After Covid-19 – What will the Future Bring?
This is a question that is on everyone’s mind, but at the end of July, 2020 no one will be able to answer it fully because there are so many unanswered factors or variables involved at this time. It is a system analysts nightmare. I mention this because I am attempting in this blog to show how important the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) is in presenting a development framework for the future that is sustainable and as self sufficient as possible. In an era when government planning is deficient in controlling the Covid-19 virus and passing laws against environmental protection, there needs to be a plan that will help all the people rather than just those in the top 30% on the economic scale.
The PDP demonstration project will provide a means of showing how society can become self sufficient both socially ( using self government, community money and collaboration) and physically (different building construction methods and facilities, education programs, carbon reduction, low impact agriculture, etc.). Options will also be presented for new governmental concepts for capitalism by incorporating progressive ideas. Hopefully, the project can show ways of breaking the political logjam that is present using “cradle to cradle,” “circular economy,” and “doughnut economics,” procedures in decision making processes. Today we need to be able to make intelligent decisions based on scientific critiques rather than hearsay. Twitter comments of advice has a low accuracy quotient. Unfortunately this is not recognized by a large number of people.
Options for the Future
- 1. Covid-19 – United States – Worldwide – Control:
Controlling Covid-19 at this times very difficult and it has to start with good leadership from all administrative branches in the Federal, State and local governments. Then the people have to follow the science backed instructions. In the U.S. this has not happened with one of the biggest faults being able to plan ahead to have adequate supplies and testing when needed. Facebook and other companies have plenty of algorithms available to help. A large city could design a program that would have hourly inputs from the necessary agencies so that needs are constantly assessed. This then would be coordinated with other cities to provide a national consensus. Hours in line needed to be tested and quick retrieval time would be one of the inputs. This information would be mapped so people would know where to go at all times. One or two lines would be designated for the elderly and people with symptoms. Now everyone is waiting for a vaccine and this is a determinate as to what will happen in the future.
The same type analogy could be available worldwide. For example, it would be nice to know what conditions were occurring with refugees to see what could be done to solve their problems to reduce the spread of diseases. This will be complicated when flu season starts. To reduce further spread of diseases there should be environmental controls in areas where bats are loosing their habitat. Also the sale of certain wild game should be prohibited in food markets. International guidelines, including oversights, could be written by the United Nations.
- 2. Non-Functioning Politics and Growing Inequities in the United States and Worldwide:
The political stalemate in the United States and some other countries is a large factor creating indecision for the future of the world. A recent poll showed that 64% of international leaders did not respect President Trump and an April 12, 2020 article in the Guardian noted “The Trump administration’s self-centered, haphazard, and tone-deaf response [to Covid-19] will end up costing Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of otherwise preventable deaths,” wrote Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard. An example of further potential problems is the rift between China and the U.S.
One of the generally unnoticed problems with the Trump Administration is their rollback of environmental regulations. Details relating to this can be found on the internet such as National Geographic’s article “15 ways the Trump administration has changed environmental policies,” February 1, 2019. A New York Times analysis shows that there have been at least 100 instances. (See chart)
This will do irreparable harm to beneficial environmental progress. If the Trump administration is elected for another four years then no one can guess what the future will be like. We already have some catastrophic storms, earthquakes in San Diego area, wildfires, reductions in carbon sequestration, etc. Blog 9-Systems Thinking (on website-towardselfsufficiency.com) provides additional information about our present and future environmental problems.
The stalemate between political parties prevents or slows down legislation to the point that very little is being accomplished. It also is dividing the country to the point there is little relief for providing social justice for the majority of people. In reference to the Tax Bill that passed in 2018, The Los Angeles Times on January 1, 2020 printed the following:
“President Trump’s radical Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect Jan. 1, 2018, has now been around long enough for a fair assessment. The verdict’s not good. The second anniversary is an apt time to review some of the law’s biggest failures — especially since the president is inviting more trouble by considering another tax-cut boondoggle as an election-year ploy. Rushed through Congress by a Republican majority, the Trump-GOP tax cuts were promoted as a boon for the middle class. Yet in 2020, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the richest 1% of taxpayers will get an average tax cut of around $50,000, 75 times more than the average cut for the bottom 80%. One big reason the law is so skewed toward the wealthy is that it gives corporations huge tax breaks. It’s primarily the wealthy who own corporations through their stock holdings.
Our governments non functionality coupled with social justice and inequality issues portends problems for the future. Much of what happens in the election will also be a determinant. As we live in a post-pandemic world.
3. Economy, Healthcare, Education, etc.
All these areas of activity will be affected and many different thoughts are circulating on the internet. Our ways of living will definitely change and we should all strive to make it better for humanity.
The Pew survey depicts how our economy in 2018 has a falling middle income and a static economy for lower income persons.
The article explains some of the conditions prevailing at the time. This shows that the economy was not that good for some people other than those in the upper income bracket. The pandemic will probably make the economy worse for everybody although the wealthy have a buffer against feeling worse. The Healthcare and Educational systems will probably be remodeled and organized for the better making use of the beneficial attributes of Artificial Intelligence and Systems Design. While this is occurring there are strong climatic feedback loops that will have damaging affects on reducing climate change. Recently this was recognized when a “$ 1 Trillion Investor Group Demands Climate Change Action From Regulators.” (July 21, 2020, Investor Daily). The group called on the Federal Reserve to consider steps outlined by by climate advocacy group Ceres, which coordinated the campaign. For the Fed, these steps included exploring how climate risk can be addressed through monetary policy.
Some of the main casualties are small businesses which are the mainstay of our economy by offering goods and services not offered by larger stores. They add character and uniqueness. The PDP will offer possible solutions to help bring them back. Debt will also be tightened up due to uncertainty and lower pools of capital and this further places marginal operating companies at risk.
Books will be coming out such as “The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming” by Eric Holthaus, June 30, 2020. Charles Hugh Smith suggests in a Patron’s paper that there will be three scenarios to consider:
1. Devolution. Everything stays more or less the same
2. Decay. Services become unreliable, more homelessness, Universal Basic Income
3. Things fall Apart. Social disorder becomes chronic, Government bankrupts, etc.
I discuss this topic because the it has become part of the present and certainly part of our future. However, any development such as the proposed PDP, should align itself with the concepts of (1) Cradle to Cradle, (2) Circular Economy and (3) Doughnut Economics. Cradle to Cradle is a major component of Circular Economics and Circular Economics is a major component of the Doughnut Economic proposal for society to live by.
