Category Archives: News

Not For Profit: Island Green Living Association Introduces New Vision

IGLA Kicks Off 2016 With New High Profile Board of Directors, Ambitious Plans

Armed with a new board that includes top brass from the corporate world and academia, Island Green Living Association (IGLA) has conceived a comprehensive strategic plan that combats the significant environmental issues endangering the U.S. Virgin Islands. Key among the tactics are education and engagement initiatives, which include a hands-on Island Green Living/Sustainability curriculum in partnership with the V.I. Department of Education. Fundamental to IGLA’s mission are the four R’s: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

“The U.S.V.I. faces major environmental challenges including the impending closure of overflowing landfills in 2020, toxic storm water run-off, high energy costs and lack of viable recycling options,” said Harith Wickrema, the new president of IGLA. “The way we live plays a major role in the devastation, but most people don’t understand their impact. It is our belief that with awareness, education and community engagement along with the support of government, we can fight this battle together. Preservation of the territory is vital to our health and wellbeing as well as to tourism, the lifeblood of our economy.”

In addition to assuming the role of vice chairman of the VI Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), Wickrema was elected the new president of IGLA in January. He has been dedicated to preservation and green issues his entire career, most notably developing the sustainable event management curriculum at Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is a trailblazer in the event management industry, championing recognition of sustainability and green events while president of Harith Productions Ltd., a 25+ year global corporate communication and event production company.

While traveling for business, he fell in love with St. John and conceived Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, an eco-luxury retreat on St. John where he now makes his home. For each night that the villa is rented, a donation is made to Friends of VI National Park and IGLA for restoration and recycling efforts on St. John.

Other board officers include:

Doug White, vice president — White is a licensed architect in the Virgin Islands since 1982 as well as a co-founder and past president of IGLA.

Rob Crane, treasurer — Crane is a licensed architect in Washington D.C., Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands, and he is past president of IGLA.

Akhil Deshwal, secretary — Deshwal is managing director at Gallows Point Resort and president of Ocean 362, the restaurant at Gallows Point.

Board members:

Dr. Laurie Bottiger, head of school, Gifft Hills School, St. John

Jim Dobrowolski, founder and CEO of U.S. Facilities Inc., owner of Dr. Cool, a leading mechanical services provider in the U.S.V.I.

Dr. David Hall, president, University of Virgin Islands

Christie O’Neil, broker, Holiday Homes of St. John Inc.

Dr. Gary Ray, restoration ecologist and co-founding member of IGLA

Susan Parten, licensed civil engineer and owner/manager of Community Environmental Services Inc.

Randy Thurman, past CEO of major global corporations including VIASYS & Corning Life Sciences, Rhone Poulenc Rorer, etc.

Karen Vahling, director of development, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park

Further details on IGLA’s plans are forthcoming.

**IGLA’s Green Movie Series offers free family-friendly movie nights when films on green issues are featured, and there is a pot luck dinner. They movie nights are open to the public and will take place at 6 p.m. in the Great Room of Lower Gifft Hill School Campus on the following evenings:
March 17: “Cowspiracy”
April 14: “Racing Extinction”
May 12: “Forks Over Knives”


IGLA Launches Fundraising Campaign: Preserve St. John

The Island Green Living Association is proud to announce the launch of a major fundraising campaign in support of its mission to address environmental issues island-wide.

Together with the board of directors, Executive Director Barry Devine, IGLA intends to undertake key initiatives that will more aggressively target issues of recycling, resource conservation, responsible building and living, and preservation of St. John’s natural environment.

Collectively, the island’s residents, businesses, and more than 1 million visitors per year are utilizing St. John’s natural resources at a rate that poses a growing threat of degradation to the island. St. John faces unique economic, cultural, and environmental problems associated with its geography and tourism base; namely, tons of waste with little recycling, high energy and food costs, increasing pollution, decreasing land mass, and endangered wildlife. These are all key issues targeted in IGLA’s fundraising campaign, Preserve St. John.

As a non-profit organization, IGLA’s funding comes from members and generous donors. To date, public support has enabled IGLA to help St. John in many ways, and now more than ever, the non-profit needs financial support to reach higher and fund critical initiatives including island resource recovery, glass and aluminum can recycling, composting, green villa and green business membership programs, and green living education.

Contact Barry Devine today at   or 340-514-3532 to be a part of Preserve St. John, and share IGLA’s mission with friends, family, neighbors, and visitors. With help from the public, IGLA can enable St. John to move toward a sustainable future and preserve the island for the continued enjoyment of all.

Island Green Building Association Aims to Bring Glass Recycling to St. John with Help From Community

On an island with limited space for waste and few recycling options, the Island Green Building Association is working toward bringing glass recycling to St. John with the help of donations from the community.

IGBA hopes to purchase a solar-powered glass pulverizer to operate at its ReSource Depot site, across from the Susannaberg Transfer Station at Gifft Hill and Centerline. The glass crusher will pulverize glass waste down to the size of a grain of sand, making it ideal for reuse in water filters, landscaping, concrete, and asphalt. IGBA plans to sell 50-pound bags of the pulverized glass at the ReSource Depot.

“You get a sellable product right out of the machine,” said IGBA board member Doug White. “We estimate it can process between 45 and 90 percent of St. John’s glass.”

The island’s waste is approximately 5 percent glass, accounting for 680 tons annually.

“The glass crusher would take care of a phenomenal amount of glass that gets thrown away every year,” said IGBA volunteer Kristin Hawk.

