Constructing Ranch Buildings - Rancho La Puerta Learn about our health and safety protocols.

Constructing Ranch Buildings

Design, construction and maintenance at Rancho La Puerta take green principles into consideration whenever possible. We’re especially proud of our use of local materials and the talented craftsmen who understand the pleasure and honor of working in traditional ways. At the same time, the Ranch is an experimental “laboratory” of new ideas, driven by the curiosity and ingenuity of our president, Sarah Livia Brightwood, her staff, and our founder, Deborah Szekely.


Buildings throughout our 78 years at this location have been sited with an eye to having minimum impact on the natural landscape. By fitting them into the natural contours of the land, grading is eliminated or minimized.

Patches of land that are disturbed during construction are stabilized using biodegradable fiber mats and native plants.

Trees kept near buildings offer shade and perches for the abundant bird life.

Large rocks and boulders are left intact and incorporated into outdoor sitting areas.

There are three straw bale houses at Rancho La Puerta and one at Tres Estrelles organic garden. Straw bale walls can be found throughout the site; they provide shade, soundproofing, and lend an artistic element to the grounds.

There are many traditional adobe buildings at Rancho La Puerta. Built with mud bricks, these structures are waterproofed using enjarrado, a natural matrix of soil and pulp from prickly pear cacti.

The use of natural ventilation for buildings is a way of life here. Ceiling fans help keep air circulating.

La Cocina Que Canta cooking school structure utilizes a Venetian plaster technique, rather than paint, to create deep, rich colors in walls.

Rancho La Puerta’s artisanal brick, tile and other ceramic features come almost exclusively from Tecate. By sourcing materials locally, Rancho La Puerta is helping to sustain a traditional craft and livelihood.

“Clean kiln” prototypes have been designed, funded, built and tested by Fundacion La Puerta in one of Tecate’s brick-making communities, and work continues to lessen air-polluting smoke that can be a problem with traditional kiln designs. Two kilns are complete and are dramatically more efficient in terms of combustion and minimizing smoke.

Ranch painters and furniture makers do not use paints, varnishes, sealants and carpeting that contain noxious chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can contaminate the air in buildings and homes where they are used or installed.

The Ranch produces little to no hazardous waste but chooses to follow the precautionary principle for all chemical agents used at the Ranch; facilities management contracts with a hazardous waste processing facility that collects and properly disposes of all potentially hazardous material.

Facilities management maintains Material Data Sheet records for all chemical agents used at the Ranch. They will not purchase products from vendors that do not provide this information.

Rancho La Puerta uses the highest quality eco-friendly cleansers available, including: – Trader Joes Mandarin Orange Liquid Dish Soap – Soap Works Laundry Powder – Oxo Brite Non-chlorine Bleach – Vinegar – Alcohol

Mexico is developing a federal environmental and safety program called “Empressa Limpia.” Rancho La Puerta is one of the few resorts in Mexico to participate in the voluntary program.

Staff regularly attend conferences on sustainability – such as the Ecofarms Annual Conference and Bioneers Conference – to stay abreast of cutting edge ideas and green technology.

In 2001 Rancho La Puerta staff received the first Natural Step training provided to any operation in Mexico. Natural Step is a system for incorporating principles of sustainability throughout the design of a structure or process.