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Community sustainable way to the top  refuge du gouter | Upload Green Architecture

Sustainable Way To The Top: Refuge Du Gouter

by: Sharai Hoekema
sustainable way to the top  refuge du gouter | Upload

Only a small number of us will ever be able to experience it: the last stop before the final climb to the top of the Mont Blanc. This stop on the main route was notorious for its lousy accommodation: a bland, uncomfortable building built in the sixties, that was not only painfully outdated but also an environmental hazard.

Refuge Du Gouter

Those visiting for an overnight stay would do well to prepare themselves for recurring problems with hygiene - the two outside toilets are not only inconvenient, but they also heavily pollute the surrounding area through its direct emptying of waste on the mountainside - and freezing nightly temperatures, even inside. 

Is Mont Blanc in Italy or France?
Mont Blanc (i.e. 'White Mountain', Italian: Monte Bianco) is the highest summit of Western Europe, on the border between France and Italy. The mountain is usually accessed from Chamonix in France but can be approached from Courmayeur in Italy: see those pages for amenities and activities around the Mont Blanc massif.

Not exactly excellent preparation for one of the most significant climbs in some climbers’ lives, yet it certainly adds a specific something to the charm and roughness associated with mountaineering. Right? Well, that logic might have been sound until recently, when it was high time to upgrade the lodging.



                                                           The Refuge du Goûter and Schneider Electric
                                                   Sustainable Way To The Top: Refuge Du Gouter France

Refuge Du Gouter France: A New, Sustainable Mountain Hut

This was done in the form of the Refuge du Goûter, a new and ecological hut. The remarkable structure, resembling some kind of futuristic egg, has four stories and an all-wooden structure that has been clad using stainless steel. It partly overhangs the cliff below, guaranteeing breathtaking views and enhancing its ‘curb appeal.’

Is Mont Blanc hard to climb?
It is also the highest summit in Western Europe, which makes it an experience many climbers in the world dream of. Climbing Mont Blanc is not a technically difficult ascent, but it does present important risks

And appeal it certainly has. Not only from an architectural point of view (the Swiss designer Hervé Dessimoz spent five years merely designing the building) but also from an ecological point of view. The building is self-sufficient in its demand for energy and water, boasting a solar thermal system and autonomous water supply. 

Recommended: A Geodesic Dome: Sustainable Arctic Circle Living In Style

Goutier Hut

Ecological Features Of The Refuge Du Gouter

This sophisticated system for water reclamation provides a supply of water for cooking and washing. It makes fair use of the egg shape of the building: because of the wind, constant turbulence lets the snow slide across its outer skin, after which it accumulates in a grid of some 60 square meters. Within this grid, the heat generated by solar panels melts this snow, after which it is collected in huge tanks. Due to the size of these tanks, the building can operate for 16 days without snow. 

What type of mountain is Mont Blanc?
The Mont Blanc Massif: A high Alpine Mountain Range. The Massif of Mont Blanc (Massif du Mont-Blanc) is a group of mountains of Western Alps, 400km², located between the Aosta Valley, Italy, the Rhones-Alpes, France and the Valais, Switzerland where the highest peak rises in Western Europe, which culminates at 4,810m.

These solar panels also generate heat and electricity for the building, providing in nearly all of its heating and power needs - only the kitchen still makes use of gas. When there is no sunlight, a backup generator that runs on rapeseed oil will produce electricity. 

Goutier Sewage Farm And Isolation

Another huge plus: human waste will no longer be dumped on the mountainside. Instead, the six environmentally friendly toilets within the hut are built to be ecological and clean. The amount of water that they use is minimized through the implementation of a vacuum-suction system that most of us will know from aircraft. Upon flushing, the human waste will be collected in a tiny sewage farm that processes it into some kind of highly compacted sludge that can, if required, be heliport down to the valley and be disposed of properly.

No longer will eager mountaineers have to suffer from the cold: the new location is equipped with triple glazing and dual-flow ventilation, as well as insulation provided by wood-fiber panels. All of this ensures an indoor temperature that ranges between 18 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius. 

Recommended: Sustainable Circular Architecture, The Svart Hotel: Norway

Construction In Pieces: Refuge Du Gouter

The entire structure was put together in pieces: pre-assembled parts were taken in by helicopter and mounted securely using a specific resin adhesive. This drastically reduced the number of nuts and bolts that would be required. It took three years to complete construction, with work only possible in the warmer months of the years - and frequently interrupted by severe weather events. 

What is the building on top of Mont Blanc?
The Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m (12,605 ft)) is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif within the French Alps.

Despite the difficulties, the project supervisor Thomas Büchi and architect Dessimoz never wavered in their dedication to the project: “What we're saying is that, if it's possible to build a self-sufficient, eco-friendly building at 3,835 meters, there's no excuse for not doing it at sea level.”

And right they are! Some might have doubted the need for an ecologically sustainable building at this altitude and in this spot. Yet, it only seems to highlight the possibilities and the ease with which it can be executed, if only those in charge are dedicated to doing ‘the right thing.’ 

Construction Refuge de Goutier

Global Warming At The Mont Blanc

Even in this small Mont Blanc community, the effects of global warming and other strains that have been put on the natural environment are starting to show. The number of severe accidents amongst climbers on the Mont Blanc has increased significantly in recent years, most of which resulting from falling rocks. In the past, snow and ice would keep them in place, yet due to warmer temperatures, they are loose and subject to sliding at any time. Last summer alone, more than 1,000 climbers experienced falling rocks on their ascent.

With the ever-increasing number of people gearing up to conquer Europe’s highest mountain, it only seems to underline the importance of providing ecological and sustainable accommodation and facilities: to preserve this miracle of Mother Nature for many generations to come.

