Always keen to be involved with positive initiatives, Bow Arts signed up some time ago for the Climate Week Challenge 2013, Britain’s biggest environmental competition. The organisers reckoned some 130,000 people would be taking part, none of whom were allowed to know exactly what the challenge was until Climate Week itself (4-10 March).
We had chosen to do the one hour challenge (rather than the whole day) so all Bow Arts staff gathered over lunch during Climate Week to get down to task. The day arrived and the challenge was announced…
“Design the ultimate eco-home”
The first question to answer was – who would live in our house? A family, an individual, like-minded singles? We decided that as an arts organisation to draw on our expertise so that our inhabitants would be……. yes, of course – artists! And our Head of Property told us quite quickly that the most efficient way to provide a home for someone is to re-use an existing structure, rather than build from scratch. So there we had it. We would have to find an old building, which could house 20 individual artists in a Live/Work environment (no travel to work and no carbon emissions!).
We set about deciding on the property’s green credentials and came up with the following:
Ideally the site would have at least an acre of land – half an acre for our windmill to generate electricity and half an acre for food production.
One central heat exchange boiler would efficiently heat the structure, with all the obvious insulation in place.
Solar panels on the domed roof which could turn to maximise sunlight.
Water collection and filtration systems in place to minimise our need to draw from the mains.
The 20 flats would be located over five floors, with four flats on each floor. Entertainment would be provided by a communal cinema and the in-house gym would be rigged to generate power too. Would each flat really need a kitchen with all the associated fittings and power requirements? No – one kitchen per floor.
And here was the crux of it. Our inhabitants would have to share. Share space, share food, share utilities! This links really well to the notion of collaborative consumption, as outlined by Nesta here, which promotes sharing all kinds of resources such as skills and knowledge, as well as physical objects.
The hour was up but we learned two very important things. Firstly, the model for this type of sustainable living is already in existence - Homesteading. And secondly, sustainable living is about more than utilising the latest shiny green technology; it’s about looking beyond our individual needs and working together to change our consumption and lifestyle habits.