REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

November 29, 2018 by  
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Single-use water bottles have become a target for environmentalists concerned about the amount of petroleum required for each bottle and the massive amounts of waste generated from their short lives. But in recent years, companies have begun to use tossed-aside plastic in new and exciting ways. REPREVE, a sustainable fiber created from 100 percent food-quality and BPA-free post-consumer plastic, has opened up the door to give companies new options when sourcing eco-friendly materials. While using  recycled fibers is not new in the manufacturing world, Unifi, a leading global textile solutions company and the producer of REPREVE, has refined a process that allows it to create multiple fibers from the same material including nylon, thread, polyester and other fibers. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Unifi completes the water bottle-to-fabric process in a few stages. Beginning with the water bottles returned by consumers, Unifi transfers them to a modern bottle processing center where they keep a quarter of a million water bottles out of the waste stream each hour. Once broken down into a fine material called flake, the flake is then sent to the REPREVE recycling center where it is blended, melted and turned into small chips that are stored onsite in large silos. Each silo holds the equivalent of 27 million water bottles. The manufacturing plant itself is dedicated to zero-waste production as well. Related: Ford to recycle 2 million plastic bottles into fabric for its Focus Electric Dozens of companies are on board with the idea of incorporating the REPREVE fibers into their products. Backpacks, socks, dog beds, cloth car seat covers, activewear, dress pants, jeans, swimwear, flags and heat wraps are just a few products donning the REPREVE symbol. Notable companies supporting the sustainable practices of REPREVE include PrAna, Patagonia, Roxy, Quicksilver, Lane Bryant, Fossil and Ford Motor Co. In fact, Unifi lists over 60 companies using its products on its website. This is no surprise, considering the versatility of the materials created through the process. “Unifi’s advanced performance technologies provide textile solutions like moisture wicking, stretch, water-repellency and enhanced softness. Our technologies can be combined with REPREVE to offer increased performance, comfort and style advantages, enabling customers to develop products that are good for the planet, plus truly perform, look and feel better,” said Kevin Hall, chairman and CEO of Unifi. “REPREVE® is an innovative brand of fibers, chip and flake that is made from 100 percent recycled materials, including plastic bottles,” Hall added. “REPREVE’s U Trust® Verification program is a comprehensive certification designed to provide customers with a higher level of transparency. Unifi’s proprietary FiberPrint® technology is used to analyze the fabric content and composition to determine if REPREVE is present and in the right amounts. REPREVE is also third party certified.” The company takes pride in a robust, full-cycle dedication to sustainability through obtaining the proper certifications. + Repreve Images via Unifi

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REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London

November 29, 2018 by  
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London’s iconic Gherkin landmark could be getting a striking and futuristic new neighbor — if plans for Foster + Partners’ The Tulip are approved. Proposed for a site next to The Gherkin — the Stirling Prize-winning 30 St Mary Axe building also designed by Foster + Partners — the conceptual observation tower would serve as a new cultural attraction and educational facility with unparalleled 360-degree views of London. The nature-inspired building would target a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and would be powered by integrated photovoltaic cells as well as zero-combustion technology. Created in partnership with The Gherkin owner J. Safra Group, The Tulip tower would soar to a height of 1,000 feet and be built with a high-strength concrete shaft with steel-framed observation deck levels. Key to the design is the sky-high classroom that would offer 20,000 free places per year for London’s state school children. Residents and tourists will also be able to enjoy the viewing galleries connected to sky bridges, internal glass slides and even gondola pod rides built along the building’s facade. The visitor experience will be heightened with interactive materials and information about the history of London, a sky bar and restaurants. On the ground level, The Tulip would include a new, 1,400-square-foot pocket park along with a two-story visitor pavilion with a publicly accessible green roof and two green walls. The addition of landscaping would increase the site’s green surface area by 8.5 times. Related: Foster + Partners’ DJI HQ will be a “creative community in the sky” “Continuing the pioneering design of 30 St Mary Axe, the Tulip is in the spirit of London as a progressive, forward- thinking city,” said Norman Foster, founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners. “It offers significant benefits to Londoners and visitors as a cultural and social landmark with unmatched educational resources for future generations.” If The Tulip proposal is approved, construction could begin in 2020 with completion projected for 2025. + Foster + Partners Images via DBOX / Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London

