Sustainable Development in Outstanding Environments

David Culberson

Author and Owner, Developer, or Development Director of sustainable resorts in some of world’s most unique locations; each a creation of small footprints that promote vernacular architecture, protect local culture, and preserve the surrounding environment. David Culberson grew up in small town middle America. After a higher education in a warmer climate, he spent much of the next three decades living and mixing with the cultures of the Caribbean, Mexico and Lake Superior while pioneering sustainable and low-impact second home and resort real estate development. He keeps a US home on Lake Superior.


I am a true tree-hugging developer. This need not be an oxymoron. Actually, it provides for a logical path to sound development through  social, environmental and cultural responsibility; a path that leads to the creation of long-term economically viable projects for the developer, the investors and the surrounding population. Success in outstanding natural environments is all about preserving and protecting the very thing that attracts people to them – Mother Nature. Placing  two-dimensional development plans on a three-dimensional and dynamic landscapes is forcing a square peg into a round hole and eventually destroys what they set out to display as an amenity. These projects prioritize buildings and architecture over land and nature. Land and nature rule and people should realize that they merely guests, not the conquerors, of these magnificent places. 

The following blogs reflect this development philosophy and how it became entrenched into the life of one developer-from an upbringing in the cornfields of the Midwest and eventually to Lake Superior, by way of the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America; each location providing  a deep understanding and respect for natural environments and vernacular cultures.

  David Culberson




Gallows Point

Design Typical

Brickyard Creek

Brickyard Creek Cottage

Nature Trail

Brickyard Creek Cottage


Holbox Village Rendering

St. John Projects - Gallows, Concordia

Fish Camp

Isla Grande Master

Chiquila Master Plan

Punta Allen

Project Major



Book Release Alert

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT EXPERT DAVID CULBERSON RELEASES THIRD NOVEL, A FORTNIGHT OF FURY, WITH CALUMET EDITIONS Author’s third novel takes the reader on a rollicking ride through the Caribbean as it was in 1983, culminating with the long-forgotten piece of Caribbean...

Preface from “A Fortnight of Fury” by David Culberson. Book being edited and will be out soon.

October, 1983 The world witnessed an escalation of the cold war as the Soviet Union grasped for financial straws in the wake of Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist rhetoric and defense spending. Fidel Castro, after failing to gain a foothold for his unique revolution on...

Architectural Control Committees (ACC)

9/14/2016   The Brickyard Creek ACC (Architectural Control Committee) A community can be the few homes at the end of a cul-de-sac, a neighborhood comprised of a few city blocks, a single development, a village, or a region. This article, though dedicated to...

Purchase Books:

Alterio's Motive Book CoverEl Simpatico likes to feed people to the sharks. His next favorite activity is to launder the hundreds of millions of dollars he hauls in every year from his drug and human trafficking business. Recently, though, cleaning money has become increasingly difficult. But he’s found a way…



 …I remember the first time I boarded a jet to the island. I really didn’t know where St. John was. I figured it was  somewhere in the Caribbean Sea, which was south of the United States. That’s all I knew… I know a lot more now.

A collection of short stories from Calumet Editions. Sprawled is a cautionary tale of overdevelopment.

Development Philosophy:

In this century the greatest luxury will be open space


In many popular resort areas where nature is the main attraction, too often developers and tour operators saturate the environment with non-sustainable designs and operations that allow too much inappropriate activity, effectively diminishing the value of the very thing that attracted them in the first place – Mother Nature.

The ability to enjoy these sought after areas depends on the availability of the land and the long-term sustainability of the resorts or communities built within it.

The old way of resort development was to stack units vertically in high-rise structures along a thin stretch of beach, essentially insulating the guest from all intrinsic natural environments. The New Way of resort development is to co-mingle nature and man-made structures in ways that allow the natural environment to be the focal point of site design and guest experiences.

David has always been aware that issues such as climate change, regulatory risks, environmental degradation, water and power management, and responsiveness to local communities need to be addressed. Those developers who don’t address these issues run the risk of losing market share and investor interest.

Over three decades of pioneering and implementing low-impact, sustainable resort and second home development, Culberson has championed the concept that people and man-made structures should respectfully co-mingle with nature in ways that allow the environment to control site design and guest experiences; allowing no environmental degradation, giving those structures and people the feeling of being “of” the land, not simply “on” the land.

David incorporates into every project a development philosophy of creating and maintaining high property values through thoughtful development plans and the use of leading edge building and operating techniques that preserve the area’s natural environment and indigenous culture.

Conventional application of environmental preservation removes humanity from nature. We can put a fence around a forest and call it preservation, while it is still being heavily impacted by the surrounding community. We can read books on the subject and feel good, or visit natural protected areas for a few hours, and governments can offer broad policies that help protect the environment. But we cannot teach and we cannot learn about the importance of our natural environments unless we personalize the experience. With thoughtful design and building practices firmly in place, one has to touch, smell, taste, and live with their natural surroundings in order to learn how to respect it. As this type of environmental understanding and hands-on education continues to grow around the world, preservation will be easier attained and expected as part of any development process.


Caribbean: (St. John, USVI)

Yucatan Peninsula:

  • Punta Maya, Sian Kaán
  • Punta Maya, Isla Chica, Holbox
  • Isla Holbox, Isla Grande: Peninsula Maya Group



Phone: 612 308 5623


Facebook Link: Brickyard Community on Lake Superior