Earthship Biotecture Transcribed Pt4: Heating your home with body heat in Norway, about permits in USA and Europe... How to get them fast
This is part 4 of a transcribed and edited biotecture lecture by Michael Reynolds. If you do read or watch this and have any questions please ask in the comments. I am happy to educate and help you to understand this. Biotecture is amazing in so many ways, and even after 20 years I still have not seen a model of sustainable building that even comes close in so many important areas such as performance, carbon footprint, longevity, ease of build, etc. Now you can also come to understand what Biotecture Really Is about!
I have also taken the time to bold any important parts, concepts, and words. It has never been easier to read and understand Biotecture than this, this is like a Biotecture feast! This part begins with Michael talking about the Global Model Earthship that he has been developing for decades. This model has gotten so good that they are able to heat the home, even in freezing temperatures like in Norway using no power by using very subtle heat sources.
Earthship Seminar Transcription Part 4
Heating your home in Norway with body heat, 2 laptops, and even compost!
... We're finding treasure almost here. And that's kind of what it is. We're keep getting more and more tricks, but... Another trick we're dealing with on the thermal solar heating and cooling, for instance like in Norway, I've done some work up in Norway and this building that is our prototype building now, even in Norway... would be the building that we would use, but we'd probably have another greenhouse. But there's times when in Norway when it's like... you know, the sun doesn't shine for 7 or 8 days, it's dark, it's cloudy, it's grey... Even though this building is tight and has its thermal wrap and its buffer zones... It's still gonna get slightly cooler than you wanna be, but the things are so tight, and so well insulated, and have so much mass that the body heat of half of this many people... would... heat one of these rooms.
As a matter of fact, one of the projects I did... when I was teaching an architecture course in Norway, and we built a tight-tight little room about 1/4 of the size of this room to illustrate that... when you build a room with mass and super insulation and tightness... that all the sudden you don't need massive forms of heat, you need subtle forms of heat. That you wouldn't even consider. Subtle forms of heat or the heat of the human body, the 98° (36,5 °C) of the human body, a laptop... You know. This room we built would be... could be heated from two laptops, from people working in it. And the way I illustrated was we had this big thermometer on the wall and... there was a lot of skepticism and they almost... they just quit... actually... it was too unconventional for the European minds, I guess, but...
This room we built would be... could be heated from two laptops
HOW AN EARTHSHIP STAYS WARM OR COOL
Anyway we got it built, and we took the last day we took about a dozen of people in the room, they were faculty and founders of this architecture school. And, we closed the door and I told them to watch the thermometer. And it went up a degree, and you know they're: 'Ohh, well' And it went up another degree and... By the end it had gone up, I think, 10° and they were all...
These faculty, conservative, founders of the school were screaming and laughing and yelling as they watched the thermometer raise just from the body heat of people.
So it like brings the whole different realm of... resources, you know, we're used to going out and seeking... major heat from a coal fired power plant, or a nuclear power plant or a... or a... furnace or whatever. When you build the room with a lot of physics into it, subtle forms of heat become available to you, like a laptop, like the body heat of people. And one of the ones that we're playing with now that I really like is ... we're calling it a heat bulb. It's a sort of this... I think it's gonna about like the size of a stove, and made of metal, and you put compost in it, and, you know, everybody knows that compost goes off, and, we're... what was trying to find out... I've already played with it enough to know that it's gonna work, I just need to get the logistics.
So the idea with this thing is that... in Norway where you've got 7 or 8 or 10 days of no sun, and you're starting to get cooler in your room... you just need, because the room is built right, you just need such a subtle amount of heat. And this compost... bin... or heat bulb, I'd call it, you loaded up with compost in the spring, and... this is what we're trying to find out is the time frame here, and then in the autumn when you're gonna start heating it, it's going off, it's hot inside. And it's just emanating... you know, maybe 100° (38 °C) or 120° (49 °C) of temperature. But that teeny little bit of temperature is even more than the human body engine. And it's just radiating this little subtle bit of heat out there. And that's enough to take the edge of a cool room in Norway, if the cooler room is built to contain everything anyway.
And so, you know, may be that... we'll find out you have to do it twice a year or whatever. But we're working on it right now and for the last year I've had a garbage can, set in my office full of compost, and reading out thermometers how's it going off and everything. The guys that I had helping me, I sent them to Walmart to get me a garbage can. And I told them what I was gonna use it for, but just they didn't snap to it and... they came back with a plastic garbage can which would have just melted.
