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Charting the Green Path: Unpacking Sustainability in Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a small Central American nation, has long been at the forefront of sustainable practices.

Costa Rica boasts an impressive 98% of its electricity derived from renewable sources in recent years, demonstrating that environmental responsibility can coexist with economic growth. The country’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its efforts to preserve over 25% of its land as national parks and protected reserves. Furthermore, according to the National Strategic Plan 2020-2050 (NEP), Costa Rica aims to be the first carbon-neutral country by 2050, setting a precedent for nations worldwide.

Why has sustainability become such a priority for the Costa Rican government? The answer lies in its rich biodiversity. Home to over 5% of the world’s known species despite making up just 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, it’s clear that this nation holds a unique place in the global ecosystem. But this is not just a matter of national pride or environmentalism for its own sake. The health of Costa Rica’s environment directly impacts its tourism sector, which contributes significantly to its GDP.

This article explores the sustainability initiatives, ambitious policies, and lessons from Costa Rica’s sustainability journey. It also focuses on Senderos’ dedication and commitment to doing its part in promoting a sustainable future and adopting sustainability practices in its quest to deliver outstanding contemporary housing. As we explore the various facets of sustainability in Costa Rica, readers will gain insight into how this small country is making big strides in the realm of eco-consciousness and what the rest of the world can learn from its example.

Understanding Sustainability in Costa Rica

A black monkey with a white face sits among dense green palm leaves, looking upward.

Fundamentally, sustainability revolves around addressing today’s necessities while ensuring that future generations can equally cater to theirs. Costa Rica’s sustainability efforts are multi-faceted, focusing on rich biodiversity, renewable energy, sustainable tourism, reforestation, carbon neutrality, and community involvement.

The country houses 5% of the world’s biodiversity on a small land area, with 25% dedicated to conservation through national parks, rain forests, reserves, and wildlife refuges. Costa Rica generates 98% of its electricity from renewable resources, reducing its carbon footprint. Responsible tourism is promoted through the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program, launched by the Costa Rican Tourism Board.

From 1987 to 2019, Costa Rica doubled its forest cover from 26% to over 52%, thanks to rigorous reforestation initiatives and incentives for landowners to plant trees. In 2022, Costa Rica achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first Latin American nation and the second country globally to receive compensation from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). This payment recognized their efforts in reducing carbon emissions stemming from deforestation and forest degradation, commonly known as REDD+.

Renewable Energy: The Heartbeat of Sustainability in Costa Rica

A person in a high-visibility vest and helmet stands in a field near three wind turbines, holding a tablet, with a clear sky in the background.

When one talks about sustainability in Costa Rica, renewable energy stands out as a shining example of the country’s commitment to a cleaner, greener future. 

With an overwhelming portion of its power generation hailing from renewable sources, our entire country is indeed a global leader in sustainable energy practices. Let’s explore the key renewable energy sources that this Central American nation harnesses:

Costa Rica’s dedication to 98% renewable energy serves as a global example. Their aim for 100% by 2050 inspires other nations in the shift towards sustainability.

Sustainable Practices: Costa Rica’s Everyday Commitment to the Planet

Close-up of hands inspecting a large green leaf in a field, with a person in the background wearing work clothes.

Sustainability in Costa Rica isn’t just about large-scale environmental policies; it’s deeply woven into the fabric of daily life and the choices made by its residents. Costa Ricans, colloquially known as Ticos, exemplify an ethos of environmental stewardship in a myriad of ways. Let’s delve into the sustainable practices embedded in the culture and everyday life of Costa Rica.

  • Eco-Friendly Agriculture: Over 10,000 certified hectares are used for organic agriculture, preserving soil and ecosystems.
  • Water Conservation: Rainwater harvesting and efficient appliances cut water use by up to 20%.
  • Waste Management: Over 80% of municipalities have recycling programs, fostering a culture of recycling and reforestation.
  • Sustainable Transportation: Costa Rica promotes electric vehicles with incentives and charging infrastructure aiming for 15,000 EVs on the road by 2023.
  • Community-Based Tourism: Small-scale, sustainable tourism practices benefit local communities and culture.
  • Eco-Education: Environmental education is widespread, with over 95% of Costa Rican schools participating in the Blue Flag ecological program.

In essence, sustainability in Costa Rica is a shared responsibility, not limited to policymakers or environmentalists. From farmers to students, every Tico plays a role in maintaining the delicate balance between progress and preservation. Their everyday sustainable practices serve as a blueprint, underscoring the impact of collective effort in fostering a green future.

