“We must become Doers of Good and Rebuilders of the Earth.”
–Edmond Szekely, “Cosmos, Man and Society,” 1936
The first Rancho La Puerta campers in June, 1940, joined Edmond and Deborah Szekely beneath the oaks of this same valley and discovered that they had little need for energy sources such as petroleum products and electricity. As Deborah recalls today, “We were almost totally ‘green’ because we had no choice!” Kerosene lanterns lit the way at night, and fueled the kitchen’s early camp stove where Deborah fashioned simple meals. We still aim to minimize our energy use. Among our steps:
- Guest cars are not allowed inside the property. We are a pedestrian-oriented, human-powered facility for the most part. Maid services use wheelbarrows, and room deliveries are made by foot or bicycle.
- Laundry facilities use Energy-Star certified front load washers and driers. The efficient appliances significantly reduce energy and water use.
- Energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs are the primary source of artificial lighting in all Ranch facilities.
- Tubular skylights direct high quality natural lighting down in guest rooms, gyms and spa facilities.
- Rechargeable batteries are used throughout the Ranch, and there is a recycling program for staff to bring in expended batteries from home to be sent to a certified recycling facility.
- Thick-walled buildings of brick (and in some cases straw bale) help stabilize interior temperatures via insulation and mass.
- Small, in-wall energy-efficient air conditioners are needed only about three months of the year, and usually only at night until the evening air cools the brick, clay and tile walls, floors and roofs of guest cottages. For the most part, the Ranch is a village of naturally ventilated facilities.
- The majority of landscape maintenance is done using hand tools, with the exception of lawn mowers, tillers and some saws. At the farm, one small tractor hauls compost and a small tiller is used to prepare the soil for planting.
- Organic ingredients for meals are either grown on our farm, or sourced locally, or purchased from purveyors in San Diego, less than 45 miles away. We make a concerted but still reasonable effort to limit the number of “miles traveled” by foods we serve. In the case of fresh fruit (especially bananas) and tomatoes, which our guests wish to eat year ‘round, we must look to more distant suppliers in central or southern Mexico, for example.
- Shade structures such as vine-covered trellises and palapas (umbrella-like gazebos thatched with palm fronds) abound throughout our property, keeping guests comfortable naturally.
- Rancho La Puerta has replaced propane-fueled heat with cleaner-burning natural gas.