Cradle to Cradle and the Circular Economy:
Cradle-to-cradle design (also referred to as 2CC2, C2C, cradle 2 cradle, or regenerative design) is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems that models human industry on nature’s processes, where materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. The term itself is a play on the popular corporate phrase “cradle to grave”, implying that the C2C model is sustainable and considerate of life and future generations—from the birth, or “cradle”, of one generation to the next generation, versus from birth to death, or “grave”, within the same generation. Wikipedia
C2C suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature’s biological metabolism while also maintaining a safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and technical nutrients. It is a holistic, economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free. Building off the whole systems approach of John T. Lyle‘s regenerative design, the model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems. Wikipedia
C2C is a concept of total recycling through design. The product is conceived so that the cost of recycling is lower than the cost of buying new material. It is at start a focus of a company to increase competitivity by reducing the costs and transforming a product orientated approach into a service platform. C2C is a circular paradigm in its essence with a redesign of the product (which becomes a service) , a redesign of the production platform able to recycle, a redesign of the distribution and re-acquisition network and the development of value added services attached to a virtual product. (A Floresta Nova)
Circular Economy is a concept of companies integration in the objective of reusing the waste of a company as a resource for another one. The issue with circular economy is that it belongs to the linear paradigm (vs the circular one) which intends to close a linear process with different specialized actors in charge of recycling. In this case companies will not redesign the product in order to leverage re-acquisition of the product and recycle everything but create partnerships resulting mainly in finding a complementary revenue in the waste produced. We may even consider C2C and circular economy in opposition since in C2C the waste has a very high value that should stay in the boundaries of the company and not been used by competitor/partners. It may happen in the future that partners will be essentially integrated in the C2C process of a company as providers of service or transformers of degraded residue the companies do not want to reuse (biomass, …). Of course circular economy represent a drive to reach C2C since recyclers will negotiate with producers to update product design in order to ease recycling. The integration of the recyclers as service providers will come from the objective of customer visualization and the necessity to exist in the market at every step of the service life cycle (production, distribution, re-acquisition of matter, recycling) and up selling of premium services. Partners will specialize in the different activities of production, distribution, recycling , always ensuring that value added material will come back to the producers to close the loop, ensuring that the producer will be autonomous material wise. (A Floresta Nova)
Either one or both concepts along with Doughnut Economics will be used in the research process for evaluating improvements in the construction of the PDP. To my knowledge this has not been done for any affordable low income housing projects. Hopefully, most of the housing in the PDP has been designed to last at least 50 years with minimum maintenance costs. As the project is lived in information will be analyzed to determine what building processes and products are best to use from an economic standpoint as well as the best for our environment considerations. Physical and social evaluations will be part of the analysis. The process suggested later in this paper is just a beginning framework of ideas and will need evaluations from a group of experts who are specialized in different types studies/work. This will also include people who may live in the community. This is needed for social, self-sustaining and construction inputs. Special computer programs will be designed to collect and analyze data.
I hope that this project will be instrumental for allowing people throughout the world to understand the needs of people in the lower income groups and thus understand what is needed and design laws accordingly. The objective is not to design a giveaway program/community, but to see how working together and using training programs can provide people enough opportunities that they themselves can make a decent living. Doing things this way allows people to have a purpose in life which includes living along with and understanding nature and what it gives us. Greed is not a part of the equation. The schematic of the system design for the Circular Economy is on page 8. Additional information is found in books and on the internet (The McKinsey Foundation and Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
The following is an article from “Rethinking our economy: How do we sell in a circular economy with doughnut economics?” In Smart Company by Sue Barrett, July 31, 2017
The circular economy aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. It preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields and minimizes systems risks — and it works at every scale.
Circular economy principles:
- Preserve and enhance natural capital;
- Optimize resources yields; and
- Foster system effectiveness.
1. Design out waste with biological materials (non-toxic), so they can be simple composted; design out waste within technical materials (man-made compounds), designed to be used again with minimal energy and highest quality retention;
2. Build resilience through diversity (modularity, versatility, and adaptability);
3. Work towards energy from renewable sources;
4. Think in systems: elements are considered in relation to their environmental and social context; and
5. Think in cascades — extract additional value from products and materials by cascading them through other applications.
The future of sales in the circular economy
Can you now imagine all of the businesses mentioned above operating in a circular economy and not having any waste?
The circular economy will change how we view ownership: return and renew will become a real concept. For example, things will be licensed then returned to the owner/manufacturer when we have finished with them and then they will be reused in some way.
For instance, there is The Circular Economy Club (CEC), which is the global network of circular economy designers, engineers, economists and strategists who are resetting the world standards.
There are many companies already somewhere down the road on the circular supply chain:
• Tesla of course is leading the charge (pardon the pun);
• Dell is making some of the first inroads to a more “circular” supply chain. As part of its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, Dell also established two objectives tied to cutting down on e-waste: using 50 million pounds of recycled materials and recovering 2 billion pounds of e-waste by 2020.
The circular economy seeks to rebuild capital whether this is financial, manufacturing, human, social or natural.
Now combine the circular economy (microeconomic model) with ‘doughnut economics’ (as the macroeconomic model). Doughnut economics has been developed by Kate Raworth, who has turned current economic thinking on its head. And it makes sense. The book explaining this is “Doughnut Economics – 7 Ways to Think like a 21st. Century Economist” Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017, Kate Raworth. The following is from Smart Business by Sue Barnett.
Traditional economic theory promotes the ‘circular’ flow of goods and money but traditional economic thinking does not take into account the complex system of humanity, like unpaid work such as parenting and caring for family; social exchange (the collaborative commons); the essentials of life; and the nine planetary boundaries. With 60 plus years of traditional economic growth now floundering, we need to rethink how we can progress. Raworth asks us to consider: what if economics didn’t start with money but with human wellbeing?
Rethinking our ideas of progress
Raworth asks us to consider the doughnut model of economics where progress looks like the balance between using our resources and protecting life as an interconnected support system.
She asks us to rethink how we shop, eat, travel, earn a living, vote, volunteer and bank, and what we would do if we used the doughnut economic model in our daily decision making processes.
She goes on to ask: what if every business decided to be a doughnut economic business and brand?
What if every business decision we made was made by balancing out resources and protecting life? What if every government used the doughnut economic model around their negotiating tables?
Based on the current degradation of the world’s resources, using the doughnut economic model would be called sanity. The doughnut economic model to a situation where we are all living on a spaceship and have to keep ourselves alive for years without access to any outside means. Because that is what our world is — one giant spaceship with limited resources powered by the sun. Human beings have demonstrated time and time again their ingenuity. We have amazing talent to deal with challenges and create new ideas, new services, and new systems to deal with adversity.
There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we produce and consume.There is so much opportunity here if we go out on a limb and rethink how we do business, rethink progress, rethink economics, and rethink society. It all starts with opportunity. Go out on a limb… Smart Business, Sue Barrett
Kate notes the following-page 49:
The Doughnut provides us with a twenty-first-century compass, but what determines whether or not we can actually move into its safe and just place? Five factors certainly play key roles: population, distribution, aspiration, technology and governance.
Diagrams 1 and 2 shows different variations of the doughnut. Diagram 2 shows (in red) the social shortfalls in the inner circle and the overshooting of the environment outside of the regenerative and distributive living area noted in Diagram 1. Biodiversity loss, climate change, nitrogen and phosphorus loading (agriculture) and land conversion are the major environmental problems facing the world now. With each one having their own systems and feedback loops we have quite a challenge facing us now. How fast we face them will determine our living conditions in the future.
Kate lists 7 ways to think like a 21st. Century Economist:
First, change the goal. Quit chasing the GDP.
Second, see the big picture. Embed our society within nature.
Third, nature human nature. Finding new values.
Fourth, get save with the systems. Put systems thinking at the heart of economics.
Fifth, design to distribute. Exploring ways to redistribute wealth.
Sixth, create to regenerate. Create a circular economy to restore humans in earth’s processes.
Seventh, Be agnostic about growth.
The diagram shown above is a depiction of our economy for the 21 st. century. It is discussed in detail in the book which I won’t go into here other than to note that the main financial flows are the household, the market, the state and the commons. Surrounding the economy are living matter and materials that are available for use using the laws of nature as much as possible. Remember the earth and society are major parts of the economy. Nature does not grow forever and we must not think that continual growth is a necessary part of an economy. Also in the space between earth and society in the embedded economy diagram is the waste matter produced by the economy. If most of it was regenerative we would be in a much better situation than we are now. When waste becomes destructive, as debris and plastic in the oceans, then we have to double our efforts to rectify the problem. In that case it will take a series of steps to eliminate most of the problems.
In the above diagram (from Kate’s YouTube presentations) the question asked in the 20th. Century should be changed to the question asked for the 21st. Century. If we don’t do this soon then riots and protests, storms, etc. may play it out for us. In the summary of her book she suggests several solutions for us to get on the right economic path. I will mention some of them when discussing research by the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP).
Now there is so much money spent on the pandemic that shows how we lack political leadership by both parties. A case in point is the $ 1.4 Billion spent in the first round of relief payments that went to people that were deceased (Fox News). The government said to send the checks back but had the wrong information on how to do it. Have they corrected this mistake for the second round of payments? Probably not. This could have been used for many worthwhile projects.
This next section of this paper will show how the PDP can be used for valuable research in order to set us on the right economic path. It will also provide affordable housing, the reduction of inequality and a vision of social justice.
This title seems out of place now in the United States. Relating to Covid-19 there is a definite lack of planning by those in charge. This is in contrast to South Korea, China and several other countries who have generally been able to get the pandemic under control. In Europe the refugee influx and close proximity to other countries has raised their own set of pandemic problems. Now is the time to think about the future in order that there is as good an outcome for our civilization as possible. The outcome is to be thought of in terms of the environment, types of economies, including all countries, within a designated time frame. Things look immovable at this time so we are in a wait and see situation.
Let’s take a look at the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China. Unless you compare some of the demographics of each country it is difficult to understand what each country has to do for the future. The United States (Number 1 in the world) in 2019 had a defense budget of $1.917 Billion and China (Number 2 in the world) had a budget of $ .732 Billion. The U.S. spends 2.6 times as much as China for defense. Since 1927 China has been at war 86% of the time and since 1776 the United States has been at war 93% of the time. It’s expensive being number 1 at war. China and the U.S. are about equal in land area and the U.S. has a population density of 86.16 persons per square mile, (total 2019 population – 330,020,103 million persons) while China (total 2019 population 3.624 billion persons) has a density of 396 persons per square mile. China’s density is 4.6 higher than the U.S. density.
(Wikipedia) The 2019 fertility rates are about the same with China’s being 1.696 and the United State’s 1.765 women per 1,000 persons. Both are below the number needed to replace itself. That is good for the environment but not for old time economic theories. China has 38 cities over 3 million in population while the United States has 2. The August 3, 2020 pandemic map below shows the visual concentration of people that have and had Covid=19.
I am bringing this information up to show how and why the comparisons between the United States and China reflect the actions that countries take in emergency situations. To add some background I would like to add some recent comments made by a speaker from China on a youTube Episode about the Circular Economy that was sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.. She noted that China had enough grains in storage to feed everyone in China for one year. They had an extensive computer program that was able to provide market data for large and small farmers so they would know what crops would be best to grow and where to send them when ready to harvest. They had trucks come to pick them up when possible. There were no middlemen to pay in this system so the farmer was able to make more money. 40% of the necessary cropland was within or around cities and they are making use of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Read in an article, The Conversation, “Why China is emerging as a leader in sustainable and organic agriculture.” April 9, 2020
China’s total grain output has almost quadrupled since 1961, when the great famine ended. But its success has come at a heavy environmental cost: China uses four times more fertilizer per unit area than the global average and accounts for half the world’s total pesticide consumption. Overall, chemical use on Chinese farms is 2.5 times the global average per acre of land. The overuse of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides has led to soil contamination, algae blooms and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Beyond the ecological consequences of the rapid rise in crop yields, Chinese consumers as well as farmers and farm workers have faced health problems. Over-application of fertilizers has led to chemical residues in food and nitrogen infiltration into groundwater. Now they are changing and have over 31 million hectares of organic agriculture and organic acreage is growing.
Both countries have to change considerably if the world can be a better place to live in. The first issue is to reduce their tendencies of going to war and seeking power. Both countries believe their systems (democracy and communism) are the best for the world, but both systems as they are practiced now, including their reliance on growth, are poor examples of what they profess. China is known for its authoritarian rule, hacking of ideas, power grabs (Tibet, Africa, South China Sea, etc.), currency manipulation and other acts of control. However, the United States has its own warlike tendencies, power grabs, exceptional lying by the leadership and little respect for the environment under the present administration. 20th. Century economics is the mainstay of most of the businesses in both countries.
After looking at the videos of the future of China on the Smithsonian channel (streaming) you begin to see what obstacles they have to overcome, especially relating to shear numbers of people they have to take care of. One example is the pandemic. Whether they could have mentioned something sooner would have changed things is up for debate. This is the only explanation that the U.S. has to explain its slow start and they have made the most of it, A July Pew survey showed that 73% of Americans believed this. What if China handled the pandemic like the U.S.? We would be in a Chaotic state, many times worse than we are now. Each culture has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, what I am trying to point out in this discussion is that China is attempting to change its energy policy to renewals, centralizing healthcare, recognizing what has to be done to help the environment, reduce climate change and moving its economic policy toward circular economics. Their tech industry is trying to keep pace by using thin film solar panels, electric bus fleets, improving supply chains, building world’s largest telescope, digital communications/robots, large wind farms, etc. Pollution is still a major problem and if they start going to regenerative economics and reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers they can begin to reduce pollution. To do this there has to be a sharing component added to what they do in life. An example would be ride sharing.
For the United States there has to be many changes starting with a reduction of defense expenditures. The next step would be to adopt the circular economy, doughnut economics and figure out a way to reduce economic and social inequities. Our present governmental stalemate does not offer much hope or leadership. This is why I am proposing using my Pilot Demonstration Projection (PDP) as a means to show what can be done to change the ways we look forward toward the future. It does not mean we will be wealthier money wise but wealthier spirit wise by following the examples of PROUT showing us the way we can help each other through governance (Blog 21). Greed is not a healthy way of life. This will not come easy, especially if we take too long to recognize how we are causing a host of environmental problems by going past the tipping point on some major environmental issues. Our major concerns with the pandemic are obtaining healthy foods that are affordable and adequate shelter.
Our present building processes and food chains are not sustainable. This is why in the time that we have available during the pandemic we need to look forward toward the future. Not looking at doing things using expensive processes for the wealthier people, but doing inexpensive things for the bulk of humanity. This will keep all of us and the children who follow us alive longer to enjoy what nature has left of its natural resources and biodiversity.
Introduction – The Self-Sufficient Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP)
This is a pilot community program that is designed to demonstrate how a new concept in community development can be used to create sustainable communities for everyone. It will introduce ways to be self-sufficient, thus enabling a longer lifespan for its occupants. This would be due not only in the use of products for alternative energy production but by establishing in communities a quality of life where the community works together using collaborative practices. They also would be adopting sustainable policies with strides to become carbon negative and as self-sufficient as possible.
One approach is to designate the various facilities that would be used in the community and then analyze the number of workers that would be needed for each of these facilities. Not all of the designated uses would be in all of the proposed communities. The uses or facilities that would be used would be determined by the needs of the area and where it would be located. The specific goals and objectives for each area would be a group decision. The people living in each of the proposed sites would be part of helping establish these goals. The next step past sustainability would be an attempt for communities to be as self-sufficient as possible and create most of their general needs. In buying as a group or cooperative they would be able to obtain outside goods at favorable prices. Communities in developing countries seem to work more cohesively than in developed countries and have lower consumer demands than in developed countries such as the United States.
The book “Toward Self-Sufficiency,” this blog and other blogs on the website describe in detail the Schematic Land Use Plan (of the PDP) shown above. The uses will be described later in the text. The actual size and number of uses will be determined by need and actual site conditions. The relationship between the housing, teaching facilities and types of businesses in the community determines what’s in the final plan. The site plan has a color code for type of use. Duplexes are purple, T1 Triplex’s are darker blue, T2 Triplex’s are darker green, T3 Triplex’s are light blue, other Multi-Unit housing are shades of brown. Public Areas are olive and retail uses are darker yellow. Maximum and minimum housing units are shown below:
Housing Type Maximum Number of Housing Units Minimum Number of Housing Units
T-1 Triplex 32 Buildings 90 26
T-2 Triplex 8 Buildings 24 16
T-3 Triplex 16 Buildings 32 (16 units for Business). 16
Student Housing 4 Buildings 15 15
Mixed Housing 8 Buildings 40 40
Duplexes. 16 Buildings 30 30
84 Buildings 229 units. 143 units
Note: More businesses could be located in T-2, T-3 and Mixed Housing units if needed.
Some additional businesses noted in yellow lots
Units in Model Homes deducted from totals
Blog 17 on my website discusses how the model home buildings will be uses for all pre-sales and for demonstration of building types. In a large city there could be several communities established and the sales for all of them made from the model homes in the first PDP. All the housing PDP’s developed after the first one would have just one model home on site and would be digitally connected to the first PDP. One of the mainstay’s of this housing concept is the small size of each PDP. This is needed in order that everyone in a development can participate in its own PDP government activities (see Dunbar’s number = 150 for stable community size).
Our present method of housing finance is divided between the actions of the private and public sectors with neither one producing adequate answers to create a workable plan to furnish and finance affordable housing. Some answers to the problem is found in the book, A New Model for Housing Finance – Public and Private Sectors Working Together to Build Affordability, by Murtaza Baxamusa, Routledge Focus, 2020. A review/description: Amazon
A New Model for Housing Finance presents a thought-provoking solution to the housing crisis that follows the division of public and private money on housing costs and benefits. It brings a practical perspective on why housing is unaffordable, and what can be done about it using public and private capital. This book re-examines the foundation of housing finance in the United States with the aim to shift the paradigm from the public and private sectors working in silos, to working together.
Through brief yet rigorous chapters, the book assesses the policy failures of both public and private sectors by drawing attention to the continuing human impacts of this man-made crisis, finally calling for a new model of financing housing through public–private partnerships. The limited impact and false hope of planning interventions, as well as the widespread economic impacts of the global pandemic of 2020, demonstrate the urgent need for change in our approach to housing policy, and this book lays out a path forward. It will be of interest to anyone working in or studying housing, social justice, urban planning, urban studies, and public policy.
We should utilize what is suggested in the book. As he said:
The housing crisis provides a political platform to undermine democracy, consolidate authoritarian power, stoke racial divisions, expel immigrants, draw the bridges on refugees, turn urbanites against suburbanites, environmentalists against housers, and neighbors against each other. Alternatively, it can hopefully provide an opportunity for egalitarian reform that lifts everybody. (Page119)
What is presently available from the government is Opportunity Zone (OZ) legislation (Blog 14 – Finance Options) and this has to be corrected by using Community Land Trust legislation to go with it to prevent gentrification. OZ legislation was created by the wealthy and is disguised to help people in poverty. So goes life in America – nothing seems to change. Many of the suggestions in the book should be utilized by the PDPs. In fact people in communities should comment on and design their own legislation – if possible. Doing this they can understand the manipulations of finance and how it helps or hinders each of the parties involved. Education is a wonderful invention to calm or agitate the masses.
During the site selection process for the first PDP an area market study should be authorized by the PDP non-profit to determine the feasibility of the location process, potential of types of occupants to live in the community, community needs, methods and types of research, potential of cooperatives in area, site analysis, community needs from outside of PDP, etc. (Blog 15-Site Location, Blog 16-Site Analysis, Blog 19-Market Analysis, Blog-31-Community)
Once the desired uses has been selected then they are to be prioritized as to what uses would be most important initially and this would determine the development schedule. Then the number of people needed for each of these improvements would be estimated and this would establish the development framework. Housing and schools would be one of the first priorities and the type of housing would be determined by the overall housing requirements noted in the employment projections. Housing needs would be evaluated within three economic groups, high income, medium income and low income. The family income range would vary from site to site and from country to country. The housing and construction standards would also vary according to needs and government requirements. Thus the sustainability of each component will have to be evaluated according to local market acceptance and needs.
Construction building systems vary and a comprehensive analysis of available systems should be made prior to any new development. Some building systems are less than $ 60.00 a square foot while others are over $ 110.00 a square foot. All public facilities would have to be evaluated as to costs and the design approach that would be most successful. For example, in some countries it would be more advantageous to use local people to manage trash collection and disposal rather than a large mechanical and transportation trucking system. One of the keys to this would be to develop or use products that do not go into the waste system such as those utilized in the Circular Economy. An example of this is to have the community furnish its own agricultural products and use waste to feed hogs and other animals.. Another system worth exploring is to review the burning of some waste to form bio-char. This does not decompose and let off carbon dioxide and can also be used to enrich soils and reduce water needs and runoff. It is also good for carbon sequestration. In some developing countries it would be more important for the people to do some tasks that are done by mechanization. That tradeoff is one of the considerations that would be made to increase sustainability. Prior to any development a list of sustainable products and goals should be made and the ones determined to be the most feasible would be used.
Another consideration would be to estimate the number of people that would have permanent work within the proposed PDP. This would determine the housing needs in terms of economic categories and type. The concept of using duplexes and triplexes is shown later in this report, and is one means of having a community grow without it continually being in the building process when people try to find larger or smaller homes.
When this is done there should be a review of what the estimated total cost of the construction would be and what improvements would be required. In some instances a retail use, for example, would need to have all equipment and furniture included in the initial funding as well as capital for salaries for the employees for a short period of time. Rather than having a large grocery or combination store it may be more feasible for people to have different businesses from their homes scattered throughout the community. Any funding should have a community bank that would include a micro-loan process, the establishment of community money and other needs that would be unique to the needs of the PDP. They would also have available several types of mortgage loans, both private and governmental, that people could use.
Tax abatement policies with the local government should be reviewed and initiated where it would be feasible to aid the PDP. There may be also existing government programs that could be used in the community development process. This would be especially important for providing money for social services.
Another factor that should be included in the program is an estimate of the number of people that would be used in the construction and building of the community and whether it would require outside contractors. This would be determined by the need for large equipment such as those needed for road work and utilities. Some of these people would be temporary labor as far as the community is concerned and some would plan to live in the community on a permanent basis if their skills were needed. This analysis can be designed using the same format as the one to estimate permanent employment. All the planning processes mentioned would be recorded and become part of the research process.
Income projections should also be made prior to the final planning of the project. The income would be for (1) the funders of the project and (2) the community itself through fees, community work such as landscape maintenance and planting, and providing community transportation services. The cost of the public facilities should be paid for over a designated period of time through fees or assessments. The availability of grants would also be included in projections.
Other data for data projections may be used to show a format using the type of information that would be needed prior for any development process. This should be adjusted during the planning process and new programs designed to show the economic and environmental impact of using sustainable practices on the cost of construction and the use of labor. One cost saving would be to use runoff water flowing into small ponds or lakes that could be used for recreation as well as a water source for irrigation. This could reduce the pipe sizes or eliminate the use of pipes or concrete channels altogether. The appropriate use of native plant materials within the proposed greenbelts would also reduce runoff and also be available for pollinators. The use of organic methods for agriculture and landscaping can reduce pollution and strengthen the existing soils.
As noted before, a market study of some type should be made during or before the planning process in order to help determine the necessary uses for the community as well as to the best approach for working with the people in the area. This would also include a survey of people to determine what labor skills would be available from local sources. The study would also evaluate existing wage rates, labor laws, etc.
There are many sustainable practices that can be used for community development and many of them are not costly or have a short payback period. One of the leading programs in the United States is the LEED program developed by the Green Building Council. In conjunction with their building objectives they have also designed a program for neighborhood development. One of the main areas that can reduce construction costs is through planning practices that can reduce the street frontage ratio, clustering of units, duplex development, protection of native plants and topographic features, efficient use of water in irrigation and runoff, etc. The other area would be in reducing the need of the automobile for transportation. The provision of all of the facilities that a community would need in itself a sustainable practice. The PDP should be limited in size so that it doesn’t damage the quality of life that was outlined its initial conception. This would allow for a village development process rather than being a typical housing or suburban subdivision where services and the travel to work keep getting harder to maintain. Many times some of the sustainable practices can be an income generator because of their uniqueness in the area where the project is located. In ethnic areas all housing should be designed to keep the character of the culture and still be as sustainable as possible.
Many cultural practices are a form of sustainability. One example would be the practice of bartering using community money. This recycles goods throughout the community as well as saving people money. It is also a good means of people getting to know one another. The community would provide busses for members as well as having cars available for use at any time with minimum paper work. A family would register the necessary information at the administration building offices and use the car on a mileage basis. The cars would not be new and the insurance would be paid for by the PDP cooperative or non-profit. This would allow people to live in the community and not have to have a car unless they needed it for special needs. If the community was near a body of water then it would purchase a small tract that community families could use for vacation purposes for a minimal amount of money. In a way it could be a community time share or a separate admission fee.
Some of the companies providing sustainable services through Circular Economic practices or products would need venture capital to continue its development. The community bank could have a capital venture fund available for products that would help the community become more sustainable. They (the community cooperative) would then be partial owners and have a royalty in the product sales. This would also allow for the product or service to be tested in a real life situation. If they are applicable, those practices that have worked in other countries over a period of years with a successful track record could be evaluated for inclusion in any of the projects. Following is a list of uses that have been included with this program in order that a sustainable project can be developed that will last over a period of time with their economy being as self-contained as possible. The theory will be that it would be better to start another community, that may not have as many features than just adding to this one. Some of the public facilities could be used for both communities. In the housing section of this paper will be discussions of the sustainable building systems that could be included in the PDP.
Community Uses and Facilities:
The selection of the uses and facilities for the project have been selected to provide the maximum potential for sustainable practices to be utilized throughout the PDP. The location and continuity for all of these uses will be made during the planning process of the community. This planning process will include a detailed site analysis, a copy of which is in the Addendum or in a separate report. The planning team will include several professional specialists (architects, engineers, landscape architects, environmental planners, sociologists, etc.), government officials and people from the area where the project is to be located. Input from all of these people will be used to draft the final plan. The information obtained for this project will then be made into a final study that could be utilized for other developments. The program can then be adjusted to include this information. The employment requirements for each of the facilities can be gathered from existing uses in the area or from facilities that have proven to be the most efficient in terms of providing service and products.
The major use categories selected are shown in the project analysis part of the report and they are as follows:
- Retail – Commercial, Banking and Office Uses
- Agriculture Production
- Public Facilities, Police, Fire, Library and Parks and Recreation
- Medical Facilities
- Associated Uses
Social and Cultural Opportunities:
- Education and Training, Lowering Inequality for the poor
- Sharing and Collaboration – Cooperatives
- Nature and the Environment
- Trends in Working from Home
Within this framework new types of uses or facilities can be added or deleted. A market analysis will also be used to help in these decisions. The description of the uses is geared for use in the United States and other developed and developing countries. The program will also be helpful in determining preliminary estimates on the types of housing to be used as well as numbers of housing for ownership or rental use. The rental housing is important, because it can reach many families with low incomes who could not afford to own a home. A study or review of existing communities in the area of development would help in providing information in regard to habits and priorities of the people, especially when considering the social factors. One of the big problems in developing countries is the poor public transportation and the time it takes people to go to and from work. This is a waste of time and money in regard to peoples worth and use of various types of non-sustainable energy. Many people cannot afford a car due to the expense involved and this project shows how to do without one.
Wage rate profiles are an important consideration and may reflect on what incomes could be classified as high, medium or low. Some high incomes in other countries would be classified as low incomes in the U.S. This determines the type of construction that would be used to make any development affordable in any location. The training component of any development is an important consideration. Training can be a stepping stone to movement up through the economic structure to obtain better jobs. Existing types of crime and its causes should be evaluated because the PDP’s social structure can provide facilities that would help prevent or reduce certain types of crime. Especially important would be drug treatments and help for victims of the HIV and Corina-19 viruses.
The purpose of the community (PDP) would be to have enough ways available where people could have a quality of life without the heavy bond of consumerism being present. Having extensive wealth and high inequality caused by 20th. Century economics is not part of the project. The key to this is community involvement where people help each other and feel they belong. It’s everyone having a purpose in life and know they have a chance of fulfilling it.
The following list of use facilities will try to note areas where this could be possible.
Retail – Commercial – Banking – Office Uses
The types of buildings used for all the physical facilities will have to be determined during the estimating of costs for the project. Decisions will be made according to the way the building process fits into the needs of the Circular Economy concept. Also architectural designs and cost evaluation decisions will be made at that time. This will be discussed in more detail in the housing section. Research Activity -When comparing building systems or certain products a Cradle to Cradle analysis will be used on each one when applicable. The figures will be evaluated every five years if there are available funds. The PDP non-profit will oversee these evaluations.
Again this could be a store similar to the same types of stores located throughout the world. On the Schematic Land Plan for the PDP the grocery is in the corner lot marked “R.” It could also be a series of food speciality stores, bakeries, etc. located in the unit A in the triplex buildings (where allowed). The community (PDP) cooperative would help establish linkages with several wholesalers or product manufacturers to help people buy goods to be used for sale purposes. This would also allow community members to buy goods without having to travel long distances. These stores would be residential in character and located adjacent to greenbelts (When possible). (For comments on the self-sufficiency, sustainability and research requirements of the use in question, they will be below the red line.)
Waste produce from stores and homes will be given back to the farm cooperative for use as animal feed. Minimal parking at the store to encourage walking or biking. Afternoon delivery of food to homes will be available. Every home will have internet availability and orders will be sent to the grocery store and/or a box store outside of the PDP. This store will then make a delivery back to the homeowner in reusable cloth bags (every 3 days, $ 25.00 minimum, 1 day cut off time). Paper and plastic waste to be recycled. No single use plastic allowed.
Grocery Store – Small -Gas Station:
Depending on the size of the PDP, there would be smaller specialty grocery stores scattered throughout the community as needed in order to make access to them easier. This would allow people to use them by walking or bicycle instead of relying on the automobile. The community busses would also be used for this purpose.