The resulting pulverized glass would be competitively priced with bags of sand sold on St. Thomas.

With St. Thomas landfills ordered closed by 2019 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the territory will need to look at creative ways to dispose of its waste, White explained.

“Glass is a reusable resource,” he said. “It’s already on the island, so transportation and shipping are not necessary, and the material is virtually free except for the collection efforts. We can reuse it right here on St. John.”

IGBA plans to collect the glass alongside aluminum can collection points that stand at many island trash bins.

In addition to reducing the amount of waste produced by island residents and visitors, the solar powered glass crusher will also benefit the island by helping to free up St. John Capital Improvement Fund money, explained White.

“Right now, shipment of our waste to St. Thomas is paid for by the St. John Capital Improvement Fund,” he said. “That money should be going toward doing projects on St. John, not being used to haul trash. The more waste we can process on St. John, the more we can free up the fund for needed improvements on St. John.”

The entire cost of the project is estimated at $76,528, and donations from the community will be needed to help the non-profit purchase the glass crusher and get it up and running. Donations are being accepted at IGBA hopes to have the glass crusher up and running within approximately one year.

“The glass crusher will be a benefit to the people who live and visit here and a benefit to the island’s environment,” said Hawk.

Our Islands Our Future: Green Construction Trainings

IGBA is partnering with NOAA and DPNR to conduct technical training workshops and develop public service announcements targeting designers, builders, agencies, and homeowners with the green building message. First training is for designers, builders and contractors and is focused on building design, landscaping, and stormwater management. July 16, St. Ursulas Church, Cruz Bay. Registration required.

Green Thursdays – “Recycle What, Where?” On May 30

The development of a comprehensive recycling program on St. John has never fully come to fruition, despite interest from many island residents. Join the Island Green Building Association and Gifft Hill School’s Education and Resiliency Through Horticulture program on Thursday, May 30, at the GHS Upper Campus atrium to see how community members can help bring recycling to St. John.

A presentation entitled “Recycle What, Where?” will feature a panel of community activists discussing which recycling activities are ongoing – aluminum can recycling and composting – and which efforts are gathering steam – plastic bailing, glass crushing, and others. Panelists will also discuss the best path moving forward, and share with community members how they can be a part of the solution.

A potluck, beginning at 5:30 p.m., will precede the panel discussion, which starts at 6 p.m. Please bring a dish to share if you wish to join the potluck.

This presentation is a Green Thursdays Seminar, part of the Island Sustainability Series presented by IGBA and GHS’s EARTH program. These monthly seminars focus on making the Virgin Islands a greener place to live. All are welcome to attend.

Green Thursdays: Learn How to Save Money on Your WAPA Bill with Renewable Energy Alternatives March 28

The rising cost of energy is something with which Virgin Islanders are well-acquainted; however, there are ways to get rid of the fear one experiences upon opening a WAPA bill each month – renewable energy alternatives.

Join the Island Green Building Association and Gifft Hill School’s Education And Resiliency Through Horticulture program on Thursday, March 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the GHS Upper Campus atrium to learn about ways to break dependence on traditional energy sources. A panel of professionals will be on hand to answer the most important questions on the economics, suitability, and efficiency of sun, wind, and water energy systems.

This presentation is a Green Thursdays Seminar, part of the Island Sustainability Series presented by IGBA and GHS’s EARTH program. These monthly seminars focus on making the Virgin Islands a greener place to live. All are welcome to attend.

Green Thursdays: Virgin Islands Resources Worth Protecting May 2

The Island Green Building Association will remind residents why the natural environment of St. John is worth fighting for on Thursday, May 2, when IGBA Executive Director Dr. Barry Devine will present “A Naturalist’s Journey From Ridge to Reef: Virgin Islands Resources Worth Protecting.”

Devine will deliver a fascinating presentation on the wonders of Virgin Islands beauty from peak to reef. This potluck event will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Gifft Hill School Upper Campus atrium; please bring a dish to share.

This presentation is a Green Thursdays Seminar, part of the Island Sustainability Series presented by IGBA and GHS’s Education And Resiliency Through Horticulture program. These monthly seminars focus on making the Virgin Islands a greener place to live. All are welcome to attend.

Devine’s May 2 presentation will wrap up the 2012-2013 Green Thursdays series. Note that the date has been changed from April 25 to May 2 so as not to interfere with St. Thomas Carnival festivities.

Green Thursdays: Learn About Growing Organically and the USVI’s Local Food Movement on February 28

“Organic” is the latest buzzword on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but as Virgin Islands residents are all too aware, buying organic locally can be prohibitively expensive, and at times, doing so feels next to impossible.

The Ridge to Reef Farm on St. Croix is trying to affect positive change in this area. The farm’s Nate Olive will bring residents up to date on what Ridge to Reef is doing to strengthen the local food system throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands through efforts like certified organic production on Thursday, February 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Gifft Hill School’s Upper Campus atrium.

This presentation is a Green Thursdays Seminar, part of the Island Sustainability Series presented by the Island Green Building Association and Gifft Hill School’s Education And Resiliency Through Horticulture program. These monthly seminars focus on making the Virgin Islands a greener place to live.

The Feb. 28 presentation is a potluck event; attendees are asked to bring a dish to share along with their farming questions. All are welcome to attend.

IGBA Announces Focus Shift from Green Building to Green Living, Hopes to Partner with Local Community Groups, Open Sustainable Living Center

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.”

To learn more, or to partner with IGBA, visit,, or contact Devine at 340-514-3532.