But this heat bulb thing is just another trick which is involving biology and physics, to buy more heat without actual fuel. And so this is how we're taking this to areas where, it's even, you know, where it's ridiculously less sun. But every... every city and country is facing all these issues and we have taken each one of them, and if you consider these like systems of the human body, we've interwoven them and they're all interrelated to come up with this building now that we call the 'Global Earthship', and... we have couple of examples of it here, and then everything else is a prototype leading up to it.
The Phoenix is the best example of all of this put together and more in of a flamboyant way to to make it... It's not like what I would like to call affordable application all of this, but it certainly is a... showing it in the most intense way that we can. And so, what I'm getting at is... through the last few decades we have evolved each one of these things... seriously. And... The problem now is being able to do it. I don't know where, I mean, everybody's usually in these seminars from all over the country and world.
How to get permits easily and where to build
What we're finding out is, it takes a certain amount of effort to get a permit for all of this. We've got tricks to deal with it. Most of the time we've developed... we used to fight them, then fight them on a small scale, I've tried to join them, I've tried writing new laws, I've tried everything. In all of that it takes time, you know there are some places... lots of them that... you don't have much trouble and it's getting better because there's more publicity about, you know... climate change and global warming and everything, so... All authorities are getting a little better, but still, they... They have to follow the rules and regulations, and the rules and regulations don't allow a lot of the things we're doing.
But there are... we're making a map of the US and really the world. There are places where it just takes a little while longer, but like... But there are places where it takes too long. And a good example is like in Scotland. In the last few years... I think it was like almost 3 years ago. They had a lottery in Glasgow, and their lottery over there is somehow split between the person that won it and the community at large. And so... The community gets to vote... agree on what they want to do with the lottery money, it was a few hundred grand. And... they had... they chose to do, a demonstration Earthship in Glasgow... with their lottery money. This is the public. This is the people choosing to do this. You know, 'cause Earthships are... are getting well-known in Europe on the websites out there and whatever... And so the people made a choice to take their lottery money... and build a carbon-zero demonstration for pavillion. And it took them two and half years to get a permit. You know, like that... that's insane.
That's what... so that to me now that... you know, this part is the fun part. We're getting better all the time, it works good now. It's ready to roll and where we at now is... Getting it, so that people can do it. Two and half years for a permit, it took us 3 years to get one in Brighton, England... I had a guy, worked 18 months, he was... how he came to me... He was at an Oxygen tank on his back otherwise he was gonna die in the next week. And he worked for 18 months to get a permit in Arizona. Pinal County, Arizona. To get a... his Earthship built and it's going up now. It's on the web... So it's like, in a lot of developed countries and cities... It is difficult, still. The further you get out in the boonies, the easier it is. And so what we find ourselves is... You know, we tried to support people and work with them, and... and help them through with the permit process and everything... and...
But... You know, as the climate, as the planet situation gets continuous to worsen, so to speak... we're seeing that... These places that allow you to do, like third world countries. Third world countries or the Indian reservations, Like we did one up in Dakota's Siouxland, And they... just took us out there on chief crazy horses ancestors'... I mean descendents' land and said: 'Do it here!' You know, that was the permit. *Laughter* And so they have land, now they have a lot money from gambling, and they got no rules. They could take the lead. Third world countries can take the lead, because they aren't ?? these rules and regulations. And in this country we're taking a... a map of the US whatever it shaped like... We're gonna map it online, because there is these places we call 'pockets of freedom'. Like Montana. I mean, it's actually, you know, this supposed to be a free country, well let me tell you about it.
But, there are places like... We just noticed this recently but people have... You know, we've got people, we're selling drawings all over the world and... then hacking through the permit process with them, engineer reports, it's tests and studies and all kinds of stuff. Which takes... It slows down the process of getting carbon-zero building out there. And... I can't really find who's fault it is... it's just the human condition has... woven on a set of rules around itself, in the developed world to the point where they can't evolve without... taking a tremendous amount of effort in time and we don't have that. So it's an extreme contrast to have somebody walk in our office, and a month later we're building a building for him in Montana. And that's happening... it happened twice in Montana, now it's happening in Texas.
So what we're gonna do is map the counties in every state, because... This county that we did this building in Mile City, they don't need any permits.
(Question:) In Montana is the governe, does he know what you guys are doing?
