All across the world new approaches to home-building are emerging in response to the multiple crises of climate breakdown, unaffordable housing, deprivation and exclusion
The pioneering Dutch “Energiesprong” model – Dutch for “energy leap” – involves a major, whole-house retrofit to achieve a near net-zero energy home, typically including the fitting of an external “wall envelope” for insulation, as well as rooftop solar panels.
Big challenges require big solutions. After decades of serving the few, it’s time that development in Britain started to meet the needs of the many. Only then can we fix Britain’s broken housing system, and start to build a fairer and more sustainable economy.
We had no illusions about the futures imagined by status quo institutions and actors — but we also left grounded in the knowledge that our vision seeds are rooted 5,000 years deep in the soil already, and roots that deep might just be resilient and resistant enough to create a new abundance for all.
When Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his video about Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust, he couldn’t have picked a better example. This Community Land Trust is in Toxteth, Liverpool exemplifies a new form of municipal socialism that creates community power, not just council power.
In April 2006 I bought a dilapidated 1920s local authority house in Writtle, Essex. With the help of my two sons Django and Aidan and friends John and Tim, we commenced a three-year experiment.
The buildings of eco-communities shape many communities’ functions. As Jan Martin Bang argues, “we are what we live in. When we plan our buildings, we are also planning what kind of society we want to create…we make the buildings and the buildings make us.”
Our national obsession with home ownership is absolute. It’s so entrenched that we accept, without question, that those who own their home should enjoy a greater access to democracy. But in a property-owning democracy, what happens to the rest of us not lucky enough to own our home? In the wake of the entirely preventable fire at Grenfell Tower, this question demands an answer.
Think less NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”), and more SWIMBY (“Something Wonderful In My Back Yard”).
Whitewashing was used on buildings here in Ireland into the late 20th century, only recently replaced by more dubious alternatives.
In Extraenvironmentalist #72 we discuss appropriate technology with John Michael Greer as he describes the ideas in his new book, then, we talk to Jessica Kellner about her book Housing Reclaimed: Sustainable Homes for Next to Nothing and the people across the United States who are building their homes out of salvaged materials for hardly any money.
How small could you go when it comes to home? 500 square feet? 250 feet? 100 feet? For Jay Shafer, less is definitely more.