Category Archives: News

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.

IGBA’s ReSource Depot to Celebrate 20,000 Thanks One Year Anniversary Event

The Island Green Building Association of St. John will host 20,000 Thanks – The ReSource Depot One Year Anniversary Event on January 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., recognizing the success of recycling and eliminating 20,000 pounds from the landfill and transfer station.

The public is invited to take advantage of already low prices reduced significantly on the day of the celebration. Food, refreshments, music, and savings will be the focus of the day as IGBA thanks the community, residents, and businesses for their support.

Every year, valuable items with plenty of useful life left in them are tossed in the dump, creating solid waste and pollution problems on the island. IGBA board members recognized this enormous waste of resources and developed a plan to open a resource recovery and recycling facility where residents and businesses could donate useful items for resale.

IGBA opened the first of four storage trailers on Gifft Hill across from the transfer station in January 2011 as part of its mission to prevent useful building and home materials from being dumped in the landfill. Windows, doors, hardware, furniture, building and electrical supplies, tools, appliances, toilets, sinks, tile, shutters, paint and more have been generously donated by concerned St. Johnians.

“Across the territory, solid waste is a growing problem for residents watching dumpsters, transfer stations, and landfills overflow with waste materials, many of which are useful items that folks want to get rid of but cannot find a home for,” said IGBA Executive Director Dr. Barry Devine. “Islands in particular have few appropriate locations for discarded waste trapped in the small community, space that would be more efficiently used if the useful items could be recovered and reused. With all of the building and remodeling happening on St. John, the island is loaded with good stuff that people want.”

IGBA’s effort a year ago began with a large donation from local businessman Harith Wickrema of Eco Serendib, and since that time dozens of residents, businesses, and contractors have stepped up with a wide variety of desirable items, while dozens and dozens more have come to shop and buy, giving these low-cost items a new life and supporting a greener island.

In support of IGBA, an eight-year-old non-profit, generous donors have helped to fund the discounted cost of the storage trailers at the Storage on Site location across from the Susannaberg Transfer Station. Many residents volunteer and donate their time to transport goods, work at the Depot, and get the word out that there are goods to be had at fantastic prices.

Dan “Pants Man” Carlson was recently hired as the Depot manager and the operating hours have been extended to Saturday, Monday and Thursday mornings until noon.

Funds from the sale of goods, IGBA memberships, grants, and private donations help support the Depot expenses and the monthly Green Thursdays educational Seminar Series. Recently, IGBA has partnered with the EARTH Program at Gifft Hill School to help lead St. John toward sustainability.

IGBA invites everyone to come out on January 26 for big discounts, good food, music, and community, as a thanks those who have supported the non-profit’s recycling efforts at the ReSource Depot.

IGBA Receives Environmental Quality Award


The U.S. Environmental Protections Agency announced the 2012 honorees for
the group’s annual Environmental Quality Awards for Region 2 were the Island Green Building Association of St. John and Beyond Visions Foundation of St. Croix.
EPA officials hosted an official ceremony at their offices in Manhattan and plan to travel to the territory to personally  present the awards later in the year. Speaking at the Manhattan ceremony, EPA regional administrator Judith Enck hailed both groups as setting a high bar for environmental excellence in the territory.  “Change that will create a healthier and more sustainable future begins with people like those the EPA is honoring today,” said  Enck. “They give of themselves and set a high bar in their actions to protect public health and the environment.”
EPA presents Environmental Quality Awards each year to individuals, businesses, government agencies, environmental and community based organizations and members of the media in EPA Region 2 — which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally-recognized Indian Nations.  “The awards recognize significant contributions to improving the environment and public  health in the previous calendar year,” according to a prepared statement by EPA.

On St. John, IGBA officials were thrilled with the news of their EPA award.  “We’re very excited about being honored by EPA,” said Karen Vahling.  “We’ve been hearing from so many people in the environmental community and the larger community who have been calling us and congratulating us. It’s really nice to be recognized this way.”