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WATCH: Build Your Own Affordable, Energy-Efficient House: An Introduction

Builder Sam Clark (Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way) walks you through some of the preliminary steps of planning a sustainable house that makes the best use of your particular site and resources, including how to incorporate principles of passive solar design.

Along the way, Clark gives a first-hand account of the burgeoning owner-builder movement in Vermont in the early ’60s and ’70s—a “scene” marked by innovation, creativity, and for the first time, a sense of ecological awareness.

There were a lot of people using native materials, thinking about solar, building small houses, using recycled material, and also, I think, using a lot of imagination. We built passive solar houses, we built post-and-beam houses, we did some timber framing.

Usually, by the time I’m talking to them, people have a lot of ideas about what they want to do. The kind of classic architectural approach is what’s called “the program.” Where you ask your customers to articulate what they want, you try to identify the needs, the way you live. And I also get people to give me a sense of what their resources are like, because what often happens in design is people design extravagant projects, then they have to cut back. It doesn’t really work.

And then there’s the site. It’s the lay of the land, where you’re going to get water, it’s how far are you to the electric pole, it’s a lot about the solar orientation. And you’re trying to find, you know, where on the site you can build that works from a solar point of view. Let the land do the work for you. You don’t want to be fighting with what the landscape is.

Watch other videos on ChelseaGreenTV.

The 5 Rules of Lean Thinking

Are you ready to co-create the future? These 5 Rules of Lean Thinking are a useful tool as we set out to collectively invent a post-market future.Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture […] Read More

Using Permaculture Principles to Design Resilient Cities

The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures.Author Toby Hemenway (Gaia’s Garden) lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our needs […] Read More

Overshoot, Collapse, and Creating a Better Future

In 2016, Earth Overshoot Day happened on August 8—the day when we’ve exhausted the planet’s resources for the year, and are essentially borrowing from future years to maintain our existence today.Perhaps you celebrated this day with a counter-solution: a vegetarian meal, telecommuted, or turned off the air conditioning. There’s a lot more you could be […] Read More

Save Energy & Money This Winter: Seal Up Your Drafty House

Unless you’ve taken special preventative precautions, it’s likely that on cold days much of your house’s heat pours out through your (closed) windows. Most houses—especially old houses—have drafty, uninsulated windows that do little to prevent heat from dumping out into the cold night. Even if your windows aren’t drafty, the expensive heat your furnace has […] Read More
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