Over the past several weeks, as they have for centuries in middle Tennessee, skilled masons have been hand-shaping and stacking locally harvested limestone into low walls that designate areas of Southall’s Kitchen Gardens. By early spring, compost from the farm will be added and seedlings from the greenhouse will be…Read More
Long before the plans for Southall were on paper, a singular guiding principle had been etched in stone: sustainability. It’s become a buzzword in recent years, with certifications and greenwashing and marketing studies. But this property was destined to be different.
Against such a pastoral backdrop, it may be less obvious to see in the built environment. But if you look closely, the signs of thoughtful conservation and stewardship will be everywhere.
You’ll notice that stone and wood dominate the structures, natural materials that are not only renewable, but have proven through history to be excellent insulators. Metal roofs direct rainwater, deflect heat and are built to last a half-century or longer. You might recognize that the structures are oriented to harness the sun’s power, taking advantage of natural light – maximizing gain and minimizing loss through the smart placement of glass. Solar panels on the roof capture and store energy for use on the property.
Below ground, geothermal systems utilize green technology to take advantage of heat found deep in the earth, and variable refrigerant flow heat pumps in individual rooms manage HVAC systems to conserve energy. As hood vents in the kitchens exhaust hot air, the outside air coming in to replace it has already been conditioned.
In fact, each room of every building at Southall will be controlled remotely, from the lights to the shades to the thermostat. Night time in the offices and unoccupied spaces will find the system returning to pre-set conservation modes; the same thing happens when guests check out of rooms and cottages. By the time you arrive, everything will have been returned to just the right comfort level.
Southall SVP of Development Eddie Miles is overseeing the construction of the facilities, including the infrastructure that drives it. Over the course of his career, he’s seen a lot of short-sighted construction.
“I see what gets put into a structure, what gets taken out in remodels and demolitions and what ends up in the landfill,” he says. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of waste and inefficiency in my industry, and it doesn’t have to be that way. The front-end cost may be higher, but the investment is worthwhile, both in the long-term savings and the impact on the environment.”
On the operations side, you’ll see sustainability manifested in small ways, such as glass water bottles for spring water, instead of the ubiquitous plastic ones that litter the road sides and oceans. All disposable food and beverage serving materials will be composted, along with any food waste; just beyond view is a state-of-the-art recycling and composting facility.
It will be seen in the laundry systems, the timers on lights, and the sensors that knows which side of the building the sun is beaming down on, and reacting accordingly. But it’s also in the labor controls that all of these initiatives deliver.
Senior Vice President of Hospitality Ray Minias points out that a member of staff won’t have to visit each vacant room to turn the lights off and change the thermostat.
“We want to demonstrate that we’re good ambassadors for our environment, and that’s obvious in some ways and not as evident in others,” Minias says. “The more we can manage emissions and energy use, take advantage of the benefits nature provides and reduce the human impact, the better.”
You’ll also feel it in interactions with the Southall team, too. We’re building our culture around it with continuing education that helps team members understand the ‘why and how’ of what we do from a sustainability standpoint. They will in turn embrace that vision, and live it every day.
We hope you’ll find some inspiration and ideas you can take home with you, along with the memories.