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Sustainable Systems

Lyford Cay 'Take Action' Projects Get Inspiration from CEI Visit

Lyford Cay permaculture farm Last week, a group of grade 8 students from the Lyford Cay International School flew over from Nassau to visit the Cape Eleuthera Island School. These sixteen students made it their mission to develop an idea for their year-long Take Action projects. The projects, focused on environmental stewardship, look to empower the students to push for sustainable solutions to the problems which plague their school or community. Over their three-day visit, the students focused on learning about alternative energy, water conservation, waste and plastics pollution, and permaculture.

Shortly after their arrival, students were exposed to the CEIS’s renewable energy systems during a tour of campus. Then, with the help of sustainability teacher Mike Cortina, the students explored different ways we harness energy from our environment here on campus: solar thermal to heat water as well as photovoltaic and wind to create electricity. The students were also introduced to biodiesel production, one of the crown jewels of our alternative energy systems.

Lyford Cay permaculture farm

A quick stop at one of the cisterns gave students a chance to measure and get a firsthand look at the campus’ water catchment system.  After coming face to face with a few frogs, everyone was thankful to learn about the UV filtration system!  Despite being surrounding by water on all sides in The Bahamas, students developed a better understanding of the sobering reality of how limited water resources truly are.

For the next lesson, the permaculture team took the students out of the classroom and into the muck.  The group quickly realized that learning about composting at The Island School means getting your hands dirty!  In teams, the 8th graders gathered leaves, shoveled manure, collected food waste, and chopped up brush to create their own compost pile using the 18 day Berkeley method.  It’s a great method of reducing waste that some of the students thought could be implemented at Lyford Cay with relative ease.

Lyford Cay farm permaculture

In order to visualize the prevalence of plastics on land and in our oceans, the group went out to Cotton Bay Beach to conduct plastic surveys. After walking the beach, students observed the effects of our consumerist society and recognised the need to inspire change.

Despite the rigorous academic schedule, students did have a chance to experience life as members of The Island School's community and do a little exploring. After being invited by the IS students, the Lyford Cay got a taste of morning exercise and competed in a girls vs. boys run/swim.  To top off their trip, the students visited the Rock Sound caves,  picnicked at Ocean Hole for a bit of decompression time, and reflected upon their experiences under a banyan tree before heading home.

Lyford Cay

During their whirlwind trip, the students developed some exciting and ambitious new ideas to combat environmental issues in their own backyards. Solar panels on the new upper school, living roofs to lower energy costs, and plastic bag eradication in the local supermarkets are just a few of the ideas in the works. With their Take Action projects still in their infantile stages, we here at CEI are excited to see what will come to fruition in the next few months!

On-track Anderson-Cabot Hall Construction Project Demonstrates Sustainable Building Practices

The Anderson-Cabot Hall broke ground in January, 2014 and is currently halfway through construction.  Once completed, this structure will accommodate up to 44 interns, teaching fellows, and graduate students who are all attracted to The Cape Eleuthera Institute for experience in tropical and marine sciences.  This is the first phase of the graduate housing facility and is on track to be completed and ready for occupancy by December, 2015.  Currently all the exterior walls are erected and the roof trusses will be installed by the end of 2014.   All potable water for this building will be collected off of the rooftop and stored in subterranean cisterns; all energy it consumes will be produced from a photovoltaic array mounted on the south side of the building which will also provide shading for windows; all wastewater will be processed on-site with grey water being reused for flushing toilets. Anderson-Cabot Hall

This building is being constructed following the Living Building Challenge guidelines, the built environment’s most stringent building program.  This dictates not only the building materials that are allowed to be used in the structure, but that its performance must be monitored over a 12 month consecutive period after occupancy to meet all objectives (produce 105% of all energy consumed on site; collect all water consumed on site; process all waste water on site; limitation on distance that materials can travel to the construction site).  Key building features include: polished concrete floors incorporating recycled glass; 100% passive cooling through precise building placement and thermal mass used in construction, windows and doors that allow 100% of the opening to be operable allowing for maximum ventilation, and a reflective white roof which will help minimize the transfer of heat into the living spaces.  PVC is being eliminated from this building as much as possible.  All potable water lines are Aquatherm (made from polypropylene), waste and drain lines are ABS plastic, and all electrical conduit is high density polyethylene (HDPE).  Decking board will be made from Rumber® (recycled HDPE and car tires), and deck railings are going to be recycled HDPE.  The interior and exterior wall finishes will be Marblecrete© which is a natural stucco that resists mildewing and does not require painting.  This building is designed for minimal maintenance and maximum comfort all while being a model for sustainable building practices within The Bahamas.

