By Mike Jernigan
What do paint, vodka, iguanas, a gourmet restaurant and a rock music album all have in common?
Stumped? Well, don’t be blue (that’s a hint) about it. Because the answer is the use of the colour blue, or more specifically, the electric shades of blue long associated with the Cayman Islands due to the vivid aqua and turquoise waters surrounding them.
“Cayman blue” is a commonly recognised paint tint, a popular vodka brand and even a musical album name. “Blue” is also the upscale restaurant in Grand Cayman’s stylish Ritz-Carlton. Even the islands’ endangered native species of iguana, found nowhere else in the world, is blue. For most people, and apparently some reptiles as well, blue is quite simply synonymous with the Cayman [Islands].
Increasingly, however, there’s a new kid on the Cayman colour block. It’s green, representing increased sustainability, energy conservation and environmental awareness, and many Caymanians are hoping it will one day be just as commonly associated with their islands as blue is today.
The move toward greener practices in the Cayman [Islands] encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, from utilising more energy efficient construction methods and materials to build new homes and developments to increased recycling, better consumer education and improved water conservation and reuse. It’s an island-wide effort, with responsibility shared not only among passionate individuals, but also corporations both large and small. Government, in the form of the Department of Environment and Tourism, is also playing a major role.
Many of the most dynamic and visible results of the “greening” of Cayman thinking can be found in its recent construction. The Caribbean is blessed with natural resources that make the use of eco-friendly design and building practices both practical and economically smart. Abundant sunlight can provide reliable solar power. Ocean trade winds can both cool effectively and turn electricity-providing turbines. Frequent rain as well as abundant seawater can be used to augment fresh water supplies.
The Greening of Camana Bay
At Grand Cayman’s multifaceted development of Camana Bay, which includes shopping, residences and even a school, eco-friendly design was incorporated into the planing from the earliest stages. “The goal was to merge traditional and contemporary design to best serve the environment,” says Jean Weston of OLIN, the Philadelphia-based landscape architecture and urban design firm associated with the project, “as well as to develop a community less dependent on automobiles with centralised parking, walkable destination, bike paths and shaded sidewalks.
“While the design is definitely contemporary,” she adds, “the architecture and landscaping incorporate traditional elements such as awnings, covered arcades and breeze-enhancing passageways to address the specific challenges of the Cayman climate. The master plan for the community was even based on wide studies which showed how we could maximise the cooling effect of the prevailing breezes with design that funnelled air into and through the Town Centre.”
Sustainable and environmentally aware landscape architecture also plays an unusually large role at Camana Bay. Native plants, many of them rare and endangered, were used throughout the development because they are specifically adapted to the climate and minimise the need for extra irrigation or fertilisation, while maximising benefit to wildlife, birds and insects.
This year, Camana Bay hosted the Festival of the Trees, an annual event put together by the Central Caribbean Marine Institute that promotes eco-friendly practices as well as holiday cheer. It’s the very definition of “ever-green”.
The above is an excerpt from the full article.