By Janice Kleinschmidt
EcoCamp Patagonia, which opened in 2000, had reached its maximum capacity (recommended by ecotourism codes) of 30 guests. In August, the Chilean eco-hotel decided to relocate 20,000 feet up the hill in the Torres del Paine National Park. The move was expected to be complete by Oct.1—thanks to the makeup of its accommodations: 14 fabric domes.
The ease of relocating without destruction/construction is just one environmentally friendly component of Pacific Domes’ products. Domes require 30 percent less energy to circulate air and maintain even temperatures better than conventional buildings, and the high volume-to-surface-area ratio requires less building materials to enclose more space.
Benefits to the ecosystem extend to the tent manufacturing process. Pacific Yurts, for example, uses lumber from sustainable forests, recycles sawdust and wood trim pieces, hand finishes the wood frames to avoid air pollution from sprayers and encourages customers to return used side and top covers for recycling.
The less-is-more approach works on multiple levels. “The tent footprint on the ground is very small; and when we get involved with design layout, we promote all the natural assets getting integrated—trees, rocks—instead of moving them,” says Paul Zway, owner of Exclusive Tents. “Marry your natural environment with your living space.”