After successfully growing our business throughout the Caribbean since 2016, Integrated Sustainability made the conscious decision to commit to the region by moving me and my family, including two young children, down to the region in 2018. We could have picked any Caribbean country to establish our new regional head office, but ultimately chose Barbados. The main factors behind that decision were that Barbados is the only Caribbean country that has established a double-taxation agreement with Canada; the island is outside the main hurricane belt; and it has an international airport that serves as a central hub for the West Indies, which is very important for us considering the amount of inter- island travel that is necessary to run the business. But, perhaps most important of all for our family, we were moving to a country with an exceptional quality of life, good schools, low crime levels and an abundance of fun activities.
When Integrated Sustainability started pursuing work in the Caribbean in 2016, I had already been working throughout the region since 2006 where I met two of the three owners of the Barbadian company Ecohesion – Sam Neilands and Andre Quesnel – and established a strong relationship with them. Not long after I moved to Barbados in 2018, we began very high-level discussions about a merger because it seemed to be an obvious fit. Integrated Sustainability was offering full turn-key solutions in the water and wastewater sector, including Design-Finance-Construction-Operation & Maintenance (O&M) services, but was not operating any treatment facilities in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, although Cohesion was able to provide Design-Construction-O&M services, their design team was small, and they often needed to partner with other consulting teams to pursue large projects. Therefore, the two companies complimented each other in areas that needed bolstering.
The overall entrepreneurial spirit of the Directors at Ecohesion – with Corey Jackman included – also fits very well with Integrated Sustainability’s culture and senior management. Stuart Torr, the President and CEO of Integrated Sustainability, has always been an entrepreneur, like his father before him, and owned several other companies before starting this consulting firm. The bulk of the leadership team at Integrated Sustainability includes individuals in their late 40’s, so we are a relatively young team, and this also matched with Ecohesion. Our combined business development network throughout the Caribbean is also complimentary, strengthening our ability to compete against rival local and international companies.
The overall experience to date has been everything we have hoped for and more.
Integrated Sustainability pursues a variety of projects in the water and wastewater sector that often incorporate renewable energy services as well. Right here in Barbados, we have a very good example of the long-term benefits our company can deliver to the Caribbean. Located in the Villages at Coverley in Christ Church, the Coverley wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) utilizes an advanced treatment technology called a membrane bioreactor (MBR) that cleans the sewage to the highest level, where it can then be reused for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation and flushing toilets again and again. The reclaimed water from the treatment plant is recirculated within the community of Coverley, using purple pipe to signify that this pipe is distributing reclaimed water, and is not to be confused with the blue pipe that distributes drinking water. Each home has two water meters, one to track the usage of each type of water. In addition, the Coverley WWTP also includes a reverse osmosis (RO) treatment technology, used in Water Treatment Plants, that removes all the remaining contaminants including bacteria and viruses, leaving a pure water that is circulated into a fish aquarium and used within an outdoor aquaponic system.
This treatment plant is considered to be very advanced by any standards, even for the most developed countries such as Canada, and we should be very proud that Barbados operates such a sustainable treatment system that is the envy of most water-scarce countries that need to reuse their water. Some of the projects that we have secured recently include:
Site Study and Conceptual Design for Strengthening Distance Education in the Caribbean Project
Integrated Sustainability was awarded this project by the University of West Indies Open Campus (UWIOC) to complete designs required to upgrade and expand their campuses in Belize, St. Kitts, Dominica, and Trinidad. This very large, multi-disciplinary project was delivered successfully.
Development and Design of National Adaptation Plans for Belize and Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Integrated Sustainability was retained by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop National Adaptation Plans related to how climate change is affecting sectors such as the agricultural and water sectors.
Preparation of an Integrated Needs Assessment: Water Usage, Accessibility and Storage in Barbados
Integrated Sustainability was awarded this project by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in cooperation with the Barbados Water Authority, to design rainwater capture and potable water storage units. Our various design configurations included incorporating solar to eliminate the electrical cost associated with running the pumps for this system.
Design and Implementation of an Integrated Blue Economy Policy Framework and Strategic Action Plan for Barbados
Integrated Sustainability was retained by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Barbados was the first country in the Caribbean to establish a Ministry dedicated to the Blue Economy. This project allowed us to work closely with this Ministry and other stakeholders to develop a new policy framework.
3R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) for Climate Resilience Wastewater Systems in Barbados
Organized by the CCCCC and funded by the GCF, this project involved completing the conceptual design to upgrade the two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Barbados – the Bridgetown & South Coast WWTPs – to tertiary (the highest level) in order to improve the infrastructure’s resiliency towards climate change and use the treated reclaimed water for non-potable use such as irrigation, as well as to consider recharging the existing aquifer. Other aspects of the project also included analysing every aspect of the treatment process for energy recovery and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction opportunities, especially utilizing the sludge for a potential new biogas facility and/or fertilizer.
Consultancy Services for the Development of a Sustainability Management Plan for the Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados
The Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) selected Integrated Sustainability to develop a Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) for the airport. This project included reviewing GAIA’s policies, strategy, systems, programs, operations, and management review process to determine the state of institutional readiness of the institution for incorporating the SMP into its strategic plan.
In addition to the above, we have several other projects underway, including operating and maintaining over 30 treatment facilities throughout the Caribbean, in Bermuda, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana and Trinidad. As well as a range of consulting projects such as an Assessment of Marine and Coastal Resources in the Southeast Coast of St. Lucia, and a Technical and Economic Feasibility of Solar Units and Water Storage on Public Buildings in Dominica.
And, worthy of special mention, we are also currently negotiating a large contract with the University of West Indies in Jamaica at their Mona Campus to Design-Finance-Build-Own-Operate- Transfer (DFBOOT) their existing wastewater treatment facility. The project would involve taking ownership of their treatment plant and designing necessary upgrades to bring their treatment quality to the highest standards that would allow the treated reclaimed water to be used for non-potable use such as irrigation of neighbouring sports fields. We would also look to integrate solar PV panels to reduce the overall operational costs to run this facility. This exciting and new contract marks a continued business relationship between UWI and Integrated Sustainability.
Our long-term intentions are to continue focusing on the water and wastewater sectors, while providing the DFBOOT model, considering we anticipate the offering to include financing will become increasingly important. The Covid pandemic negatively impacted the economy for most, if not all countries, but especially the Caribbean region that relies so heavily on the tourism market. As such, we anticipate several Governments will need to rely more on the private sector to potentially finance much needed future infrastructure projects. We are eager to provide local assistance by including a local workforce that will stimulate the economy.
Our debt financing may not be as low as what some Asian markets can offer, but we include a team that employs over 80% local work forces. This creates job opportunities in the design and construction industries that help stimulate the local economy. Surely, this should be seen as being equally or more important than only considering the low interest rates offered by other markets.