Stunning carbon-neutral home uses traditional materials to create a synergy with its natural setting

November 28, 2018 by  
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London-based practice Foster Lomas , has unveiled a stunning carbon-neutral home on the Island of Man. The Sartfell Retreat is a private home built by local craftsman using locally-sourced drystone walls. The home boasts plenty of sustainable features, including an off-grid water system for fresh water and a plush green roof, covered in carbon-capturing hay and native wildflowers, further creating a strong connection with the home’s breathtaking natural setting. Located near Sartfell Mountain, the home is tucked into seven acres of restored hillside. The retreat is actually part of an ambitious plan by the homeowners, a retired scientist and teacher, who set out with the goal of restoring the existing landscape and protecting the existing biodiversity . In collaboration with Foster Lomas and the local charity, Manx Wildlife Trust, the project is part of a master plan which will eventually have a Vistor’s Center that will be used as an educational platform to showcase the area’s biodiversity. Related: Portuguese stone ruins rise anew as a minimalist dream home Before breaking ground on the modern home, the homeowners and the architects conducted various studies on the local climate and topography. First and foremost, the project was focused on fully restoring the land , which included removing nitrates from the soil in order to allow native plants to grow on site. Additionally, a year before the project was due to start, the architects installed a weather station on the site to gather important data, which was ultimately used to guide the design of the home. Crafted by local builders, the home’s volume follows the natural slope of the land. Locally-sourced drystone was used to create ultra-thick walls in order to provide a tight thermal mass. Large ribbon windows were embedded into the drystone exterior to provide unobstructed views from virtually anywhere in the home. The triple-paned windows were placed into protruding frames of corten steel, which helps prevent solar gain. While the exterior of the home seamlessly blends into the incredible rural landscape, the interior design is quite contemporary. Polished concrete was used for the flooring and walls throughout the home. Minimal, modern furnishings create an open, uncluttered space that puts the focus on the surrounding nature. At the heart of the modern home is a large staircase, made out of perforated metal, that winds up through the home’s three levels. On each level, the stairs are flanked by what the homeowners call the “Knowledge Centre”, a soaring three-level library, stocked with books. Although certainly an eye-catcher, the stairs actually double as a ventilation stack, enabling the home to achieve its zero-carbon classification . + Foster Lomas Via Wallpaper Photography by Edmund Sumner via Foster Lomas

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Stunning carbon-neutral home uses traditional materials to create a synergy with its natural setting

A crimson red home is tucked into a dark green forest in Portugal

October 22, 2018 by  
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Lisbon-based architect Luis Rebelo de Andrade is world renowned for his Tree Snake Houses in Portugal’s Pedras Salgadas Park, but now the prolific architect has unveiled another eye-catching design. Located in an expansive green forest in Portugal, House 3000 is gable-roofed family home clad in a bright crimson red that can be seen for miles. According to the architect, his vision for the home was inspired by the building site itself, a heavily wooded area in Herdade da Considerad. Thousands of cork oaks and umbrella pines form an expansive, maze-like landscape. To create harmony with this pristine environment, de Andrade went with pure, unbridled contrast with a bold landmark among the greenery. Related: Charming Tree Snake Houses stand on stilts at Portugal’s Pedras Salgadas eco-resort The architect explained, “In the absence of geodesic markers — which nature did not offer Herdade da Considerada — it is architecture that takes the place of the reference points that from time immemorial has guided man, complementing the landscape with a building that is overwhelmingly visible.” The volume of the home is a simple design with an elongated form following the gabled roof’s direction. Sharp lines and simple doors and windows make the home reminiscent of a child’s drawing. Behind the striking design, there are quite a few sustainable features, such as the solar array just steps away from the home. Solar power , along with a thermal sensing system, allow the home to produce more energy than it uses. The home’s bright tone changes quite dramatically on the interior. The living space is clad in light panels of warm wood with muted highlights. Decorated with minimal furnishings throughout the living area and bedrooms, the interior is light and airy. Earthy, woven textiles give off hints of color, but the overall interior design aesthetic is soothing in its simplicity. + Luis Rebelo de Andrade Via Dwell Photography by Carlos Cezanne via Luis Rebelo de Andrade

