Cedar House Inn & Yurts| home
An Eco-Friendly Bed & Breakfast Inn & Permaculture Demonstration Site in the Mountains & Wine Country Near Dahlonega
Earth Friendly Features & Operations
We feel that the Earth's resources are finite and all human beings should conserve them. Our water and air are the most obvious examples of resources that mankind has chosen to not care for. Clean water is becoming scarce in many parts of the world and the air we breathe is becoming more contaminated with automobile exhaust and pollution created by manufacturing processes.
What have we done to preserve the earth's resources?
At the Cedar House Inn we are sensitive to the Earth we call home and the utilization of our natural resources. Since August 2003 we have been offering guests a lodging alternative that has less impact on the earth's resources.
We don't talk green, we live it.
We also use permaculture methods at the inn.
In deciding where to have our inn we chose to find an existing structure needing repairs versus building a new building. A new structure would have increased our carbon footprint and the impact on the environment.
The building we purchased had great "bones" but was in serious need of renovations and repairs (pictures at right). The realtor mentioned that many "passed" on the property due to the condition. Had we not purchased the property it most likely would have been purchased by another party for rental property and fallen into greater disrepair.
A positive we immediately noticed was that the inn was designed using passive solar principles. The structure faces south to capture the sun's warmth with most windows located on the southern, eastern and western exposures. Larger than normal roof overhangs allow winter sunlight to reach inside the home and summer sun to be deflected. Quarry tile floors in the living room collect the winter sun's heat thereby reducing the need for conventional heating in the day time hours. An airtight wood stove in the living room helps in heating the inn during evening hours. We use only standing dead wood and newly fallen trees for our cord wood. Framing lumber for the inn was purchased from local saw mills.
The yurts are built on decks elevated off the ground to minimize the footprint on the earth. Typical homes on concrete foundations disrupt the ground. The yurts also are fully insulated to reduce heating and cooling demands. When remodeling to add three guest rooms with private baths and the bath house, we stayed within the original footprint of the house and patio minimizing impact on the environment.
Prior to our purchasing the property all trees and shrubbery near the house had been removed for unknown reasons as seen in picture above. Birds and wildlife were absent.
We have planted over 300 fast growing deciduous, fruit, evergreen trees and bushes to provide shade and to create a more favorable habitat for birds and wildlife and food for the innkeepers and guests. A large variety of birds have returned. Deer and rabbits are seen occasionally in the evenings. Restoring the habitat through planting native trees has also helped in sequestering carbon dioxide and lowering the property's carbon footprint.
We will continue adding trees over time. The property is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a "Backyard Wildlife Habitat". We have provided food, water and shelter for birds and wildlife.
Our lawn is considered a "Freedom Lawn" where weeds and clover are allowed to grow with the various grasses. This eliminates the need for watering, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. Most homes have "Industrial Lawns" that require frequent fertilizing, pest control, weed control and watering which impacts the eco system in a negative way. (from the book by Herbert Bormann, "Redesigning the American Lawn", Yale University Press, 1993). We are adding wildflower and native plant/tree areas to reduce mowing, watering and maintenance.
Energy & Water Conservation
In the rooms and yurts we have added low wattage fluorescent lights to lower electricity consumption and limit the need for more power generated
by electric generation plants that may use fossil fuels. The new lights also generate less heat than incandescent bulbs making cooling easier during the warmer months. Each light switch plate has "turn off the light" stickers to remind guests to conserve.
The baseboard heaters in the rooms, yurts and bath house use a silicone fluid to heat the area saving electricity in the process of generating heat.
The shower heads in the bathrooms are "low flow" and use only 1.5 gallons per minute. They provide a more comfortable and stimulating shower than conventional "low flow" heads by adding oxygen to the water. Aerators (1.5 gpm) are also installed on all sinks to conserve water.
We wash bed and bath linens with an EnergyStar rated washer, Fisher & Paykel Ecosmart model. During good weather a clothes line is used to dry guest linens. Sunshine serves as a great earth friendly bleach for whitening towels.
In the inn, storm windows have also been added to all windows and ceiling fans in every room to reduce heating and cooling needs. Caulking has been performed to minimize outside air filtration.
Both hot water heaters are propane and have been wrapped in blankets to hold heat longer.
In the future we hope to add solar hot water heating systems and solar electric.
In 2009 we replaced the dark asphalt shingle roof with a metal silver roof to reflect the summer heat by providing a radiant barrier. A metal roof also prevented us from needing to tear off the old shingles and dispose of them in the landfill. Rain gutters were added on the north side of the house with two large rain barrels for harvesting water for garden and plant watering.
