In a first for a destination club, BelleHavens just launched GreenHome, an energy conservation program for its portfolio of luxury vacation homes. Many of the homes are already well on the way to conversion to being energy efficient and the club overall will be carbon neutral.
The primary objective of BelleHavens GreenHome initiative is to consume less energy wherever possible and to offset areas that cannot be reduced. They are identifying waste areas and putting measures in place (see list below) to reduce energy consumption in both the club homes and the club's corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah
BelleHavens has also partnered with Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit organization that helps companies reduce their carbon footprint and support climate-friendly projects. BelleHavens supplied CarbonFund with details on all their homes including the location, size and energy supply. CarbonFund then calculated the total tonnage of carbon that BelleHavens uses and the club pays to be carbon neutral. As the club adds new homes these will be added into this offset program. BelleHavens told us that part of the reason for selecting CarbonFund as their partner, was their high percentage of funds going into energy saving projects. Approximately 93% of the money BelleHavens pays will go towards renewables, reforestation and energy efficiency projects, with only 7% for admin. expenses.
BelleHavens raises a good point about it's whole model, a shared home concept, that even at the luxury, multi-million dollar level, it is more environmentally sensitive than other second (or third) home alternatives. Fewer homes need to be constructed so saving more open space and using less utilities and materials. We've not heard this green case for destination clubs before but it certainly is a very valid position.
The club has a list of projects which it's undertaking at each of its homes. This is a good list for any home owner and includes:
- Compact florescent bulbs - Initially more expensive to install, they ultimately save between 50-75% in annual lighting costs versus incandescent bulbs. Additionally, they give off less heat and last up to ten times longer.
- Solar heating for swimming pools, with the Los Cabos home (pictured right) being converted first.
- Xeriscaping - an innovative landscaping approach using native and drought-resistant plants, resulting in 50% less water usage and erosion prevention.
- Upgrading from individual soap packaging to new waste-saving liquid soap dispensers for bathroom vanities, kitchens and laundry rooms.
- Upgrading from electrical wall outlets to electrical strips. Even when turned off, appliances and electronics plugged directly into wall outlets leak five times more wattage than those used in strips.
- LCD televisions and computer monitors. LCD screens use up to 75% less energy than a CRT monitor.
- Recycling paper, plastic and aluminum. Where service is available, each home will be outfitted with a recycling receptacle for sorting and disposing of trash.
- Front load washers and dryers. These cut water and energy use by 50% versus that of top-loading models.
- Tankless water heaters. Energy savings of 10 - 30% versus storage-type tanks that must keep a reserve water warm regardless of use and which constantly have to keep water warm. Tankless models heat water on an as-needed basis.
- Buy local program. Each home will be equipped with information on local markets, purveyors and specialty products for use in the professional-grade kitchens.
The club is also updating its website to facilitate more electronic communications with current and potential members, reducing paper and energy used in producing and delivering hard copy materials.
This is also an interesting example of the impact that members can have on a club. The original spur for this whole carbon neutral initiative came from a member who suggested that the club should become more energy efficient. Nearly all the clubs give members a voice in the clubs operations and in particular ask their members for suggestions on new home destinations.
Let us know if you have any thoughts about the green and carbon neutral nature of destination clubs.