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A crimson red home is tucked into a dark green forest in Portugal

These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials

October 12, 2018 by  
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Ambitious tiny cabin crafter  Jacob Witzling  has taken inspiration from childhood fairytales to build some seriously dreamy woodland dwellings for himself and his friends. Using  reclaimed wood  and other materials scavenged from construction sites, Witzling has designed and handcrafted a series of gorgeous tiny cabins tucked deep into lush forestscapes. Inspired by a deep respect for nature, all of his amazing cabins run 100 percent off the grid with no running water. It seems as if Witzling was destined to be close to nature. As a teenager, he moved into a 1920s cabin tucked into a wooded forest near his parents’ house. Although he would go home to do laundry and eat, he said that he always found himself drawn back to his real home in the woods. He has always preferred to live with simple pleasures. “Inside was a wood stove that I fed and stoked through the harsh winter nights,” Witzling explained. “I had my freedom and my fire. They were all I needed to be happy.” Witzling has taken his love of simple living and turned it into an amazing craft based on sustainability. Not only are all of his cabins built with reclaimed materials , but they are completely off-grid. They are powered by 12-volt D/C systems using deep cycle batteries. All water needed for drinking, cooking and bathing is collected from a well, and separate outhouses are equipped with composting toilets . Most of his wooden cabins are built on land owned by friends or acquaintances. He builds the structures with the agreement that he will have complete access after their completion. To date, he has built six amazingly unique cabins, including an innovative home on the bed of a pickup truck. Take a look below. Cabin 1 Witzling’s very first cabin was built for just $800. The two-story structure with a sloping shed roof was constructed out of reclaimed building materials , including salvaged wood, nails and screws leftover from construction projects, a local reuse store and straight from garbage pits. The cabin has two levels, a ground level of 100 square feet and a 70-square-foot sleeping loft. Witzling lived in this cabin for three years. Related: 9 brilliant backwoods cabins for reconnecting with nature Cabin 2 The second tiny cabin was built with wood salvaged from an old warehouse. Certainly fairytale-inspired, this 200-square-foot cabin takes on a cruciform shape with two pitched roofs covered in thick moss. Inside, there’s a compact living area and a 90-square-foot sleeping loft, all illuminated with natural light. Cabin 3 The third cabin (perhaps the most impressive) is a tiny octagonal structure with a pyramid roof featuring eight A-frame dormers. Witzling built the geometric cabin with his lifelong friend Wesley Daughenbaugh. Two large wooden doors open into the 135-square-foot interior, where many windows flood the space with natural light . The roofs are covered with metal sheets, chicken wire and a layer of moss. Cabin 4 The fourth cabin is quite distinct from the previous work in that the roof design is so eccentric. The cabin, which he built with his brother, Ethan Hamby, is set on an 80-square-foot, irregular base and topped with an  undulating pitched roof layered in small wooden shingles. The cabin was built with all reclaimed materials and is 17 feet long, 11 feet tall and 7 feet wide with a small, 30-square-foot sleeping loft inside. Cabin 5 The fifth cabin was a collaborative effort between Witzling, his brother Ethan and a childhood friend, Scott Pearson. The 200-square-foot wooden cabin , again made out of reclaimed lumber, is built on 25-square-foot alcoves on each side. A pitched 4-foot spire adds a chapel-like aesthetic to the cabin, which is surrounded by forest and adjacent to a small lake. Truck Cabin From off-grid cabins nestled into evergreen forests to homes on wheels roaming the highways, Witzling’s sixth project is a surprising twist to the traditional tiny cabin. Using the roof design from Cabin 4 as inspiration, he and his partner, Sara Underwood, built a tiny asymmetrical cabin on the bed of a 1979 pickup truck. The crafty duo are currently exploring the U.S. in their amazing creation. You can follow their adventures on Jacob’s Instagram . + Jacob Witzling Via Dwell Photography by Jacon Witzling, Sara Underwood, Forrest Smith, Chris Poops, Andrew Kearns, Erik Hecht, Justin D. Kauffman, Allen Meyer, Peter Crosby all via Jacob Witzling

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These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials

Mark your calendars for the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago!

