“When the thought of living a more tranquil existence comes to mind, I often find myself daydreaming about waking up to the sound of the surf. A cup of joe and a listful stroll out to watch the morning swell carry me forward into my day. There’s something very grounding about the sound of the ocean in creating a relationship with the environment around me. Costa Rica has always been a place where I can reconnect with nature. And in a world that is speeding up, Costa Rica has provided an environment where one can slow down and associate with the things around them.”
“I am hoping to capture this vibe in Nimbu. A vibe where we can connect with the ocean and the land around us while also having the amenities and infrastructure we need to stay attached to our busy lives. The goal for me as a developer has not been to make a profit, but to provide a few large private spaces with some of the best utilities in the country. It is like taking a pretty painting and finding the best way to frame it. A place where my own family could imagine building our dream home and spending the rest of our days. To accomplish this, we have spent the last 5 years working on a sustainably based infrastructure. And although Nimbu has a rustic, nature filled exterior, underneath it can provide us everything we need and expect out of a modern sustainable community.”
Water, the first element of life:
Nimbu actually means “water” in the Chorotega language. The Chorotega were an ancient people related to the Aztecs that have long since disappeared. They were the first known human inhabitants of this area of Costa Rica. And though they are no longer with us, their connection to this land lives on in the local pottery here. The art of making this pottery can still be found in Guanacaste, specifically in Santa Cruz about an hour to the north.
The first thing that one connects with at Nimbu are its views of the ocean. But being close to the water can come with some challenges, especially when it comes to water that one can drink. Many of the local water utilities experience shortages and quality issues. Luckily when we tested the ground beneath us, we found multiple aquifers on the property. Going through four different engineers, we finally came up with a system that we thought would be adequate.
We began with storage. In order for water to stay fresh and safe for consumption, it is important to have good hydraulic flow. In other words, we don’t want a big tank full of stagnant water. So when we built the water cistern, we built it in three stages. Each tank holds approximately 25 cubic meters of water (7000 gallons). So in the beginning, we will use one tank to supply the residents, and as the development grows we will open up the other two tanks as necessary. This will ensure that there is always a source of fresh water.
In addition to our water source, we wanted treatment. So we have added four stages to the water treatment system. First there is pre-filtration for sediment. This water then goes into a carbon filter system to take out any odor or color. Next we ionize traces of copper into the water to prevent microbial contamination from entering the tanks. We also have another ionizer that changes the calcium molecule in the water. This has the action of softening the water without taking out the calcium. It prevents the calcium deposits from adhering to the surfaces in your home. This will add years of life to all of your home’s appliances while leaving the benefits of the calcium in the water for consumption. Finally, on the way out to the distribution system, we use ultraviolet light to purify the water preventing any microbes from making it out to your spigot. Though the water in Costa Rica is of great quality for drinking, we felt it necessary to have this extra added protection for the dry season, when wells can become stagnant and sometimes even dry up.
Finally, we have the distribution. This was one of the most important elements of our water system. In a seismicly active area, we did not want to face the inherent problems that come with water lines and earthquakes. Instead of using PVC tubing which is the most commonly used water line in Costa Rica, even for the public utilities, we decided to use PEX. PEX is a flexible tubing that can bend and shift freely underground with the movement of earthquakes. But just in case, we also put the PEX inside of PVC tubing and packed them in sand underground. This system should last 50 to 100 years without any chance for disruption of water services to your home. In addition, we ran two sets of lines out through the developement, staggering each line to every other home. This will ensure that the taps to every home should supply 35 to 60 plus gallons a minute. In Costa Rica, most homes are lucky to get ten gallons a minute from the municiple water system. All homes should have ample flow for the home, pools, and landscape irrigation. And to finish things off, we built in back up pumping systems. If one pump goes down or the water line pressure goes down, another pump will automatically take over until the pressure from the first pump can be replaced.
All road and access lighting has been designed to be turtle friendly and energy efficient. We shipped LED street lamps from the states that are certified turtle friendly.
There is currently a security team working from 6 PM to 6 AM every evening to ensure that access to the properties is monitored for safety and privacy. In addition to this, we have a 24 hour camera surveillance and alarm system protecting all the utilities of the development. One lot on the property has been dedicated to the utilities and water systems. We have also built a caretakers residence on this lot to ensure that there is someone one the property at all times who can tend to any problems that the community might incur. In the future, we will vote as an HOA as to what we want and need for the caretaker, security, and privacy of our homes. All HOA fees currently go to utilities, security, and the caretaker of the grounds. Water within reason and solar power are both free services due to the design of the off grid systems.
In order to provide the highest level of amenities to our residents, we have built a solar array that supplies power to the majority of the grounds’ utilities on a net metering system with Co-op Guanacaste. Included are the lighting, water, irrigation, and gate/guardhouse systems. This ensures that we are providing sustainable utilities at a very low monthly cost to the residents. In addition, we have put in two back up propane generators that will supply power to the utilities even when the country’s power is down. One generator is located next to the water services, and the other is down by the gate to ensure 24 hour access to the property regardless of power outages.
All power lines running to the homes will be provided by the developer as an underground service to prevent natural views from being disrupted. This is normally up to the owner and can cost upwards of $5000. The transformer cost is not included and will be up to the property owner to install. This costs is usually between $700 to $2000, depending on the size of transformer you will need to service your home. Once paid, the power company will service and exchange the transformer for life at no cost to the owner.
We have installed over 14,000 plants and 12 irrigation zones along the road system to provide year-round water to the flowering and landscaped plants. This has been installed underground to reduce water consumption. The plants have been chosen as native species that use very low water but will provide year around color to the community.
Other underground services:
In addition to the power and water, we have also provided several other underground services for the residents. We have provided lines for future systems like phones and internet. Fiber optic boxes and lines have already been pulled underground to provide high speed internet services to every home. Currently, we are working with ICE to acquire a 1 gigabit line which can provide all homes with the fastest internet available in the country today. We also built in a fiber optic substation for one main line to be split to the entire community. This will keep internet speed up and prices down for the residents.
Sustainable purchase inclusions:
In order to keep the quality and sustainability of the community to a high standard, 10 % of all lot sales will be retained from the sale, and used for sustainable inclusions to your home. These inclusions are listed in the HOA document and include any design and installation supporting the turtle preserve of Ostional. Turtle friendly lighting, sustainable power, and water systems are but a few of the examples that will be accepted as sustainable inclusions to your build project. We have come up with several options for brokering this 10%. It can be held for owners in a 3rd party interest bearing account or can be added as a 10% developer lien on the property. This will be treated the same for every lot sold in order to ensure that everyone in the community adheres to the sustainable vision of the project. In the event of a resale of the property, this 10% will be retained so that the new owners will also have sustainable features added to their build project.
Our words here cannot completely express the passion that we have had for creating this place. Please feel free to give us feedback with your experience. We are always looking to improve upon a good thing. And no matter what ends up working for you to create your dream, we here at Nimbu hope that you find what you are looking for.