Meet Arie, an eco-friendly Belvilla holiday home host since 2022. Together with his wife Mariëlle, they bought their farmhouse, which was built in 1876, in North Holland. The house used to be the residence of the dyke-master who was involved in the impoldering of the Boekelermeer.
It was built on a wooden framework, a great building material, much better than steel. Arie has taken the step of making the farmhouse sustainable. In the early days, the house used to be heated by the cattle which were housed in the building itself. As time progressed, the heat source changed from cattle to coal, then oil, and then gas.
Today, everything in the farmhouse is electric. The 15,000 kWh of electricity required for this is obtained via solar panels. The thatched roof already provided a lot of insulation. To that was added another meter of insulation with PIR plates. The windows were glazed with Hr++ insulation glass Heating is wood-fired, and the lighting is supplied by LED lamps.
Arie is a teacher of biology, chemistry, and integrated sciences at the European School in Bergen, where children of 51 different nationalities go. He, himself, has two teenage daughters. “Children today are very well aware of what is going on with global warming. They are often disappointed by the current generation, many of whom seem to do nothing or little about it. “It makes them disillusioned,” says Arie.
The family uses the farmhouse to live in during the winter months and lets it as an eco-friendly Belvilla holiday home during the summer. As there is room for 20 people, it is popular with larger families and groups of friends. The huge garden offers plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors. Despite being an ‘old’ farmhouse, the interior has a very spacious and modern design, in which a number of authentic details have been preserved. Thanks to the spacious layout, you can even hold group dances together if you so wish.
This eco-friendly Belvilla holiday home has zero impact on the environment, as the solar panels generate all the electricity the house needs. Everything in the farmhouse is electric powered, including the cooking.
Arie explains, “The central heating is wood-fired, using wood gathered from our own yard where we also plant new trees.
Tips for other homeowners to make their holiday homes more eco-friendly always start with insulation and solar panels. You can never have enough solar panels to supply the holiday home with power for all the electrical appliances.
Insulation keeps the heat in and the cold out. An induction cooker is also very environmentally friendly. It’s a great invention that basically cooks on an electromagnet.
If it does get too hot in the farmhouse during the summer, the house is built in such a way that simply opening a few windows in the attic and downstairs will quickly cool things down. This same “blow-through” effect was used in the past to dry hay more quickly.
As a guest, it is also important to behave responsibly. An eco-friendly Belvilla holiday home is sustainable, but the guest who stays in it also needs to act in an eco-friendly way during their stay. Waste must be separated. It is important not to dump everything together. Also, accepting that it does not have to be 21 degrees all the time is a step in the right direction for helping to create a more sustainable future.
Arne remarked, “When I was a student, there was a lot of talk about sustainable tourism. But if operate as we do, with a carbon footprint of zero, then you’ll get a lot closer to facilitating truly sustainable tourism.
Many people who stay in this eco-friendly Belvilla holiday home farmhouse go sightseeing. The surroundings of Noord-Holland can be easily explored by bike. You are close to the North Sea beach here, and on the landward side, you’ll find the Markermeer, a 700 square kilometre – 270 square mile lake.
What the Dutch take for granted but is highly appreciated by foreigners are the many bicycle paths and routes. It is easy to cycle to the beach and through the natural dunes, and the city of Alkmaar, with its famous cheese market, is also nearby. During springtime, the flower fields in this area are a stunning sight to behold.
The farmhouse is equipped with super-fast WiFi thanks to the fibre-optic cable in the outskirts of Noord-Holland. It is a key feature as nowadays everyone takes their phones and tablets when going on a holiday.
Another hobby of the owners, which can be admired when staying in this eco-friendly Belvilla holiday home farmhouse, is collecting and selling all kinds of crockery. Mariëlle is a chip off the old block as her mother owns a Brocante (bric-à-brac) shop in Alkmaar.