October 8, 2018 by  
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Integrating nature into the built environment is no easy feat, but when done correctly, it can be a work of art that gives back to our world instead of taking from it. Greenbuild celebrates just that by exploring new ways of sustainable building and design through teaching, collaborating and empowering professionals. View the gallery below to learn about this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago, where you can find new inspiration, learn state-of-the-art techniques and skills and meet like-minded experts interested in bettering our planet through green design.

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Mark your calendars for the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago!

Walkers launches free recycling program amid growing pressure from critics

October 8, 2018 by  
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An online social media campaign calling for popular U.K. chip manufacturer Walkers to adopt a more sustainable packaging method has succeeded. After hundreds of thousands of empty potato crisp packages were sent back to Walkers by environmental critics, the PepsiCo-owned company is launching a free recycling initiative to collect and repurpose the plastic packaging. Initially, Walkers intended to adopt a better packaging solution by 2025, but pressure from consumers has resulted in a momentous decision by company leaders to make the change now. “Our new Walkers recycling initiative starts to tackle this issue right now by repurposing used crisp packets to create everyday items,” announced Ian Ellington, general manager for PepsiCo U.K., on Friday. Starting in December, consumers will be able to deposit any brand of empty chip bags with recycling firm TerraCycle. The company is setting up collection points nationwide as well as a free-of-charge mailing system where users can post their chip bags using a box or envelope. Walkers came under public scrutiny after it was revealed that it produced over 7,000 non-recyclable potato chip packets every minute. These empty bags find their ways into landfills and oceans  at a rate of approximately 6 billion packs a year. Backlash resulted in a highly-publicized plea by the British Royal Mail for chip consumers to stop sending empty bags back to the company (despite their respect for the conservation movement), because the mass mailings were tampering with its service efficiency. Related: Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags “We share people’s concerns about the amount of plastic in our environment and are working on a number of both short- and long-term solutions to reduce the impact of our packaging,” Ellington said. Walkers maintains that its packaging is in fact, “technically recyclable, but the issue until now has been that they weren’t being separated or collected for recycling.” However, Recycle Now, the government-funded program created by waste advisory committee Wrap, claims this is not quite the case. The body reports that none of the produced packets are recyclable, and that they should be directed to the waste can, not the recycling bin. Members of the 38 Degrees movement , which includes more than 332,000 petition-signers, will be keeping a close eye on Walkers and its repurposing plans. “We are delighted to hear that Walkers will now be recycling used crisp packets,” said David Babbs, executive director of the online campaign. “It is proof that public pressure can shift big companies to do more to prevent waste. But let’s not forget that there is still more for Walkers to do if they want to keep the public on side. The public will be watching to make sure the new recycling scheme isn’t just a PR stunt. And, most importantly, they have to make their crisp packets fully recyclable far sooner than 2025.” Via The Guardian and 38 Degrees Image via Caitriana Nicholson

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Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

