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Kickstarter: Open Source DIY Eco-Building Toolkit

Posts: 1295
Location: Little Belt Mountains, MT
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Check out the full details of this Kickstarter here.

For those of you interested in building your own house one day, or even starting a business creating sustainable structures, Open Source Ecology is currently funding a massive project via Kickstarter to make eco-friendly, sustainable, off the grid housing a reality for everyone.

The goal of this Kickstarter is to create an open source downloadable library of modular eco home designs, with interchangeable parts, that are building-code approved, and affordable to put together.

Basically, their system for building a home is like putting together a house with Legos - every piece is modular, and can be swapped out for something else. It's designed to be user-friendly enough that anyone can build it, and affordable enough that you won't be saddled with a massive mortgage as a result.

This is a particularly handy approach for those having to work within building codes, due to its modular design:

Because our system is modular, it is highly flexible in the implementation that it can take. For example: “So, the separating toilet with biodigester doesn’t meet code?” The solution is simple: we swap out the toilet module, which is designed as a swappable platform, and replace it with a regular one.

With this system, you can design a 700 square foot home for as little as $25,000 in brand new materials, and in as little as 5 days - this assumes that you crowd source the labor and buy all of the materials brand new.

It's a cool idea, particularly for those that want to put together a more eco-friendly home, but are a little daunted by he prospect of arranging the design.

Since this project is open source, it means that a wide variety of building concerns can be addressed by the international plethora of builders that submit designs. You can work around strict local building ordinances, deal with climate issues, adjust your energy sources - the list goes on.

Here are the features included with the Starter Home Build Kit they're developing:

Features included in the 2016 Starter Home build:

  • 3000W Photovoltaics for off-grid energy
  • Biogas Digester
  • Grid-Tie Inverter
  • Open Source Thermoelectric Generator
  • Super-efficient LED Lights (3W Each)
  • Super-efficient Refrigerator (8W average)
  • Pellet Burner for House and Water Heating
  • In-Floor Hydronic Heating
  • CEB Floor
  • 2 CEB Wall Modules
  • Modular Plumbing Fixtures
  • Modular Electric Panel
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Biofiber Insulation
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Super-efficient Shower Head
  • Water purification: sand, charcoal, ozonator
  • Separating Toilet
  • Greywater Garden

  • Additionally, an impressively comprehensive collection of off grid sustainable utilities and appliances can be found here in this handy diagram.

    Modular housing may not be for everyone, but the simplicity of this approach makes a task like this fall within reach for people that need the process to be simplified, and even just put all in one place for them. It seems to me the biggest challenge with creating a structure like this is gathering all of the information needed to create a modern, functioning family household, and this system addresses that need.

    There are a great many educational rewards up for grabs for backing this Kickstarter, from webinars to workshops!

    Get all of the info and back this project here.
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    Please ask if you have any questions. See also this latest report if you are interested in the enterprise scaling aspects of the project, hot off the press today.

    Posts: 1516
    Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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    Great to see people doing this work, it looks awesome in many ways.   I am not sure it's personally relevant at the moment.   i hope it'll add to the conversation to put my very selfish questions--before I even really want to watch the whole video, and maybe I'm not the intended audience:

    * is it built with local materials (e.g. the trees on my land, the mud on my land), or is this "modular" in the sense of pre-fab particle board materials?
    * how does this address the important aspect of permaculturing in place, of maintaining ties to place? if we can build new buildings that are cheap and don't tie us to a mortgage that's great, but much of the social capital and knowledge of the land is lost every time someone moves.  Can this toolkit be adjusted for retrofitting a house, repairing a falling-down house, etc.?  for example, selfishly, I would love to be able to show my more conventional housemates, Hey, you can save a ton of money by doing a swarm repair of this house vs. hiring that contractor, and it'll actually get done, on time, well, solidly, as well as being ecological and stuff, and aesthetic enough to pass muster.  We have a rotting roof over the bay windows, and gutters lacking flashing, 100-year-old brownstone.  Prosaic problems, but opportunities to make things greener nonetheless.  (Maybe that roof could be turned into a small garden when it's replaced--but only if the load-bearing capacity of the probably-rotting walls was adequate, plus the access, etc.)  Is the DIY eco-building versatile enough to be applicable to our situation and also cost-competitive?  If it could be, that would open up a lot of possibilities for application, and we ourselves might be able to put the couple of thousand dollars to a swarm rather than a contractor.  Or, if the economy went south tomorrow and we had only people power and no money power, would it be effective then?

    All that said, I may need to move soon anyway.  I can't on my own take on the whole NE seaboard drought, and if I do then I'll be very glad to have this info.

    Basically, if the up-front presentation can be simpler and layperson-friendly and show that it addresses their immediate needs, that would help the overall cause.

    Marcin Jakubowski
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    Great news on the Open Building Institute! We're now 110% funded on Kickstarter, and we have a few days left. Support modular open source eco-housing and follow progress updates at http://kck.st/293ISTN.

    Posts: 87
    Location: southwest Washington state
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    This is a cool idea. We have a five acre piece next door to our farm that we'd like to build an eco home on. Though I know the holy thought is to say I want to do it all myself (or with friends), actually we'd like to hire someone to do this and we'd pitch in on it. I have other projects I/we are in the process of doing, which is why we keep delaying getting started. I want to get this one underway and I think getting someone knowledgeable in on it might mean the idea moves forward into fruition.

    We've been looking at eco-modular houses, and driven out to see some in WA and OR, but geez, they can get pretty pricey! We found a plan on "Green Cabin Kits" for a SIPs package called "Dogtrot Mod" that we like that's 1500 sq ft that would work for us.

    How does one find an experienced permie-eco-buddy who knows how to do this? We're thinking about 15-1600 sq ft, two stories, and a 400' teaching space after that.

    Jacqueline Freeman

    Marcin Jakubowski
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    Jacqueline, we were hoping that people would pick up the techniques after our workshops - but since effective execution requires 100s of hours of prep time - we are prividing an immersion training program for people to replicate this work.

    Great news! We're 120% funded, and have a coule days left. Support modular open source eco-housing and follow progress updates at http://kck.st/293ISTN.

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