Before you go!

Recommended: Tiny House Becomes Solar Water Collecting Off-grid Egg

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Sustainable Way To The Top: Refuge Du Gouter

Only a small number of us will ever be able to experience it: the last stop before the final climb to the top of the Mont Blanc. This stop on the main route was notorious for its lousy accommodation: a bland, uncomfortable building built in the sixties, that was not only painfully outdated but also an environmental hazard. Refuge Du Gouter Those visiting for an overnight stay would do well to prepare themselves for recurring problems with hygiene - the two outside toilets are not only inconvenient, but they also heavily pollute the surrounding area through its direct emptying of waste on the mountainside - and freezing nightly temperatures, even inside.   Is Mont Blanc in Italy or France? Mont Blanc (i.e. 'White Mountain', Italian: Monte Bianco) is the highest summit of Western Europe, on the border between France and Italy. The mountain is usually accessed from Chamonix in France but can be approached from Courmayeur in Italy: see those pages for amenities and activities around the Mont Blanc massif. Not exactly excellent preparation for one of the most significant climbs in some climbers’ lives, yet it certainly adds a specific something to the charm and roughness associated with mountaineering. Right? Well, that logic might have been sound until recently, when it was high time to upgrade the lodging. {youtube}                                                            The Refuge du Goûter and Schneider Electric                                                    Sustainable Way To The Top: Refuge Du Gouter France Refuge Du Gouter France: A New, Sustainable Mountain Hut This was done in the form of the Refuge du Goûter, a new and ecological hut. The remarkable structure, resembling some kind of futuristic egg, has four stories and an all-wooden structure that has been clad using stainless steel. It partly overhangs the cliff below, guaranteeing breathtaking views and enhancing its ‘curb appeal.’ Is Mont Blanc hard to climb? It is also the highest summit in Western Europe, which makes it an experience many climbers in the world dream of. Climbing Mont Blanc is not a technically difficult ascent, but it does present important risks And appeal it certainly has. Not only from an architectural point of view (the Swiss designer Hervé Dessimoz spent five years merely designing the building) but also from an ecological point of view. The building is self-sufficient in its demand for energy and water, boasting a solar thermal system and autonomous water supply.   Recommended:  A Geodesic Dome: Sustainable Arctic Circle Living In Style Ecological Features Of The Refuge Du Gouter This sophisticated system for water reclamation provides a supply of water for cooking and washing. It makes fair use of the egg shape of the building: because of the wind, constant turbulence lets the snow slide across its outer skin, after which it accumulates in a grid of some 60 square meters. Within this grid, the heat generated by solar panels melts this snow, after which it is collected in huge tanks. Due to the size of these tanks, the building can operate for 16 days without snow.   What type of mountain is Mont Blanc? The Mont Blanc Massif: A high Alpine Mountain Range. The Massif of Mont Blanc (Massif du Mont-Blanc) is a group of mountains of Western Alps, 400km², located between the Aosta Valley, Italy, the Rhones-Alpes, France and the Valais, Switzerland where the highest peak rises in Western Europe, which culminates at 4,810m. These solar panels also generate heat and electricity for the building, providing in nearly all of its heating and power needs - only the kitchen still makes use of gas. When there is no sunlight, a backup generator that runs on rapeseed oil will produce electricity.   Goutier Sewage Farm And Isolation Another huge plus: human waste will no longer be dumped on the mountainside. Instead, the six environmentally friendly toilets within the hut are built to be ecological and clean. The amount of water that they use is minimized through the implementation of a vacuum-suction system that most of us will know from aircraft. Upon flushing, the human waste will be collected in a tiny sewage farm that processes it into some kind of highly compacted sludge that can, if required, be heliport down to the valley and be disposed of properly. No longer will eager mountaineers have to suffer from the cold: the new location is equipped with triple glazing and dual-flow ventilation, as well as insulation provided by wood-fiber panels. All of this ensures an indoor temperature that ranges between 18 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius.   Recommended:  Sustainable Circular Architecture, The Svart Hotel: Norway Construction In Pieces: Refuge Du Gouter The entire structure was put together in pieces: pre-assembled parts were taken in by helicopter and mounted securely using a specific resin adhesive. This drastically reduced the number of nuts and bolts that would be required. It took three years to complete construction, with work only possible in the warmer months of the years - and frequently interrupted by severe weather events.   What is the building on top of Mont Blanc? The Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m (12,605 ft)) is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif within the French Alps. Despite the difficulties, the project supervisor Thomas Büchi and architect Dessimoz never wavered in their dedication to the project: “ What we're saying is that, if it's possible to build a self-sufficient, eco-friendly building at 3,835 meters, there's no excuse for not doing it at sea level .” And right they are! Some might have doubted the need for an ecologically sustainable building at this altitude and in this spot. Yet, it only seems to highlight the possibilities and the ease with which it can be executed, if only those in charge are dedicated to doing ‘the right thing.’   Global Warming At The Mont Blanc Even in this small Mont Blanc community, the effects of global warming and other strains that have been put on the natural environment are starting to show. The number of severe accidents amongst climbers on the Mont Blanc has increased significantly in recent years, most of which resulting from falling rocks. In the past, snow and ice would keep them in place, yet due to warmer temperatures, they are loose and subject to sliding at any time. Last summer alone, more than 1,000 climbers experienced falling rocks on their ascent. With the ever-increasing number of people gearing up to conquer Europe’s highest mountain, it only seems to underline the importance of providing ecological and sustainable accommodation and facilities: to preserve this miracle of Mother Nature for many generations to come. Before you go! Recommended:  Tiny House Becomes Solar Water Collecting Off-grid Egg Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations