Published Aug 15, 2018 at 8:00 am
(Updated Aug 15, 2018 at 7:09 am)

  • Family man: Barrett Lightbourn brought renewable energy to island

    Family man: Barrett Lightbourn brought renewable energy to island

Barrett Lightbourn, an engineer and environmentalist who pioneered solar power and energy conservation in Bermuda, has died. He was 66.

Friends and colleagues said Mr Lightbourn was a modest visionary who brought renewable power to the island decades before green energy became fashionable.

Mr Lightbourn also introduced windsurfing equipment to Bermuda in 1976 and sailed with friend Hugh Watlington.

Mr Lightbourn was an Olympic contender in the sport in 1982 and 1983 and Mr Watlington went on to represent the island in windsurfing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Mr Watlington said: Barrett was the best windsurfer — he went everywhere and sailed and raced all kinds of boards.

“He was a star and it is a shame to lose him at such a young age.”

Mr Lightbourn died of a brain tumour in the United States last month.

He divided his time between the United States and Bermuda and is survived by wife, Suzie, and daughters Nelle and Alexa.

Derek Sickling, a fellow engineer and athlete, said Mr Lightbourn was “a natural easy- going person — material items didn’t mean much to him”.

He added: “Barrett just wanted to be with his family and to help the world become a better place.”

Mr Sickling said Mr Lightbourn rigged efficient-energy systems for businesses “all over the island”.

He added: “He lived in New Jersey for many years but was a roving consultant for businesses in Bermuda, and he never lost his Bermuda roots.”

Robert Platt, former general manager at air conditioning company Air Care, said Mr Lightbourn was “at the forefront of everything with energy conservation”, from LED lighting to high-efficiency motors,

Mr Platt added that Mr Lightbourn helped develop systems for buildings “all around Hamilton”, as well as the hospital’s acute care wing.

He said: “He didn’t take credit for ideas — it was a team thing. He mentored many budding engineers around Bermuda, me being one of them.’

Mr Platt added that Mr Lightbourn was “an avid sportsman, squash player, windsurfer and Spurs fan”.

His family said that he was an architect as well as a mechanical engineer and spearheaded renewable energy at American and island companies.

Mr Lightbourn’s love of sailing began in childhood with Firefly dinghies, followed by 505 dinghies.

Mr Lightbourn later raced in championship regattas in North America and Europe. He was a keen golfer and favoured old-style links courses.

Nancy Gosling, president and chief executive of Gosling’s Limited, said Mr Lightbourn had equipped his home with a solar water heating system in the 1970s.

As well as getting Ms Gosling’s house “covered” in solar panels, Mr Lightbourn developed energy-efficient systems for the company.

Ms Gosling added: “Barrett was very, very concerned about the entire planet.

“I knew him my whole life and competed with him windsurfing. Just an all-around nice guy.”

Alan Burland, a cofounder of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and head of BCM McAlpine, said Mr Lightbourn was a lifelong friend.

Mr Burland said: “We both had deep respect for the environment and sustainable living, but Barrett had it running through his veins.”

The two were business partners in Island Solar in the 1970s.

Mr Burland said: “Barrett did careful research for the best products and materials so they could sustain themselves in Bermuda’s harsh environment. It’s a testament to him that a lot of these solar panels are still on roofs, decades later.”

Mr Burland added: “He was phenomenal for management of accounts and project reviews. He taught himself. He was dependable, reliable and authentic — Barrett was the real deal.”

Mr Burland’s son, Travis Burland, an engineering director for BE Solar, said: “He was a huge mentor and an inspiration to modernise our company. He made it doable and enjoyable — the more I worked with him, the more I wanted to become like him.”


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