Alazan Community Guidelines (excerpt)
8.1.2 Sustainable Design Guidelines
a) Environmentally friendly building materials
Choose local building materials and materials that are reclaimed or FSC certified (applies to wood), rapidly renewable (e.g., bamboo), or that have a high recycled content (e.g., certain types of steel). Use of wood from nonnative trees (removed from onsite, and following reforestation guidelines) is also encouraged.
Building materials should reflect a low environmental impact. Careful consideration shall be given to the selection of materials that are made of recycled materials, can be recycled, and/or are produced using methodologies that conserve both energy and resources. Special attention should be given to selecting paints, adhesives and other building components that do not produce significant unsavory or unhealthy smells or gases.
b) Natural color palate
Houses and other structures should feature exterior finishes that have muted colors and blend with the landscape. Vibrant colors or highly reflective finishes that stand out against the landscape are discouraged.
c) Home design for ventilation
Homes should be designed for the tropical environment and optimized for site-specific breezes. Using pole-style construction, ensuring well-ventilated interiors, limiting enclosed spaces, and maximizing outdoor living areas are ways to create a comfortable living environment that does not require space conditioning.
d) Home orientation
To reduce solar gain, homes should ideally be oriented such that a minimal number of windows face west. If extensive west facing windows are desired, design elements should be incorporated into the structure that reduce direct sun exposure on the glass.
e) Maximum development footprint
The maximum amount of developed space per lot (i.e. development footprint) shall be the smaller of the following:
- Five hundred (500) square meters, or
- Ten percent (10%) of the lot size.
When calculating the developed space per lot, include pools and any other standing structure.
To reduce the number of birds killed from striking your windows, limit large expanses of uninterrupted glass and use large overhangs or other methods to reduce window reflectivity. The depth of the overhang should be twice the height of the largest windows.
g) Energy efficient lighting
Minimize the need for supplemental lighting by incorporating daylighting strategies into your home. For those lights that you do require, choose energy efficient fixtures that use Light Emitting Diode (L.E.D.) or fluorescent technology. Use incandescent lighting only as a last resort.
h) Outdoor lighting
Full cutoff lighting: All outdoor lighting must be full-cutoff fixtures that allow light to shine down but not up into the sky.
Lighting exposure: All outdoor lighting should be equipped with a motion sensor or time-out feature.
Lighting placement: Lights should be positioned low to the ground so as not to shine light into the jungle.
Lighting type-outdoor (mercury vapor or flashing): High intensity, mercury vapor, and/or flashing lights are prohibited.
i) Solar power and solar water heating
Use of solar water heating is encouraged, as are solar panels for producing energy.
j) Energy efficient appliances
If possible, choose energy efficient appliances that meet Energy Star requirements.
k) Backup generators (type and restrictions)
Some Property Owners may feel the need to have a backup power system in place. Generators with 2-stroke engines are prohibited. Battery backup systems are preferred because they do not generate air pollution or produce loud noise. All generators should be muffled to a noise level at or below 70dB(A) at a distance of three (3) meters.
l) Household water management
The primary source of potable water for each household will be filtered rainwater captured from rooftop surfaces. A centralized water system will provide backup water supplies, as described in Section 10.2. Alazan’s water system will rely upon rainwater catchment and responsible water conservation as a means of ensuring that there is sufficient water for everyone in the community.
Rainwater catchment systems have proven themselves to be a reliable source of clean water in many parts of the world and reduce dependence on large, expensive, centralized systems. Property Owners are responsible for collecting rainwater to supply the majority of household water needs. Rainwater collected off of roof surfaces must be plumbed into a catchment storage system on the property. Rainwater is intended to be the primary source of household water supply during the rainy season, and it is recommended that each Property Owner construct a storage system sufficient to hold at least two weeks’ worth of household water requirements. Alazan’s Architecture Teams will assist owners in selecting the appropriate size catchment and storage system.
Water efficient fixtures
Choose toilets, dishwashers, clothes washers, faucets, and showers that are water efficient. Appendix B provides guidance on what to look for.
Sewage must be managed on-site in a manner that does not produce odors or effluents that may affect the environment, the adjacent Properties, groundwater, or other naturally flowing water system (permanent or seasonal).
