Warm hospitality, cool rooms: all part of the plan to make the Watermill green.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The river-facing south façade of the Watermill. The photovoltaic panels are well hidden.

The Watermill at Posara is renowned for its inspiring creative courses, its beautiful setting, its delicious food, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. But we are also working hard to make the Watermill Cool and Green!

We are now busily putting in air-conditioning units in all our bedrooms and public rooms (the dining room, the sitting room, the studio) and they should be in place well before the beginning of our season, at the end of April. They will all be powered by our array of photovoltaic cells, installed last summer, which are already making more than enough power to ensure that we are self-sufficient in electricity. You’ll have to work hard to see our photovoltaic panels which are on the south-facing roofs of the 19th century mill and on the studio, looking out towards the river. You can hardly see them in the picture of the south façade. Here is a better shot from above the 19th century mill.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

We have a neat little app on our mobile phones, which shows us how much electricity is being generated at any given time, so Bill is likely to exclaim ‘7.63 kW’ while having coffee in the local café, adding to his reputation for eccentricity. We’ve certainly lightened our carbon footprint, having saved more than five tons of CO2 production already! (‘5.6 metric tonnes’, mutters Bill, while ordering his brioche.)

Here’s a snapshot of our app (an app-shot?) on a cloudy evening in the middle of January, not the ideal time for electricity generation!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Nonetheless, we have already generated more than 8000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the seven months from the middle of June 2019 to the middle of January 2020. We’ve done the sums and we reckon we should be able to generate nearly 14,000 kWh in the whole year. This should be considerably more than our consumption, even with all those new air-conditioning units.

As part of our greening campaign, we have also taken steps to slash our use of plastic, notably in the plastic water bottles we used to provide for our guests when they went out on location. Lois demonstrates the solution below.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

We bought a couple of dozen robust stainless-steel vacuum flasks and mark each one with a number. We loan a specific flask to each of our guests for their creative week.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Then they fill up from our fancy plumbed-in water-dispensing machine in the communal kitchen. At the touch of a button, it will dispense filtered water, either still or fizzy, either chilled or at ambient temperature. Each week the flasks are sterilised in our dishwasher, for re-use by the incoming guests.

It’s just a bit more of a faff than plucking a plastic bottle from the fridge. But we reckon it’s worth the (slight) effort. We hope you agree!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

You will have to search hard to see our photovoltaic panels, but to enjoy our other environmental efforts, you won’t have to lift a finger! Just lean back in your chair on the vine verandah and contemplate the fact that we are surrounded by two environmentally protected areas: the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps. The air and the water are pure and unpolluted, and the area abounds in wildlife.

Gaze about you at the sensitive restoration of historic mill buildings, which has incorporated modern energy-saving construction methods in the upgrading process, from insulated roofs to double-glazed windows. As you tuck into one of our delicious meals, prepared by Lois and our Italian cooks, remember that we source all our food locally wherever possible, growing some of our own and using local suppliers and producers. There is one deprivation, however, that you will have to live with: sorry, there are no Yellow plastic ducks in our bathrooms! But you will be Cool and Green.

These are the only ducks you will see:

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

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