October 8, 2018 by  
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Completed just last year, the eye-catching Barangaroo House has already become a visual landmark for the inner-city suburb of Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia. The competition-winning design is the work of Australian architecture firm Collins and Turner , which created the sculptural building to house a contemporary restaurant and bar of the same name. Located near the waterfront in a high pedestrian-trafficked area, the curvaceous building mimics the appearance of three stacked bowls rimmed with edible and ornament plants for a touch of greenery. Set on a 750-square-meter corner site overlooking waterfront views, the Barangaroo House marks the southern entry point to the Barangaroo South urban regeneration project that was headed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners . In contrast to its angular neighbors, the three-story restaurant and bar features curved facades made with concentrically steam-bent timber dowels that have been charred black to improve the material’s resistance to the elements and as a reference to the “primeval act of cooking.” Ringed with vegetation, the rounded balconies are cantilevered  over the landscape and provide a stellar outdoor dining experience for guests. “The ambition of the project is the creation of a welcoming, timeless, convivial structure, that over time becomes a much loved part of the city ,” the architecture firm said. “The key urban design agenda of a ‘building in the round’ dictated the curvilinear form, which projects curved perimeter balconies outward in each direction. Structural cantilevers up to 8.5 m permit a uniquely outdoor atmosphere to a series of dining spaces on each level of the multi-tiered building.” Related: An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrecht’s “circular” pavilion Frameless glazing was installed on the north and west facades of the ground floor, providing a seamless connection between the streetscape and the indoor bar. Operable glazing also wraps around the upper levels and is shielded from the intense sun by the cantilevered balconies. + Collins and Turner Via ArchDaily Images via Rory Gardiner

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Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

10 money-saving tips for a green home

September 7, 2018 by  
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With more and more people becoming mindful about the environment, there has never been a better time to make your home greener . Not only does making your house more sustainable contribute to a better world, but it also puts money back into your pocket. Here are 10 ways in which you can turn your home into an environmentally friendly space. 1. Save Water We usually think about sustainability in terms of energy savings, but being environmentally minded also means taking a closer look at water consumption. There are plenty of ways you can save water around the house, and some of the methods require no investment on your part. For example, avoid running tap water while you are brushing your teeth, and only do laundry and run the dishwasher when you have a full load. Beyond changing your daily routines, you can drastically cut down on water consumption by investing in a low-flow shower head. These energy-efficient shower heads can save around 160,000 liters every year, depending on the size of your family. You should also check your home for any leaks, including running toilets and leaky faucets. Not only do these waste water, but they can also drive up your monthly water bill. 2. Choose Green Lighting Eco-friendly light bulbs are nothing new, but they have only recently started trending with homeowners. Nowadays, companies offer a slew of energy-efficient light bulbs, so finding the right match for your home is easier than ever. These bulbs use less electricity but are just as bright as their traditional counterparts. They also have longer life spans, which means you will spend less money on replacements. If you opt for smart lighting, you can program your lights to further optimize their energy consumption. Smart lights can be programmed to switch on and off automatically whenever you are close to the house. 3. Harness Solar Power Investing in solar power is one of the best ways you can make your home greener. Solar panels are made from photovoltaic materials and use sunlight as an energy source. The electricity generated by the solar panels can be used to power multiple devices in your house, from lighting to appliances — and it is all provided free from the sun. While the initial investment is high, you can earn back your money in energy savings. It’s also important to keep in mind that you are helping the environment by depending less on traditional energy sources. Related: A brighter energy — the practicalities of solar power 4. Set a Smart Thermostat Heating your home takes a lot of energy. Why not maximize that energy by installing a smart thermostat? These devices are easy to program and maximize the use of your home’s HVAC system. You can even program them to turn on and off during certain times of the day. For example, a smart thermostat can start warming up the house right before you come home and lower the temperature when nobody is around. This helps save energy by running your furnace more efficiently than ever, which ultimately saves you money. 5. Close the Gaps Caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows wear down over time. When those seals break down, spaces open up and allow outside air to come inside. This makes your HVAC system run harder to heat and cool your home throughout the year, consuming more energy. You can seal up those pesky gaps with new weather stripping around doors and windows. These foam strips are easy to install and can save you hundreds in your energy bill every year. 6. Recycle Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can make your home more eco-friendly. Some cities will even pick up your recycled goods with the regular trash. The key is to remember to recycle while you are throwing things away. To help facilitate this, install recycling stations in at least two parts of your home. You might even find free recycling bins from your local waste management center, making it easy to start recycling. If you already recycle, take things to the next level by creating a compost pile for food scraps. Not only are you saving these materials from the landfill, but you can use the compost for your garden next year. 7. Check Insulation A correctly insulated attic is important in regulating the temperature of your home. If your attic is not adequately insulated, air will escape through the roof and make your HVAC system run harder. Installing new insulation in your attic is not cheap at first, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Some locations will even give you tax rebates for insulation, so double-check the codes in your area before installing. You can also consider adding an attic fan to your home, which can help circulate air in hot and cold weather. 8. Collect Rainwater Collecting rainwater is a great way to take advantage of what nature provides. A good thunderstorm can provide upward of 300 gallons of water, all of which can be stored in water barrels. You can use the stored water for gardening or drinking during the dry seasons. This helps save on the amount of water you consume every month and puts money back in your pocket. It also prevents rainwater from washing pollutants down your city’s sewer system and ultimately dumping them into larger water sources. Be sure to check your city codes for regulations on rainwater collection. 9. Fix Water Heaters A water heater uses a lot of energy to provide hot water throughout the home. You can increase the efficiency of older units by wrapping them in insulation. You can also turn down the heater a couple of degrees to save energy. But if your water heater is in need of a replacement, consider buying a tankless one. These units only work when you need hot water and run off electricity, making them a perfect option if you have solar panels installed. Their lifespan is also considerably longer than traditional water heaters, which means less waste for the landfill. 10. Avoid VOCs Volatile organic compounds ( VOCs ) are terrible for the environment and bad for your health. These compounds, which are common in cleaning products and house paints, can irritate respiratory systems, cause nausea, headaches and other health issues. Avoid these products by opting for low-VOC or zero-VOC cleaning chemicals and household paints, which are becoming more common around the country. Images via Joe Shlabotnik , Haley Neal , Michael Coghlan , Barb Howe ,  Roger Mommaerts , Lindalnpijn , Achim Hering , Tony Webster , Yoann Siloine , Dmitri Popov , Spencer Means

