To attract environmentally-conscious travelers, many resorts promote themselves as eco-friendly. But with air conditioners draining electricity and keeping guests shut away from nature, the experience often falls flat – compelling farsighted developers to consider other, more natural cooling options.
“As soon as we stepped into our luxury safari tents, the bellboy switched on a couple of air conditioners,” says Ramki Sreenivasan, writer for Livemint.com. “Outside, a strong breeze was blowing from the adjoining forested valley, but the tent was not constructed to exploit it for cooling.” While many eco-travelers experience this same type of disappointment, a few astute eco-resorts are rediscovering ancient passive cooling techniques for reducing their dependence on air conditioning. As portals to an authentic vacation experience, these techniques are quickly regaining popularity in sustainable design.
Amble Resorts, an ecologically sensitive real estate development company, is preparing to break ground on The Resort at Isla Palenque, a new Panama resort that will take full advantage of re-emerging passive cooling techniques. Ben Loomis, President of Amble Resorts, made it clear to his architects that the priority for this project is environmentally responsible comfort.
“Facilitating comfortable outdoor living is important in an island paradise like Isla Palenque,” says Loomis. “Don’t get me wrong, we are producing a luxury product, and A/C will be available in every hotel room and home. But designing conditions to minimize energy consumption also creates a superior guest experience – one in which hotel guests and homeowners can better enjoy their tropical surroundings and get in tune with the natural rhythms of the island, while also reducing their environmental impact.”
In order to reduce the island property’s reliance on mechanical temperature control, Amble Resorts is working closely with award-winning design firm 4240 Architecture Inc., and world-renowned site planning firm Design Workshop.
“Not many resort developers are savvy enough to make passive cooling an early requirement,” says Randy Johnson, Principal of 4240 Architecture. “But Ben knew this was key to minimizing the resort’s energy needs.”
Together with site planners at Design Workshop, they are drawing up plans to incorporate a wide variety of time-tested passive cooling techniques, like shading buildings’ surfaces to reduce solar gain, and providing openings that encourage wind movement through the structures.
Referred to by architects as “passive” or “bioclimatic design,” these methods have allowed people to live comfortably in tropical climates for thousands of years. And developers around the globe are tapping into the concept that architectural design that utilizes passive cooling creates the natural environment sought by discriminating travelers.
About Isla Palenque
Amble Resorts’ new Panama real estate project, The Resort at Isla Palenque, will be a secluded and sustainable resort community with a unique boutique hotel, ingeniously designed residences, and sumptuous amenities.
Drawings by 4240 Architecture, Inc.