Regenerating the Eco-village

Click here to view the original post.
Regen Villages, Off-grid, Sustainable, Eco-village, eco-friendly

Regen Villagers don’t need green thumb to live in greenhouse.

Self-sustaining communities that can talk to each other; sounds like something from the future doesn’t it? But Regen Villages is making this a reality – right now. The first Regen eco-village has begun building works in Almere, 25 minutes from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The 15,500m² project will house 100 families and aims to be completed by 2018.

But what is a Regen Village?

Founded by James Ehrlich, a senior technologist at Stanford University, in 2015, Regen Villages has a holistic approach. A regenerative system combining new technology and renewable energy powered homes, with organic food production right on the doorstep.

The houses vary in size and are built inside a greenhouse “envelope”, with some even having terraces. Each home has a built in water collection system, solar panels and are passively heated. The community has a seasonal garden, biogas facility and aquaponics amongst other things.

The base of the villages is that the output of one system is the input to another. Waste from the homes is sorted into different categories. Bio-waste is used in the Biogas facility, whilst compost is used as food for livestock and small flies. The flies are fed to fish and the waste from both them and the livestock fertilises the seasonal gardens. The plants in the aquaponics facility and seasonal gardens produce fruit and vegetables for food, whilst the livestock and fish provide a source of protein. Rainwater is collected and stored at the houses and water produced at the biogas facility is also stored. Grey water is separated and used to irrigate the seasonal garden, whereas clean water is put into the aquaponics. Solar cells provide the energy for homes and also to the “smart grid” which can be used for charging electric cars.

Regen Villages, who are partnered with Danish architects EFFEKT, have been termed the “Tesla of ecovillages” paving the way for new innovative developments. Plans include villages being linked up to the cloud and being able to communicate with each other through the internet. In this way communities are self-reliant and off-grid but can still learn from each other.

What about the future?

At a conference held at Sliperiet, Umeå University, Sweden James Ehrlich spoke of the future for Regen Villages. After the completion of the Almere pilot, EU funding of a proposed 300 million euros (approximately $319 million) will enable projects in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany to go ahead. These are aimed to be carried out during 2018-2022. Sights are then set on developments across Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, India, China and parts of the US, with government investments. As Ehrlich outlined, by targeting a challenging cold environment first, Regen Villages can be adapted to suit different climatic needs.

Off-grid sustainable greenhouse communities are not at all futuristic and Ehrlich is keen to make them a reality.

The post Regenerating the Eco-village appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

(eco)Village within a Village

Click here to view the original post.
Solar hamlet - artists impression

Growing demand sees Welsh govt jumping on bandwagon

The Welsh Government is embracing low-impact housing with the unveiling of its first village within a village – the Pentre Solar “eco hamlet” within the traditional, stone-walled village of Glanrhyd in Pembrokeshire. The six timber homes have solar panels capable of producing 6000 kilowatt hour per year, low energy use and a A++ energy rating.

Following the successful construction of a prototype house built by start-up Western Solar in 2013, the Welsh Government gave the company £141,000 to help create its nearby production base for the homes, which will house tenants from Pembrokeshire council’s social housing waiting list. With low energy use and access to a shared electric car, Western Solar said residents could avoid up to £2,000 a year on energy costs and consumption.

The eco hamlet was built with insulation material made from recycled paper and local Douglas and Fir wood sourced from the Gwaun Valley. Local people were hired and trained to build the homes, which cost about £100,000 each to build – comparable to a conventional build, according to Western Solar.

About 40% of the fabric of the houses is made in the factory, significantly reducing the build time; it takes only a week to make each house, and less than that to erect it. The company plans to build 1,000 homes over the next 10 years, with the help of partnerships including housing providers and investors.

Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she was “delighted” to officially open the innovative housing development.
“[It is] not only providing much-needed housing for local people, it is also addressing many other issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, skills development and the use of Welsh timber,” Lesley said.

Low-impact development is recognised by the Welsh Planning system as playing a key role in the transition towards a low-carbon society. Since the ‘One Development Policy’ legislation was introduced in Wales in 2010, it has been possible to build new homes in the open countryside as long as there is a clear commitment for to sustainable living, natural building techniques, and land-based livelihood.

The post (eco)Village within a Village appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.