I'm not sure, we're, as a result of our build there... They're wanting us to tell them about... our grey water system and things like that. But I imagine it, everywhere we go it gets to the paper, so... I imagine they're aware of it. We're not sure of... whether we're gonna do harm or good by pointing this out, but... You take Montana and Idaho and the Dakotas and... And you start coloring in all these counties where you don't need permits, and now in Texas, we're in east Texas. No permit needed. In other words the guy came in on east Texas, he came in and stayed in corner cottage a few weeks ago, we're going down there in three weeks to throw up a building for him. No permit needed.
So what I'm saying is... Green, carbon-zero housing can boom, exist instantly in lots of places around in the US. And then... You know, this is almost like the maps that make of the democrats and the republicans. you've got the map of where you're free to take care of yourself, and where you're not free. And it could be that a lot of people end up moving because... It's beautiful land, some of the most beautiful land in the country... is... what they say worthless 'cause it has no utilities, and it's also worthless because it's, you know... Doesn't have any rules and regulations, so... There's a lot of that in this country, there's a whole lot of it in the rest of the world.
Europe is one the worst for not having it, but there pockets in Europe, too. So, there are places where... What we're saying now is: Yes, we're still... we're still working on the codes and regulations and trying go through the... regular path which is more time consuming and so on... But at the same time, we are... ... going for these 'pockets of freedom'. We have sort of got one here, because of two decades of fighting.
(Question:) I'm just curious, has your fight gotten any easier now that you've found these pockets where you built and proven that it can be succesful or there, other areas that have been fighting you that are becoming a little easier to get this built?
Well, there is no question that with the media... Now, there used to be global warming was kind of a... ...freaky thing you didn't talk about and now it's everywhere. You know, every time I turn on the television there's something about the climate change and everything. So it is getting easier, people are at least listening and looking at it, but... they always come back to the same thing. It's a government employee, has a rule book, he'll loose his job if you don't enforce the rule book. I mean, I've even had them apologize to me for having to enforce it.
How Michael goat around the Law, Executive Orders!
So what we... I don't know how many people have seen the movie, we introduced this law and fought through it for 4 years and... So I illustrated to myself, yeah you can... make new law and change things but we don't have 4 years. You know, we need to do this every week, every month and... So we have now evolved the law into... ...what is known, it's an executive order. An executive order is a tool that any governor or president has to... And we wrote one for the governor of Arizona and... For the government of New Mexico who's now on board with this, so to speak. We wrote an executive order that... It basically the bottom line with it is, it's like... It's the way they did the atomic bomb. You know, after Pearl Harbor, They... Everybody was scared enough that... within weeks they were out here in Los Alamos building a city, building and testing a bomb... Blowing apart 10 000 acres (~ 40,5 km²), you know... They broke the rules because they were scared. We're waiting for them to get scared enough, but... The executive orders what allows a government to do that.
So we're writing an executive order that mandates... carbon-zero permitting.
If you're gonna build a home, that you're claiming that's carbon-zero, and you... your proof of that is you're not hooking up to any utilities. If you're gonna build a carbon-zero home... ...then you get a red carpet in permit in days. In other words, red carpets carbon-zero permitting. Right now, if you're a developer and you're gonna build a... a set of condos... If you're gonna build the typical junk condos that hook up to all the grids, you're gonna get moved through pretty quick. If you can do some expensive water system and sewage treatment plant and whatever, all of which are half-assed... But if you're gonna do a green condo, carbon-zero condo development, there's gonna be definitely such, so much new or unheard of technology that you're gonna be on the permit level for 2 or 3 years.
So the... There's the issue right there. It's very easy, still, to do the wrong thing, it's too hard to do the right thing. We're trying to get an executive order to make it easier to do the right thing. Or the logical thing is I would say. In terms of trying to move people... toward carbon-zero development rather than more of the same. And so that's the technology... This is what I'm going after everywhere. The governor of the Galapagos Islands has asked us to down there. I'm going down there in 3 weeks or 2 weeks or something... They have made a claim to the world that there gonna be carbon-zero by 2015 and then they turned around and observed the fact that they didn't know how to go about it. *Laughter* So he goes online and finds these idiots out in New-Mexico. Yeah!
(Question:) Have you looked into carbon credits at all as an incentive for this?
Well, I haven't but my son has carbon credits is gonna be a form of currency, a sort of in the future. What they're saying... I don't quite understand it, but they're saying that... that a company, that's doing a bunch of bad stuff, could donate money to us and get carbon credits. I'll take it! You know...
(Comment:) There gonna do bad stuff anyway...
