This lodge uses an extraordinary amount of reclaimed materials in its construction. Seen here are some of the sample builds, displaying the incorporation of reclaimed barn wood and tin roofs into the base designs. As with many of the other site features, this provides for a wonderfully rustic and raw accent to the grounds.
Our cabanas mimic the thatch homes still built in the Toledo district of Belize. The thatch roofing helps regulate inside temperature, and provides extremely excellent insulating properties. This makes it a perfect feature for keeping rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The thatch is made from a local plant called bayleaf which, if harvested at the correct time, can last up to 30 or 40 years.
Based on the reuse of materials, we use and develop various art techniques in our workshop. Currently much of the creation is focused on mosaics, diverse products of molten glass, and natural fibers. The products coming from the atelier are displayed for sale in our store of sustainable products, and are also used in the decoration and functional parts of the inn, making each environment unique and full of personality.
A new space has also been creatively built with recycled and reused materials that combines mosaics, bottle walls, and demolition pieces integrated into the rustic and cozy ambiance. The mosaic is an organic part of the El Nagual Reserve, practiced as a strategy of recycling in the construction. Today it is possible to find several mosaics in all corners of our facilities, in the same way a great variety of products are made with equally diverse techniques.
In addition to our lodge’s hybrid energy system, we have completed the construction of 16 stand-alone indirect solar water heating systems of 150 liters each. To date, the use of this system has succeeded in saving 370 MWh of electricity.
As well, we have created a reverse osmosis water treatment plant, with a capacity of 80 liters per minute. This has allowed us to clean over 14,000 m3 of water, to date.
We actively unite sustainable ventures with artful creation around many areas of our reserve. These are some of our bottle walls, which not only serve to repurpose glass bottles, but offer a beautiful array of colors to the rooms when reflecting the incoming natural light.
We use a set of thermosiphons to heat water for the camp. The water supply travels through the system, being heated by the energy transferred from the sun to a solar collector. Even in cold areas, solar energy may be harnessed and utilized toward a variety of applications, such as this one.
The lodge actively takes extraordinary measures toward sustainable and low-impact efforts. Much of the site construction, alone, serves as an exhibition of innovative and deeply thoughtful design. These are the lodge’s primary suites, which are not only beautiful, but use creative structure re-use as well.
Each room is made from a single reclaimed shipping container, which can be seen clearly in the last image. Several other buildings at the lodge can be seen using the same feature, as well as utilizing old blue jean pants within the walls as insulation material.
Most of the vegetables and fruits we eat at the lodge are harvested in the garden by our gardeners. SHI (Sustainable Harvest International) also provides workshops in this garden, and guests can volunteer if they choose to. We have some animals, two horses that substitute as lawn mowers, and pigs that help with composting.
These paper fiberboard hangers are sustainably designed and manufactured by Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions, are entirely recyclable and compostable, and use soy-based inks for any printing.
Our camp uses a biofiltration system to allow for the treatment and reuse of wastewater from the bath, including showers and toilets. The system is comprised of a bioreactor and 5 layers set for water filtration, including a layer of California worms. As with our composting toilets, bioreactors use microorganisms to degrade pollutants biologically, and thus release water that is safe to be placed back in the soil.
On one of our roofs, we maintain this rooftop garden. Not only does it allow for a more efficient use of space, but it also serves to help cool the roof in the summer, as rooftop gardens can provide better insulation than standard tar or gravel use, and help to remove heat from the air.
Our camp creates energy where it can, utilizing both solar and hydro sources. Using solar panels, we are able to provide around 30% of our power needs. However, the other 70% is made available through a micro-hydro turbine, powering our appliances and lighting. The flow of the river is able to provide a steady 800 W to us, with an input of 5 liters per second and high net pressure.
Our septic system is a composting system whereby the water flows into a septic tank, and then to soak a field. These fields are contained in large block vats, lined with several feet of PVC pipe, then covered with earth and banana trees. The banana roots form a dense mat which then absorbs the water and nutrients from the vat, creating a closed system of bio and phyto (plant) remediation (restoring balance). As a result, our land and river are waste free.
All of our water is locally-sourced from the Moho River. It is UV triple-filtered for use in our cabanas, main lodge, and garden.
Our ecovillage utilizes a biodigester as an excellent solution for sewage treatment. Biodigesters offer the ability to transform waste into usable energy, in the form of methane, and leftover product for fertilizer. Our biosystem consists of a biodigester (left), compensation box (middle), biofilters (right), lake of macrophytes (algae), and root zone (far right). It can be built with relatively low cost and ease, and does not require sophisticated materials or advanced construction knowledge to build.
The biofertilizer produced in the treatment process has no pathogens, due to the anaerobic fermentation it passes through, and is ideal for use in the maintenance of community squares and gardens because it does not pose health risks. It is consolidated as a perfect substitute for chemical fertilizers, which can be more expensive and aggressive to the environment.
The methane gas that is captured in the biodigester is of good quality and can be used in the kitchen of public schools, nurseries and hospitals, or, in large quantities, in thermoelectric plants.
Here in our reserve, initially, we built the biosystem with a focus on sewage treatment. However, the extraction of products from the process far exceeded the expectations foreseen in our planning, and today we have at least two hours of gas daily for consumption in the kitchen and workshop, while biofertilizers are used in the orchard, where we obtained a gain of productivity of at least 50%.