It Aint Easy Being Green In Morocco

By on June 15th, 2008

Ever thought about traveling to the olive groves of Marrakech? How does a boutique hotel called Peacock Pavilions sound? Designed by an American couple who dreamed of opening a guesthouse far far away, the opening of Peacock Pavilions this coming November is a fairytale come true. Thousands of readers already know more than they could ever ask about these fantasy suites, via the award winning blog, My Marrakesh which has been documenting the family’s journey since 2006. For those who haven’t been there to see the story

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unfolding, you’ll be happy to learn that Peacock Pavilions is an eco-friendly building.

Though it can boast of 300 days or more of sunshine each year, Marrakech only receives 4 inches of annual rainwater. As the family describes in their website, this should be a major cause of concern for olive growers. However, most native farmers take part in a wasteful practice of flooding their land. While Maryam and her husband Chris adore Marrakech and its culture, they were not comfortable with this practice: “Soon after buying our olive grove, we installed a drip system to irrigate our trees and plants. With this technique each dripper puts out about 1 gallon of water on the ground per hour. The water slowly seeps in the ground with almost no evaporation. We also use grey water for irrigation.”

Maryam admits that it is next to impossible to go fully “green” in Marrakech. She cautions guests that there won’t be environmentally friendly linens to sleep in or hybrid cars to rent. You may not even be able to recycle your cans or bottles there. However, this family is doing its best to incorporate green initiatives, and we can only hope that their local neighbors and international guests will notice their efforts and be inspired to take their own step in the green direction.

Not only does Peacock Pavilions give everyone permission to chase big dreams, this family serves as a good reminder that it aint easy being green. Yet, if we all do our part, (including our youngest tadpoles) we’ll have a cleaner pond to swim in.

Peacock Pavilions opens in November 2008 and is currently taking reservations. Why not go and hug an olive tree?

List of Green Initiatives (
To reduce electric energy consumption and carbon output, Peacock Pavilions also incorporates the following elements:

  • Insulation in the walls and on the roofs more vulnerable to heat gain or loss. This step is almost always skipped in Marrakech, because of the extra costs entailed.
  • Aluminum windows with air tight seals.
  • Rumsford fireplaces which radiate more heat into a room and less up the chimney. We may just be the only people in Marrakech with these.
  • Radiant floor heating. Hot air passes through pipes buried in the concrete floor slabs. The heat is then radiated into the room over a period of hours. This is more efficient than heating air, and nicer for the feet, too. So rare is radiant heating in Marrakech that people have been trooping though Peacock Pavilions to ask Architect Chris how to install it.
  • Air conditioning through evaporative cooling. This system draws 70% less energy than conventional air conditioners and is well adapted for arid climate. Used frequently in the southwest of the US, evaporative coolers blow a mist of water over a filter and then air is passed through the filter. Air temperature can be reduced as much as 30 degrees F.
  • Solar water heater panels. Hot water for our own house and our 3 bedroom Pavilion is provided by the Moroccan sun, with back-up provide by instant gas heaters (no need to keep kettle warm when no one is drinking).
  • Primarily fluorescent lights. Why use 75 watts when 20 watts will do the same job? (California plans to ban sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. What a concept…!)