Home Food Processing Businesses:
Since agricultural products will be one of the main businesses in the community funding will be made available to develop home canning businesses using specialized recipes. They can be used for sale within the community and in other stores located in the general area.
This will reduce spoilage and all jars/cans will have the same community label. There will be a separate charge for returnable jars/containers. Each sale (just amount and product name) will be recorded on a master computer so the producers will have a record of sales. This will be used to give growers an idea of when to grow crops so they can determine needs. Produce and meat from the cooperative farms and food processing products can be sold to anyone. The PDP becomes the branding name. Research: Determine best marketing program.
Community Bank: Located on the site plan in lot “B.”
The community bank would be one of the most important facilities within the community. The development funding would be distributed through the bank and would have loans available for business funding as well as micro loans for community members. The micro loans would be similar to the loan process used by the Grameen Bank. Mortgage funding would be handled by the community bank, although this would be available from other banks in the area. The building of triplexes as part of the residential program would make it easier for financing, because the loans could be a type that could be converted to the other occupant and the home would then be rented to the original owner at a reduced fee. The community bank could set up procedures that could be unique in the financial world. In addition to conventional banking practices the bank would also have a separate accounting system for community (PDP) money. The money would be a voucher that the recipient of service or a product could take to the Community Bank and get credit for the service. Special wage rates would be noted according to the skill of the person and the type of service being performed. An electrician, for example, would obtain a higher wage rate than a common laborer. Any service done within the community would be performed with no travel charge. Businesses within the community would be able to accept community money up to a certain percentage of his business or other standard as approved by the community cooperative. A grocer could accept community money for food and be able to use it to buy supplies that are furnished by other businesses or people in the community or cooperatives. Businesses out side of the community could also participate. See book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, by Thomas Grecco.
Using community money along with bartering is a form of self sufficiency. Needs can be met easier without going into debt. The culture of mass consumerism is reduced. Research: Have people keep records of these bartering transactions as examples of the process of bartering.
Flea Market – Food Market – Bartering:
This would be an area where the above activities can take place on a monthly basis. Individual garage sales would be limited with most of the goods for bartering shown at the flea market.
Waste is reduced. Research: Set up programs with families to find out how much they actually save by using community money and bartering. Also find out if living in this type of community causes less depression and anxiety. This is done through interviews by sociologists.
Offices would be available for people that live inside of the community. Some of the offices would be in their homes associated with firms working in or outside the PDP. For the PDP community only a small number of offices will be constructed with the original funding.
Research: Details on number of offices that were started after living in the community
Community Consignment Store – Bartering:
This store would accept goods from PDP and outside members on a consignment basis. If there was not room in the store for large items the store would have a picture taken of the item along with the asking price. It would be located in an oversized unit A (separate structure) in a triplex building. This could also be a bartering center. Coordinated with Flea Market. Several families could be partial owners.
Restaurants (including a bar):
There would be one restaurant within the PDP and it would be located on a corner lot “R2. There would be available a van to collect all non-used
food that was edible and distribute it to people in need who are in and outside of the PDP. The ownership of the restaurant would be someone living in the PDP. It would be subject to medical requirements if Covid-19 was a problem. The restaurant would be used for training and teaching purposes.
Non edible food would be collected for livestock feed or for a community composting area. Grease would be collected and used for recycling. The architect will design sustainability into the building. All training activities will be evaluated in order to make improvements.
Well Fabricator and Maintenance:
The well fabricator would provide expertise, machinery and equipment to drill for wells for the project as necessary. If other water is available for use then the wells would be used for the lakes and agriculture as needed.
Bakery and/or Vegetable Market Sales:
The bakery would feature ethnic baked products that would be unique to the country. The vegetable market sales would be for the sales of vegetables from the produce and products grown by the PDP. It would also feature local canned goods and spices grown on site. Any residence could have a garden in the rear or side yards as long as it was kept presentable. Rules for keeping small livestock would have to be evaluated in the PDP but would be available on the farm cooperative.
Auto Repair Shop:
The repair shop would be for the cars and busses that are owned and rented by the PDP cooperative. Community members would also use it. Part ownership would be by the Vocational Technical School of a local County Community College and would be part of a training program for PDP and CCC members. It would be located at one of the farming cooperatives.
Research: To determine how to allow different learning facilities to work together and serve all students.
Home Construction Plants:
The plants would be owned by the selected building housing systems manufacturers that would do most of the construction in the PDP. Other builders with plants off-site could also be used as well as independent building contractors. These plants would be necessary to build many of the affordable housing units. One of the main purposes of the Pilot Community would be to show small number of different building systems in a model home complex. The homes would also be monitored to see how sustainable they would be after a period of occupancy.
Research: To compile all costs associated with each of the housing systems which will range from simple to complex. The cost of each system will determine the cost of each home. A cost of building 200 homes will be evaluated for each building system. Training and marketing filming would be completed for each type of building system. Cradle to Cradle/Circular Economy studies will be completed for each system as needed. Separate environmental costs will be made for each housing system.
Food Processing – Home Industries:
The money allocated for this enterprise would be for equipment to help individual families process food by canning, dehydration or other means of preserving food. The food would come from the community’s agricultural production. Most or all of the work would be done in special areas in the home that would be built for that purpose. Local people could furnish recipes that could be used to make products for sale and chefs could come in to help with providing new recipes. Some projects would have a major food processing plant in addition to the home industries, but it would not be in the PDP but in the farm cooperative system.
Research: From this enterprise would be a review of how a new food chain analysis would be made rather than our present industrialized system. See my book for additional information.
Community Auto Rental and Sales – Bus Transportation:
This enterprise would be owned by the PDP non-profit association to provide transportation vehicles for people living there. People would be given community credit cards that could be used to rent vehicles from the auto lot on a vacant piece of property which will be later used for buildings. The autos/trucks would not be new and the people would be charged by the mile or time used. This would allow people to use a car without having to pay to own one or buy insurance. The cooperative would shop for the necessary insurance to ensure the best price. This would be a monthly billing. The community would also have 2 or 3 small busses that would be used to transport people to nearby areas if there was a need. This could be on a regular route and time schedule or used by groups. Bike trails would also be built in all of the greenbelts/streets to allow easy bike transportation anywhere in the area.
Landscape Nursery and Sales:
The nursery could be a cooperative non-profit that would be in charge of doing all of the landscape planting and landscape maintenance in the community. It would also be used as a training area for people to learn how to do landscaping and maintenance. It would be the only landscape company that would be able to work in the community. The prices for the work would be competitive and the company could also be a non-profit enterprise with 10% of sales going back to the community. Maintenance, however, would be open to anyone or any firm in other communities, but for the pilot community it will be only performed by this firm. There would also be a growing field and greenhouses to start plants in row pots and containers. The land for this function could be purchased or leased from existing farm cooperative in the area where it could easily be reached by community workers. Sales yard would also be available for visitors to take or buy plants. There would not be any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides used.
Start-Up Costs – Impact Programs:
This would be funding for administrative expenses to get the project started. The actual expenses could vary depending on specific needs for each project. In many cases there may be a need for special health, work, refuse clean up or other work programs to help the community or other communities in the area. Setting up relations with government regulators is imperative at this time.
