How it will look: The new hospital building will be the second LEED certified building in Bermuda. The strategy for trying to bring the Botanical Gardens into the KEMH site was central to the development of the new project, as was creating as green a building as possible. *Image courtesy of Bermuda Hospitals Board
How it will look: The new hospital building will be the second LEED certified building in Bermuda. The strategy for trying to bring the Botanical Gardens into the KEMH site was central to the development of the new project, as was creating as green a building as possible. *Image courtesy of Bermuda Hospitals Board
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Long gone are the days when Bermuda homes were built with palmetto roofs or walls of cedar.

The stormy gales and dwindling supply of trees made earlier residents rethink their building techniques.

We have since worked hard to ensure that homes withstand storms and that cedar trees remain a feature of our landscape.

Bermuda's construction history is rich with examples of design strategy or material use that specifically improved everyday living for those in the past.

Our water tanks immediately come to mind. Bermuda’s white roofs serve the double purpose of collecting rainwater and reflecting sunlight, which in turn, reduces the heat of the island.

Structures like butteries offered cooler temperatures because of their shape and location, so things like eggs and milk were stored in them.

Today our comforts and basic needs have changed slightly.

For example, instead of constructing high ceilings for air circulation, we now use air conditioning for our heating and cooling needs.

The volume of our water tanks is not keeping up with our dishwashers, showers, and swimming pools, so external sources like reverse osmosis are now used to combat water shortages.

Our population has almost doubled since 1950, which has led to the construction of more homes and places of work.

These developments are all necessary in the 21st-century environment, but we must take lessons from our forefathers.

We must look into the past to determine how we can build through the lens of sustainable development to preserve our island socially, economically and environmentally for the future.

We have one Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building in Bermuda.

This U.S. standard was applied to minimize the impact that construction and operation of the building would have on the surrounding environment.

Through LEED, guidance is given to deal with elements like energy, water and waste generation, usage and disposal.

Being ‘eco-friendly’ is a step in the right direction because our parks, ocean and nature reserves need protection if they are to be sustained.

Besides being important for our wildlife, these habitats offer much needed peace and solace from the stress and hustle of today. Bermuda’s natural beauty is also a main attraction for tourists who bring wealth to our shores and provide the backbone for our hospitality industry.

What some companies don’t realize is that they can save a significant amount of money by operating in a vetted green building since design and construction influence maintenance costs.

These savings can, in turn, potentially be passed on to customers.

Despite the well-known benefits of constructing and operating green buildings, there is little push for them locally at this time.

Henry Ford said it best: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business”.

If architects, general contractors and engineers equally took into consideration the social, environmental and economic impacts, Bermuda would indeed be rich beyond its wildest dreams.

The more a company invests in social matters, the stronger its community relationships become.

This tends to result in more support for other business initiatives and the benefits for all stakeholders would be countless.

Now that our economy has softened, it is an opportunity for those who influence building development to promote a coordinated sustainable process that is holistic to the bottom line.

The new hospital building will be the second LEED certified building in Bermuda.

This project has solicited feedback from the community for site location and final design. Managers and frontline workers were part of the planning and design criteria team to make sure that the needs of the employees were included.

Also, Paget Health Services, the company building the hospital, is under contract to take on the risk if the project goes over budget or is delayed.

These are examples of including sustainability into the development process. 

Even though our island is tiny we have made our mark on the world.

We created the triangle sail known as the Bermuda rig and impacted fashion with Bermuda shorts.

We were also the first to pass E-commerce legislation, which has been used as a framework by other nations.

Why not grasp the opportunity to globally market ourselves as the country that incorporates sustainability in design, construction and operation of our buildings? It will boost national pride, help international business, tourism, and our environment, but most of all it will benefit you and me.

May we begin planning today so that our actions tomorrow are guided by lessons learned from the past.