Saint Lu­cia Home to World’s Most Energy-Ef­fi­cient Scuba Div­ing fa­cil­ity

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BUSINESS - By Chris­tian Wayne

In a rather in­ti­mate pool­side event on Wed­nes­day evening, Dive Saint Lu­cia an­nounced its 2-year-old fa­cil­ity had re­cently been awarded a Platinum LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the United States Green Build­ing Coun­cil—the fore­most author­ity in the eval­u­a­tion of re­source ef­fi­ciency in the de­sign, con­struc­tion, op­er­a­tion, and main­te­nance of build­ings around the world.

Based on a nu­mer­i­cal scor­ing sys­tem, LEED projects are eval­u­ated across six cri­te­ria: site sus­tain­abil­ity, water ef­fi­ciency, energy and at­mos­phere, ma­te­ri­als and re­sources, in­door en­vi­ron­men­tal qual­ity, and in­no­va­tion in de­sign. The platinum dis­tinc­tion earned by DSL is the high­est pos­si­ble rat­ing awarded by USGBC, adding the lo­cally- based scuba div­ing com­pany to an elite list of less than 1,300 platinum LEED-cer­ti­fied projects scat­tered across the globe.

The award cer­e­mony rep­re­sented years of plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion, 36 months after this news­pa­per first dis­closed Dive Saint Lu­cia co-di­rec­tor Mar­cel Buech­ler’s am­bi­tions to pur­sue the sus­tain­abil­ity ac­cred­i­ta­tion. Over­all, the event cast a pos­i­tive light on a com­pany whose hum­ble suc­cesses have been, for the most part, over­shad­owed by loom­ing con­cerns over the ever-chang­ing open­ing date of its cozy neigh­bour, the Har­bor Club Ho­tel. Con­structed on a chron­i­cally un­der-uti­lized water­front lot ad­ja­cent to the dive cen­tre, the ho­tel is billing it­self to po­ten­tial guests as “a 4-star re­sort that de­liv­ers 5-star qual­ity”.

De­spite its fluid open­ing date - dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s event, the ho­tel’s gen­eral man­ager Camilla Suku­maran an­nounced a soft open­ing on Septem­ber 22, 2017 - the 115-room lux­u­ri­ous, mar­itime-in­spired ho­tel’s value propo­si­tion to the largely un­tapped un­der­wa­ter tourism mar­ket ap­pears to be com­pelling and fit­tingly sus­tain­able.

At­tend­ing the cer­e­mony was education min­is­ter Dr. Gale Rigob­ert, who is also re­spon­si­ble for gen­der re­la­tions, and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. She con­grat­u­lated Dive Saint Lu­cia be­fore for­mally pre­sent­ing Buech­ler with the LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Fram­ing the oc­ca­sion’s sig­nif­i­cance, the min­is­ter re­vealed that there have been sev­eral devel­op­ers over the years with am­bi­tions sim­i­lar to DSL’s, that never ma­te­ri­al­ized. Rigob­ert called on other mem­bers of the pri­vate sec­tor to take DSL’s lead in lever­ag­ing green tech­nol­ogy to en­able smarter, more sus­tain­able busi­ness prac­tices.

Saint Lu­cia, like most Caribbean coun­tries, is plagued by high elec­tric­ity costs, a con­se­quence of our de­bil­i­tat­ing de­pen­dence on im­ported diesel fuels. The av­er­age cost of elec­tric­ity per kilo­watt hour in Saint Lu­cia peaked in 2014 at a whop­ping $0.38/kilo­watt hour (kWh), and to­day stands at $0.31/kWh (per LUCELEC’s of­fi­cial rates noted at time of writ­ing)—dou­ble the cost of elec­tric­ity in the United States. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port en­ti­tled “De­vel­op­ing The Saint Lu­cia Energy Roadmap,” pub­lished by the gov­ern­ment, the long-term goal of Saint Lu­cia, through its co­op­er­a­tion with LUCELEC, is “to cre­ate an eco­nom­i­cally op­ti­mum sys­tem con­sist­ing of a port­fo­lio of so­lar, wind, energy stor­age, energy ef­fi­ciency, and ex­ist­ing diesel gen­er­a­tion”. The cur­rent energy in­vest­ments in the pipe­line and fu­ture ones are “aimed at re­duc­ing Saint Lu­cia’s diesel fuel ex­pen­di­tures by 42 per­cent and car­bon emis­sions by 40 per­cent by the year 2025”.

Due to the state of Saint Lu­cia’s elec­tri­cal grid, which the gov­ern­ment de­scribes as “com­plex”, com­bined with an out­dated in­cen­tive regime tar­get­ing sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment, it will be some time be­fore con­sumers and busi­ness own­ers no­tice any sav­ings on their elec­tric­ity bills. The good news is that while most of Saint Lu­cia re­mains be­hind the 8-ball, in­no­va­tors like Dive Saint Lu­cia con­tinue to blaze ahead!

Dive Saint Lu­cia’s event this week com­mem­o­rated the Platinum LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the United States Green Build­ing Coun­cil.

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