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4.19.2010

Self-Sustainiblity

Webster dictionary definition:
sus·tain·able
1 : capable of being sustained
2 a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

And for our use it will be as follows:
Self-Sustainability – the ability for oneself or a building to sustain itself by it’s own means.

An example would be an apartment building that produces it’s own electricity via wind and/or solar power and uses passive solar design principles to aid in heating, cooling, and lighting. This building would also retain rainwater for use in grey-water systems, such as, irrigation of landscaping and toilets. A very well managed recycling plan must be in effect and followed. Vegetable gardens and greenhouses located on the property or building itself would provide fresh organic food for the occupants. Also, the occupants should be trained in and willing to live this type of lifestyle.

The main reasoning for this type of living is to become dependant on oneself and one’s community. (I believe this is where some ideas for “sustainable government” come into play. A nation that focuses more on the local community and independence will, in turn, create citizens who are more willing to help one another without force. But, that is for a later post where more details will be discussed.) The idea of this post is to help figure out how to attain a self-sustaining lifestyle and to present the ideas and products that will make that possible.

From an Architectural standpoint, a sustainable building can obviously be created more easily than a person’s thought process and lifestyle can be changed. Buildings can be designed and built to utilize a plethora of methods and products that will allow it to provide for itself. While, a single person, family or community making the choices and decisions to make their lives self sustainable, can be a more difficult feat. A good example of this would be how.. Most people have focused on using a supplement of green power production to lessen their demand and dependence on the grid. But, there is a solution with an even bigger outcome that people are missing. The larger picture here would be to fully remove the building from the grid by using multiple power production units in conjunction. By applying an accurate electrical demand estimation for the building and providing multiple solar arrays and vertical wind turbines, the building can better provide for itself. This would also, more than likely, require a battery bank for some storage and backup. There are also software programs that will help manage this self-contained system. Two such systems I have found (but not used) is on this agilewaves and Lucid Deisgn Group. Utilizing all of these things will show a large up front cost but it is the pride and long-term that we should focus on. Most of these systems will pay for themselves within 10 years. It may seem like a long time, but if you think of the building as an investment, it makes perfect sense.

Stopping at the power supply would be foolish when you look, again, at the big picture. Building materials can also have huge benefits in the “going green” process. This rings especially true in renovations and new construction. We must also remember that self-sustainability includes the sustainability of the community we live in and the Earth we live on. Finding products that are locally produced with the concept of environmental conservation kept in mind is key.

After saying a building is an “easier” step towards self-sustainability, lets agree that a lifestyle change is well worth the “extra” effort. We need to learn to grow all that we can within our own local communities and to not rely on the major distribution of produce across our country or imported from another. Granted, there are some imports that are unavoidable and I can understand that. But, when it comes to transporting, exporting and importing produce, a successful self-sustainable government must maintain a healthy balance of trade - unlike what we have now. (We need to export at least the same amount we import, but preferably, export more than we import. Once again, I digress… more about that in another post.) I have started producing my own vegetables and buying locally because of what I saw personally while living Florida; GREEN tomatoes by the truckload for shipment around the country. They are sprayed with a type of chemical to turn them red for the market. Anyone else see something wrong with this?! We have eliminated the local farmer in order to make way for massive farm companies who supply an unhealthy, inadequate product. We’re depending on this large yet lacking company for our produce. That dependency causes major issues and clearly does not follow our plan for self-sustainability. Growing your own vegetables and buying locally lessens dependency and provides a much better, healthier life. This idea can also be applied to the products you use in everyday life. Finding local and organic products is becoming much easier and less cost prohibitive everyday. All of these things help to sustain ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

This is by no means a quick or easy change for each of us to make. Nor is it the only step. But I truly believe that it is all necessary and achievable goals. I do not think we need to go extreme and completely rid ourselves of fossil fuels or using trees or anything like that. My ideas focus more on lessening dependence and improving our environment as an extra bonus.

As you can see, there is a lot to talk about. From here on out, my posts will be, or at least aim to be, one-subject entries. Lets take this one step at a time… after all, it is the best way to achieve a goal.

2 comments:

1_4_freedom said...

My comments work now. Sorry for the earlier problem.

msommers said...

The smartest thing to do is to use your local environment / terrian to your advantage. Down here we have plenty of sun & water, so solar energy is easily acheived. I've had an idea on how to cool my house by using the well water that is pumped into my house, but before it is used for consumption it could be ran in cooling coils to cool the air without having to use the a/c unit. As for producing food, we as a people need to stop depending on the grocery market and McDonald's and grow/raise our own. It's so east to grow a garden, all it takes is for people to get off of the couch and go outside (which is probably too much for 75% of our population), not only will you be growing free food, you'll be getting a free exercise and free vitamins....vitamin D from the sun. I raise chickens, ducks & rabbits right now and they are so easy a caveman could do it! If aloud to free range the ducks and chickens barely require any feed if any. They lay the richest eggs that you'll ever find and they also keep the bugs at bay. I am just a youngblood when it comes to Self-Sustainability but am excited to one day (if we are still aloud)to be completely off the grid and the nanny system.
Mudweiser Matt

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