Following damage from Irma and major renovation, a new, reinvigorated Islander Resort greeted guests and locals in January. With 114 rooms on roughly 24 acres, a beach side bar in the Tides and fine dining in the Elements Lounge, the resort is also showcasing a number of green initiatives that make Islander one of the most eco-friendly resorts around.
In September, installation initiated on what is the largest solar panel array in the Keys. Fifteen different buildings on resort property will contain solar panels — for a total of 1,950 — to supply over 45 percent of all energy consumed at the resort. That’s enough to supply enough power to about more than 130 homes. Reduction in its fossil fuel reliance would reduce emissions equivalent to that produced by 160 cars a year.
“So far, we’ve lined our roofs with panels on several buildings,” said Dan Martin, director of sales and marketing at Islander Resort. “The solar panel component is the largest piece of our green strategy, but the little things we do every day, from green housekeeping practices to the use of energy-efficient climate control units, shows just how conscious Islander is about decreasing our carbon footprint. We’re looking to be a full-fledged, eco-friendly resort.”
SALT Energy in Marathon is installing the 638-kilowatt solar panel system, and they say it’s by far the largest on one site in Monroe County. The Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District has a 110.8 kW system that was installed by SALT in 2019. Projected energy production of the full system at Islander is 1,090-megawatt hours annually. The system will also be able to sustain category 5 force winds.
“We have really appreciated the support from all the partners on this project, including FKEC, who have worked very closely to ensure that the power upgrades would be safely integrated,” said Chuck Meier, business development manager and owner of SALT. “SALT applauds Islander Resort’s earth-friendly initiatives developed during their recent renovations. Their investment in solar energy adds to their green portfolio and will lower their electric bills substantially.”
Solar panels are expected to be completed and all live by the start of 2020.
“Flipping on the switch and gaining that energy from the sun is a great solution and a huge moment not only for Islander but for our guests,” Martin said. “Every day, we’re making mindful choices to help move the needle toward self-sustainability.”
In addition to its solar panel array, Islander Resort also boasts a water treatment system repurposed to collect and hold reclaimed rainwater to irrigate the property’s extensive landscape collection. A state-of-the-art cold-water laundry system is designed to conserve water and decrease hot water use, while climate control units in guest rooms detect when guests leave for efficient cooling. Drinks served to pool and beachgoers at Tides are served in biodegradable materials, while water filling stations throughout the property encourage the use of reusable bottles and illustrates the resort’s commitment to reduce plastic use. As for the solar panels, Martin said it’s the “crown jewel” of the Islander’s green initiatives.