No, my house is not off-grid!

Off-grid is a ‘laager’ mentality. It’s isolationist, protectionist. It’s not cool.

Being resilient, sustainable and liveable means building community.

It means being open to appropriate scale, and most often appropriate is not at household level. (But it’s often not at very large scale, city level scales either)

When you do design or adapt a house, rather than ask how do you go ‘off-grid’ with your energy, water, food and waste management requirements, rather ask:

  • Can my house help build community?
  • Can my house help build the economy? (Here I am specifically thinking about feeding energy back into the grid, growing food to sell, processing waste to compost, upcycling materials to useful products… even just simply allowing people to work in your yard, or you working from home)
  • Can my house help build green spaces? (What does the wild fauna and flora movements look like? Can I help?)
  • Can my house help prevent flooding? (Seep aways, protected houses and areas further downhill)
  • Can my house help gardens grow even when it is dry? (Plant the rain)
  • Can my house help clean water even if it only passes through and not be available to me?

Neil shared his vision for the nitty-gritty unit of the best city this morning: a 5 floor ‘walk-up’ perimeter block. He imagined it as a way to develop informal settlements, but as soon as he described it I thought, I want to live there! I saw all the potential for water sensitive design, more liveable, work-and-play neighbourhoods, circular resource use, the bioeconomy, and he saw efficient engineering. I think this was the first time we both unreservedly agreed on something, ever!

This is a well established design concept (albeit new to me), and I hope to explore this more in future. Specifically I hope we can adapt the work that has been done in Curitiba and Belo Horizonte to useful base environmental sanitation indicators, that can be brought down to a ward level, but also to the understanding of individuals and groupings across the income spectrum.

I hope to build this concept on three pillars: civil engineering, bioprocess engineering, and landscape architecture.

this image is from

3 Replies to “No, my house is not off-grid!”

  1. FB might be off your reading list?
    But on the Water Shedding group we have recurring discussions about off-grid? And your sewage? Who pays to process that?? … deafening silence, till the next one pops up.

    1. Yes, it’s funny how people seem to not want to pay their rates and lobby (local) government, in other words be active citizens, but are willing to fork out immense amounts of money and effort for something that is often not as reliable and not helping more vulnerable people in their community, to be ‘off-grid’.

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