Now even Zillow heralds off-grid housing boom
by AMY SUAREZ on APRIL 19, 2012 - 0 Comments in people

Government may not heed it – when do they ever listen to the people?  – but big business is getting the message.

Zillow, a division of Forbes, is celebrating the off-grid housing boom in a blogpost titled “Stories of People Who Are Doing it: Living Greener, Off-the-Grid.” Here is an excerpt:

“Off-the-grid” may conjure images of die-hard survivalists, but the term actually has a spectrum of meaning.
“Now more people are starting to understand how quickly we are driving toward the edge of our ecological capacity on the planet,” said Katrina Morgan, principal architect for Fermata Consulting, a green building consulting firm. “They are not just fringe types anymore.”Many of those disconnected from the electrical grid are living in homes powered by renewable resources like wind and solar. Some eschew other public utilities, like municipal water and sewage systems. Others forage for building materials. Many live communally. Here are a few of their stories.
Keith Callahan’s “shed” that is now his house. Source: Keith Callahan“Shed” home — Western WashingtonLittle did Keith Callahan* know when he and his wife started building a shed on their 5-acre property, they were building their house.Keith and his wife live in a 320-square-foot home (photo above) on a tiny island in the Puget Sound. They originally built their shed-turned-house to store belongings while they traveled in South America. “When we came home, we just moved into it and never left.”That was eight years ago. At first their home had no insulation, no running water and no electricity — just kerosene and candles for light. But living humbly suited their “debt-free” philosophy: “We didn’t take any loans out to build it. We built it little by little.”They now have a small solar electric system. Hot running water arrived on Thanksgiving Day 2010, in time for the birth of their son. Water comes from a rain-harvesting system on the roof. Their bathtub and shower are in their garden.As small business owners, Keith says he and his wife straddle the off-grid world and the “Internet, cell phone, data-exchange” world. “It’s hard to keep up. You just have to experience it.”Earthship — Taos, New MexicoEighteen years ago, Kirsten Jacobsen moved to Taos to build Earthships — sustainable buildings made with recycled materials such as earth-filled automobile tires, aluminum cans and glass bottles. The brainchild of architect Michael Reynolds, the Earthship exceeds LEED standards and building codes while integrating its own power, water, sewage treatment and food systems.Jacobsen — now Education Director for Earthship Biotecture — finished her own New Mexico home in 2006. It heats and cools itself with no utility bills in a climate that reaches 100 degrees in the summer and minus 30 in the winter. She customized the functional design with “more modern-looking finishes and other things like stainless steel, a clear glass bottle-brick wall and bamboo floors in the bedroom.”
Solar panels being installed at Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage. Source: Dancing RabbitEcoVillages — Rutledge, MO and Fairfield, IowaAlex Whitcroft, an architectural designer from the UK, first came to Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage in rural Missouri to learn natural building techniques. He returned two years later in 2011 as one of its 60 or so residents.Like most buildings at Dancing Rabbit, the home Whitcroft shares with his partner, Jennifer Martin, and two of her children is made with natural materials: sustainably harvested or reclaimed wood, natural plasters, and straw bales harvested from surrounding fields for insulation. “It’s very bioregional,” said Whitcroft.

 

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