1989-The I first time ever heard about homes being completely self sufficient was in the drafting and engineering classes. I silently thought: That Old Fool is spouting off at the mouth again. Recycle their toilet water? Make their own energy? Completely self sufficient Homes? That old blow hard that never grades my futurist home designs with angled roofs, siding on diagonal layouts, round windows…what does this old fool know about the future?
Fast forward to 2015
We now have: Net Zero Energy and Water Homes that are completely self sufficient. That old fool didknow what he was talking about! Maybe the real reason that my funky and modern designs didn’t grade well, was because they were wasteful or bad drawings. Now that I’m in the actual building part of the design build community I realize: sure they’re cool to look at; but, expensive and wasteful to build.
I’ve also learned while renovating the buildings around the St. Louis area that the Old Builders who built the area up for the World’s Fair also knew a little about sustainability.
Hundreds and thousands of those old buildings are still standing and in use today. Recently while building an addition for a property, I discovered an: in ground water tank connected to a brick patio, with a sand and gravel filtering system as the water collection point. Exactly the way a modern day ground filtration system works for a home built in 2015. In other words: those old builders did have a clue.
It was also the early American settlers who built the first sod or earth homes in the great plains. They may not have had running water, but they did have a true green home, that was built from Natural resources. From my research the sod homes were: warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Even as early as 1985 while working on Dads cattle ranch where I helped install my first solar panel with battery backup- that powered the electric fence which kept the cattle out of the road. I remember it still today because it was one of the first of many “electric jolts” I’d receive before learning to always test electric fences before grabbing the wire. (electric fence hint: blade of grass test)
So in all actuality today’s sustainable home builders are just relearning what the older generations already knew:
Build from local resources.
Recycle your water.
Make and Store your own power.
Luckily we now have ways to save that power and reuse that water safely.
Just as sustainability was a way of survival for the early settlers; it is fast becoming a key for the survival for the humans today. The ability to sustain a life in an ever changing climatic planet fraught with:
out of control sea level rise that is forcing island inhabitants to seek higher ground,
severe storms and tornadoes wreaking havoc in the Midwest,
heat indexes of plus 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60°C) in India,
uncontrollable forest fires in the Western USA,
drought conditions forcing entire populations to abandon areas in Africa.
Never before has the need for sustainable lifestyle ever been more important. And just like those early sod home builders of the great plains. Our generations too will meet the challenge and overcome. Thankfully we now have cool gadgets to help us.
Today’s electric inventors are figuring out ways to make supercapacitors used in electronics out of natural resources from Hemp Lignin. Tesla’s energy devices are being re-created and found to be functional. Battery and Energy storage engineers are creating: chemical, natural, and rare earth energy storage devices. Solar panel output power efficiency are being improved by studying Butterfly Wings. Natural forms of insulation like Hempcrete are being rediscovered and used to block out severe weather while protecting the inhabitants.
Mankind is rediscovering and remembering thelessons of our Elders sustainability is key to survival.
Scotts Contracting is a proud promoter of: Green, Eco Friendly, and Sustainable Building Products with Energy Reducing Resources and On-Site Solar PV Clean Energy Systems for the St Louis Region. Financing for Green and Sustainable projects to include: Solar Systems, Solar Leases, Bank Loans, PACE financing, Energy Conservation, Weatherization are available.