Posted on February 1, 2018
Why Me is the first eco-friendly hostel in Tbilisi and throughout Georgia. The path that led us to our goals took 7 years. In this blog, we'll share how we all got started.
The first steps towards the opening of hostel Why Me were made in 2009. We made a business plan and cost estimate. The next step in the process was finding a suitable location. We started looking for an empty piece of land on which to build a hostel from scratch, but we had to abandon this idea because the plots were far from the city center and quite expensive. In the end, we decided to find an old building in the city and convert it into an eco-friendly hostel.
The location is important to us and that was the reason for us to find a building between the city center and the airport. It was also important to find a building near the metro station, so we started looking for houses next to the metro, in the area between the city center and the airport. In the end we chose a house 200 meters from the metro station Varketili.
The design of the building we chose was far from the ideal one we needed, but it had the potential to be the building that suited us. We drew up a plan for its reconstruction, and we had to collect documents to apply for a building permit.
In order to obtain a permit to build an eco-friendly building, many obstacles had to be overcome. The first project was rejected by the city hall because the walls in the building project were too thick. We had to change the project in such a way that the city hall would accept it without losing the sustainable factor. After some discussions with experts in Norway, the Netherlands and Germany, we found ways to make the building sustainable and decided to rebuild the building in two phases so that the project could be more easily accepted by the local authorities. It was a very long process, but in the end, after three refusals, we received the long-awaited building permit.
After difficulties in obtaining a building permit, we were finally able to proceed with the first phase of the reconstruction. Then we were confronted with the fact that we could not find a contractor with experience in constructing sustainable buildings. We decided to go ahead, take the whole building process into our own hands and instruct all builders and workers ourselves. We were confronted with two major problems: the language barrier and the technical knowledge. It was very difficult to translate the technical aspects of the instructions and the workers we hired were not happy to be dealing with anything new. They often asked: "Why do you need this? Our answer was that we want to save energy so that we can take care of Mother Nature. However, the team of workers didn't care at all and it was unpleasant for them to do things differently from what they used to do.
Our general manager monitored the entire process and attended special courses to gain knowledge and practical experience with plumbing, heating and solar energy.
The first phase of the reconstruction was completed and when all systems were in operation, we carried out the first test and discovered a number of problems. One of the biggest problems was that not enough water was supplied to the second floor. We found that the main pipe installed by the team of workers was too small in diameter. We replaced it with a larger diameter pipe and made three separate connections: for the boiler, the first and second floor. After this modification, the water pressure was too high and we installed a pressure regulator. After that, all problems with the water supply were solved.
We have started the second phase of the reconstruction - the replacement of the roof. The roof had to be in line with the idea of a sustainable building. After consulting with experts, we decided to cover the roof with high quality PU foam sandwich panels 10 cm thick. The roof frame had to be strong enough to support the weight of at least 40 solar panels stacked on top of the sandwich panels and it had to be designed in such a way that all rainwater is collected at one point, for its further use in the rainwater harvesting system.
After 7 years of preparation, tons of paperwork, endless arguments with contractors and local government, testing and retesting, we were ready for the last exciting step - setting up the rooms. Finally, on July 1, 2016, Eco-Friendly Why Me Tbilisi opened its doors for the first guest.
From the very beginning, our main goal has been to care for nature and to ensure that our guests can enjoy their stay at Why Me Tbilisi - Hostel and Rooms.
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In this blog you can read about the eco-friendly solutions of Why Me Tbilisi and the reasons of the Why Me family to start an eco-friendly hostel.