In a way that's weird, but it's like... I don't know. But anyway, carbon credit is starting to be, you know... I would say if you know how to do the formulas, and the application of carbon credits to an Earthship, my guess is, it's gonna come out with a negative carbon foot print. ***
(Question:) - So I sit on my community help improvement council as a nurse! One of our priorities are for affordable housing. So when we had our last meetings someone gave a big talk about the affordable housing from homeless to actually being a homeowner, and kind of all the things we have in our community along that way. . They were talking about getting people to be able to afford their first house. So I mentioned, you know, are we building houses that are worth buying? You know, an I said we can build off the grid with no utilities I mean, you know if it's possible, i was just wondering if you had any experience working with habitat or humanity or we have these group sthat are out there building houses right now, not for people that are upper or middle class who can afford ...
Well, we... We've been approached by Habitat for Humanity several times, but it's never... Their building... you know, they have a kind of good thing of building houses, but... I heard that, through talking to them, and... having meetings with them that a lot of... the buildings that they build go up but than have... you know, just the same utility bills like anybody else and they can't... When they get a home for an impoverished family, they can't afford to operate it. You know, I mean gas here... Propane has quadruplet in the last few years. So when you have to heat and cool a building and provide electricity for it and pay a water bill, pay a sewage bill even though it's... give it the home is given to you, you can't afford to use it. So we have an... Nothing's materialized with them we're still kind of... on the periphery of reality, I think, in many counts and maybe will end up staying there because I think reality is gonna crumble anyway, so... No, we haven't got involved with any groups like that although there has been talk.
But... So the... The issue then is for... Where to go from here is yeah, at this seminar, today and tomorrow and this afternoon, you're gonna pick up... the crux of how to understand these things and a little bit on how to build them. But there is a whole other issue then we can... Depending on where people are located. If you haven't got a land yet, see, what I would say is a lot of people are... They come to these seminars are looking for the place to do it. And... so what I would say is... you would be miles ahead if you just... If you haven't got your land yet, to check around for the areas in your state or the area where you want to live and... And see if you can find a pocket of freedom to do this, as opposed to a... place where you're gonna have to fight for a year or bastardized the design or whatever. They're ultimately, you know, they will come around... And I can say that from experience because, you know...
8 years ago they were practically putting me in jail, stripping me of my license and everything else, and now the governor is... he's given us 300 grand to do this building next door to demonstrate this
They're talking about giving us another 400 grand to add an addition on it where people can stay in it. it's called the 'SEE project' Sustainable Energy Experience, and... Now, the town of Taos on the other side the state has given them... the town of Taos land. They wanna do a visitor center. And they came to us and asked to do a visitor center, so they... They have come around... I mean we could easily screw it up and be right back where we started, but... you had a question!
(Question:) What other areas would you say are pockets of freedom?
Well, we're... we have just kind of come across of this concept or this observation. For sure... lots of Montana. But not exactly near buildings or anything like that, but just... not that far out. Lots of Montana, Dakotas, Idaho, even Washington state, Canada... Then some of the backwards states, East Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas... Even Kentucky. I mean, every state, you know just go as far away from where... What we got is people on the staff now, we're starting this taking every state, county by county, call in the county seat and asking: 'What do you require for a permit?' Because we just... it blew our minds to have somebody walk in here, and a month later we're building a house for him. I mean just... *finger snap* The house's already designed. We tailor the design to their climate. And... if they have the funding then they... you know, it's like... It's amazing to see that green, carbon-zero building can... happen like that.
And it really emphasizes all these fights that we've been through over the last few decades that... The technology is here, I say it over and over again. The technology is here and getting better all the time. The thing standing in the way is... The approvals to allow you to do it and it's like... It's insane, but it's really... Who's fault is it? I don't know. The other codes and regulations came about from... The big phrase they like to use is the... Health, safety and welfare of the people. And so... * laughter* They're making them real safe for the next week, but in the next year they're gonna all die anyway, so... Yeah!
Earthship Seminar Video 2009 - Part 4
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Did you know, I built four Earthships in India as well as being instrumental the creation of the first Earthship in the UK, Earthship Brighton. If you are also on this path and would like to read my story, I have recently published a book. It is not only a great story, but a valuable resource for you to learn from. I had no experience or training when I embarked on my mission, but managed to successfully build a gorgeous home called Earthship Karuna.
You can buy this book with Steem on the homesteaders co-op. Whilst you are there please do have a look at some of the other proudcts as there are all kinds of great things there!
If you don't have any steem you can also buy the ebook and paperback on amazon.
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