What did I learn from visiting the TAO Eco Project and TAO Wellness Center that will help with our Belize Eco Village and Wellness Center? As a long term health consultant, environmentalist and eager eco developer, learning about eco friendly green building and development for sustainability has become a big part of my passion purpose and leadership lifestyle. It has become a passion project to investigate, research and understand various building materials, designs and styles to determine what will best serve our homes and projects in our Belize Eco Village. Building materials that are clean, green, renewable, safe and sustainable will definitely play a prominent role in our master planned community. We are committed to creating an aesthetically appealing, environmentally friendly, financially solid and sensibly sustainable Belize Eco Village community on the 149 acres of land.
TAO Mexico Wellness Center
As part of my research for the Belize Eco Village and Wellness center it has been helpful to investigate other centers for ideas, insights and inspiration. In particular my focus is on learning about Caribbean destinations for resources and role models. The goal is to find a way to blend the best of several resorts, spas and wellness centers into our project. The TAO Mexico eco project is the latest place to research and visit. I first heard about TAO about five years ago and was impressed with their plans. Since then they have been busy building condominiums, homes and the wellness center with various building materials and styles. Most of their buildings are cement block with concrete floors and roofs. While they have put a lot of effort and thought into the project there is still more eco friendly and green progress to be adopted.
Unfortunately some of the building materials used are on the red list of toxic products that can harm our health. While they strive to be eco friendly and green in honor of the wellness center the local builder is using some harmful chemicals, compounds, toxins and treatments. Even though many different construction ideas and materials have been tried in Mexico the majority of builders take the easier route and use the same non eco friendly materials. This results in the same environmental, financial, health and lifestyle consequences happening in most other locations. While cement block buildings are the norm and durable long term, unfortunately it is not the most eco friendly and sustainable. Many cement block buildings are not constructed to the highest standards since many cement blocks are excessively watered and lose cement and become brittle. Often the rebar is exposed to the atmosphere which results in rusting and concrete spalling. Cement block buildings can be uncomfortably hot and prone to deterioration and maintenance way before the normal lifespan. They also require more electric energy usage to avoid moisture issues and stay cool.
TAO Mexico Inspired Living
I was definitely impressed and inspired by the TAO master plan when I first learned about it. They had obviously put a lot of energy, money and time into designing and researching eco communities and wellness centers. The owner traveled to many destinations to visit international eco communities and wellness centers to help inspire the development. It is obvious from their brochures, master plan and website they are interested in being focused on eco friendly and mind, body and spirit health. Unfortunately they have a lot to learn about sustainability. Like many areas in Mexico, the Caribbean and world wide they are still dealing with outdated building methods and some serious habitat destruction in a quest for fancy buildings and development. However while they are near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and required to comply with serious habitat preservation it is the construction materials and methods that seem to be most outdated. In an effort to create optimal curb appeal and sexy selling units they missed a few key opportunities to focus on sustainability.
The building designs require excessive use of concrete and iron support beams for walkways. Their condo units are a bit flashy and less eco friendly than one would expect. They missed an opportunity to be more optimally designed for passive energy efficiency and they plan to use both gas and electricity. Instead of passive solar water heaters they use gas on demand water heaters. They also build rooms for washers and dryers in each unit versus more centralized shared locations so this is also less eco friendly. While they did maintain a fair amount of green space around the condo buildings the extra pool is less eco friendly. Also they missed an opportunity to do rain catchment from the roof tops. They did use zone Air Conditioning (AC) units but many visitors may not be familiar with the concept and use all units excessively. They also missed an opportunity to use key less locks on doors with master access card smart electric control systems. The sliding glass doors and windows did not appear to be double pane glass either and their brochure does not disclose key building component standards. Hopefully they will decide to update and upgrade their building methods in the near future. The gold course also seemed to have excessive water features for an eco friendly and sustainable golf course. We were told that special plans and processes are in place to prevent contamination of the under ground water resources which is highly important.
If more ecologically and environmentally friendly and passionate people put their heads and hearts together it would soon appear obvious that one of the most environmentally friendly and financially focused long term solutions would be to use Stabilized Compressed Earth Block (SCEB). James Hallock is the eco home building expert who introduced me to the benefits of SCEB for buildings and homes. The SCEB are normally made with local clay, sand and 10% cement or lime and compressed and shaped with a powerful hydrolic press. This creates consistent and strong Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks which are not a fired bricks but are naturally cured to be strong like rock over time. SCEB is incredibly durable and resistant to normal home hazards like bugs, fire, storms and wind. SCEB machines are built in Mexico and homes and resorts are being built with this method so it would be fairly easy for TAO Mexico to use it instead of cement block.
SCEB homes are extremely efficient and eco friendly because they absorb less heat and are locally sourced, long lasting and lower cost long term due to their energy savings. The homes can reasonably expect to last for over a hundred years if not a thousand years with minimal care and maintenance. This is another reason that Stabilized Compressed Earth Block (SCEB) could be chosen as their building material of choice. Learn even more about SCEB from the experts at DwellEarth.
TAO Mexico Eco Project
They did share some of their intentions for guests and residents to follow but did not fully disclose their goals, guidelines and plans for self sufficiency and sustainability. Will they avoid spraying synthetic chemical compounds like fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides on their property? These synthetic chemical compounds are toxic to people, plants and the planet. Will they support holistic health, natural nutrition and proven permaculture principles? It is obvious the long and short tern consequences are too risky to the animals, bees, birds, butterflies and beautiful people living in the TAO Mexico eco project to allow the use of toxic cleaning and outdoor products. Will they maintain very high standards for living in a chemical free environment to protect the air, food, homes, soil and water. These are many questions about restrictive covenants and design standards still be addressed and disclosed.
Healthy Habits & Habitats
In 2017 Morningstar NEWS will focus 50% on Healthy Habits and 50% on Healthy Habitats and Sustainability Strategies. We are designing our new Belize Eco Village master planned community after researching other projects currently on the market in order to role model the best of the best. My passion project is to interview, research and visit super sustainability projects to learn, mentor and role model them. The vision is to attract a wide variety of eco-conscious and passionate people to help design, build and live in an eco friendly, healthy and sustainable community. Imagine a piece of paradise where people will live, retire, visit and work while enjoying an even more happy, healthy and in harmony lifestyle. We will focus on ideas, insights and inspiration as we provide more progress pictures and vivid videos about stewardship and sustainability. Stay tuned for progress posts with steps, strategies, suggestions and systems to develop the 149 acres of pristine Caribbean pine ridge and riparian forest into a Belize Eco Village master planned eco community.
Where is Your Gap?
What behaviors, beliefs and decisions about your habits and habitats are harming your health and the planet? What will it take for you to protect your family, self and the planet from damage, degradation and destruction? How can you stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution instead?
Mastery Action Plan (MAP)
It is well documented that the beverages and foods we consume and the quality of structures we live and work in greatly impact our health. There is a wealth of wisdom on my blog and the internet regarding a wide variety of healthy habits to start and health hazards to avoid. What are you willing to do differently to protect your self and our planet with better choices? A healthy habits and healthy habitat code of conduct and mastery action plan will enhance the quality of life for everyone. Are you ready to do your personal part for rapid real results?
Call to Action
What comments, commitments or concerns come to mind regarding the many benefits of healthy habits and healthy habitats ? Are you ready to learn more and join our terrific team?
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Simple Steps for Sustainability