Ecovillage Thailand, Asia
Raktamchat Ecovillage Thailand, Asia is an intentionally designed and established a sustainable community of like-minded persons who practice and teach Permaculture Design and Natural Building. We enjoy sharing our eco lifestyles with others and hope this page will help to allow for more persons the opportunity to learn all about what an eco village is and the principles of ecovillage design and construction. Also the joys of living in an international community who values the lifestyle afforded by an eco-village.
Introduction to Sustainability and Ecovillages.
What is an Ecovillage / Eco Village / Eco-village?
The History of Ecovillages.
Ethical Managment of Ecovillages
Principles of Ecovillage Design
Introduction to Sustainability and Ecovillages
The world we are living in is teetering on the brink of a Global Catastrophy. We as a world society are consuming the resources of the world at an alarming rate. The Ecovillage Concept is one attempt to find Sustainable Solutions to this ever-increasing problem.
Ecovillages are deliberately-created communities whose members strive to:
- live in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner,
- to practice voluntary simplicity,
- and to cultivate meaning, life satisfaction, and fulfillment.
While the goals of all Ecovillages are based on sustainability most strive to create a model of sustainable living that is appealing to mainstream western culture, while at the same time reducing the ecological footprint of inhabitants and increasing meaningful relationships within the community.
Ecovillages are founded on the Four Dimensions of Sustainability:
Ecovillagers tend to actively work to build trust, collaboration, and openness between people, and to make sure they feel empowered, seen and heard. Ecovillages often provide a sense of belonging through community relationships, common projects, shared goals, and social processes, but do not demand that everyone is the same – unity and strength through diversity is important to the ecovillage movement:
- Embrace diversity and build community;
- Cultivate inclusive, responsive and transparent decision-making;
- Empower participatory leadership and governance;
- Ensure equal access to holistic education and healthcare;
- Practice conflict facilitation, communication, and peacebuilding skills;
- Develop a fair, effective and accountable institution.
Ecovillages aim to build or regenerate diverse cultures that support people to empower and care for each other, their communities and the planet. Many actively engage with practices that encourage people to feel deeply connected to each other, to the planet, and to themselves. Celebration, art, dance and other forms of creative expression are often embraced as central to thriving human life and communities. Most ecovillages find their own ways to talk about, connect with, respect and support life and the beings and systems that sustain it:
- Connect to a higher purpose in life;
- Nurture mindfulness and personal growth;
- Respect cultural traditions that support human dignity;
- Engage actively to protect communities and nature;
- Celebrate life and diversity through art;
- Reconnect to nature and embrace low-impact lifestyles.
Ecovillages aim to access food, shelter, water, and energy in ways that respect the cycles of nature. They aim to integrate human with the rest of nature in ways that increase biodiversity and regenerate ecosystems, and that gives people a chance to experience their interdependence with systems and cycles of life on a direct and daily basis:
- Clean and replenish sources and cycles of water;
- Move towards 100% renewable energies;
- Grow food and soils through organic agriculture;
- Innovate and spread green building technologies;
- Work with waste as a valuable resource;
- Increase biodiversity and regenerate ecosystems.
Ecovillages aim to build economic practices and systems that contribute to the sharing of resources, mutual support, and strong local economies and networks that serve the needs of local people and ecosystems. Most ecovillages actively work to provide sustainable alternatives to the mainstream economy and monetary system and reclaim ways of thinking about wealth and progress that include all aspects of life. Local currencies, sharing, social entrepreneurship, circular economy and collaborative forms of ownership are central to many ecovillages:
- Reconstruct the concepts of wealth, work and progress;
- Work for equitable ownership of land and resources;
- Cultivate social entrepreneurship to create sustainable solutions;
- Empower and strengthen local economies;
- Invest in fair trade and ethical systems of exchange;
- Generate wellbeing for all through economic justice.
Whole System Design
Some principles apply to all dimensions of sustainability and help bring them together in holistic designs for resilient communities and systems. In the whole systems approach to design and sustainability is paired with a strong focus on collaboration and participation. This means that the principles of whole systems design are put into practice in ways that actively include everyone concerned and encourage transparency at every level:
- Find strengths, weaknesses, and leverage points in all areas;
- Engage all stakeholders in designs for the future;
- Identify the right scale for each solution;
- Honor traditional wisdom and welcome positive innovation;
- Learn from nature and practice whole systems thinking;
- Build networks for mutual support.
