Sustainable Architecture - How and Why
by Alcide Leali Jr. - Managing Director at Lefay Resorts
Personal well-being goes hand in hand with environmental well-being. When my parents built their first wellness Resort, their objective was not an easy one: they wanted to create a collection of eco-resorts according to the Italian style and living, but with a strong focus on eco-design. This plan resulted in what we now call “the places of our dreams”. The challenge in creating a resort with such a strong philosophy was to go beyond mere aesthetics and fully integrate certain ethical values.
The challenge for the architects was to design a building that was efficient in terms of logistics and energy and to successfully integrate it into the unspoiled landscape of the Upper Garda Park at Lake Garda in Italy. This was overcome by designing a series of buildings set into the hillside, blending seamlessly with the features of the landscape.
The resort buildings are facing south, to ensure savings on energy and heating. The roofs of the rooms are covered completely in vegetation to make this part of the resort almost invisible to the surrounding environment.
We have invested heavily in design and technology to minimize the environmental impact and to aid energy conservation. Although the costs of building an eco resort are far higher compared to a regular hotel, using renewable energy helps to keep costs down in the long term.
We cut CO2 emissions by 1,130 tons per year. Today 85% of the resort’s heating comes from renewable energy, as does 100% of its cooling and air purification, 75% of which is home produced. Our electricity comes 100 % from renewable sources and 60% of it is generated on site. Rainwater and purified swimming pool water are used to water the resort’s gardens.
We use mainly local and natural materials throughout the resort – this includes chemical-free water based paint on the walls, natural and untreated cotton for all fabrics, olive wood from the Garda for parquet flooring, Italian walnut for furniture and red Verona marble for flooring.
Locally produced olive oil and home-grown herbs and lemons are important ingredients in many of our spa’s treatments and we are planning an organic vegetable garden to supply the kitchen.
We are totally committed to recycling and progressively cutting our production of waste. We use recycled and ecological paper for all our paper materials and we use only glass bottles to limit the use of plastics.
I think that the key to our success was our confident spirit in doing something no one else has thought of doing: investing in the present and the future, creating something for the few that does everyone good. We are passionate about recruiting from the local area and invest heavily in training. We also believe we must raise awareness among guests and work to influence public opinion in matters concerning respect for the environment.
A project that today has been recognized and awarded many times over. This not only fills us with joy, but also shows the importance of environmental responsibility.
Stress influences our lives. It follows us like a shadow when we have to get up, but we don’t want to. It’s right behind us when we go to work, get in line in the supermarket, look for the last parking spot, get the bill for the last car service or find out that we’re running out of money that month. (...)
Today, one of my patients told me that a few weeks ago she was so disappointed in herself and feeling completely down. The reason for it was that she had two weeks off, alone without her daughter, and she was actually looking forward to it! Not having to follow the usual schedule each day, not having to rush, enjoying lots of time for herself. (...)