Great Expectations is committed to being a GREEN villa. Starting with the siting and design of Great Expectations to take advantage of the constant easterly Tradewinds, to the use of solar for electrical power and hot water, sensitive plantings and the use of greywater irrigation systems throughout the property, and, management's use of environmentally sensitive cleaning supplies and energy efficient electrical supplies, including an environmentally sensitive swimming pool filtering system all with a goal of preserving our environment, saving money, and keeping St John beautiful for generations to come.
Both electric power and fresh water are precious resources on St John. Electricity is produced and distributed by the US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) on St Thomas and brought to St John through a series of underwater cables. Water is also a very limited resource on St John because St John has no freshwater sources such as aquifers or wells. Our only fresh water sources are from rain water and a WAPA desalination plant on St Thomas which purifies seawater.
Siting of Great Expectations - After we purchased the property, our architect and we walked the property at various times of day to determine how to maximize the wind flow throughout the buildings to take advantage of the wonderful easterly Tradewinds.
Design of Great Expectations - Our beloved friend and architect, John Sloan, did a brilliant job of siting and designing our St John villa to maximize those Tradewinds, taking advantage of the sun's warmth as well as designing protected areas ensuring that there are always shaded spots for those wanting to stay out of the sun. An integral part of the design of Great Expectations are transoms in each of the buildings and Venturi effect wings to encourage maximum air-flow throughout the buildings, as well as siting our wading and swimming pools in a protected courtyard on the western side of our building to maximize use of the sun to warm the water in the pools. We have added a large motorized awning on the west side of our Great Room to provide shade and protection from rain over our picnic table as well as to help keep the Great Room shaded from the hot, afternoon sun and cool. Finally, we recently installed a gigantic fan that is actually called a 'Big Ass Fan'. This one fan moves the amount of air that 5 regular fans move without drawing on any additional electricity. Our landscaping was also designed to take advantage of our natural habitat and weather conditions by installing plantings that could tolerate sea breezes on the windward side of our property and the use of many plantings that are drought tolerate.
Solar hot water - We have 3 solar hot water panels that do a wonderful job of heating water throughout the Villa and Guest House.
Solar photo-electric panels - We installed 33 photo-electric panels on the roofs of a number of the buildings. We have been plesaed at how they have reduced our draw on the 'electric grid' and are conserving the US Virgin Islands very limited electrical supply.
Take a look below to see real time energy conservation (sun harvesting) results; we think you will find this pretty cool (or link to our solar panel performance report).
More ways to save the draw on electricity - We are always looking to help save this precious resource (all of our electricity is generated on St Thomas and supplied to our island via underwater cables) and have installed solar lighting, throughout the villa we have installed energy efficient (LED) light bulbs, we have 12 hour timers on our air-conditioners and 1 and 2 hour timers on our outside lights (which also helps minimize outdoor 'night-light' pollution). While our giganic 48" Sub-Zero refrigerator looks magnificent, it is also energy efficient. Products use less energy per month than a 100-watt light bulb. Sub-Zero supports organic farms, uses renewable energy, recycles extensively, sources environmentally friendly materials and supplies. 75% of stainless steel is from recycled material, as is 50% of refrigerator plastic.
Gray and fresh water cisterns - St John relies on rain water for its primary water source. Being a largely volcanic island, we have no fresh water wells to fuel our fresh water needs so it is important that we maximize the collection of rain water for our household and landscaping needs. Great Expectations has 3 large cisterns which supply water throughout the villa as well as the largest grey water catchment area of any private villa on St John. Our tennis court and the two cisterns below it prove to be a wonderful way of collecting rain water runoff that is subsequently redistributed throughout our landscaping irrigation system which really is a rainwater recycling system. Because of our large gray water cistern we are able support wonderful plantings without taking away from the precious water supply that supports the villa's guests needs. We also use clean gray water (e.g. water from sinks and showers) throughout the property to water our plantings, especially banana plants and other plantings which demand constant water feeding.
Minimizing the use of chemicals - We have installed Autopilot systems for both our wading and swimming pools and Ozinators on our hot tubs. The Autopilot Salt Water/Ozone Pool System combines the sanitation power of Ozone with the convenience of Salt Chlorination that destroys up to 99.9% of microorganisms in our pool water achieving superior sanitation and pool water clarity and no need to use toxic chemicals. Our hot tubs also have built in ozonators which purify the waters allowing us to again minimize the use of harsh pool and hot tub chemicals.
Recycling - Recycling is important. Most everyone (we hope) recycles when they are at home. We encourage our guests to also recycle while on vacation. Living on an island 1,000 out to sea makes recycling ever more important. We are a proud signer of the Bring a Bag Shopping Campaign pledge and, consequently, supply our guests with bags (recycled, of course) to take to the grocery store. These bags also make great beach bags.
And, a bit more on recycling...we recently installed a recycled glass counter-top in our Great Room. It was designed and fabricated by the same artisans who work at the Maho Glass Studio. It is fun to see the recycled glass starfish and know that the green ones were bottles of what islanders call 'greenies' (AKA Heineken beer bottles!). The brown spec's are in the counter are probably our island's own St John Brewer's beer bottles. We still cannot figure out what the tourquoise glass is from but it is awfully pretty so we are glad that someone's leftover glass was left for us to find in this new form. Fun.
And, of course, our St John villa, is a no smoking villa!
All of these initiatives help us to reduce our carbon footprint and introduce eco-friendly products which, in the long run, help us all.