COLLEEN HAWKESLast updated 13:10, May 31 2016
Construction begins on the first ReGen eco village this European summer, in Almere in The Netherlands.
Construction of an off-the-grid eco village featuring 100 homes is about to start in Almere in The Netherlands.
The ReGen Village development, which will see the first 25 homes completed in around a year, will create a completely self-sustained pilot community – a prototype for other eco villages planned for Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany.
The concept, developed by ReGen Villages, BV and architectural firm EFFEKT, is designed to prove it is possible for a community to power and feed itself. And the team sees New Zealand as an ideal country to follow suit.
Households will also have their own greenhouse gardens.
“We couldn’t think of a more natural fit for ReGen Villages to come to life in several locations north and south there,” says ReGen Village founder James Ehrlich.
But this is no hippy alternative – it’s all about applied technology.
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Vertical aquaponic and aeroponic farming maximise space.
“We are simply applying existing technologies into an integrated community design, providing clean energy, water and food right on your doorstep,” says EFFEKT co-founder Sinus Lynge.
The innovative technologies include the design and construction of energy-positive homes, renewable energy, energy storage, doorstep high-yield food production, vertical farming with aquaponics and aeroponics, water management and waste-to-resource systems.
“We like to think of ReGen as the Tesla of eco villages. We want to make it easy, convenient and accessible to choose a sustainable lifestyle off the grid.”
Food production and housing units have a small footprint so that land can be freed up for bio diversity-permaculture and seasonal gardens.
Lynge says food production is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, the biggest driver of deforestation and is responsible for 70 per cent of our global freshwater consumption.
“We ship our food from one end of the world to another just to waste 30 per cent of the total production before consumption – and still one-seventh of the global population goes to bed hungry. We just have to come up with better models, and ReGen is one of them.”
There are numerous ideas incorporated into the ReGen village design, but the emphasis is on productivity. Aquaponic farming systems, for example, can decrease land use by 98 per cent, freeing up land for bio diversity and permaculture.
The ReGen model takes a holistic, rather than self-centric view of our place in the world.
Aquaponics will also decrease water use by 90 per cent. And because the farming is on site, transportation costs are eliminated.
“Aquaponics have the ability to increase yield ten-fold, compared to terrestrial farming in exactly the same footprint. Instead of us working for our home, we envision a home that works for us, producing an abundance of clean energy, fresh healthy food and water for everyday consumption.”
But it won’t just be about growing vegetables. Systems will be in place to harvest chicken and small-animal dairy protein. At this stage, it is expected that half the community’s food needs will be met. But the village will generate surplus power to feed back into surrounding power grids.
ReGen Villages Development says a significant amount of the funding for the village developments is coming from sovereign wealth funds looking to divest from fossil fuels into impact and knowledge-based investments. ReGen then acquires suitable areas of land in collaboration with national and local municipalities committed to this kind of partnership and collaboration.
The company’s team of regenerative platform technologists contract with local architecture, construction and engineering firms in each country and region to adapt and optimise the village model to the local conditions.
The project is currently being featured in the Danish architectural pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.– Stuff