Creating an environmentally sound, sustainable island encompasses much more than just green building. This is the message behind the Island Green Building Association’s new direction. The nearly 10-year-old non-profit is expanding its focus from green building to green living, IGBA Executive Director Barry Devine announced last week.
“While we organized the association during the period when there was a boom in construction, which was the most obvious polluter, it’s also obvious that there are a lot of other aspects of our living on a very small island that are unsustainable – our waste management, lack of recycling, cost of energy, the small area of land that we have to deal with, and the products people use and abuse,” said Devine. “So, while we at IGBA felt our mission initially was to call attention to green building, we now feel our mission is to call attention to a larger issue which includes green building, but it’s more about green living and about trying to produce and develop a sustainable island; an island that’s aware of its resources and shepherds them well.”
In order to effectively expand its scope, IGBA hopes to partner with other community organizations that have similar goals. The non-profit has already joined forces with Gifft Hill School’s Education And Resiliency Through Horticulture program to present its monthly Island Sustainability Seminars, known as Green Thursdays.
“Many of us are wondering how it can be that we live on this island that calls itself a green place to live, yet we don’t have our recycling down,” said EARTH Program Coordinator and IGBA board member Sarah Haynes. “A large part of the answer comes down to the fact that we need to start collaborating more as a whole community, and get a lot of great people working toward a lot of great results. We want the Green Thursdays to be a proactive look at what we can physically do rather than walk away thinking, ‘Oh, this is such problem, what are we going to do about it?’”
In addition to partnering with other community groups to come up with solutions to island issues like waste management and energy conservation, IGBA is developing a long-term plan for an island resource center. Building off the success of the group’s ReSource Depot, which has diverted and recycled more than 25,000 pounds of construction and demolition waste into productive use and out of local landfills, the center is envisioned as a place for education, recycling, agriculture, and more.
“It’s just a concept now, but the Sustainable Living Center could include works from artists who use recycled materials, and we might have a thrift store as well,” said Devine. “We have a need for composting and organic materials recycling and native plants; agriculture is a whole field we should be paying attention to. The idea is to try to make the most of our resources, to train people and educate the public to live in a lower impact way, and to make the island more sustainable and less reliant on outside support.”
The time has come to focus on overall sustainability, explained IGBA founding member Doug White.
“Our island needs environmental security, energy security, and food security,” said White. “If we get involved in creating those activities, that will create economic sustainability.”