Food Crops – Grains – Vegetables – Fruits:
During the planning process for the PDP a community food needs analysis and study will be made to determine the best products that could be grown in the area to allow for people to eat fresh produce and grains most of the year. There may be a need for several greenhouses to allow for food production to occur year round. New technologies will be reviewed for efficient food production as well as means of storing food so that it won’t go to waste. A predetermined market for the food will be established and this will help reduce food spoilage. By having the food used locally there should not be a food transportation problem other than determining how far away foods should come from. The farming cooperative could also sell the (organic) foods to local stores or barter with them for processed goods that could not be made in the community itself. This market could be established during the building process. In this manner demand cycles could be studied to allow for the most efficient production. Organic practices, but not necessarily all certified organic, will be used in all of the food production areas. Techniques for biochar will be utilized to provide a carbon negative environment as well as providing excellent soil supplements. A new production method for growing large amounts of algae will be reviewed for use in the growing system of cooperatives. This can be used for feedstock, organic fertilizer supplements and renewable energy production.
Self-sufficient and sustainable systems will be used for teaching. Research: Alternative growing systems such as permaculture, agroecokogy and regenerative farming, Studies of new local food chain possibilities and uses of algae. See book, Toward Self-Sufficiency.
There will be one community garden area available if the people in the community want to use it. It will serve as an example for other communities outside of the PDP to have it in their communities. The landscape areas around each of the buildings can be used for vegetables, fruit, mixed medical and edible herbs and perennials. See Blogs7 and 18.
Agriculture Production Systems:
Information on this unique system of growing fruits, vegetables, etc. will be noted in the addendum. The process can produce large amounts of food in a very small space. It will be one of the main profit centers for the community. Another system called M.O.R.E. will also be demonstrated as it is being used in Ghana, Africa with good success (ppp.Africa.com). Otherwise aid and training may be given to existing farmers in the area to have them become sustainable and increase production organically.
Residential and Commercial Hydroponics:
In Mexico an inexpensive hydroponic garden area con be constructed in the rear yard of a residence for $ 200 to $ 300. After one year this will almost pay for itself. The money allocated for this will be used as micro loans to community members for this function. A demonstration of this process will also be shown in the community. One of the greenhouses on site will be used for new vertical hydroponics for growing produce commercially.
This would be one of the most important uses associated with the PDP. Many small farmers are now in financial difficulties due to political favoritism for Big Ag, lack of coordinated market conditions, shut down of capital, disorganized food chain and destruction of foreign markets. A influx of funding from the PDP to form farm cooperatives could help the farmers and the PDP. Using organic supplements, regenerative techniques, developing local markets digitally and training schools on the farms could help everyone. See Blog 7.
Research: Ways to develop local markets.
Some livestock will also be raised for the purpose of providing food, but mainly as a means to study how livestock can be raised locally to reduce water and energy use. All products and waste associated with livestock will be utilized. Located on farm cooperatives land.
Permaculture Demonstration Garden:
This would be a 1 acre demonstration garden to show the advantages of using the permaculture technology/practice for growing a complete range of foods within a small area. Crops will be used that compliment each other and also reduce the needs for herbicides and pesticides. Used on land on one of the farming cooperatives. Use several methods of soil preparation.
Research: Compare costs with other food production systems. Include environmental costs.
Public Facilities – Parks and Recreation:
- The size and funding for public facilities are just an estimate at this time and further study will be required to determine the facilities that would be necessary to provide these services to the PDP. Following are two options for the governance of the community:-A community governance typical of incorporated areas in the United States consisting of people appointed or elected for the various posts. The major utilities would be furnished through expansion of existing facilities near the project site and if some of them are too far away, then the community will furnish its own sources of those utilities. The timing for this governance to start would be determined by rules established by the funding agency and the PDP governing non-profit.
- A community governance under the umbrella of a PDP non-profit cooperative where everyone living in the community would be a member. The cooperative in turn would appoint or elect the necessary personnel to administer the necessary daily duties. Most of the utilities would be self contained within the community unless costs were prohibitive compared to using utilities from outside sources. The telephone system could be wireless or through the internet. The cooperative would then tax the community members for the services they provided. These taxes would have to be comparable or less than what families would be paying in the general area. Any profits from the cooperative would be used to reduce the taxes or be placed in a maintenance fund. The relationship and control between the community cooperative and the funding agency would have to be determined. The PDP cooperative would have an opportunity to own and operate some of the businesses within the community with the transaction similar to financing a private corporation.
An evaluation will be made as to determine the most advantageous types of utilities to serve the PDP. The degree of sustainability will be one of the key considerations. The use of labor versus machines or technology will be another consideration. For example, trash pickup could be labor intensive in low income countries where the goal would be to hire as many people as possible. If a country has sub-standard electrical power then it would be wise for the community to furnish its own power and perhaps sell some back to the grid. Another approach would be to have groups of houses (4 to 6) have common sewage treatment or regenerative electrical power. This could make the group independent and not have to rely on a larger network of service. Use renewables and excess waste as much as possible. Do comparative studies.
All utilities should be evaluated for their self-sufficiency and sustainability. Research: Several different types and brands should be used to determine which system would be the most efficient over a period of time. Waste would also be an important determinant.
Community Building – Recreation Area:
This would be located in the PDP and is noted on the land use plan in lot “CB.” It would be available for training, meetings, group functions, etc. Normally, one of the first buildings constructed on site and be a center point for the project. A swimming pool and other recreation facilities would be constructed adjacent to the building. It would be available to all members of the PDP and to selected guests living outside the community when it is not being used by the community members or times when there are special joint occasions.
Storm Water Facilities:
This is one area where sustainability becomes an important consideration. By proper planning runoff can be reduced along with ponding areas created for multiple uses and rain gardens. The open green space can be collection points for runoff also. Parking areas would be constructed to allow for percolation and when possible landscaped drainage channels used instead of concrete channels. The planning by clustering would also reduce runoff as well as street orientation. Where possible runoff water will be kept on site and used for lakes/ponds.
Refuse and Garbage Collection:
Special property rules will be established to prevent the proliferation of blight within the community. An optional use would be an enclosed site available to members where old cars, equipment and other “collectable” items could be stored for a limited amount of time to keep these items from being on properties. This area would be landscaped and screened and located away from residential areas. Methods of recycling would be utilized especially during the construction stage. All non usable wood would be grounded up and used for soil amendments and earthworm production.
All Grade School – Recreation Facilities: (Optional)
If several PDPs were near each other there would be an all grade school constructed that would range from pre-school to 12th. grade. They would be in clusters adjacent to each other and comprise the following 3 clusters (1) Pre-school to 6th. grade, (2) Seventh to ninth grade and (3) tenth to twelfth grade. This grade arrangement could change according to local customs. The school would be equipped with computers and other technology to make the physical plant an excellent school. The school would place special emphasis on art and social justice studies. It would meet all of the requirements established by the state (province) school authority. Recreation facilities would be adjacent to each of the clusters. There will be computers for every student and classes in the environment and sustainability in addition to required subjects. The community will also function as a training area in sustainability and social networking. This could also occur in the buildings shown for training purposes on the land use plan. (TCA-TCC). Classes will be separated according to subjects studied and learning abilities.
Sewage Facilities – Electrical and Energy Supply – Water Supply Systems:
The sewage, energy supply and water systems will encourage the use of self-sufficiency by providing their own energy where possible and using self-contained sewage and water systems. Different systems will be used and demonstrated to determine which system would be best for varying situations. This would be one of the important functions of the pilot community.
Research: Evaluation of the different systems
The library will be located in lot “AS ” on the Land Use Plan. It will be used as a study area with special books on training subjects that are taught in the PDP. Special emphasis will be made with books about nature and the environment.