Biological treatment of sewage is recommended (e.g. bio-toilets). Septic systems must meet or exceed SETENA requirements.
Reuse of graywater (e.g., water from showers and sinks, excluding kitchen sinks) is a critical component of Alazan’s integrated water management strategy. Reuse of graywater can reduce overall household water consumption by 50% or more, which has the dual benefit of reducing the size requirement for a household septic system, and lowering water assessments (i.e. water bills).
Graywater is the preferred water source for irrigation purposes. Landscape irrigation is typically the largest consumer of water in a residential context, and graywater is a “tried and true” alternative to potable water for meeting this need. Also, avoid the installation of landscaping that will require large amounts of irrigation during the dry season.
Toilets should be low flow or ultra low flow models to reduce water consumption and reduce the load on the home’s waste management system. Additionally, it is possible to use reclaimed graywater for sewage conveyance.
Pool water management
Swimming pools should be filled during off-peak water usage hours to avoid excessive drain on the central water system. Pools should be “topped off” using collected rainwater or bio-filtered graywater, when available, and covered in the dry season during extended disuse. Rainwater storage systems should be sized to accommodate the additional water requirements posed by a pool. Consider using environmentally-friendly water treatment alternatives such as saline or bio-filtration.
m) Roof designs
Roofs must be of a material and design that will facilitate rainwater catchment.
n) Stormwater management
Stormwater must be collected and managed onsite, using standard Best Management Practices such as bio-swales.
o) Impervious surfaces limits (<150 sq meters)
To minimize stormwater runoff and erosion of soils, each Lot is limited to no more than 150 square meters of impervious surface, except where otherwise recommended by an Alazan-approved Architectural Team (e.g. for a steep driveway). Surfaces from which rainwater is captured for domestic use do not count as impervious surfaces.
8.2 General Community Guidelines
8.2.1 Protection of Forest Habitat
a) Endangered species laws
The Property Owner must read and abide by all Costa Rican laws regarding Endangered Species.
b) Forest protection
The Property Owner must become familiar with, and abide by, all tree protection laws of Costa Rica.
In addition to the restrictions posed by Costa Rican law, Alazan deems native trees with a diameter more than fifteen (15) centimeters at breast height as “Protected Trees.” Protected Trees will enhance the value and beauty of Alazan. To increase the likelihood that Protected Trees will survive for years to come, Protected Trees shall not be removed or trimmed except as prescribed by an Arborist. Note that these restrictions do not apply to nonnative tree species. It is within the ability of the Project Developer or HOA to grant a variance to these restrictions so long as the variance is consistent with Costa Rican law.
c) Invasive plants
Planting or maintaining known invasive plants is strictly prohibited. If after planting a species it becomes apparent that the species is indeed invasive, the Property Owner shall consult with a Botanist or Arborist and the HOA to determine and carry out the best course of action.
d) Other non-native plants
Non-native plants are strongly discouraged, but permissible so long as said plants are not aggressive spreaders. There are several reasons for avoiding non-native plants:
- Non-native plants may require extra irrigation or chemical inputs in order to thrive.
- Many wildlife species are not adapted to non-native plants and the introduction of non-natives could have detrimental implications for the local ecosystem.
- Non-native plants have the potential to become invasive.
e) Feeding of the wild animals
Feeding of wild animals is prohibited. Planting native trees/plants that provide natural food sources for the wildlife, however, is encouraged.
f) Use of pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers
Pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers that are toxic to fish, wildlife, or humans are prohibited. The Project Developer and/or HOA will maintain a list of permissible pesticides and herbicides. Before using any chemical sprays to kill or eradicate invasive plants, ensure that the spraying or application will not impact water quality, including affecting an aquifer, watershed, creek, spring, or septic system. To control insects, biological controls (e.g., lady beetles and aphid control) and alternative control methods, such as soap and water, should be attempted before resorting to chemical controls.
g) Effluents, Other discharges or pollution
No toxic, odorous or dangerous effluents may be generated within the property. It is expressly forbidden to:
- deposit any type of residual objects inside or near water streams existing within Alazan.
- burn or use agro-chemical products while disposing of trees and weeds inside the approved building area.
- dump fuel, fat, oils and hydrocarbons coming from any type of machinery.
- discharge domestic soapy or residual waters in open areas.