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Integrated Permaculture Design

 
Ben Hart
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I apologize if this question has been asked before, but in the event that it hasn't, here it is: has someone tried to integrate all the goodies from the permaculture values and techniques into a viable house plan? An earth-integrated house seems like the way to go, but so does a rocket stove mass heater, a saw-dust toilet, gravity-fed water, etc. Has anyone put it all together in a template that others could benefit from?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I don't know if anyone's put it into a template - although that would be interesting. I think that there would have to be different templates based on climate and landscape profile. For instance, it may be that thermal mass is important in climates where it buffers you from hot (like deserts) or cold. However, in the humid tropics, thermal mass can inhibit natural heating and cooling cycles. Traditional homes in these areas may have woven mats for walls, for example.

What kind of composting toilet you have may depend on your landscape profile - for example, if you live on a flat island (usually coral) where your fresh water comes either from harvested rainfall OR from the freshwater lens that exists just below the coral, you won't want dug in "pit" style toilets - you would pollute the freshwater lens. Once it's polluted, you can kill an entire island.

I know for myself, in the desert, I'm more concerned about deflecting sunlight and heat than capturing it - in colder climates, it would be the reverse. I would build with FEW windows on the south and west sides as opposed to locating most of my windows on those sides.

Also WHERE you lived (urban/suburban/rural) would make a difference too due to regulations, restrictions (aka "the department of making you sad") and access to resources.

It would be fun to create a "best practices" checklist for each climate/landscape profile though!

Good question.

 
Ben Hart
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Jennifer,

These are all great points and convince me that I am an unreflective northeastener--doesn't everyone need to worry about the cold? So yes, you are right that it would be nice to have a larger set of examples that seek to integrate the whole package in exemplar settings that others can benefit from. Over the next few months we will be putting together a design that seeks to integrate the best of what permaculture has to offer in dwelling places in the north east US. I plan on blogging through the entire project, and to post ideas, questions, and pictures here for the community to have some input. In the meantime, I would still like to find some examples to glean from so I don't have to "reinvent the wheel."

-Ben
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Hey Ben:

You are not at all an "unreflective northeasterner" - you are simply focused on gathering information on what works in your situation just like I'm focused on best practices for my little spot in hell's waiting room (downtown Phoenix). Trust me, I am always shocked when I find out people DON'T harvest rain and greywater. It seems so counterintuitive to where I live.

You should have plenty of resources to draw upon, both written and experiential as the humid temperate climates house the lion's share of humanity and there's just more data on that climate zone.

Hint: If you edit your profile (through the link below the banner that says "MY PROFILE") - then click on the "+" next to the bold fonted "General Information About Yourself" (towards the bottom of that screen), you'll be able to edit your profile to show where you're at, your webpage so we can follow along, etc. Providing your location and zone will save tons of time because people in similar climate analogues can identify you and share their experience. It will also stop people like me from answering with general permaculture info that is not applicable to what you want (spoil all my fun! )

I very much look forward to your progress. I am gathering information for a similar project geared towards the world's hot, arid climates even as we speak.
 
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