While the emphasis is on Luxury, Eco-Luxe @ Mount Avoca has one eye firmly fixed on environmental issues. Architecturally designed to maximise passive heating and cooling, eco-friendly materials have been used wherever possible to minimise the carbon foot-print and a number of innovative ideas have been used in construction.
Cement is incredibly environmentally unfriendly, it produces 8% of all CO2 emissions world wide and it is not recyclable. In place of concrete stumps we used mega-anchors, an ingenious Australian invention that uses lengths of metal pipe driven into the ground and are fully recyclable, easier to install and can be used with no disruption to the ground.
The cladding is native Australian Cypress pine from managed plantations. Cypress pine is naturally resistant to termites and rot and the presence of natural substances in the wood (resin, guajol and callitrol) give the timber its innate resistance.
The floors are native Australian spotted gum. We have placed passive solar heat banks at the foot of the living and bed room windows. These large slabs of bluestone – mined locally in Portland are designed to capture the heat of the day and re-radiate it during the night.
Each lodge has its own water tank, – we are hoping that rainfall will provide sufficient to satisfy normal usage. (There is back up water which will automatically top up the tanks if they get close to empty.) Note that while we have provided spas, which we encourage you to enjoy, you will notice that unlike most spas the jets are closer to the bottom so that they can be enjoyed without needing to be filled to the top.
We use biological sewerage treatment. All biological systems rely on an ongoing population of viable bacteria and our dry conditions, soil type and most importantly sporadic use make these above ground systems unviable. Some require constant energy inputs (electricity for pumps and ongoing maintenance. We use a below ground organic system, which is completely reliable, low maintenance, ordor free and requires zero energy. While the water is not reused, more importantly in our situation all the water is returned to the ground, – some is used by nearby plants, while the rest replenishes ground water.
Solar or wind generation are high on our list of stage two improvements, and the lodges are designed so that these can be easily retro-fitted. Unfortunately government policy is still unclear and there is doubt under the proposed schemes that there would be any environmental impact at all as any savings made are just sold back to industry with no net electricity reduction. As solar panels improve above their 22% efficiency and we are confident there are real environmental benefits we look forward to installing them.
We have used instantaneous hot water to avoid heating water until it is actually required. Solar hot water requires back-up heating and would require that water be hot 24/7. The instantaneous heating is actually more environmentally friendly until usage is over 200 days per year. We will monitor this and we will convert across to solar once occupation increases.
The buildings are built to bushfire specifications, however as they are located in an area surrounded by grass, we are confident of managing any future threats.
After a slow start due to the ongoing drought, recent rains have allowed us to plant several thousand trees around the lodges, enhancing their privacy and adding to the experience of eco-Luxe @ Mount Avoca.