For us, developing and operating The Cedars Ranch in an environmentally-friendly manner, is a great opportunity to put our key values into practice. Being eco-conscious, climate responsible, and simply just smart in how we use natural resources, feels like the right thing to do. So what makes us green?
Green Building Design
Wanting both incredibly beautiful and sustainable design, we hired award-winning green architects, The Acre, to create our 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. A defining element of this project is its emphasis on visually incorporating environmentally sensitive strategies to make The Cedars Ranch a project that is as green as possible.
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. No carbon emissions! No degradation of limited environmental resources! Our great hall will be utilized as a means for solar collection using solar photovoltaic technology. The great hall is a beautiful modern dance and event space, with open-air features allowing the structure to cool naturally, and help guests feel immersed in the nature surrounding them. The building's 30 degree pitched roof is designed to optimize the annual solar power harvest, as well as showcasing the renewable energy generation feature. The merging of both beautiful and sustainable design!
Our great hall roof is sized in accord with the facility energy demands over the course of the year. While we will have the ability to generate the electric power we need by renewable means, we will still be connected to the electricity grid via our local energy provider Pedernales Electric Cooperative. With the 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.
Another key opportunity to operate sustainably and in balance with our environment, is in relation to water. With water being such a precious natural resource, especially here in Texas, we’re maximizing our potential for rainwater harvesting. Our main structures, including our great hall and yurt will collect rainwater for use onsite. Pictured below 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.
Sustainable Landscaping - Permaculture
Permaculture is defined as “the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.”
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 Texan Hill Country, berms and swales were constructed along designated contour points 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 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.
When you add up all of these differences you arrive at a smaller carbon footprint, also factoring in that using native plants usually means they have not had to travel as far to get to your local nursery, also a bonus!
Native plants provide the right food supply for beneficial insects, pollinators, butterflies and birds, and hence ensure a thriving natural ecosystem.
We are in the process of developing relationships with wedding vendors, and are starting to compile our preferred vendor list. Our preference is that our wedding vendors be as green as possible. This may include considerations such as they provide organic products, they have good waste management policies, they use locally-sourced materials etc.
As part of our contract agreements, we insist that catering and clean up staff working at The Cedars Ranch segregate all waste streams, and recycle and compost onsite. We also encourage our clients to buy local and use local resources, so as to reduce our travel footprint and promote win-wins for everyone in the area.
Here are a few things we are doing to help reduce our impact on the earth’s natural resources:
- By living simply, we minimize the use of materials and energy
- We reuse and re-purpose as much as we can
- We separate and recycle all materials that we can’t otherwise use
- We compost onsite
- We try to 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 use eco-friendly cleaning products
If you have any more suggestions of how we can continue to "go green", or want to share some of your eco-friendly practices, we would love to hear from you! Contact Us!
Click here for more information on our Triple Bottom Line approach here at The Cedars Ranch, where we go beyond just environmental sustainability!