When we started our big adventure over 5 years ago, we had big plans to become completely energy self-sufficient in 5 years. So, how far did we get? Well, today the plumbers arrived to start installing our new biomass and solar thermal heating system. By the time we open in just over a month's time, it will all be up and running. What does this mean?
This means that Podere Patrignone will no longer burn any gas or diesel for heating, and combined with our surplus electricity, this means Patrignone is now carbon positive, probably the first agriturismo in Chianti to meet this standard.
So, we’re feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. And if you stay here, you can afford to feel a little smug too. Because by staying here you will be helping to contribute to these renewable energy projects, and so you effectively offset some or all of the carbon you use in getting here. Of course, technically speaking, the planet would be better off if you stayed home (or if you walked to Tuscany rather than fly), but where is the fun in that? This way you can come to Tuscany and enjoy your hot shower and a large glass of Chianti Classico relatively guilt-free.
Currently we are recycling between 70 – 80% of our waste. We compost as much kitchen waste as possible for use in the garden and vegetable plot. Paper, card, plastic, metal and glass are all taken to local recycling bins and we encourage you to use the three bin system within your apartment whilst staying with us so that we can recycle this too. Anything made from the list above can be recycled here including all grades of plastic and Tetra packs.
Water is scarce in many areas of Tuscany, with water-cuts a daily event in many nearby towns during drought periods, and Patrignone is no exception. We have a huge water storage tank which means we'll never run dry. But water conservation is part of every day life for us, and we ask our customers to also exercise care. Simple things like turning the tap off whilst brushing your teeth, washing the dishes once a day, shorter showers, and fewer linen changes can make a very big difference. We collect our rain-water from several sources around the estate and use this water to irrigate the garden and to top up water levels of our fish pond. We are also looking at other ways of recycling our used water.
But water conservation remains a key issue for us, one we plan to address with additional investment over the next few years.
We also grow our own organic vegetables, and use these in our restaurant whenever possible. We have micro-irrigation systems in place that keep our plants healthy whilst minimising their use of water. Last winter we doubled our growing capacity, and hope to do so again in the very near future.
Not only is air conditioning a massive power consumer, it is also bad for your health and an eyesore on beautiful buildings. It can get hot in Tuscany in the summer, but Patrignone was built in times way before air-con, and has thick walls and small southerly facing windows to help keep the inside cool.
Obviously, we have to keep an eye on climate changes, and if temperatures continue to go up, then of course we're going to have to look at additional cooling measures. But if we have to succumb, then you can be sure we'll make sure our increased electricity usage is balanced by an increase in solar power production.
We are always on the look out for new developments that might help make Patrignone a 'greener' places to live and for you to visit. We are currently looking at additional investment in solar and wind energy. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how we can reduce our environmental impact please do let us know.