At Mas Pelegri we want to reduce our environmental impact and also strengthen the local economy, so we have put in place the following policies and standards. If you have any other recommendations about how we can improve on this we would be very happy to hear from you.
Mas Pelegri has been rebuilt with the environment in mind. The historic house has been rebuilt in the old ways but with added insulation, so it stays warm in winter but cool in Summer. The walls are 60cm thick, so slowly heat up in the Summer and then keep their heat through the winter. This system works really well, so you do not need AC. People are always amazed how cool it is in the Summer inside. We also have shutters fitted to all the windows, so we can shut the shutters in the Summer to prevent the sun warming up the rooms. As the walls are really thick and as we have thought about window placement, this means in the Summer the sun misses the south facing windows due to the sun height, but in the winter can warm up the rooms as the sun is at a lower height and therefore shines in.
We also think about the water and power usage and what waste we are producing. We plant local plants like olives and lavender that require little watering. We have left the wood at the back of the property that we look after and harvest, but still keep the healthy trees. The harvested wood is then used in the wood burning stoves. We have underfloor heating as in the winter the nights can be a little chilly.
We have a solar pool cover and a solar system to heat the outdoor pool and jacuzzi. This means our pool is swimmable from March through to November and the jacuzzi is warm enough May through to the end of September, all via the power of the sun. Our light bulbs are all eco and we think about each watt that is used in Mas Pelegri. Our hair dryers are all 1kw rather than 2kw for example. We research each product and buy the ones that use the least amount of power but still function well.
All waste is divided and what can be recycled is recycled. All of our waste water goes through a septic tank which technically produces drinkable water. We water our garden from the old cisternas which are supplied to our roof, so we collect rainwater to fill the cisternas, as they did in the old days. We run the whole of Mas Pelegri on 4kw, but can up the power automatically for example if everyone was to turn on their hairdryers at the same time. But usually we run at less than 4kw, which for such a large house is unheard of in Spain. We plan to keep buying PV panels until we can produce almost all our power requirements directly from the sun, but this will happen over the next few years. We are off grid, but do not be scared, most people do not even notice. The company who looks after our solar requirements is My Solar Shop (based just over the border in France) with the local mechanic and the local electrician and us looking after the day to day running of the system.
For hotel guests we change bed linen and towels mid week. If you require less please let us know, as we like to cut down as much as possible on the water and energy usage. For self catering guests bed linen is changed once per week unless you arrange something different in advance.
Our policies also are to strengthen the local economy, so we use local companies for the laundry, garden maintenance, electrician, mechanics and the local butcher and bakery etc. We employ people from the village and the near by town of Banyoles. We send guests to the local restaurants, bakeries and shops. We also advertise and support the other local adventure companies in the area. For example we work closely with Fang Aventura (who offer painballing, quadbiking, water trekking and other adventure activities), and Hipica Equinatur (the local horse riding stables that offer horse treks and also riding lessons). It is important to us that all the local companies thrive and if we can all work together we can provide a good local economy without the need for people to leave the countryside to move to the big cities for work. In doing this we also provide a great service to our clients. So that when they come to Mas Pelegri they can enjoy a variety of activities and have a great service.
Where we can, we buy local in-season produce, so for example our onions are Figueres onions, apples & pear from local orchards, local wines etc. We also have our own small vegetable garden. We buy locally and use local companies for almost everything. We support the local restaurants, by booking tables for our clients. We send our clients to the best local shops if they require anything and let them know the local market days etc.
We offer good wages to locals and train them. For example we have been employing a local guy and supporting him in his studies to become a more qualified sports coach. We are part of the local community and support the Gegants (this is a local tradition where at festivals the local Gegants (people wearing huge bodies and heads, to make them look like giants) go and dance and perform. We also help all visitors with maps and information about everything in the local area, from festivals, to museums, to sites of interest and the times of the local markets etc.
We campaigned with the local community against high voltage power lines being put in the area. The campaign was not completely successful but we did manage to get them moved so as not to disturb as much of the local wildlife. We all offered to club together to pay for them to go underground, but the electrical company said this would set a precedent and would not allow it. Which we find ridiculous. In the end the power company said they would put the line where they wanted it or they would work with the local town councils to come up with the best solution, although they would not bury it. So we did have a small effect, but not the one we wanted. The MAT (High Tension Power) is a very controversial project here, but it has all been passed in Madrid and Catalunya is very angry.
We are on the Responsible Travel Network.