What is an Ecovillage / Eco Village / Eco-village?
The Eco-village Concept is based on the principles of sustainable development and the findings of ecology as the underlying discipline. It is focused on the implementation of human settlement pattern or model which can be smoothly integrated into the surrounding environment, therefore eco-villages come naturally in the most diverse and versatile forms, adapted to the local natural and social environment. Ecovillages are one type of intentional community. Intentional communities are created based on a dream of a better life, a life that incorporates something that is apparently missing in mainstream culture. Their are many examples of intentional communities, such as Kibbutzim, religious/spiritual and egalitarian communities, American communes, student co-ops, cohousing, Permaculture Communities, Natural Building Communities and ecovillages. Specifically, as mentioned above, ecovillages are deliberately-created communities whose members strive to live in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner, to practice voluntary simplicity, and to cultivate meaning, life satisfaction, and fulfillment.
Most simply, an ecovillage can be defined as a:
“human-scale full-featured settlement in which human activities are harmlessly
integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human
development and can be successfully continued into the indefinite future” (Gilman 1991)
An ecovillage is a traditional or intentional community with the goal of becoming more socially, culturally, economically, and ecologically sustainable. It is consciously designed through locally owned, participatory processes to regenerate and restore its social and natural environments. Most range from a population of 50 to 250 individuals, although some are smaller, and traditional ecovillages are often much larger. Larger ecovillages often exist as networks of smaller sub-communities. Some ecovillages have grown through like-minded individuals, families, or other small groups—who are not members, at least at the outset—settling on the ecovillage’s periphery and participating de facto in the community.
Ecovillagers are united by shared ecological, social-economic and cultural-spiritual values. Ecovillagers seek alternatives to ecologically destructive electrical, water, transportation, and waste-treatment systems, as well as the larger social systems that mirror and support them. Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful consumerist lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming, and over-reliance on fossil fuels as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster and create richer and more fulfilling ways of life.
Ecovillages offer small-scale communities with minimal ecological impact or regenerative impacts as an alternative. However, such communities often cooperate with peer villages in networks of their own. This model of collective action is similar to that of Ten Thousand Villages, which supports the fair trade of goods worldwide.
The History of Ecovillages
In 1991, Robert Gilman set out a definition of an ecovillage that became standard for many years.
Gilman defined an ecovillage as a:
“human-scale full-featured settlement in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, and can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.”
Kosha Joubert, more recently defined an ecovillage as an:
“intentional, traditional, rural or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned, participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology, and economy) to regenerate their social and natural environments.”
In this view, ecovillages are seen as an ongoing process, rather than a particular outcome. They often start off with a focus on one of the four dimensions of sustainability, e.g. ecology, but evolve into holistic models for restoration. In this view, aiming for sustainability is not enough; it is vital to restore and regenerate the fabric of life and across all four dimensions of sustainability: social, environmental, economic and cultural.
Ecovillages have developed in recent years as technology has improved so they have more sophisticated structures as noted by Baydoun, M. 2013.
Generally, the ecovillage concept is not tied to specific sectarian (religious, political, corporate) organizations or belief systems not directly related to environmentalism, such as monasteries, cults, or communes.
The modern-day desire for community was most notably characterized by the communal “back to the land” movement of the 1960s and 1970s through communities such as the earliest example that still survives, the Miccosukee Land Co-op co-founded in May 1973 by James Clement van Pelt in Tallahassee, Florida. The movement became more focused and organized in the cohousing and related alternative-community movements of the mid-1980s.
The principles on which ecovillages rely can be applied to urban and rural settings, as well as to developing and developed countries. Advocates seek a sustainable lifestyle (for example, of voluntary simplicity) for inhabitants with a minimum of trade outside the local area, or ecoregion. Many advocates also seek independence from existing infrastructures, although others, particularly in more urban settings, pursue more integration with existing infrastructure. Rural ecovillages are usually based on organic farming, permaculture and other approaches which promote ecosystem function and biodiversity. Ecovillages, whether urban or rural, tend to integrate community and ecological values within a principle-based approach to sustainability, such as permaculture design.
Johnathan Dawson, describes five ecovillage principles in his 2006 book Ecovillages: New Frontiers for Sustainability:
- They are not government-sponsored projects, but grassroots initiatives.
- Their residents value and practice community living.