Senderos – Gladly Doing Our Part to Protect the Natural Environment

Construction workers are surveying and working on a foundation at a construction site with traffic cones and green netting, surrounded by a scenic, hilly landscape with trees.

Promoting upscale living and sustainability in Tamarindo Bay, in the outstanding region of Guanacaste, Senderos strives to offer discerning customers their luxury ocean-view homes while being responsible. Our team understands that contemporary housing, lush gardens, and infinite views are what our clients long for, but we never forget that we also have a responsibility – to the land and to the people who work the land!

Doing things right in terms of protecting the land that worked so hard to become the unique landscape we are blessed to admire today is what makes our work worth doing! We love to see our clients in awe with the final result of our work but we’re truly happy when we know we turned their dreams into reality without hurting the land and our country’s future.

We build differently. Our construction techniques allow us to have a smaller foundation footprint than most buildings and create the illusion of perched houses on the mountainside. Furthermore, we know that the topsoil on our lots of land had a journey of at least 50 years before we got here. That’s why we carefully collect the top 2 to 5 cm of the soil and deposit it into a soil bank to be enriched and replanted.

The views our clients will get to bathe in every day come to be by carefully trimming trees to make them healthier instead of wounding them. Our roads are shaped by preserving root systems. Trimmings are collected and turned into organic matter to create a carbon-heavy additive (biochar) that gets added to the topsoil collected to fortify it and encourage new growth.

The Unique Development Approach that Makes Senderos Different

A modern two-story house with large windows, an extended balcony with greenery, a car parked in the driveway, and surrounding lush vegetation.

At Senderos, we are deeply committed to preserving the environment and crafting ocean-view homes with utmost care. We don’t claim to reinvent the wheel, but we sure do our best to tackle sustainability from every angle and make the most of the local natural resources without hurting the environment. Every detail is carefully considered because every detail matters!

We partner with Green Roots Consultancy to ensure that our luxury homes align with eco-friendly practices:

  • Careful Cataloguing: Our design process begins with a meticulous analysis of your home site. We study topography, water flow, soil quality, and local flora and fauna.
  • Ecological Commitment: We quantify this data and pledge that on all new Senderos homesites, we preserve their ecological value, including carbon capture, biodiversity, and their role in the ecosystem.
  • Natural Modern Design: Our skilled architects embrace this commitment as a challenge and a source of inspiration, resulting in designs that harmonize with each land parcel.
  • Biomimicry in Construction: We employ cutting-edge home-building techniques inspired by nature, minimizing our environmental footprint.
  • Resource Preservation: We protect resources like topsoil and repurpose cleared foliage for furniture or biochar production.
  • Replanting with Purpose: We replenish topsoil and introduce local plants that enhance beauty, provide shade and privacy, capture carbon, and support local wildlife.
  • Community-Wide Sustainability: Our commitment extends to common areas and community spaces, where we implement sustainable practices.
  • Life Cycling: We manage composting, waste, and water on-site, keeping vital nutrients and water within the ecosystem.
  • Reusing Timber: Downed trees are repurposed into platforms and custom finishes, promoting sustainability.
  • Water and Irrigation: We manage water in this tropical dry forest, aiming to balance seasonal rainfall differences and conserve water resources.
  • Waste and Recycling: Organic waste is composted for fertilization, while nonorganic waste is sorted and responsibly disposed of.

Our commitment goes beyond words, as we believe in taking tangible actions to protect the environment, transform landscapes responsibly, and improve ecosystems. For us, sustainability is not just a talking point; it’s a daily dedication to making a positive impact on local communities, wildlife, and the environment. We strive to learn and implement new ways to protect and enhance the world around us.

In Reflection: Embracing Sustainability in Costa Rica

Aerial view of a coastal region with a winding river, lush greenery, scattered houses, and a long beach stretching into the horizon under a partly cloudy sky.

Sustainable practices in real estate and construction are not just a choice; they are a responsibility. Senderos’ projects demonstrate that comfort and contemporaneity can coexist harmoniously with environmental consciousness, setting a high standard for the industry. It is incumbent upon all of us to support and advocate for such sustainable endeavors.

Costa Rica’s remarkable journey towards sustainability serves as a shining example for the world. Our commitment to preserving nature while advancing modern living is commendable. As we navigate the challenges of a changing world, let Costa Rica’s leadership inspire us to embrace sustainable practices and contribute to a greener, more responsible future for generations to come. Together, we can make a lasting difference.

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