Home Archives 2011 July 19

Daily Archives: Jul 19, 2011

Suitable Digs

Many travelers care about their environmental impact nowadays, and owners of vacation rental homes are making it easier to have an eco-conscious place to stay. From solar panels to rainwater irrigation systems to recycled building materials, countless FlipKey property owners are doing what they can to give you a clean, green vacation experience. A little eco-minded search through the listings brought up some very impressive results.

Solar-Powered Homes

If you’re going on vacation to enjoy the sun, why not use it to power all of your activities? Solar panels provide a way for you to live totally off the grid without sacrificing your need for lighting, electronic entertainment, hot water, and the like. Several FlipKey listings boast the use of 100 percent solar power.

Villa in St. CroixMichael Dance and Terry Chretien’s brightly painted villa in Saint Croix not only offers solar electricity and a solar water heater; it also adds nice touches like complimentary organic, fair trade coffee. Other rentals making very efficient use of their sunny slice of paradise include a beachside cottage in Barbuda, a stilt home on a private island in Florida, a horse ranch near the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, and a bungalow near a tropical rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

But solar panels aren’t limited to tropical locales. Even way up in central Wisconsin, the Sustainable Living Center bed and breakfast uses solar energy to provide heat, hot water, and electricity – and guests can even eat organic produce straight from the garden. Cool Green Lodgings in Santa Fe offer solar energy, biodegradable soap, and composting in the kitchen. And a luxurious solar-powered cabin in Southern California offers endless entertainment, with access to the Big Bear ski resort and hiking trails, as well as a game room.

LEED Certified Buildings

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a certification for new green buildings and homes. The rating system includes a long list of design and construction factors that promote energy efficiency and water conservation, use of recycled materials, clean air and natural lighting, and eco-friendly activities (such as providing infrastructure for storing bicycles in a building). There are plenty of LEED certified vacation rentals listed on FlipKey; here are some that stand out:

Earning a Platinum certification, the highest LEED rating, Harbor Retreat, a unique Spanish-style home in Santa Barbara is a luxurious modern space made with natural materials. One of its eco-friendly features is a rainwater collection system to maintain landscaping needs. Across the country on Martha’s Vineyard, a LEED Platinum cottage on Martha’s Vineyard makes the perfect cozy retreat for two couples.

Funky Bend, OR LEED Gold HouseNext up, with a Gold certification, is Oregon’s first LEED Gold rental. The décor blends vintage and contemporary styles, and everything—from the deck to the sheets to the cabinets—is of eco-luxury grade. Another Gold certification earner is a brand new Toronto townhouse, which is near public transportation and within walking distance of the heart of downtown. Its multiple balconies let you relax outside right in the middle of the city.

Besides solar panels and LEED certification, there are many other ways that vacation rental owners are making their homes environmentally friendly. Some features you can seek out in a rental home include: the conscious use of materials such as recycled fiber carpets or reclaimed building materials; the owner’s purchase of electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar; paints and stains that are free of harmful chemicals; and furnishings with creatively repurposed elements or vintage origins. If you’re not sure what eco-measures the owners have taken, you can always ask.

Joanna Eng is a New York-based writer and editor who covers travel, green living, food, careers, entrepreneurship, and more. Her travel experiences have ranged from hostel hopping in Mexico to staying with distant relatives in China to renting a beach apartment in New Jersey.