IS SELF-SUSTAINING, OFF-GRID HOUSING THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS?

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Imagine a neighbourhood that can grow its own food, produce its own energy, and turn its waste system into a closed-loop regenerative system. Pretty far-fetched, eh? Maybe, but that’s what people thought just a few decades ago, when the first modern hybrids were being brought to market, and the idea of affordable and practical electric cars was starting to be pursued commercially.

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But today, even just a quick look at the alternative transportation market, which includes everything from e-bikes to electric airplanes, reveals a quite different view, and while there are a number of kinks to work out, it’s starting to look a lot less like science fiction and a lot more like we’re living in the future right now.

With that in mind, a self-sustaining, off-grid housing, looks as if it’s got real potential for guiding the future of sustainable neighborhoods. It’s certainly not the first attempts to build self-sustaining communities, but it does seem as if the necessary technology is approaching the inflection point, where dropping costs and progressive policies might enable something resembling truly sustainable living situations for more people than just the off-grid crowd.

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According to the report, the problem is the coming population boom, with an estimated 10 billion people who will have to live on limited resources by 2050, which is expected to put unprecedented demands on our clean water supplies, food systems, and energy systems. Its solution is to design for resiliency from the get-go, and instead of focusing on trying to retro-fit sustainability solution into existing residential developments (which has merits as well), the project aims to instead use a ground-up approach.

The concept of self-sustaining, off-grid houses has a holistic approach and has to combine a variety of innovative technologies, such as:

Energy positive homes. Renewable energy. Door-step high-yield organic food production. Mixed renewable energy and storage. Water and waste recycling. Empowerment of local communities.

With the integration of such technologies, the concept of self-sustaining, off-grid houses hold a potential in changing some of the challenges of a growing population, increasing urbanization, scarcity of resources, the growing global food crisis as well as reducing the global CO2 emission and reducing the burdens on municipal and national governments in dynamically changing planetary and economic times.

The Vision

  • Engineering and facilitating the development of integrated and resilient neighborhoods that power and feed self reliant families around the world.

  • IoT-integrated infrastructure enable thriving communities with surplus energy, water and organic food in the aggregate become asset classes that can amortize and reduce mortgage payments.

  • Partnering with regional land developers, architects, construction, universities and brand manufacturing firms to maximize cost-benefit efficiency that enable global scaling of development projects.

 
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Though self-sufficiency is not a new idea — communities survived for centuries before there even was a grid from which to disconnect.

People of today are luckily more aware that need for shelter from modern society dogmas, which dictates their limits, and the need for healthy and peaceful live for themselves which will provide the opportunity to raise physical and mentally stable posterity. For those who think that clean air and healthy food are important segments of their live, for those who concrete walls are oppression for their mind and soul and for those who chose quality over quantity, self-sustaining, off-grid houses are a place they will want to be.


An ambitious experiment in the Netherlands could be a model for life off the grid.

 A partial rendering of  ReGen Village , including glass greenhouses where food will grow year-round.

A partial rendering of ReGen Village, including glass greenhouses where food will grow year-round.

ReGen Villages by EFFEKT, the project imagines a community of buildings that produce all their own food and energy — a model that aims to tackle a wide spectrum of global issues, from the food and water crises to the rise of CO2 emissions.

Each village would comprise a series of buildings with attached greenhouses, creating spaces where families can grow fruit and vegetables, farm aquaponics or recycle waste products. They would also integrate sustainable energy technologies, producing all their own electricity.


 
The technology already exists, it is just a matter of applying science into the architecture of everyday life.
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There’s no word on what the potential costs are for a home in one of these self-sustaining, off-grid houses, perhaps because there are too many unknowns (and unknown unknowns) about it to be able to set a dollar figure on it, but I’m guessing it will be quite spendy in comparison with conventional housing options.

Thanks for reading! :)