Energy Efficient Design
Wanting both incredibly beautiful and sustainable design, owners Marilyn and Bill hired award-winning green architects, The Acre, to create the vision of an eco-friendly wedding venue and wellness retreat. The master plan has been organized such that our main building, the great hall, faces south in order to maximize passive solar gain, and to align with predominant wind patterns for passive cooling. The great hall is a beautiful modern event space, with open-air wall features allowing the structure to cool naturally, while helping guests feel immersed in the nature surrounding them.
Renewable Energy - Solar Power
Solar Photovoltaics (PV), is a low-carbon technology, harnessing renewable energy from the sun via the use of solar panels. This technology converts sunlight directly into electric power, without the climate change causing carbon emissions or resulting environmental degradation produced by non-renewable sources of energy. Our great hall's 30 degree pitched roof is designed to optimize the annual solar power harvest, as well as designed to showcase the renewable energy generation feature. The merging of both beautiful and sustainable design!
Our great hall's roof is sized in accord with the facility energy demands over the course of the year. While we do have the ability to generate the electric power we need by renewable means, we are also still connected to the electricity grid via our local energy provider Pedernales Electric Cooperative. With our grid-tied system, any excess energy that we generate via our solar panels can be sent to the grid, while our connection to the grid allows us to pull electricity from it if we have generation shortfalls. In this way, our campus will be “net zero energy”, meaning the total amount of energy used by the buildings on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.
We received a grant from the USDA to cover part of the installation of our solar photovoltaic system. To find out more about available grants and incentives, visit our Green Resources webpage.
Water Conscious Landscaping
Another key opportunity to operate sustainably and in balance with our environment, is in relation to water. We are committed to water conservation, particularly water conscious landscaping in this arid Texas climate. Read more in our "Ecosystem" section below, about how we worked with a permaculture team to develop a native and flourishing ecosystem on our ranch, which optimizes water conservation and increases biodiversity.
With water being such a precious natural resource, especially here in Texas, we’re maximizing our potential for rainwater harvesting. Our great hall collects rainwater for use onsite. Pictured above is our reception pavilion, which will be constructed in phase 2 of our project. The unique form of the reception pavilion’s butterfly roof is designed to optimize the capture of rainwater that will be stored on site and filtered into drinking water.
Reduce - Reuse - Recycle
Here are a few things we are doing to help reduce our impact on the earth’s natural resources, particularly in relation to minimizing waste: By living simply, we minimize the use of materials and energy; We reuse and re-purpose as much as we can; We compost onsite; We minimize printed promotional material for The Cedars Ranch, but if we do produce leaflets, brochures or business cards, they are printed on recycled paper; We separate and recycle all materials that we can’t otherwise use; We use eco-friendly cleaning products. Also, as part of our contract agreements with vendors, we insist that catering and clean up staff working at The Cedars Ranch segregate all waste streams, and recycle and compost onsite.
Visit our Green Resources page for some tips on living in balance with our environment:
Sustainable Landscaping - Permaculture
Permaculture is defined as “the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.” Here at The Cedars Ranch we are committed to water conscious landscaping and developing a native and flourishing ecosystem on our land. To help us achieve this aim, we worked with a permaculture team who helped us create a healthy and thriving garden and landscape in balance with nature.
In order to maintain optimum soil moisture and biodiversity in this often arid landscape of the Texas Hill Country, berms and swales were constructed along designated contour lines on our land. Swales, essentially small ditches located along a slope, retain moisture on the land by capturing the run-off downslope. By planting fruit trees and native species on the berms (the raised part of the swale and berm system), we cultivate further soil richness and biodiversity.
Planting and supporting native species at The Cedars Ranch is an important part of being good custodians of the land. Native plants provide the right food supply for beneficial insects, pollinators, butterflies and birds, and hence ensure a thriving natural ecosystem. These plant species have adapted to the ecological conditions of their region and therefore need less watering intervention. In Texas where droughts happen easily and where the summers are hot and dry, this means that native plants are better able to survive both the heat and the drier soil conditions.
The use of native plants also means a reduced need for pesticides and poisons because the plants are more adapted and able to resist attacks from local pests - both insect and disease. Since the plants have adapted to local soil conditions they also need fewer soil amendments. Bluebonnets, for example, Texas’ state flower, grow better in poor soil conditions.