Our Sustainability Promise

Long before the plans for Southall were on paper, a singular guiding principle was etched in stone: sustainability. It’s become a buzzword in recent years, with certifications, greenwashing, and marketing studies. But this property was meant to be different.

Our focus is on honoring—and participating—in the circle of life, while minimizing the human impact. You’ll see it in obvious ways, while others are more subtle. You’ll also feel it in interactions with the Southall team. We’ve built our culture around it with continuing education that helps team members understand the why and how of what we do from a sustainability standpoint. They, in turn, embrace that vision, and live it every day. We hope you’ll find some inspiration and ideas you can take home with you, along with the memories.

Within the forest and along the creek banks, years of effort have been dedicated to the removal of non-native, invasive plants for the purpose of responsible canopy management. Those non-native species have been replaced by hundreds of appropriate tree species—some of which, like the critically important Dunstan chestnut, which has become part of the edible landscape. Good forestry management practices on the farm also encourage wild mushroom production. On the farm at Southall, one will find morels, chanterelles, lion’s manes, and turkey tails depending on the time of the year!

On the farm here at Southall, we are cognizant of the physical, chemical, and biological cycles that farming encompasses and we are committed to the responsible ecological management of those cycles and systems. One way in which we responsibly steward our grounds is with the rotational management of our livestock. In the spring, summer, and fall, guests will be able to see our pastures dotted with egg laying hens, broiler chickens, and turkeys that are all working to return fertility to the land, ensuring a healthy pasture for the next season.

Finally, fire is a critical component of life at Southall. We utilize fire to maintain native wildflower meadows and grass savannas with intentional burnings, just as the indigenous peoples before us did. We use it to create natural potash, a potassium-based ingredient, that the flora appreciates, and we use fire every day for its warmth, its flavor, and its ability to bring people together.

You’ll notice that stone and wood dominate the structures, natural materials that are not only renewable, but have also proven through history to be excellent insulators. Metal roofs direct rainwater and deflect heat and are built to last a half-century or longer. You might recognize that the structures are oriented to harness the sun’s power, taking advantage of natural light—maximizing gain and minimizing loss through the smart placement of glass.

Below ground, geothermal systems utilize green technology to take advantage of heat found deep in the earth, and variable refrigerant flow heat pumps in individual rooms manage HVAC systems to conserve energy. As hood vents in the kitchens exhaust hot air, the outside air coming in to replace it has already been conditioned.

In fact, each room of every building at Southall can be controlled remotely, from the lights to the shades to the thermostat. Nighttime in the offices and unoccupied spaces finds the system returning to pre-set conservation modes; the same thing happens when guests check out of rooms and cottages. By the time you have arrived, everything has been returned to just the right comfort level.

On the operations side, you’ll see sustainability manifested in small ways, such as glass water bottles for spring water, instead of the ubiquitous plastic ones that litter the roadsides and oceans. All disposable materials are composted, along with any food waste.

It’s seen in the laundry systems, the timers on lights, and the sensors that know which side of the building the sun is beaming down on and react accordingly. But it’s also in the labor controls that all these initiatives deliver—smart energy systems mean that a staff member doesn’t have to visit each vacant room to turn the lights off and change the thermostat. The more we can manage emissions and energy use, take advantage of the benefits nature provides, and reduce the human impact, the better.