Lovango Beach House is totally off the grid; self-generating green
energy by utilizing 42 voltaic solar panels that produce over 7000
watts of power in addition to a back up 6-kilowatt diesel generator.
heard the "in" words: recycle, reuse, repurpose, sustainable, carbon
footprint and green, as in green building, green living and even green cleaning.
But a home on a 118 acre island near St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is
a truly "sustainable" house; the house creates its own power, provides
its own water and has had mostly recycled materials used its construction.
Lovango Cay, an off the grid island (no public utilities), is about
a mile and a half north of Cruz Bay, the largest town on St. John.
The house itself,
at 2100 square feet, has in its construction stone and shells found on the
property and around the island.
house itself - not all that large at 2100
square feet - was built from stone and shells
found on the property - not really a mountain,
but plenty hilly and plenty rocky.
The frame of the house and the beams that
support the 27-foot ceiling are reclaimed fir
from pilings of old 1800s railroad trestles that spanned the Great
The wood, having been under water for over 100
years is highly impregnated with salt and thus termite proof. The
floors inside are from old Chicago brick and reclaimed old growth
New Hampshire pine. All the exterior decking is made from combined
recycled plastics and wood fibers.
team of workers from Illinois, who cut the
timber frame, spent a week on Lovango Cay hand-raising
the massive beams for the framework of the
house. A local architect and contractor
completed the rest of the work.
is the use of solar to power the house, and rain catchment cisterns to provide potable
water. There is an 18,000 gallon rain catchment
cistern beneath the main house and a 2,000 gallon one beneath the
stone guest cottage that was the original building on the property.
A solar hot water system provides the majority of the hot water
that is needed.
power for the house and cottage comes from a good-sized array,
over 7000-watts, of solar panels that provide direct current to
a (3,200 amp hour, 24 volt) bank of storage batteries. Two 4-kilowatt
inverters then invert the stored direct current into alternating
current for use in the house for lighting, refrigeration, ceiling
fans and whatever else is needed.
A large diesel
back-up generator is automatically started by the inverters to recharge
the batteries if two or three consecutive sunless, windless days
cause the batteries to decrease in stored power. When the batteries
are recharged the inverters turn off the generator.
gas for the stove and laundry dryer and the use of cell phones round out all the necessities
needed for complete off grid living.
House is bi-level to keep its footprint small.
A beautifully landscaped walkway of steps from
the dock lead to the screened sitting area of the great room and
kitchen. A bedroom, bath and loft are up another
level that wrap
around the great room.
While screening covers all the windows, unique
built-in electric shades can be lowered to
shield guests from inclement weather continuing
to allow a view of the water and St. John.