Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
RICHMOND, St Ann:
ON THE HEELS of being nominated for the International Renewable Energy Project for 2010, Jamaica's first green community, the Richmond Housing Development (RDC) in St Ann, was officially launched on Saturday, September 17, with Housing Minister Dr Horace Chang calling for other developers to follow RDC's chairman Lee Issa's example.
And with 240 of the 245 units already completed having been sold, Jamaicans seem to be reacting positively to the idea of a green community, albeit 60 per cent of the number has been sold to overseas residents.
The overseas buyers are split evenly between United States, Canada, and United Kingdom residents.
Richmond housing development is a realisation of Issa's dream. He was tired of seeing the regular, sometimes ugly, concrete jungle that passed as housing developments, and wanted to raise the bar on what a modern housing community should look like. So the idea was born to design units that were as environmentally friendly as possible.
Issa has so far pumped in excess of $1.4 billion into phase one of the development, The Palms, which when completed, will consist of 356 units. Phase two, Fern Court, and phase three, Country Walk, will each consist of over 300 units.
Fulfilment of a dream
"My team and I are very proud of this development because it represents the fulfilment of a dream to provide a wide cross section of Jamaican families with top-quality living at an affordable price," Issa remarked as he welcomed persons to the official launch.
He continued: "The Richmond team is committed to the holistic development of each homeowner. This is why we have invested heavily to develop a community which supports this ideal. When this project is completed, it will provide direct access by homeowners and their families to a wide range of amenities, including a state-of-the-art medical centre, 24-hour security, a sports and fitness complex, a clubhouse and infinity pool, a shopping centre, day care, and banking facilities, among others."
Housing, Environment and Water Minister Dr Horace Chang hailed the development as the future of housing and said RDC had showcased the possibilities and paved the way for future improvements to the way we build and, ultimately, the way we impact the earth.
"Let me use this opportunity to encourage other developers to catch the vision and come on-board. This is the future of housing. To the purchasers into this development, I urge you to maintain your community and help us spread the message of sustainable development across the length and breadth of this island. Any move towards energy efficiency is a good one, even if it is one small step."
Units at the Palms, a spread of three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses, boast thermo bars on the roof to reduce heat penetration, thereby reducing the necessity to use cooling systems such as air-condition units or fans. Water heaters and street lights in the community are also run by solar energy.
General manager at Richmond, Steve Bennett, said the company would be continuing its eco-friendly drive.
The development has an eco-friendly sewage disposal facility, and also provides the option of rain-water harvesting.
These efforts represent the first phase of RDC's green concept.
"The next thing we want to do is - any minute now - we're going to be employing somebody to just manage the way we handle our disposables," Bennett disclosed. "Just like how they do it in modern communities, we will have three disposable options - recyclables, biodegradables, and those that go to the municipal dump."
The company has guidelines for residents that will ensure that the area remains green, including a ban on the use of high-phosphate fertiliser on the lots, and restrictions against cutting down trees of a certain size without the consent of all owners in the community.