Passive Solar Design
Constructed and completed in 1999, the guest house was designed for maximum thermal efficiency and energy conservation. The design is “passive solar”, to retain the sun’s heat in the winter and provide “coolness” during the summer. This is achieved through orientation of the building to the south and careful calculations of window glazing ratios, roof overhangs for summer shading and insulation. The 2 foot thick, solid walls are made of an insulation core, pinned with rebar, wrapped in remesh, quilted with wire, sprayed with 2.5″ of gunnite (dry cement mix) and expertly plastered to a smooth finish on the inside.
Solar Heated Water & Rainwater Collection
Water is heated from solar collection heat exchange panels on the roof. This system is backed up by an instantaneous, ‘on demand’ water heater to provide unlimited hot water. Rain water is “harvested” from the metal roof and stored in 3 large cisterns with a capacity of 1600 gal each, for a total of 4800 gallons.
Appliances were purchased for their maximum energy efficiency, and we are probably one of the only inns in the entire country with no electric dryer. Linens are dried on clothes-lines in the Arizona sun, so old fashioned, but guests love the fresh smell and it all works beautifully.
Many berms and swales were constructed to prevent erosion and to help to build better soil, and have since ‘weathered in’ with new vegetation to blend in with the natural landscape. All gardens, impacted areas, driveways, etc are landscaped on contour to maximally retain water during rain and to prevent erosion while assisting the water to quickly penetrate as groundwater.
Part of our land parcel, was once an orchard. Now, 65 years later, we are working to restore areas where top-soil washed away during the orchard phase. A large scale experiment, we are inoculating sandy soils with mycelium spores, heavily mulching and extensively planting with native plants. It is very rewarding work.
Native Plant Landscaping
Native, drought resistant plants next to the guest house attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are all deer and rabbit resistant. These plants are adapted to the area, require no special care, and no fertilizers or herbicides as they are indigenous to the high desert.
“Graywater” from the baths and showers of the hosts residence goes to a worm composting system.
Sustainable Building Design Consulting
Learn more about principles of energy efficient design, solar passive heating, water harvesting… with permaculture design tour