Like many small islands, those in the Caribbean are environmentally and economically more vulnerable than neighboring continental sites. Shaped by their unique context and historically protected by their limited access, the islands’ extraordinary natural resources remain their most important asset. The island’s natural landscape and bio-resources attract visitors, providing a critical source of revenue. Paradoxically, the increase in tourism also exposes the islands’ bio-resources to potential damages and disrupts its cultural fabric. It is challenging to formulate a responsible development approach that balances economic and resort expansion with the conservation and regeneration of the islands’ ecology. The islands’ isolation and their remote context demand self-sustaining approaches and integrative development strategies.
Resorts and tourism present one of the most prevalent opportunities to create a flourishing economy on Caribbean islands, with the potential to greatly benefit the broader community. This talk will explore some strategies to concurrently develop islands for resort and tourism and conserve their unique resources, while enhancing bio-diversity and self-sustainability.
The sustainable development of Caribbean islands present unique challenges that require careful study and multi-disciplinary collaborations to achieve success. Through creating a framework that supports ecological design, regenerative developments can integrate the often-divergent aspirations of developers and conservationists. Multi-disciplinary partnerships that employ ecological design, incorporate vernacular best practices, and transfer emerging technologies, are able to attract and support long-term strategic investments.
Dr. Kenneth Martin Kao is an architect specializing in ecological master planning, design of net-zero energy projects, and leading green technology research and design initiatives. At Kao Design Group since 1995, Kao combines professional practice and teaching with research on innovations in building technology and sustainability. He has realized ecological projects in California, New England, and international projects, including: Green Island Development Master Planning at Moskito Island, British Virgin Islands for Sir Richard Branson; collaborated with Drs. Kammen and Prull from UC Berkeley’s Renewable Appropriate Energy Lab to conceive of Necker Island Net-Zero Energy Master Plan, British Virgin Islands. His studio received First Place Team Design Award for Harvard University Green Campus Initiative’s 2020 Vision of Sustainability Competition. He has designed net-zero energy projects in California, and currently is completing the prototype Human Needs Project to offer clean technology and community services to the slums of Kibera in Kenya and Mumbai India.
At Harvard University Graduate School of Design from 1988 to 2011, Kao researched and taught innovations in sustainable design, engineering collaborations, and computer-aided design and manufacturing. With leading engineers from Arup & Partners, he conducted seminars on Net-Zero Energy Developments, Environmental Sustainability Seminar, Low-energy buildings and high performance building envelopes. Kao co-authored with colleagues at Harvard on Digital Design and Manufacturing, published by Wiley Press. He served as faculty advisor on the Harvard Green Campus Sustainability Principle task force, and on Harvard University's Allston Planning for Sustainability Workshop Team. Dr. Kao has also taught at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH-Zurich and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kao was appointed to the advisory task-force to establish the Caribbean Green Technology Center, in USVI, collaborated with teams at National Renewable Energy Lab, sponsored research with Department of Energy to develop Low Carbon Strategy for Energy Development Island Nations, and studied energy efficient housing prototype in USVI in 2010. Kao has recently lectured on Ecological Island Development for the International Small Island Studies. He chaired the “Sustainable Design Concepts” symposium session at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference at Washington D.C. He served as Boston Society of Architect’s commissioner of Education and Research from 2011-12.
Kao received a Doctor of Technical Sciences from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH-Zurich; awarded Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design with the AIA Merit Award and the Alpha Rho Chi Medal, and B.A. from University of Pennsylvania with Distinction in the Design of the Environment.
Sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program and the Tufts Institute of the Environment
Tufts University, 210 Packard Avenue, Miller Hall, Medford, Massachusetts
When & Where
Environmental Studies Program at Tufts University
Founded in 1984, The Environmental Studies Program (ENVS) was one of the first multidisciplinary environmental programs in the United States. Our students and alumni have become effective practitioners and advocates for the environment in medicine, law, finance, industry, government, and other academic fields.
Environmental Studies is offered as a dual major in conjunction with any departmental major in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering—normally excluding interdisciplinary programs. This dual-major program combines the depth of a major in a specific field with a wide breadth of environmentally oriented courses.
In addition to our academic program, we offer weekly "Lunch and Learn" lectures that are open to the public, a yearly major lectureship on an environmental topic, and periodicly other events.