voluntary, consensus-based and market-driven and based on accepted energy and environmental principles.
The Spinnaker Group was hired as the LEED consultant and it was brought on early in the design process. In 2013, a concept workshop was held with key stakeholders and design consultants and a LEED plan for the project was developed out of that. The plan outlined the approach to LEED certification, assigned responsibility for credit documentation and established the requirements for documentation with the US-based Green Building Certificate Institute.
Establishing an approach to LEED certification – an initial strategy as to which credits to pursue – is always a challenge. Dart had to understand and make clear its priorities on green building. Some decisions were easier than others. For instance, providing bicycle racks and changing facilities comes with a cost but was ultimately a no-brainer when the proximity to the bike trail and Kimpton’s bicycle-friendly ethos were considered. Providing vegetated open space beyond local zoning requirements was also easy.
But certain green-building practices require a multifaceted approach to decision making. The degree to which energy and water use reduction was to be pursued was not clear at the outset, but there are new tools and technologies that helped on those fronts. On the resort, Dart Development managed to reduce energy usage by 26 percent, which will result in roughly US$500,000 savings annually.
This was achieved through energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency HVAC systems, energy recovery units and a high-performance glazing and building envelope design. Because of the high cost associated with each, Dart Development decided to integrate energy modelling early in the design process. For glazing especially, this provided measurability on performance and return on investment, and ultimately led to an informed decision.
Dart Development kept the LEED consultant engaged as design progressed so that one could inform the other. For example, they worked with the design team to provide paver colours and roof materials that reduced heat gain. They also understood Dart’s and Kimpton’s desire for guest comfort and well-being and helped identify low-emitting materials and systems for monitoring indoor air quality. During the construction of the resort, the LEED consultant periodically attended job-site meetings in order to remain informed on progress and to update parties involved in the LEED process.
As The Residences portion of the project nears completion, Spinnaker continues to make periodic site visits to witness equipment and system installations and verify compliance with the specifications. The two buildings are on track to reach LEED silver-level certification, which will be verified two to three months after The Residences building is completed.