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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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IGBA Wants Input for Green Villa Program

With the number of vacation villas continuing to grow, the Island Green Building Association wants to hear from villa owners, managers and anyone else interested in the industry or its plans to institute a voluntary Green Villa designation program.

“It’s about education and awareness,” IGBA Director Barry Devine said.

The organization will hold a meeting to get input at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Gifft Hill School’s Upper Campus atrium.

Potential incentives for joining the program include IGBA consulting advice on green rental villa management, listing in IGBA’s annual Green Villa Guide, use of conservation signage, and free advertising in numerous local publications.

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Devine said that a count on Vacation Rentals by Owner, a popular website where villa owners pay to list their villas, shows that St. John has more than 800. The number stands at 600 on St. Thomas and about 300 on St. Croix. There are another 200 on Tortola. Devine said not all vacation villa owners list their properties on VRBO so the total numbers of villas is presumably higher.

According to Devine, the Green Villa program will focus on reducing the impact on the environment through things like signage and a Green Villa handbook in the villas to advise guests on ways to conserve resources like electricity and water.

While Devine said island residents know how to conserve, that isn’t the case with many vacationers.

“But luxury doesn’t mean you can’t be green,” he said.

Devine said that it won’t take much to cut electric usage and, concurrently, electric bills. Under the Green Villa program, in villas with air conditioning, vacationers will be encourage to turn off the air conditioning when they’re not there and to keep the doors closed when it’s in use.

He said that St. John has many villas without air conditioning that rent very well so not all vacationers demand full air conditioning. He noted other villas just have air conditioning in the bedrooms.

However, he said that there will be those vacationers who feel that if they’re paying “$4,000” a week for a villa, they’re entitled to run the air conditioning as much as they wish.

Many vacation villa guests will only drink bottled water, but Devine said the installation of a $300 filter system will ensure the villa water is safe for drinking. That coupled with a supply of reusable water bottles in the villa will go a long way toward reducing the number of empty plastic bottles that must be shipped from St. John’s Susannaberg landfill to the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas.

Cleaning products are another issue, and Devine said products used in villas can wash into the island’s bays.

According to Devine, most St. John vacationers visit because they view the island as green. He said he thinks the demand for Green Villas will increase.

Stephen Hull, a Colorado resident who is an owner in an East End, St. John, vacation villa called Beach Cottage at Limetree Cove and previously owned a Coral Bay villa, said getting the Green Villa designation would be a coup for villa owners.

“I think that people want to feel like they’re contributing to the environment,” he said.

Hull said because electricity in the Virgin Islands is so expensive, he allocates $150 out of each weekly rental for air conditioning electricity. A meter monitors usage, and if the guests use less than $150 worth, they get a rebate.

While IGBA is proposing that several areas of consumption be reduced, Devine also said that vacation villa owners can take things even further by installing solar panels and making improvements to their landscaping so they need less water.

Devine and IGBA are urging vacation villas go green because the world has limited resources.

“We have to be stewards,” he said.

Visit www.igbavi.org for more on the organization.

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