The yurts have composting toilets that require no water. Ninety per cent of the waste that goes into a traditional toilet is liquid and ends up in a septic system or sewage treatment plant with the possibility of contaminating the water that we all eventually drink. The composting toilets evaporate the liquids and create a usable compost at the end of the composting process. Composting toilets also do not require a septic system that often requires the destruction of trees and vegetation for drain fields.
We would have a greywater system for the property but it is illegal under Georgia codes. It's unfortunate that Georgia has chosen to outlaw greywater systems since they not only preserve the groundwater (that we all drink) but also give a source of water for irrigation of plants. Summer water restrictions could be eliminated if homeowners could water their lawns with greywater from their showers, sinks, dishwashers and clothes washing machines. For more information on this topic and the system shown at right visit Greywater.
We do use a bucket in our personal shower to catch the colder water before it turns warm to keep it from going down the shower drain. We use the water for watering houseplants or flushing the toilet in our bathroom.
We use only organic milk and our eggs are pasture raised from a farm not too far from the inn (yes we visit the chickens during our egg pick ups). We also purchase organic fair trade coffee. Herbs from our garden add zest to the breakfast. A permaculture vegetable garden was added in the Fall 2009 using sheet mulching to create soil and swales for rainwater conservation. The garden produces tomatoes, squash, peppers, broccoli, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, corn, beans and more. Blueberries, peach trees, autumn olives, cherries, plums and concord grapes were also planted. The garden will be expanded over time to produce more food for the inn and innkeepers. We are also mindful to purchase food that is not in containers/packaging that cannot be recycled.
We use copy paper that has recycled content. We also recycle our printer cartridges. We use an energy star rated laptop computer. We do not print brochures to save trees. Business documents and sensitive junk mail is shredded and composted for the gardens.
Our web site is hosted by a company that produces its own energy through onsite solar panels. They also have an extensive rainwater collection system used for cooling the data center and watering the landscape. Their center also has a green roof. Our web site is carbon free. For more info on this company click the link at the bottom of the page.
Recycling, Reuse, Composting & Gardening
Recycling bins are located in each room and yurt.
We make frequent trips to our local recycling center for bottles, cans, plastics and paper. We have built bottle trees and shrubs made from our guests' used wine bottles (see picture below). They are colorful and provide an "artsy" look to the gardens. We have also used beer bottles for flower garden edging.
Paper towels and toilet paper are made from recycled paper (from Publix GreenWise) to conserve trees. We use cloth napkins at breakfast that can be reused.
We use reusable grocery bags for shopping. When we forget to bring them into the store, we reuse the plastic grocery bags we get as trash can liners.
Cooked food waste is disposed of in our solar food composter.
Garden, vegetable scraps are composted in our composting bins.
Our vegetable garden uses biointensive and permaculture techniques to minimize the need for weeding and insect control.
Herbs from the garden provide seasoning.
Wild blackberries add sweetness to summer meals.
In the future we will be using berries from our permaculture food forest.
We only make trips to the local landfill every few months since we either compost, recycle or reuse most of what we have. We also love to go shopping at the local nonprofit thrift store (Community Helping Place) for household items and clothing. We in turn donate things we no longer need or use back to the thrift store.
Earth friendly cleaning products are used to
clean the inn and do the laundry. Laundry and dishwashing detergent is from 7th Generation or othe similar brands. We make most of our own cleaning products.
Plastic grocery bags are recycled for trash can liners as previously noted.
Soap and shampoo dispensers reduce waste in guest bathrooms (no little plastic bottles or unused soap bars to throw away). In 2011 we will transition to natural herbal body wash and shampoo.
What can you do as a guest?
As a guest we want you to be as comfortable as possible and enjoy yourself.
There are a few things you can do if you choose to help us preserve and sustain our natural resources.
Turn off lights when leaving your room, yurt or bath house. In the cooler months turn off or turn down the thermostat on your heater before leaving the rooms and yurts.
In a yurt keep the astrofoil window covers over the windows in cold weather to maintain the warmth created by the heaters.
Bed and bath linens are not changed on a daily basis to conserve water. If you need linens please let us know. Also hang towels after bathing and we will dry them on the clothes line (weather permitting).
Please use recycling bins for plastic, cans, glass and paper that tears.
Your participation is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for helping us conserve and preserve our natural resources.
© 2007 Cedar House Inn LLC. All rights reserved.