Lou Calen : an aspiring eco-friendly hotel
Wishing to function in harmony with the land it dwells within, Lou Calen is fully committed to reducing its impact on the environment. The hotel estate is developing an eco-responsible approach in all of its establishments (hotel, restaurants, bars) across all three hectares of rich nature. This lasting commitment means that Lou Calen’s teams will always come together to innovate and find new alternative solutions for best practice in this area.
The Jardin Secret restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Green Star for its work towards eco-responsible cuisine. Labelled as a “Committed Restaurant” to all things green, the restaurant and its team are thrilled to be part of a modern approach that favours economical shortcuts and fights against industrial waste.
In order to better accelerate the ecological movement in Provence, Lou Calen has joined the “Convention of Pro-Climate Businesses“, and is steadily involved in the work around a sustainable economic model that respects all living things.
According to a significant Nature Climate Change study, the tourism industry is now responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical equipment, domestic hot water system, lighting, laundry, transport – the list goes on. Energy consumption represents on average 60% of any hotel’s carbon footprint.
For this reason, Lou Calen puts energy management at the heart of its eco-friendly project, and implements these actions for its regulation:
On the estate:
○ Construction of a glass roof with Onyx Solar transparent photovoltaic glass, which will produce more than 400,000 kWh of electricity in 35 years, or around 800 points of light 4 hours per day
○ Installation of a geothermal heating and air conditioning system: using more than 3km of ducts to capture calories buried more than 1.20 meters in the ground. The calories drawn are then used to heat and cool two-thirds of the hotel and event buildings, without any negative effect
○ Selection of restaurant suppliers via “short circuit”: within a radius of 60km around Cotignac
○ Provision of electric bikes to customers to explore the area
○ Installation of charging stations for electric vehicles
○ Cleaning of hotel and restaurant linens carried out by a local company which is eco-responsible – eco-labeled products, reduction in water volumes, etc.
○ The wandering paths throughout the hotel estate have been created using biologically-sourced resin. This new process developed by Eiffage had made it possible to avoid using petrolised bitumen by replacing it with a eco-friendly sustainable product. This resin is a third-hand product, made from kraft paper manufacturing waste, which in turn was crafted from pine trees felled in France.
In the guest rooms:
○ Change of sheets and towels carried out every three days
Linens may be changed more frequently upon request, but an ecological surcharge will be applied, a portion of which will be donated toward a local, charitable organisation that supports the preservation of water resources, biodiversity and the environment.
○ Installation of centralised systems to turn off the light and air conditioning when customers leave (or if the windows are left open)
Fauna and flora
Provence offers a wide variety of landscapes such as forest and scrubland, plains and hillsides, steep rocks interspersed with wetlands and numerous rivers. The region is recognised as ‘green’ and known for the great diversity of its flora, and the exceptional character of its fauna – since it is home to a large number of protected species. To recognise and preserve these unique ecosystems, Lou Calen implements an active and preventive approach:
○ Construction of buildings on only 10% of the 3.5 hectare landed estate
○ Honey production: installation of around ten beehives to produce honey, as well as an observation hive to educate customers about the usefulness and crucial existence of bees.
○ Organic production of lavender, olive oil, and grapes on the estate
○ Creation of a vegetable garden, an orchard and gardens with aromatic herbs
○ Creation of a curated forest on the banks of the river and safeguarding of caches in the cliffs of ‘Tuf’ limestone. This has been organised in consultation with Natura 2000, to provide natural habitats specific to protected areas such as bats, and other fauna
○ Manual weeding (with zero pesticides) and grinding of green waste which is reused in the gardens to conserve moisture and enrich the soil
Water management is a major issue in Provence. The Cassole river has its source in Saint-Martin and La Font de Gautier, 2km from the village. It has sadly dried up over the years, and unfortunately winter rains are no longer sufficient to regenerate groundwater. The droughts that have occurred in recent years, alongside the intensive and recreational use of water by human consumption, partly explain this phenomenon.
The last canal in operation, which historically supplied the dwellings and fountains of the village, is now maintained by the association APJBR (arrosants-plaines-jardins-bouides-reclus) (watering-fields-gardens-mudbanks-thickets),while all the other canals have yet to be brought back into use. This is a real challenge that Lou Calen, one of the last to be served by this channel, is committed to meeting. Our actions are:
○ Creation of the association ‘Les chemins de l’eau’ (water paths), in consultation with the town hall of Cotignac, which directly aims to rehabilitate the old irrigation canals of the village in addition to the work of the APJBR
○ Rainwater harvesting on the roofs and terraces of the estate, and creation of a retention basin (landscaped as a large pond), the surplus of which will be returned to the river
○ Renovation of irrigation canals and basins across the estate. These ‘water paths’ are organised in a closed circuit via a downstream pumping station, which itself is equipped with solar panels
○ Creation of ornamental gardens and vegetable gardens according to the principles of permaculture which means they must only be watered for the first 3 years, but not necessarily thereafter
The fight against waste and waste management is a daily struggle. At Lou Calen, single-use plastic objects and products are banned and replaced by their reusable equivalents in order to reduce the volume of waste and their damaging environmental impact:
On the estate:
○ Elimination of plastics, implementation of selective sorting
○ Meticulous management of restaurant stocks
○ Breeding of chickens and ducks fed largely on vegetable waste from restaurants
○ Composting of vegetable waste from the restaurant and vegetable garden for soil fertilisation
In the guest rooms:
○ Elimination of paper printing (advertisements, welcome book, maps of the area and tourist attractions, etc.) in favour of a touchscreen tablet
○ Provision of a stainless steel flask and access to a micro-filtered water fountain (with disposal of plastic or glass bottles)
○ Replacement of individual hospitality products in bathrooms in favour of large refillable formats
Lou Calen breathes new life into unique and unusual pieces by hunting out second-hand objects to enhance the hotel’s decor. This initiative contributes to reducing the establishment’s environmental impact by limiting the production and purchase of new furniture and therefore, saving on worldwide shipments and transport. Our guests can thus sit back and enjoy the warm and authentic atmosphere of their sustainably-sourced accommodation.
Designed by and for nature lovers and slow tourism enthusiasts, Lou Calen welcomes you to the heart of nature for an immersive experience that respects the environment.