Socially Responsible Second Home
by Mary Brindley
At Summit Powder Mountain, we’re building a community with purposeful design and purposeful living at its core. This means not only incorporating cutting-edge eco-friendly systems into each home, but also preserving the natural environment and fostering an innovative, socially responsible lifestyle within the community itself.
Whether you’re building or buying, your second home is a second chance to make thoughtful decisions about design, sustainability, and mindful living. Join Summit in going beyond “going green,” and turn your second home into an opportunity to practice the conscientious lifestyle you’ll carry back into primary living space.
Make it Minimalist
While it can be difficult to downsize in your day-to-day, a second home is an opportunity to cut back. Forgo the mountain chateau and opt for a small house with an open floor plan. This reduces material consumption while optimizing functionality, and requires less energy to heat and cool. A small space also requires less excavation and therefore, causes less disruption to the surrounding environment. Our minimalistic designs also means cutting back on decor and furnishings, and filling the house with only the essentials.
Owning a second home doesn’t have to mean doubling up on goods and resources. In addition to cutting down on space and possessions, build or renovate with sustainable materials: responsibly sourced natural resources, reclaimed wood and metal, and recycled by-products. And don’t be afraid to get creative! Some of the most innovative eco-friendly homes build with steel shipping containers, car tires, and even discarded coconut shells!
Even if you’re not starting from scratch, you can still bump up the eco-friendly factor of your second home. Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs, choose low-VOC paints to reduce toxic emissions, and conserve water by installing low-flow toilets and shower heads. Furthermore, seek out used and repurposed furnishings, or, better yet, clean out some of that clutter in your primary home. Finally, do away with large, energy-sucking appliances like dishwashers, dryers, and televisions. Instead, let your hands get a little wet, give your laundered clothes some fresh air, and tune out of the media and into the nature around you.
Photo by Marshall Birnbaum
Let Nature Shine
The houses at Powder Mountain reflect our belief that architecture should give way to nature. From the large windows letting in natural light, to the steep, sloping roofs that collect rainwater, each element is thoughtfully designed to blend into the landscape and make the most of natural resources without depleting them.
Wherever you build your home, let nature dictate design. Find an open space to avoid cutting down trees, and let existing trees provide wind protection and shade. Place large windows where they will let in the most light and heat, and be strategic about which ones open to allow for a cooling cross-breeze. Harness solar, wind, and water energy to power and heat your home. Finally, leave the landscaping to Mother Nature. Foreign plants can disrupt the ecosystem, and native vegetation allows you to blend in and preserve the natural beauty in which you’ve chosen to make your escape.
Seek Vocation, not Vacation
Vacation is often synonymous with indulgence. Our aim at Powder Mountain is to become more mindful about how we consume resources and affect those around us. We design events and experiences with this aim in mind, bringing together thought leaders from across all fields so that we may learn and grow from one another, and return home as more active and engaged members of our respective communities.
Your second home, too, can be a chance to connect to nature, learn new skills, and add purpose to your life. Use the time away to practice a minimalistic, sustainable lifestyle. Buy local produce, layer up before turning up the heat, compost, recycle, and be generally mindful about how you consume food and other goods. Turn off your electronic devices to conserve energy and give yourself time to do the things you’re too distracted to do back home: read, write, garden, volunteer.
Tantamount to creating a socially responsible lifestyle is sharing it with others. Your second home can be a space for meaningful engagement with those around you. Hosting dinner parties, retreats, or book clubs enriches your community of family and friends, and when you’re not occupying your home away from home, don’t waste the space. Invite others to use it for similar ends.
In short, your second home can be a haven for you (and others) to reflect, refresh, and return to your life clear-minded and ready to implement some of the socially responsible habits you’ve picked up along the way.