Article written by Hélène Chebroux, Ecobroker
When I traveled to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico last summer, I couldn’t help but notice, as a real estate broker but also as a citizen, that the real estate developments in this area were a little bit out of control, and were endangering local ecosystems.
This holiday destination, especially Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, has indeed very quickly become a holiday destination that cannot be ignored. As for Tulum, in 20 years the population has grown from 4,000 to 40,000 plus the 2 million tourists who visit the place every year, but the city is equipped to accommodate a maximum of 10,000 people. With the increase in the population density and at the same time the lack of infrastructure, the ecological disaster is looming over this paradisiacal place, as the documentary “The Dark Side Of Tulum”, released at the beginning of 2019, rightly describes it.
But through this documentary, and it starts with the sentence: “If darkness has the power to wound us, it also holds the power to heal”, I also discovered that some people and companies are trying to turn things around and want to change things instead of resigning themselves to accept this alarming state of affairs. Indeed, one must be fundamentally convinced that fatalism is not a vector of positive change, just as I believe that there is no such thing as a “mistake-free” path…. I am indeed convinced that developing a region is far from being negative in itself, as long as it is done with respect for nature, the environment and indigenous peoples.
Sustainable development and eco-responsibility are therefore the main focus of these life-saving initiatives, including Habitas tulum, Woolis Solutions, Holistika, and Evoke International Real Estate. It is the latter company that I’d like to introduce to you in this article, and more specifically its CEO and director, Josianne Lambert, a Quebecker living in Mexico for almost 12 years, whom I met around the time of the launch of their new eco-responsible KAN project in a neighborhood of Tulum, La Veleta. I was immediately conquered by Josianne’s radiant personality. Joyful and authentic, she particularly advocates green values that seem obvious to her.
Where are you from and what’s your background ?
I’m originally from Montreal, Quebec, but I grew up in a village near Sherbrooke, Eastern Townships.. I have always loved to travel, and my parents always told us that planet earth is a world to discover, so I started my travel ‘’bucket list’’ quite young. After finishing my studies in International Business (that I completed online because I had in mind to move, in my head being sedentary really represents a difficulty), I took my backpack and went on adventures. I visited Central America, and my last stop was Tulum and Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I fell in love with the place, the landscapes, but also the people, the culture, the ’’Buenos dias’’ et ‘’Buenas tardes’’ won me over very quickly. And this is now my reality for almost 10 years now !
What do you do for a living, in which field you work ?
When I arrived in Playa del Carmen, I started as a business and sales consultant. After a while, I quickly realized that real estate was a growing industry, I saw this as an opportunity. I started working for an agency, namely on a real estate project worth over $90 million USD, but it also made me see another side to this industry… The lack of professionalism and uncontrolled developments. So I decided to open my own boutique agency: Evoke International. Our agency is an agency that guides our clients to the best opportunities that will allow us to grow together. Because Evoke is much more than an agency, we are a community! One of our slogans is: we believe more in connection than in commission. My vision of a work team is a very organic one. We share values of integrity, honesty, authenticity, and professional ethics. Our entire team shares these values, and on KAN in particular, the architect has studied for years to incorporate all his knowledge of sustainable development into the project. He knows exactly the qualities of the materials used and reused in construction.
For me, a truly “eco-responsible” property developer is one that strives to work with nature and be truly attuned to its flora and fauna as much as possible to provide a long-term balance between economics and sustainability. Tourists visit the Tulum region to enjoy its natural beauty and we must not allow this to be destroyed by both overdevelopment and overpopulation.
Can you present KAN project ?
To give you an idea, here is a quick description of the project :
‘’Based on an organic design inspired by nature, the 24 units present a small-house-style in the tree of KAN, and have a sustainable norm that integrates all that nature has to offer, besides being an example that other developments in Tulum will have no choice but to follow in the future.’’
The owner, Sam Gordon (sustainable activist, environmentalist, speaker, vegan, real estate promoter, musician and entrepreneur, co-founder of KAN industries Mexico), his Mexican partners and my team as a strategy and marketing consultant, created this beautiful project with having as a priority the environment and the local communities.
The main environmental features are as follows: no use of plastic on the site, the building stones used for the exterior fence were taken directly from the site, use of recycled materials such as wood, reuse of grey water to hydrate green spaces, water filtration system allowing direct consumption at the tap and thus avoiding the purchase of bottles, use of solar panels especially for air conditioners, integration of plants, plant walls to keep the temperature cool, and in terms of energy efficiency, use of bamboo, chukum (natural cement that comes from the resin of a tree in the region) to cool interiors naturally and absorb moisture. It should also be noted that all 107 trees on the construction site were replanted directly on the site of this project.
We also had a goal to integrate elements following the biomimicry principles (implement in the constructions the ‘’patterns’’ that we naturally find in nature), for example to design a lotus flower as the roof in order to allow the rain waters to drain in an optimal manner.
Why is it important for you to pass on these ecological values through your day-to-day activities ?
Because every action counts. For us, representing a conscious and a self sufficient project as KAN is really an honor. Each project and each client can contribute to make a difference. We are proud to emphasize projects that start with green initiatives like this.
Here is another example of one of our lots currently for sale on our website:
‘’ Kuyabeh is the first recognized sustainable community in Mexico, its name means The love road to God and has the intention to cultivate a harmonious relationship between humans and nature. KUYABEH’S philosophy cultivates a way of living that includes consciousness and thus awareness of the imprints we leave in the earth as we walk our path. When buying a land in KUYABEH you become an earth keeper, having the ability to build only 7% of the land area. In this way, each person helps to preserve the plants and animals that live in the jungle.’’
Moreover, for me, the important thing is the ‘’day-to-day’’ details, whether it be working paperless, or innovate to do better every day, but also to educate, to understand, to be aware and conscious in our choices. Here at Evoke International, we also give workshops on sustainable consciousness and other similar themes.
Do you have another project that you wish to talk to us about ?
We recently started a project named SOY TULUM, a green community, self-sufficient, with strict rules to follow as per taking care of the environment. There are more than 10,000 acres at 300m from the Tulum beach. We just launched the project, but it is only through personal invitation because our goal is to connect only with ‘’eco-conscious’’ developers or families who want to keep our Tulum green and healthy.
Photos courtesy of Josianne Lambert
CEO of Evoke International