Build­ing a zero-emis­sion re­sort

Action Asia - - NEWS & VIEWS -

ON GILI KENAWAN, a tiny is­land off of West Sum­bawa, Earthships Bio­tec­ture (EB) is build­ing a three-star re­sort with noth­ing but garbage and re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als. The vol­un­teer-based col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Earthship and its lo­cal part­ner, Eco Re­gions Indonesia, be­gan last De­cem­ber. On the blue­print is a re­sort com­posed of at least 44 of what the com­pany calls ‘Earthships’, 11 Sum­bawa stilt houses and a restau­rant and spa. Founded by 72-year-old Mike Reynolds, EB de­vel­ops self-sus­tain­ing prop­er­ties around the world. Elec­tric­ity, heat and hot wa­ter are so­lar-pow­ered; wa­ter is col­lected from rain and snow melt; in­door and out­door treat­ment cells con­tain, use and re­use all house­hold sewage; and food is grown from in­te­rior and ex­te­rior botan­i­cal cells usu­ally sourced lo­cally. Most struc­tures are horse­shoe-shaped to max­imise the amount of nat­u­ral light and heat dur­ing colder months while walls must be thick, dense and packed with ther­mal mass to reg­u­late the in­te­rior tem­per­a­ture. The Gili Kenawan ver­sion has a façade of tires stuffed with com­pressed soil and dot­ted with pipes for ven­ti­la­tion as well as plas­tic and glass bot­tles for dec­o­ra­tion. Tem­per­a­tures in­side are reg­u­lated at 20˚C thanks to pipes that ab­sorb ex­ter­nal air, which is cooled down as it en­ters and cir­cu­lates the build­ing, cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral air­flow. “The project in­tends to cre­ate a self-suff icient com­mu­nity t hat doesn’t im­pact its sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment. For ex­am­ple all the hu­man waste will con­trib­ute to fer­til­is­ing the soil in the Is­land rather than pol­lut­ing the co­ral reefs,” Reynolds ex­plains. Though EB has taken on projects in the An­daman Is­lands in 2004, and Cam­bo­dia and the Philip­pines in 2014, is­land ecosys­tems pose unique chal­lenges. “When we ar­rived there was noth­ing on the Is­land and we had to bring in wa­ter, food and fuel for the gen­er­a­tors. Now we are col­lect­ing wa­ter, we have elec­tric­ity and our wastes are pro­duc­ing food. The team also in­tends to have so­lar boats in the fu­ture to trans­port all the ma­te­ri­als needed,” said Reynolds. Con­struc­tion of the Kenawan project is ex­pected to span 20 years with ap­prox­i­mately 30 to 50 vol­un­teers build­ing in­di­vid­ual houses over three-week pe­ri­ods. Else­where in the world, Earthships are sold for US$50,000 and up, de­pend­ing on the model. In the 2000s, EB grew from in­di­vid­ual prop­er­ties to an en­tire pro­to­type neigh­bour­hood called The Earthship Vil­lage Ecolo­gies Project (EVE) in New Mexico aimed at achiev­ing not only eco­log­i­cal in­de­pen­dence, but also eco­nom­i­cal free­dom. Ac­cord­ing to the Earthships web­site, EVE houses 25 peo­ple across two acres. “It’s not about mak­ing any­body rich. It is not about tax dol­lars. It’s about the sus­te­nance of peo­ple,” dic­tates the Earthships web­site. “Live sim­ply so that oth­ers may sim­ply live. The less you have, the less you have to lose.”

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