Going *Green* Okay, it’s true: we are a bunch of tree huggers out here at Peacock Pavilions. And we are not ashamed of it. Our children have been carefully trained to respond on cue that they are environmentalists (although they don’t know quite how to spell that yet). After all, why settle your family in an olive grove if you are, if you are just going to fill it with chemicals?
Right from the start, before the very first brick was laid, we carefully reviewed our options for green living. Orientation of the Pavilions was driven not only by views of the beautiful Atlas Mountains, but also influenced by southern sun exposure. Too much sun heats up a house (and we have over 300 days of sunshine a year here in Marrakech), so we designed and built southern porches and pergolas to provide shade.
To reduce electric energy consumption and carbon output, Peacock Pavilions also incorporates the following elements:
- Insulation in the walls and on the roofs more vulnerable to heat gain or loss. This step is almost always skipped in Marrakech, because of the extra costs entailed.
- Aluminum windows with air tight seals.
- Rumsford fireplaces which radiate more heat into a room and less up the chimney. We may just be the only people in Marrakech with these.
- Radiant floor heating. Hot air passes through pipes buried in the concrete floor slabs. The heat is then radiated into the room over a period of hours. This is more efficient than heating air, and nicer for the feet, too. So rare is radiant heating in Marrakech that people have been trooping though Peacock Pavilions to ask Architect Chris how to install it.
- Air conditioning through evaporative cooling. This system draws 70% less energy than conventional air conditioners and is well adapted for arid climate. Used frequently in the southwest of the US, evaporative coolers blow a mist of water over a filter and then air is passed through the filter. Air temperature can be reduced as much as 30 degrees F.
- Solar water heater panels. Hot water for our own house and our 3 bedroom Pavilion is provided by the Moroccan sun, with back-up provide by instant gas heaters (no need to keep kettle warm when no one is drinking).
- Primarily fluorescent lights. Why use 75 watts when 20 watts will do the same job? (California plans to ban sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. What a concept...!)
Peacock Pavilions sits on 8.5 acres of land, including 5 acres of olive grove. We work hard to take a green approach to our land.
Marrakech is semi-arid — it receives only about 4 inches of rain a year. So, water conservation should be on everyone’s mind. Unfortunately, it’s not. Many of Morocco’s olive growers use a flooding system — they literally flood the land periodically. This kind of irrigation system is incredibly wasteful of Marrakech’s precious water resources. Soon after buying our olive grove, we installed a drip system to irrigate our trees and plants. With this technique each dripper puts out about 1 gallon of water on the ground per hour. The water slowly seeps in the ground with almost no evaporation. We also use grey water for irrigation.
We never use chemical pesticides. Ever. Chemical pesticides are undoubtedly efficient and easy. But they seep into the land and they fill the air...with poison that kills things. We have small children. Perhaps you do, too. We want to create a safe and healthy place for them to run and play.
We are also thinking more and more about the food that we eat. We are in the process of planting an organic garden with organic, heritage seeds. Delicious tomatoes, lettuce picked fresh from the garden...pumpkin, corn, onions, and more. We are using only natural fertilizer. We hope to be able to share our organic produce with you at Peacock Pavilions.
Can we do a better job of being green? Yes. Our clothing, bedding, and textiles don’t all come from organic sources. We don’t have a hybrid vehicle (They are not on the market in Morocco). And Marrakech has yet to figure out a good recycling system, particularly for paper and plastic. There’s more to do, more progress to be made. But the bottom line is that we care about our planet, about our back yard, about our home. Caring for the environment is important to us. We hope it’s important to you, too.