Category: Building

The Three Legs of the Integrated Permaculture Design Stool

by Rob Avis I woke up this morning with a realization — nothing I didn’t already know in principle, just a clearer understanding of how certain principles fit together to create good design. My epiphany was visualizing integrated design as a three-legged stool which requires all three legs to make a stable seat/design. The three legs of the design stool are The Elements (food forest, roof, solar panel) The Placement […]

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Dezhou Solar City (China)

For one day only we were able to make a stop in Dezhou, one of China’s famed ‘Solar Cities.’ As a bright and cheery advertisement explained, "Just like the Silicon Valley, this is the Solar Valley." The ad was remarkable for several reasons. First, China’s economic development plan of copying hallmark Western institutions was essentially nicely summarized in that simple slogan. Second, the peppy poster instilled in me images of […]

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Emergency Shelters Made From Paper (TED video)

Long before sustainability became a buzzword, architect Shigeru Ban had begun his experiments with ecologically-sound building materials such as cardboard tubes and paper. His remarkable structures are often intended as temporary housing, designed to help the dispossessed in disaster-struck nations such as Haiti, Rwanda or Japan. Yet equally often the buildings remain a beloved part of the landscape long after they have served their intended purpose. (Filmed at TEDxTokyo.) Most […]

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Come On Out, The Water’s Fine: Rob Talks Rain Tanks!

by Rob Avis, Verge Permaculture //www.youtube.com/embed/gPJFa2KUoUc Hey everyone. I just shot a short video on setting up a low-tech rainwater harvesting system that can be employed for an urban yard. The tank that I used is typically used for shipping food all over the world. Some might say it is indigenous to the planet. While the volume of these tanks are relatively small, they work for small irrigation projects like […]

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Extendable/Retractable Roof Overhang for Sun and Shade Harvesting

//www.youtube.com/embed/b0GcIK2N17I This video highlights how properly designed roof overhangs and window awnings can provide free shade and cooling in the hot summer months, as well as maximizing sun exposure and free light and heating in the cold winter months. For more info, see: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond – Volume I, Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into your Life and Landscape Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond – Volume […]

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We the Tiny House People (Video)

//www.youtube.com/embed/lDcVrVA4bSQ What does it mean to have a house? What defines a home? Is there an appropriate size or should there be a legal amount of space per inhabitant? What is enough or too much? Our Western education teaches us to own a house at all costs, to move away from our parents and build our own nest. But it seems that the so-called trees are lacking and that the […]

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How to be Water Wise

We are constantly being reminded of the necessity to use water with great care, yet this does not mean we have to abandon efforts to grow things — and especially our own food. There are many simple and practical ideas for home gardeners to make sure that their food gardens survive and thrive in the hot, dry and windy months. Water harvesting – catching and storing rainwater and dew from […]

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We’re Covered in Germs – Let’s Design for That (TED video)

Our bodies and homes are covered in microbes — some good for us, some bad for us. As we learn more about the germs and microbes who share our living spaces, TED Fellow Jessica Green asks: Can we design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial environments? Jessica Green wants people to understand the important role microbes play in every facet of our lives: climate change, building ecosystems, human health, even […]

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Geoff Lawton’s Zaytuna Farm Video Tour – Part II

Zaytuna-Farm-Tour-2012

Last year I took some time out to make a Zaytuna Farm Video Tour for you all (embedded here, with lots of photos and text). The positive comments, both on our site and on YouTube, along with additional questions (see comments below this post), encouraged us to make another! This new video, above, shot 11-12 months after the original video, is twice as long and covers several aspects of the […]

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Permaculture Gardening in a Wildlife Environment – the Real Meaning of Food Security (South Africa)

There are many challenges involved in building your own permaculture garden. The choice to avoid inorganic fertilizers and pesticides makes the art of gardening a balancing act which is trouble enough on its own. However, what happens when your garden is located in an area naturally inhabited by wild animals? Even living in an urban environment, one may find that protecting your garden from veggie munching critters is as important […]

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How to Build a Rocket Stove Mass Water Heater

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With deforestation still moving ahead apace, dealing with the global demand for fuel wood is critical. Life without heat and hot water would be very unpleasant. Life without trees is impossible and to satiate our hunger for heat, richly biodiverse forests are being replaced with ‘sterile’ monoculture tree plantations which give rise to tree diseases and other ecological vulnerabilities. The pressure for fuel wood is on in most parts of […]

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Yet Another Use For the Humble Shipping Container – a Greenhouse

Building a greenhouse from a shipping container and using it as an educational resource in Kyrgyzstan. The shipping container is a symbol that is synonymous with growth. It is often used to ship plastic parts to China to be assembled, then shipped back as plastic water guns or whatever a dollar can buy at the discount shops. However, here in Central Asia, the shipping container is a resource to be […]

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