- Their residents are not overly dependent on government, corporate or other centralized sources for water, food, shelter, power and other basic necessities. Rather, they attempt to provide these resources themselves.
- Their residents have a strong sense of shared values, often characterized in spiritual terms.
- They often serve as research and demonstration sites, offering educational experiences for others.
The imperative for alternatives to radically inefficient energy-use patterns, in particular, automobile-enabled suburban sprawl, was brought into focus by the energy crises of the 1970s. The term “eco-village” was introduced by Georgia Tech Professor George Ramsey in a 1978 address, “Passive Energy Applications for the Built Environment“, to the First World Energy Conference of the Association of Energy Engineers, to describe small-scale, car-free, close-in developments, including suburban infill, arguing that “the great energy waste in the United States is not in its technology; it is in its lifestyle and concept of living.” Ramsey’s article includes a sketch for a “self-sufficient pedestrian solar village” by one of his students that looks very similar to eco-villages today.
Effective government is important to Eco-villages. They provide education charity for the promotion of a sustainable lifestyle (Cunningham and Wearing, 2013). While the first generation of eco-villagers tended to adopt consensus decision-making as a governance method, some difficulties with consensus as an everyday decision-making method emerged: it can be extremely time-intensive, and decisions too often could be blocked by a few intransigent members. More recently many ecovillages have moved toward sociocracy and related alternative decision-making methods.
Principles of Ecovillage Design
The Design of an Ecovillage is based on the fundamentals of the ecological design of building and habitat for humans. The Design of a sustainable home or natural home is at its core an exercise in Passive Solar Home Design based on the design principles of Sustainable Home Design as laid out in Permaculture Design and Natural Building.
Passive Solar Natural Home Design
‘Passive Solar Home Design’ is a design that takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the Natural Home. Passive solar Natural Home Design reduces or eliminates the need for auxiliary heating or cooling, which accounts for about 40% (or much more in some climates) of energy use in the average Western home.
The importance of passive design cannot be overstated. Paying attention to the principles of a good passive design suitable for your climate effectively ‘locks in’ thermal comfort, low heating and cooling bills, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for the lifespan of your home.
Passive Solar Natual Home Design utilizes natural sources of heating and cooling, such as the sun and cooling breezes. It is achieved by appropriately orientating your building on its site and carefully designing the building envelope (roof, walls, windows and floors of a home). Well-designed Natural Building envelopes minimize unwanted heat gain and loss.
The most economical time to achieve a good passive design in a natural home is when initially designing and building it. However, substantial renovations to an existing home can also offer a cost-effective opportunity to upgrade “thermal comfort” — even small upgrades can deliver significant improvements. If you’re buying a new home or apartment, assess its prospects for thermal comfort and/or ability to be cost-effectively upgraded to reflect good passive design principles in its climate.
For best results, ‘passive’ homes need ‘active’ users — people with a basic understanding of how the home works with the daily and seasonal climate, such as when to open or close windows, and how to operate adjustable shading.
Design for Climate of Natual Homes
A good passive solar design ensures that the occupants remain thermally comfortable with minimal auxiliary heating or cooling in the climate where they are built. Climate zones have their own climatic characteristics that determine the most appropriate design objectives and design responses. Identifying your own climate zone and gaining an understanding of the principles of thermal comfort helps you make informed design choices for your natural home.
Siting for Orientation of Natual Homes
Orientation refers to the way you place your home on its site to take advantage of climatic features such as sun and cooling breezes. For example, in all but tropical climates living areas would ideally face north, or as close to north as possible, allowing maximum exposure to the sun, and easy shading of walls and windows in summer. Good orientation reduces the need for auxiliary heating and cooling and improves solar access to panels for solar photovoltaics and hot water. Your home is thus more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run. It takes account of summer and winter variations in the sun’s path as well as the direction and type of winds. Read this article in conjunction with Design for climate, Passive solar heatingand Passive cooling.
Sun Shading of Natual Homes
Shading of your house and outdoor spaces reduces summer temperatures, improves comfort and saves energy. Direct sun can generate the same heat as a single bar radiator over each square metre of a surface. Effective shading — which can include eaves, window awnings, shutters, pergolas and plantings — can block up to 90% of this heat. Shading of glass to reduce unwanted heat gain is critical, as unprotected glass is often the greatest source of heat gain in a house. However, poorly designed fixed shading can block winter sun. By calculating sun angles for your location, and considering climate and house orientation, you can use shading to maximise thermal comfort.