Anderson-Cabot Hall

South Eleuthera Primary Schools Explore Marine Invertebrates & Sustainable Systems

Green Castle primary EP Green Castle Primary School’s teacher, Ms. Mary Thompson, brought her class of students in grades 5 & 6 for a marine invertebrate and snorkel trip at the Cape Eleuthera Institute last Tuesday. Students first discussed 4 common invertebrate phyla they might find: cnidarians, echinoderms, porifera, and mollusks. Then they headed out to snorkel off the beach! This was an exciting trip for students who examined the different invertebrates we found such as cushion sea stars, a brittle star, juvenile conch, a sea anemone, rose coral, and even a little periwinkle.

EP Local schools

On Wednesday, Ms. Nathalie Sweeting with Wemyss Bight Primary grade 4 came for a trip to explore some of the sustainable systems on campus. Students started off reviewing the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources. Then the class headed out to various systems around campus so that they could see these concepts in action. Their first stop was the dining hall cistern to measure how much water we had at the time and to talk about water conservation. Then they headed over to the wind turbine and solar panels to discuss some of the differences between how we get our energy and where they get theirs at home. A highlight for students was the aquaponics system where sustainability teacher, Adam Dusen, caught a few Tilapia and described how the system works to produce fish and hydroponically grown plants for consumption in the dining hall. It was great to get a close-up look at the unique system.

We would like to thank both schools for their enthusiasm about marine science and sustainability.  We look forward to seeing other classes from both schools here on campus in the future!

Wemyss bight primary EP mangroves

Gap Year Student Update

The Fall Gap Year Program is underway and boy have the gappers come a long way since we met, as seven strangers, at the Rock Sound Airport three weeks ago. With our fearless leaders, Liz and Pat, we have become a tight-knit family. Between getting SCUBA certified and oriented to campus, we had an action-packed first week. Gap Years 2014 clean up community service at ocean hole in red

At the start of our second week, we really got into the swing of things. We began our classes, Human Ecology and Environmental Issues, where we learned how to live more sustainably in our daily lives. Each of us chose a topic of interest to research and present to the rest of the group.

Gap Year 2014 sense of place class

For example, we learned about climate change, inlet dredging, and the harmful effects of our reliance on oil. Each afternoon, after class, we had the opportunity to shadow the research groups that study sharks, sea turtles, lionfish, and flats. Experiencing first hand the inside world of research being done around us was incredible. During this second week, we also began our morning exercise routine to prepare for our upcoming triathlon and our weekly community service.

ocean hole cleanup gap years 2014

The Island School community has been incredibly welcoming. On the third week, we were invited to a CEI wedding, where we danced to the Rum Runners, a local Eleutheran band. Each week we look forward to having a family dinner at Liz’s house. Last week, we made lionfish tacos and played corn-hole with local kids.

We have been taking advantage of our surroundings so much so that the salt seems to never dry off our skin. We have already learned so much in our time here at The Island School, most importantly the significance of relationships with both the people around us and the environment we live in. We are excited to explore Eleuthera during our kayak and down island expeditions over the next two weeks.

Local High School Teachers Consider Sustainability as a Part of Curriculum

PHAHS Teach 1 Teachers and Vice Principal, Ms. Knowles, from Preston H. Albury High School came to visit during teacher's planning week in late August. This visit served as the start to a collaboration regarding ways that CEI may support their curriculum planning with a focus on scientific research, native Bahamian resources, and small island sustainability. We hope that teachers of all subject areas, not just biology and the sciences but also math, English, art and other subjects, see a connection with the projects we have here at CEIS.

PHAHS YTeach 4

During their time on campus, some of the teachers investigated the invasive lionfish through a dissection. Some watched while others took part in the dissection identifying the lionfish's venemous spines as well as how to fillet and eat the fish! Others explored the aquaponics system and are interested in starting a program at PHA in the future.  Finally, some teachers learned about the current status of local conch populations.


We had a tremendous time collaborating with the teachers of PHAHS. It was a pleasure to have them on campus and share some of the research projects and educational programs offered at CEIS.

PHAHS Teach 3