Cooling – we have designed sustainability into the restoration of the building making full use of natural ventilation. The building’s thick walls, ventilated shutters and fly screens on all the windows keep it comfortable all year. Bedrooms wherever possible are on the cooler northern side of the building and each has at least 2 windows which means that even on the hottest days a fan is all that is necessary for a good night’s sleep. Having converted the attic into our spacious apartment we fitted 17 velux windows, so that warm air which rises to the top of the house naturally continues straight out of the roof. We never regret not having air conditioning which would be so uncharacteristic in a traditional farmhouse.
Heating – practically all of our hot water comes from solar panels, these have the added advantage of heating the swimming pool which makes it a few degrees warmer in the spring and autumn. Even in Italy the winters can be cold, a modern gas boiler provides central heating, each apartment is individually controlled and all the radiators thermostatic. Several apartments have open fireplaces for which we source wood locally, recycled where possible. In our apartment the fireplace also supplements the central heating, reducing the gas consumption considerably. The thick walls and double glazing again mean that the house is well insulated.
Water – a first priority was to sink a well which provided the vast amount of water which was needed in the restoration process and in order to ensure that the building complies with the latest safety standards. Now the well water is supplemented by collected rainwater in a huge underwater tank and is used to irrigate the gardens, vegetable plot and the many trees which we have planted.
Electrical – all of our domestic appliances were chosen for their high efficiency rating. All our lights are fitted with low power bulbs. In communal areas the lighting is movement controlled while external lighting is daylight operated so that it doesn’t come on too early, though it still goes off on a timer. All of our (substantial quantity) of laundry is done on site, almost all of it being air dried.
Organic – planting trees was an early priority. The varieties include ornamental, traditional olive and some tropical palms. By far the majority though are fruit trees, as well as gobbling the carbon these provide a fresh source of goodness for us and our guests. To date we have planted over 120 trees. The orto (vegetable plot) also provides fresh vegetables and herbs just a few steps from our guests’ front door. Oil from our olive trees is pressed locally and we provide a supply in every apartment. The septic tanks are the self decomposing type which means that waste is slowly returned to the environment in a controlled manner, a valuable source of nutrition for the land. We also compost as much as we can and encourage our guests to do the same.
Domestic – we buy environmentally friendly and Cruelty Free International approved cruelty free cleaning products including Splosh. The containers/ dispensers are re-used and the top-ups come in a small sachets which you just pop into warm water! No need to throw away the plastic bottles and C02 emissions are very low as the products are less bulky.
Recycling – we have an extensive recycling system in place in which almost all products can be recycled. We have made it easy and simple for our guests to reduce to a minimum the products which end up in a landfill.
Community – we have also integrated ourselves into the local community becoming involved in many initiatives in the village. We are a major sponsor of the largest village festival “Lu Vurgu fa Cantina.”
What else? – Of course there is more we can do and we would welcome any suggestions.