The Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn in the New York Adirondacks has received several awards for their eco-friendly initiatives and has received the highest rewards, the Audubon International’s Platinum Eco-Rating.
The Inn owner Daniel Brownell and his wife Denise Figueroa use many different green practices from water conservation, the use of organic linens, green energy, green installations and restorations, recycling, eliminating the use of chemicals and much more.
Owner Daniel also takes specific care of the grounds and implements eco-friendly garden and landscaping practices from using rain water from the lake to water the plants to planting specific flowers to attract Bees and Monarch Butterflies. The outdoor pool is heated via solar-technology and is open for use during the summer months.
The Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn is located within walking distance to town and with direct lake-access to Saranac Lake. Rooms come with beautiful lake views and outdoor-access. The Inn provides free kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and paddleboats with paddles and life-jackets, bicycles, basketball and tennis rackets, fishing poles, snow shoes and even Toddler Kelty frame backpacks for guests to enjoy some eco-friendly activities around the Inn and the Saranac Lake area.
Interview with the owner of the World’s First Solar Greenhouse at Little River Flower Farm in Buxton, Maine. We were honored to have the opportunity to visit and learn about the solar technology used at this organic and sustainable farm. We interviewed owner Bruce Stedman about his 6,400 square foot solar greenhouse which was developed together with Maine Technology Institute and Maine Sustainable Agriculture over three years ago.
The greenhouse features flexible solar panels that have the dual function of generating green energy as well as cooling the greenhouse in the summer, making it economically and environmentally sustainable. The greenhouse was built with steel and pultruded fiber glass with flexible solar panels laminated onto the roof which provide a peak output of 14.4kW (1.2 mega watt per month), powering all pumps and fans and is a net-zero energy structure during the summer months.
The greenhouse incorporates 14 raised grow beds and a root zone radiant heat system powered by a biomass wood pellet boiler. This system uses heated water pipes that allow for precise temperature control to each individual raised bed with minimal excess heat loss.
Bruce explained how this greenhouse was built and also talks about their next project starting in 2020, a new prototype of sustainable greenhouse called the Growbox which will serve as a demonstration facility. The new structure can be moved and used for different purposes from growing, farming to offices and government buildings during crisis situations etc.
Owners Bruce and Nancy Stedman have been growing certified organic produce and flowers at their farm called Little River Flower Farm in Buxton, Maine for the past 20 years. Their solar greenhouse is used to grow organic food and flowers 365 days per year. The couple provides their locally grown food to surrounding grocery chains, markets and restaurants. Besides working on their farm, Nancy also leads their flower cutting and floral arrangement business and Bruce leads their landscaping business and together they built a beautiful tiny house which can be rented via Airbnb.
Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is a non-profit educational, retreat center located in Rhinebeck, New York and houses the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. We had the honor to visit the Omega campus and speak to Chrissa Santoro, the Director of External Communications and talk about the many eco-friendly initiatives and holistic programs that Omega offers.
The interview was held at The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) which was opened in 2009 and was the first building ever to achieve both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification—the highest environmental performance standards available.
The OCSL is an environmental education center and hosts a greenhouse and state-of-the art Eco-Machine™, a natural water reclamation facility that has reclaimed 45M gallons of wastewater during the last 10 years since it was opened. The Eco-Machine™ uses plants, bacteria, algae, snails, and fungi to turn Omega’s wastewater into clean water which is then used to restore the aquifer.
The majority of the building is built with reclaimed wood, and a small amount of the wood is sourced from FSC Certified Forests. The building uses geothermal technology for heating and cooling and utilizes 211 solar panels to generate 134.2 kw/day.
The center is designed to generate more electricity than it uses and in the last 10 years it saved a total of 867K pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
Omega’s campus has numerous additional eco-friendly initiatives to prevent waste and reduce its environmental impact that range from recycling, composting, conservation of resources, supporting sustainable agriculture and local businesses by offering farm-to-table meals that are locally sourced and mostly organically grown and powering 100% of campus electricity through the purchase of wind and solar power.
Besides the OCSL, Omega provides over 350 educational workshops and events annually that range from: body, mind, and spirit to creative expression, to leadership and work, health and healing, relationships and family, and sustainable living. Omega’s commitment to creating a climate for positive change extends beyond workshops and R&R retreats, through other key initiatives and programs including the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, work with Veterans that offers programs and scholarships for Veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, Yoga Service which brings yoga practice to underserved populations such as prisons, senior homes, and schools with at-risk youth, as well as programs that bring mindfulness practice to educational institutions and healthcare providers.
To learn more about the Omega Institute of Holistic Studies and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living please visit their website: https://www.eomega.org
When we converted our Ford E250 Econoline Cargo Van we used Eco-Friendly material as much as possible within our budget. Our timeline was a bit tight as we had one month to build out the interior and convert the van into our new tiny home while working full time. We had to compromise with certain ideas due to limited time, a small budget plus limited availability of green building material in the area where we were living at at the time. Overall, we wanted to keep the build simple but practical.
This is what we used for the build:
Natural Sheep Wool for the walls, doors and as filler in the ceiling. Thin Polyurethane foam board for the ceiling (not Eco-friendly, but since we have a short van we did not want to lose too much head space. Wool needs more space to do its magic). We are pretty impressed with how well the Sheep Wool has been keeping us warm, even with temperatures as low as 38F. For the floor insulation we used Traffic Master Underlayment as a thermal and moisture barrier (not Eco-Friendly, but we did not want to lose headroom and found this to be a quick option). Wood Paneling, Kitchen Cabinet, Bed Frame and Storage: We re-used wood that we already had from previous constructions as much as possible for the kitchen. We re-used the whole bed frame and wooden drawer which we previously built for our truck camper. We did not find any recycled wood in the area and the palette wood we found had mold, so that was not an option. Therefore, we bought new pine wood panels for the wall and ceiling and wood for the closet. We used Eco Advance as a wood treatment.
Linoleum aka Marmoleum, which is naturally sourced from linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour, cork, limestone, organic pigments and jute backing spun from renewable plants. Note: Linoleum is not to be mistaken with Vinyl flooring which is made from PVC chips! We bought both the Sheep Wool and Linoleum flooring from Eco-Building Products. We are not sponsored by them in any way but we love what they do and were very happy with their advice and service, so here’s their website.
We used a simple LED light strip with a dimmer that draws little power but illuminates the whole van more than enough. We also use solar powered Luci Lights for inside and outdoors.
We are sustainably solar powered with a total of 300w solar panels. Our sink is a re-used commercial steamer pan and we use a hand-pump for the faucet, a 5 gallon fresh-water tank and 5 gallon grey-water tank. Our mattress is a non-toxic Eco-Mattress that we ordered from Walmart. For a shower we use a simple solar shower. We use organic cotton bed linens and sheets. To cook we use a camping stove with re-fillable propane bottles. We use stainless steel plates, cups and pots, a cast-iron skillet, bamboo ware, re-usable bags, glass jars for bulk-food storage, biodegradable soap, dishwashing liquid, and laundry detergent etc. The Solar Install was done by Simpler Solar in Tallahassee. The Installation of our Fan was done by Justice Kustomz in Tallahassee.
Of course we wish our Van was solar- or bio-fuel powered but both are definitely way out of our budget range.
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