The Vacationist gave us the perfect opportunity to build something that could illustrate how off-grid energy and minimal CO2 emissions could work hand in hand with style and comfort.
To do this, we had to think about two different things:
1) How we build an eco-friendly cabin so that there is minimal impact on the environment.
2) How we maximise the efficiency of the space so that our guests can enjoy a carbon-neutral holiday.
The UK’s built environment is responsible for 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Audit Committee are clear that we need to clean up our act and many companies have responded to this by creating solutions. We wanted to make the most of that.
At the same time, there is so much waste. Five million tonnes of construction and demolition waste finds its way to landfill every year. We wanted to incorporate that into our build.
We needed a two-pronged approach:
Incorporating the best eco-tech available is not the cheapest option – you need to buy new equipment designed for your space and not make do with second-hand. Repurposing has its place – as you will find out later in this article – but for now we needed to buy new. That meant thinking creatively about how we could fund the build.
We did our research and were lucky enough to catch the last funding round for LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South East). The programme is supported by the European Regional Development Fund with the aim being to help businesses become more competitive and profitable while protecting the environment and encouraging low carbon solutions.
The Vacationist, being our second project, ticked all the boxes and Skoolie Stays was awarded 40% towards multiple green initiatives that would enable us to expand our business. This included bespoke double and triple glazing; sheep’s wool insulation; infrared and bioethanol heating; waterless toilets and solar power – big ticket items that would have been out of our price range if we had not had their support.
With all the incredible eco-tech we had secured, we realised the potential of a space that could showcase the best in sustainable design. We worked hard to identify potential partners who shared our same vision of a world in which people take greater care and ownership of their impact, inviting them to collaborate with us.
Havwoods Flooring helped us with our incredibly stylish FSC-approved engineered wooden floor; Sofa Style, who are based locally to us in Newhaven, hand-built our sofas out of 600 recycled plastic bottles; Mini Moderns created a feature wall and ceiling in our kids bedroom and Showerwall took away the tiling pain with a acrylic waterproof panelling system in the bathroom.
What happens to old things when you don’t want them any more? It’s all too easy to drop them off at a charity shop or put them in the recycling box and forget all about them. But what really happens to our waste?
We tried to think about this during the build, not just to save money and waste in general, but also to pose questions to our guests about what happens to the things they throw away: books, clothes, toys, coloured pencils, sofas, plastic bottles, wood offcuts, foam mattresses and sofas … can they be recycled? And if not, what can you do about that?
For a greater overview on the build, check out our article on how the our cabin stacks up – where we focus on several different parts of the project and discuss carbon impact.