I generally stick to fashion, but sometimes something comes along that deserves a mention. How about an accommodation provider so eco-friendly, it is likely to be New Zealand’s greenest!?
Camp Glenorchy, made up of seven cabins and two bunk houses plus communcal spaces, is about 40 minutes’ drive from my house here in Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island. It is part of The Headwaters, that along side Camp Glenorchy, includes Woolly’s Campground and Mrs Woolly’s General Store, for those who know it.
Over the last two years, Camp Glenorchy has been built by local architects and engineers to meet the world’s toughest eco building standards, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) guidelines. The guidelines are an aspirational set of global guidelines that dictate energy efficient design and construction, sourcing and use of healthy, non-toxic materials and local products.
When I say eco, I mean it. Camp Glenorchy has smart lighting, energy-efficient building designs and highly-efficient heat systems to reduce energy demand, getting almost $4 worth of energy for every $1 spent running it. This is true commitment to achieving Net Zero energy use!
Composting toilets are expected to save about 300,000 litres of water per year, and LED lighting is so efficient the lighting load for each three-bedroom cabin is equivalent to a single 200-watt light bulb.
It’s also home to the South Island’s largest solar garden and three constructed wetlands to collect and process all wastewater onsite, giving clean water for the irrigation of native plant landscaping.
When I say friendly, I mean that too. The seven cabins, two bunk houses and communal indoor and outdoor meeting facilities and inter-connecting spaces located in the small rural town of Glenorchy, have been created by local artists, architects and designers, with a focus on comfort, connection and learning.
Wood is from recycled and reclaimed materials from old South Island woolsheds as well as demolished buildings that fell in the Christchurch earthquakes.
Artistic features including stone mosaic walkways, hand-carved signage, structures made from re-used vintage timber and the massive Scheelite Campfire Shelter have been commissioned from Glenorchy artists.
Founders Paul and Debbi Brainerd, American philanthropists who have previously established environmentally-sensitive, community-based education projects in North America, want Camp Glenorchy to be a living laboratory, where visitors can view in real life how a Living Building operates. Sharing their knowledge is pretty friendly, I reckon.
But they also want guests to be attracted to the ambience and communal feel, as opposed to just viewing it as a place to sleep, eat, or even as a laboratory.
Debbi says the aim of Camp Glenorchy was to inspire and educate visitors about sustainable tourism. But to successfully attract visitors, the views were not enough, Camp Glenorchy had to be welcoming too. That’s the friendly part, again.
“I was inspired by local landscapes and artists to help create a welcoming environment that brings heart and soul to the project,” she says.
“We’ve tried to create an experience at Camp Glenorchy that integrates the latest technology, while also delivering a warm, friendly experience to our guests.”
The cabins are charming and well-appointed. The décor features strandboard interior walls created from wood that would normally be wasted in a mill, as well as wool and metals, including re-purposed copper. These natural materials soften and conceal the technology. Accents of confident colour, for example rusty-orange and watermelon, and local artworks personalise the spaces. Yes, there are composting toilets, solar tube lighting, fresh air transfer units and modest windows – to maximise heat efficiency – but these blend seamlessly and odour-free into a well-presented interior design that is inviting and comfortable.
Paradise! Just what ‘camping’ ought to be!