Bella Verde – Glamorously Green Vision House

This Salt Creek home will showcase the implementation of green design, building techniques, and products & systems.  The project utilizes site-specific and climate driven solutions for solving key green building challenges including energy, water, land, resource use, waste management, and indoor environment quality.

The project will demonstrate the styles, technologies, and products appropriate for a ‘Cayman Island Contemporary’ custom home in a high-end resort setting. This project will represent to all perspective buyers that they can live in a home that meets all of their wants, needs and expectations while at the same time be glamorous, energy efficient, durable, and cost-effective.

Project Goals

  1. Design and build a house that is site-specific, climate driven and glamorously green.
  2. LEED for Homes™ Gold or better certification
  3. Follow Energy Star protocol
  4. Design and build a house that meets the expectations of high-end buyers in the Cayman market while showing how a sustainably-constructed house can reduce environmental impact, operating costs, and long term maintenance.
  5. Indoor/Outdoor living that embraces everything about the Cayman lifestyle

Project Overview

This Contemporary Island home is approximately 4,500 SF of conditioned space, laid out in two levels with an attached oversized two car garage. The home has been designed to capitalize on the fantastic climate with indoor/outdoor living space with over 1,800 SF of covered patio, deck and veranda space including an outdoor kitchen. Furthermore the house layout blends the outdoors and indoors with large retractable door systems, materials that extend from interior to exterior spaces and continuous design elements (ceiling design).

The home is less than one mile from Camana Bay and just down the street from 7 Mile Beach.  Out the back door from the houses dock is world class diving and fishing.

Since the main views are to the southwest, the home was developed with a highly insulated envelope and windows that take in the majestic views on all sides. The covered spaces on the southwest side of the home will have shade screens on photocells that will go up and down automatically to block the harsh western sun that could overheat the home.

The site and roof have been designed to harvest and filter water into an on-site cistern underneath the garage.  The water from the cistern is the primary source for irrigating the landscape and emergency water during a hurricane. Indigenous landscaping has been specified to minimize water use and sequester carbon.


I. Water Efficiency

  1. Landscape irrigation water from non-potable water source (grey water closed aerobic septic system and rain water harvesting into a cistern)
  2. Reduced irrigation demand due to indigenous landscaping
  3. Low flow fixtures
  4. Dual flush toilets
  5. Hot water recirculation loop

II. Energy Efficiency

The highly insulated envelop of this house coupled with an Energy Recovery Unit (ERV) and dehumidification system, with estimated reduced energy consumption of over 40%.  The photovoltaic system adds in another 10% energy savings and is large enough to meet the needs of the critical systems in the house when it is not occupied or during the reduced demand during a hurricane, at which time the house will actually produce enough energy to net meter (turn the meter backwards and sell energy back to the utility).  The following items contribute to the energy efficiency of the building:

  1. Photovoltaic System
  2. Dehumidification System
  3. Efficiently zoned spaces for specified occupant use
  4. On-demand water heating
  5. Solar Thermal Heating for domestic water
  6. Blown insulation that reduces infiltration
  7. Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction that reduces conduction
  8. Unvented roof system that keeps ducts in semi-conditioned space
  9. Heat Recovery Ventilation
  10. R-3 or better windows that have a low infiltration value with a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.25 or better
  11. Energy star appliances
  12. Energy efficient light fixtures
  13. Efficient fresh air intake and venting
  14. Exterior veranda/porch retractable shade screens on photocell
  15. Landscaping used to block unwanted solar gain and solar conduction during the hottest months

III. Resource Use

All materials specified for the house have been chosen carefully based on sustainable characteristics such as non-toxicity, recycled content, rapidly renewable or reclaimed content. The following materials have been specified for the project:

  1. Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction that uses less concrete and provides insulation. This product is also manufactured on the island from materials that are easy to bring to the island.
  2. Engineered trusses and sheathing
  3. Finger joint studs or high recycled content light gage framing for interior walls
  4. Concrete with flyash and our recycled content
  5. Recycled steel posts and connection plates
  6. Locally harvested stone
  7. Clay Plaster interior accent finishes
  8. No volatile organic compound paint and adhesives
  9. Rapid Renewable Bamboo Flooring
  10. FSC harvested wood beams
  11. Engineered stone countertops
  12. Recycled glass countertops
  13. FSC harvested interior trim
  14. FSC harvested T&G wood ceilings
  15. Formaldehyde free cabinet substrates

IV. Indoor Environment Quality

Indoor environmental quality has been addressed to reduce interior toxins and allergens and improve the general well-bring of the inhabitants. This will be achieved through system and material choices such as:

  1. No volatile organic compound paint
  2. Natural clay plaster wall finishes
  3. Water based finishes
  4. Indoor containment control during construction
  5. Continuous venting of interior space (bring in fresh air)
  6. Sealed combustion or power vented equipment in crawl space
  7. Carbon monoxide monitors
  8. Engineered stone countertops that are anti-microbial

V. Durability

A home that last longer, requires less maintenance and has surfaces that can be cleaned easily with non-toxic products is both a value add to the Owner and has a greatly reduced environmental footprint.  To achieve this goal, the project has:

  1. The exterior shell of the home is built to with stand hurricane forces up to 140 MPH. It is built to the Fortified Home standards which with some insurance companies comes with a reduction in monthly fees
  2. The home has no exterior wood products that break down with sun and moisture. All of these elements are built of wood or concrete
  3. The home has a cistern, PV system and back-up generator for hurricane event preparedness
  4. The interior surfaces are durable and cleanable with non-toxic products
  5. The home has a dehumidification and continuous venting system that keeps the interior humidity level at 60% or below (The EPA says this will keep the humidity level low enough that mold doesn’t grow)
  6. The home manages water runoff and keeps it away from the house
  7. The finish floor level is above the worst tidal surge level the Grand Cayman has experienced in the past

VI. Education

One of the most important goals of this project is to educate homeowners/buyers, designers, realtors, builders, and developers about sustainable development.  To achieve this goal, the project has:

Education Boards in the Dart Discovery Center with green building features explained and  a display of the sustainable building materials used in the house, and in the future online access to a website with additional information on the project

  1. Onsite educational symposiums at various stages of construction to demonstrate green building techniques and materials.
  2. Tours upon completion of the project to raise awareness of green building and encourage transformation of the marketplace by showing that this project cost no more than other Cayman projects, is just as luxurious, and operates at a substantially reduced level.
  3. Operation and maintenance manuals for the new home owner
  4. Ongoing measurement and verification to track the overall consumption and durability of the construction of this project.