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10 money-saving tips for a green home

This eco-hotel in Costa Rica will be completely solar-powered by 2019

August 22, 2018 by  
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Good news for travelers who want all the comforts of a hotel, but without the accompanying carbon footprint: Cala Luna, a luxury hotel in Costa Rica , provides a green retreat that’s about to get even greener. While Cala Luna has already attracted attention for its sustainability efforts, the hotel has launched new initiatives that will make it completely solar-powered and carbon-neutral by 2019. Related to: Repurposed cargotecture dwellings keep naturally cool in Costa Rica Cala Luna was one of the first luxury hotel resorts to embrace ecological concerns and sustainability . Renowned for its far-reaching renewability standards and goals, the tropical sanctuary is devoted to the local neighborhood and surroundings and is proud to have the highest Sustainable Tourism certification (level 5) bestowed by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT). Additionally, the hotel has a Programa Bandera Azul Ecologica (Blue Flag Ecological Program) certification, a government recognition for ecologically focused communities in Costa Rica. As if all this weren’t enough, Cala Luna recently announced its newest goal: attaining 100 percent solar-powered and carbon-neutral status throughout the hotel and villas by 2019. All of Cala Luna’s water heaters are already powered by solar panels, so the next step is solar power for the entire resort. According to Cala Luna general manager Federico Pilurzu, “Guests staying at our planet-friendly hotel can enjoy their vacation and know they are traveling responsibly. We are passionate about reducing carbon footprint, embracing our vibrant landscapes and promoting wildlife conservation. Sustainability is at the core of everything Cala Luna stands for.” From its inception, Cala Luna has been a pioneer in the inclusion of green efforts in all operations. These efforts include the use of LED lights , biodegradable toiletries and glass-bottled water in all their rooms and villas, endemic ingredients in spa treatments, and eco-friendly bamboo straws for beverages. Additionally, the staff is taught to implement green practices, and guests have access to free bikes to get around town. Besides providing an eco-conscious space for visitors to kick back and relax, Cala Luna actively participates in greening the local community. For example, the hotel leads farm tours that let guests learn more about the source of their organic meals and partners with local organization The Clean Wave to help with beach cleanups. Guests at Cala Luna can rest assured that their eco-retreat will not only help them get closer to nature, but help protect it as well. + Cala Luna Images via Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas

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This eco-hotel in Costa Rica will be completely solar-powered by 2019

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