- Politics and Social Issues
Alternative Housing - Green Home of the Future
The Home of the Future is Greener Than it Used to Be
Everybody remembers the Jetsons, and their fully automated home. Poor George came flying home, exhausted after a hard day of pushing buttons (hey, kind of sounds like my old job).
Jane put in a lot of mental effort, preparing dinner by making a selection on the food synthesizing machine, and all manual labor had been virtually eliminated.
While the present hasn't quite lined up with that vision of "future of the past," do we really want it to? Some things just can't be automated, like a home cooked meal or a beautiful garden. The future of the present is greener, and less automated than that future we had envisioned.
Chemosphere 1960 Built By John Lautner
The Future of the Past
Automated "Homes of the Future" have been popular exhibits at the Worlds Fair for decades, but up until now the reality hasn't actually matched up with the fantasy. After all, we don't have robots to do all the housework, or machines to synthesize our food.
But what can we expect going forward? What's in OUR future? I'd actually like to think we're going to be taking a step backward in a way.
My vision of the home of the future, is a self-contained home, an eco-home. One that makes all of it's own power.
It's not as if the technology for these homes is some futuristic dream, the technology already exists, if only our society and the powers that be will embrace it.
That wouldn't mean we would have to do without modern conveniences. Automation could work hand in hand with self-sufficiency to make it even more efficient.
This Home was Designed by Michael Reynolds - The Garbage Warrior
There's an architect in New Mexico, Michael Reynolds, he builds dwellings called Earth Ships. They are completely self-contained, and produce all of their own energy.
They're made of old tires, bottles and cans, and dirt. They even use the roof to collect their own water, store it underneath the house for domestic use, and also use it to cool the house.
Whole communities of people have been living in these things for decades. They're really very beautiful, but they remind me more of the Flintstones than the Jetsons.
A Green Home Made From Recycled Materials
Garbage Warrior - Michael Reynolds' Story
There is a great movie about Michael Reynolds. It is called GARBAGE WARRIOR. I love this movie, if you're interested in green technology, living off the grid, and fighting city hall and winning, this is a great story.
If you don't mind watching it on your computer, you can actually watch the full length movie for free on YouTube.
How to build a simple EarthShip
A More "Futuristic" Looking Eco House
The Zerohouse is a prototype of a 650 square foot home designed by New York architect Scott Specht. Despite it's ultra-modern appearance, it is similar to the Earth Ships built by Michael Reynolds, in that it collects water from the roof, and produces all of it's own electricity.
This modular home has the advantage that it could be moved anywhere, even where traditional building is not possible. It has a self-contained waste system so no sewer or perk and mantle for septic system is needed.
Photos used with permission from Specht Harpman Architects
This is the ZerohouseClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Future is Here
Most modern homes do use at least some automation.
For instance the programmable thermostat on your heating and air conditioning. You can set it to different temperatures for different times of the day, so the heat stays off while you're scheduled to be away, and comes on just before you get home, so you save energy and still come home to a comfortable house.
Perhaps you also have an automated sprinkler system for your lawn and garden, so it stays watered on schedule whether you're home or not, and if you still have a land line, surely you have an automated answering system for your phone.
If you want to go high-tech, there are now fully integrated security systems, that allow homeowners to view their homes from remote locations through their mobile phone. You can also use the system to control thermostats, appliances, lights, television and stereo equipment. There are new "smart" appliances that are supposed to work with the electric company's "smart meter" and be able to tell whether anybody's in the house, and turn themselves off when they're not needed.
I've even seen refrigerators with computer screens on them, you can stand in the kitchen and browse the internet or watch TV. The fridge even keeps track of what's inside it, and makes your shopping list for you. And there are ovens that keep your food cold till it's time to cook it. You can pre-program it, or turn it on with the internet or your mobile phone.