Pacific Sands Eco-Development
by Adam Buskard, Tofino
The Pettinger family has owned and operated the Pacific Sand Resort
since 1973. The process of growth at the Sands has been gradual and
with purpose and meaning. So when they decided back in 2001 that it
was time to look at replacing their aging beachfront cabins there was
plenty to consider.
The original Lindal cabins had been there since 1975 and were loved
by the guest families that had spent many summers in them.
The Pettingers approach to this expansion was unique from the start.
Beyond the usual development concerns of cost and return they wanted
to embrace an environmentally sound approach to the design. There
was a sense that part of running a business in a Unesco Biosphere was
strive for a new balance with our environment.
The integrity of the coastal forest where the cabins had been was
the first concern. The area was surveyed with the help of an arborist
plot the locations of all the trees on site and to outline a course
of action for the contractors to follow that would minimize any disturbance
to root structures. The tree placement map was given to the architect
with the instruction to design in a manner that would work around
them. As the design of the new buildings was started the Pettingers
that they wanted to embrace as many methods of building ecologically
as possible. There were renewable products to consider, alternative
concepts to access and costs to consider.
In our temperate climate one of the biggest hurdles in any commercial
development is what is going to be your source of heat. There’s
electric, gas, oil, wood or GeoExchange, using the ambient temperature
of the earth to heat your living space. Because the earth’s energy
is a constantly renewable source there is a freedom attained from fossil
fuels or mass consumption of electricity. It’s in these types
of large-scale commercial developments that a noticeable reduction
in resources consumed for heating can be realized.
The GeoExchange systems works by circulating a fluid through vertical
under ground holes to a depth of near 400 feet. At this level the ground
maintains an ambient temperature between 6 and 10°c. The fluid
absorbs this energy bringing it back up into the system to be extracted
and circulated throughout floors in the living spaces. There is an
energy efficiency to this heating that is greater than 50% over conventional
electric. The initial set up costs for the GeoExchange were 25% more
than traditional systems but are projected to be recoupable over a
5 to 7 year period.
Methods of construction that offered ecological benefit were embraced
in the project on many levels. The exterior finish of the cabins
was done in a cement fiberboard that has no wood material in its construction.
The beams used in the interior timber framing were cut from standing
dead pine that was killed by the pine beetle. Low flush toilets were
used exclusively though out the units and of course the geothermal
heating system. With all of this attention to the eco there was still
nothing lost on the comfort or aesthetic of the units. With their
floors, fireplaces and soaker tubs the details of luxury are still
there to enjoy.
As for the original cabins that inhabited the shore for so many years,
they were transplanted into heart of the Sands property and now serve
as accommodation for their staff. In these days of house burnings on
the beach to make way for new decadence it’s nice to see value
placed on what can be reused and renewed.
Adam Buskard has lived in Tofino half his life, six of those years
off the grid on Frank Island.
Pacific Sand beach resort has installed a geothermal heating system in their new phase of environmentally friendly development.