Saving the planet, one bit at a time
Podere Patrignone wins top award for eco-tourism
Podere Patrignone has just been awarded TripAdvisor's top award for eco-tourism.
It means we're going more than anyone else to make Patrignone an eco-friendly place to stay on your Tuscan vacation.
Update Summer 2014
When we started our big adventure 7 years ago, we had big plans to become completely energy self-sufficient in 5 years. So, how far did we get? Well, we did it!
We now produce more energy than we need, and all the energy we use is from carbon-neutral sources, or carbon-free. This means we can honestly claim to be "carbon positive": in other words, we remove more carbon from the system than we release.
How are we doing this?
- All our electricity needs are already met by our 20KW solar farm. In fact, this produces an electricity surplus which is fed into the grid. This power is pretty much carbon-free, as good as it gets.
- All our central heating needs are met by our new 50KW biomass furnace. There will be no need to burn any fossil fuels for heat generation, and the carbon-neutral wood comes from our managed forests that surround us.
- All our domestic hot water needs are met by the thermal solar panels, along side the biomass boiler.
So, we’re feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. And if you stay here, you can afford to feel a little smug too. Because by staying here you will be helping to contribute to these renewable energy projects, and so you effectively offset some or all of the carbon you release in travelling here. Of course, technically speaking, the planet would be better off if you stayed home (or if you walked to Tuscany rather than flew), but where is the fun in that? This way you can come to Tuscany and enjoy your hot shower and a large glass of Chianti Classico relatively guilt-free.
Currently we are recycling between 80-95% of all our waste. All food waste goes to the chickens, and we compost as much of the remaining kitchen waste as possible for use in the garden and vegetable plot. Paper, card, plastic, metal and glass are all taken to local recycling bins and we encourage you to use the three bin system within your apartment whilst staying with us so that you can recycle too.
Water is scarce in many areas of Tuscany, with water-cuts a daily event in many nearby towns during drought periods, and Patrignone is no exception. We have a huge water storage tank which means we'll never run dry. But water conservation is part of every day life for us, and we ask our customers to also exercise care. Simple things like turning the tap off whilst brushing your teeth, washing dishes once a day, shorter showers, and fewer linen changes can make a very big difference. We collect our rain-water from several sources around the estate and use this water to irrigate the garden and to top up water levels of our fish pond. We are also looking at other ways of recycling our used water.
Water conservation remains a key issue for us, one we plan to address with additional investment over the next few years.
Our vegetable garden
We also grow our own organic vegetables, and use these in our restaurant whenever possible. We have micro-irrigation systems in place that keep our plants healthy whilst minimising their use of our rain-water storage. Last winter we doubled our growing capacity, and hope to do so again in the very near future. And last year we managed to grow our entire crop watered only with stored rain-water.
We hate airconditioning - sorry!
Not only is air conditioning a massive power consumer, it is also bad for your health and an eyesore on beautiful buildings. It can get hot in Tuscany in the summer, but Patrignone was built in times way before air-con, and has thick walls and small southerly facing windows to help keep the inside cool.
Obviously, we have to keep an eye on climate changes, and if temperatures continue to go up, then of course we're going to have to look at additional cooling measures. But if we have to succumb, then you can be sure we'll make sure our increased electricity usage is balanced by an increase in solar power production.
We get an enormous amount of wild-life here, and one of the ways we encourage this is to leave large tracts of land uncultivated, so that that they become havens for wild flowers, bees, mammals, and birds of all kinds. If you're into nature-spotting, tell us and we'll send you on one of our wild-life walks.
We are always on the look out for new developments that might help make Patrignone a 'greener' places to live and for you to visit. We are currently looking at additional investment in solar and wind energy. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how we can reduce our environmental impact please do let us know.