Eco Friendly Cottages

Responsible Tourism - Building the Eco Friendly Cottages 

It is now recognised that environmental sustainability is a big part of the future of tourism in Wales, and Organig Parc is a prime example of holiday accommodation that has been developed with this in mind.

Carnguwch farm is in a beautiful setting with its own mountainside spring and because of these natural blessings it seemed only right that holiday cottages on the farm should be developed in such a way that would respect the environment, both locally and in the broader sense. The owner comes from a family that has farmed and cared for the local fields and mountainside for generations. He had already converted the farm to a Soil Association certified organic holding and - like his forefathers - knew that the best way to work the land was in harmony with nature.  It therefore really only seemed logical to him to choose an ecologically responsible approach to the development, and this ethos therefore guided the design and planning of the cottage accommodation.


Commitment to eco-construction practice

The1880s stable required a full conversion plan to turn it from a utilitarian building in to 21 st century holiday cottages, and this was drawn up by Gruffydd Price, one of Wales' best known contemporary architects.

The building specification gave prominence to the use of eco-friendly construction materials and techniques and this meant a greater investment of time and money was necessary than for a standard conversion. ?Low-energy? lime mortar and natural stone were used in the building work and floors of locally sourced Welsh slate and oak were laid - natural choices that complemented the existing vernacular materials of the buildings. Old beams were salvaged from the disused water mill and used as lintels above the fireplaces in the lounges, whilst wood rather than UPVC was chosen as the material from which the frames for the double glazed windows and patio doors were manufactured. Outside, the paths and patio areas were created with slate reclaimed from around the farm site and the wooden patio sets were manufactured with robinia (acacia) timber from responsibly-managed forests in Romania . What was achieved through this detailed approach was the creation of a set of luxury 'green' holiday cottages, all the better for having been developed with minimal detrimental impact on the environment.


Eco-friendly ethos

The eco-friendly ethos was also applied inside the cottages, so that materials such as sheep's wool insulation and organic paints were used whenever possible to create low toxicity interiors ? better for both the environment and guests.

The fridges, dishwashers and washing machines in the kitchens were chosen because of their low-energy ratings, whilst the Aga-Rayburns are not only stylish cookers but provide hot water as well.  Alongside all this efficiency it was also necessary to show that green needn't preclude luxury and comfort, so it was decided that sheets and towels of 100% organic cotton would be provided in the bedrooms and bathrooms - organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers using sustainable farming methods that are better for the environment and workers.  As a consequence no harmful chemicals are washed into the food chain during production and also the fabric contains no harmful chemical residues.

However, the green aspect of Organig Parc extends beyond the fabric and fittings of the cottages themselves. For example, environmentally friendly washing and cleaning products and hand soaps are provided for guests to use during their stay.  This is done to avoid the use of products with damaging chemicals and bleach in that would destroy the bacteria in the farm's cess pit - an eco-system for water treatment where live organisms digest pollutants and clean the water before it filters back in to the land.  Similarly, recycling is encouraged and facilities are provided for the collection of tins, paper, glass and appropriate food waste, the latter of which is composted to make a fertiliser for use on the farm.  Even fallen trees from around the farm site are not wasted as they are cut in to logs for the wood-burning stoves in the cottages.

For those interested in ecological issues and green building the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth is only 1.5 hours drive south from Organig Parc.

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