IT or Computer Studies Building:
This will be the computer and internet hub for the PDP. Community platforms and social media will originate from here. Special training programs on a variety of subjects will be offered for the residents free of charge. There will be a computer and study area in every unit of the PDP connected to this system. It is located on lot “IT” on the Land Use Plan.
The facility will provide facilities for filming and writing reports of all research at the PDP. It will be a funding generator and similar to Consumer Reports and other specialized publishers.It will also have open or commons publishing. Research: It will also supply research information to The Ellen MacArthur and Kinsey Foundations.
Federal – State – Government Offices:These offices would be staffed to administer any government programs that people would be using in the PDP and would offer a liaison between the community and government officials. It would be located with the administrative offices.
Parks and Recreation:
Parks and Recreation:
One park area is located on lot “CP” on the Land Use Plan. The residents will select what multi-uses will be placed there. Some of the front landscape areas around the housing would be designed for native habitats for plants and wildlife (insects and soil organisms). It would be another base for teaching sustainability as shown on this plan that could fit on a Triplex lot. The rivers and lakes would be waterways that will be protected as open space but would not include any improvements.
Teaching sustainability and landscaping
The medical uses could include clinics, doctors offices, dental offices and rehab facilities. The PDP may have medical facilities that could be tied into large hospitals using tele-therapy. Special provisions will be made for the practice of Eastern or native medicine practices. Wellness Centers and Therapeutic (Healing) Gardens could also be part of the concept.
The main purpose of the PDP concept (or referred to as community) was to design housing that was affordable and reusable by adding ways to allow owners or renters to obtain more space without having to rebuild. An example was the triplex (Blog 22). By just removing 8 linear feet of partition and easily removing one or two kitchens (cabinet removal optional) the triplex building becomes a 980 square foot duplex or a 1,470 square foot single family home. Other duplex plans are available that have the same enlargement potential and this is detailed later in this paper.
One if the most important design features must answer the question “How sustainable is each type of building construction system and how does it fit into the circular economy diagram?” Some housing systems that answer those questions are discussed in the book “The New Carbon Architecture – Building to Cool the Climate,” by Bruce King, 2017, New Society Publishers. It is a product of the non-profit Ecological Building Network. They note:
For the first time in history, we can build pretty much anything out of carbon that we coaxed from the air. We can structure any architectural style with wood, we can insulate with straw and mushrooms, we can make concrete – better concrete – with clay, microbes, smoke, and a careful look in the rear view mirror and the microscope. All of these emerging technologies – and more – arrive in tandem with the growing understanding that the so-called embodied carbon of building materials matters a great deal more than anyone thought in the fight to halt and reverse climate change. The built environment can switch from being a problem to a solution – much nicer places to occupy that just happen to pull carbon out of the air.
The BuildWell Source (Ecological Building Network) is an online, user-built library of low-carbon building. We built it so you could more easily find out about alternatives like straw bales, adobe, shipping containers, and many other types of free or inexpensive materials that have no commercial sponsor — no one to study and promote them. There is a huge and quickly growing body of engineering knowledge and practical experience with low-carbon building, but that knowledge is widely dispersed and hard to find.
We will use as many building systems as possible in the first PDP realizing that building one or three houses does not reflect the true price of construction of any system. However it would be possible to estimate cost for mass construction from just building one house with the analysis provided on the computer using algorithms and new platforms. It will also be able to estimate the amount of carbon taken from the air. Using present levels of carbon pricing we can measure its value. Some conventional building systems may emit carbon instead and have excess material waste during its building process and at the end of its estimated lifetime. Can these wastes be regenerated? These costs should also be entered into its building system evaluation. If people can see what costs are in the circular economy, they then can begin to understand its value for people in the future.
Speaking of the future, are we nearing or past the tipping point for some environmental and economic occurrences? Remember our children and grandchildren may have to reap the consequences of our present spending parade. Houses like I am proposing may be the norm sooner than later. Nature has already shown us how it can cover our buildings with living plants in 50 years. King’s book noted that the Romans made some of the most iconic concrete buildings ever, such as the Pantheon, using no Portland cement or rebar. Have we forgotten something?
Self- Help Housing:
In 1964 the United Nations published a “Manual of Self Help Housing.” It is 114 pages long with drawings and typewritten pages. This would be one of the teaching guidelines used in the PDP.
However there are many different housing organizations and non-profits that are utilizing self-help housing. One of these is the Peoples Self-Help Housing (PSHH). Their mission statement is as follows:
With a mission to build affordable homes with site-based services that offer opportunities to change lives and strengthen communities, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing is the longest-serving nonprofit housing organization on California’s Central Coast.
We support low income families, farmworkers, seniors, and veterans and provide welcoming environments for those living with disabilities and for the formerly homeless. Along with building and managing beautiful and accessible neighborhoods, we offer a wide range of services to promote health, well-being, and career success.
At PSHH we build so much more than housing; we build resilient neighborhoods, places residents are proud to call home.
Our Home Ownership program assists households in the construction of new homes. Groups working together under PSHH supervision are taught the construction skills necessary. Each group contributes approximately 1,600 hours of “sweat-equity”, over a 12-13 month period.
This “sweat equity”, used in lieu of a cash down payment, and with the help of a low interest mortgage, helps low-income families become homeowners. The collective effort model coupled with a sense of pride builds community and has been an important part of our organization for nearly 50 years.
Although each County has different income qualifications, below is an example of the general eligibility requirements:
• Annual income at least $40,000.
• Good credit and rental history
• Maximum income limits:
– 1 – 4 person household – $71,850
– 5 or more person household – $94,850
• NOTE: These maximum income limits are for Monterey County, the lowest of the four counties we serve.
• Commitment to work 40+ hours a week to building your home
• Borrower must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
The following site can be found on the internet.
This information on self-help Housing can be used to design optional programs to further help people obtain low income affordable housing.
Various Housing Designs for the PDP:
We should attempt to find experts, such as Pliny Fisk and Gail Vittori of Maximum Potential Building Systems, Austin, Texas, to be part of the next phase of planning for assistance in the project. Information about Pliny and Gail can be found on the internet. The details for the funding will have to be worked out but that cannot be done until the people are hired to expand on the premises shown here and assist in its completion.
Single Family Housing:
Single family housing is the most popular form of housing in the developed countries and the general idea would be to replicate this throughout the world. However, this is not possible due to the average wages in many countries. In this context the program has been adapted to use duplex, triplex and other types of configurations to reduce housing costs. The most effective way of doing this is through sustainable land planning in conjunction with different options using variable unit types and sizes. The types of streets used and street widths as well as the selection of sustainable utilities are other factors. A market study would determine the general direction that the housing configurations should take to meet the needs of the PDP.
Duplex – Triplex Housing:
Studies have been prepared by George R. Hunt Associates detailing the use of modular construction that could be used for any use where affordable housing is needed. Examples of how duplexes/triplexes can be used in any country to allow for owner/rental configurations is just one of the concepts. Being able to convert triplexes to single family homes is a very important option when a family wants a larger home and not have to leave the community to do so. An example of this concept is shown here.
The single family unit was once a duplex and part of a wall and a kitchen was easily removed. Kitchen cabinets could be removed or kept in place. In most of the units all windows, doors and bathrooms are the same size to make replacements easier. The cabinets and windows snap in place. The pink area shows building expansion for business use option. There are over 40 different variations that can be designed for this use. Single family homes from duplexes can have a range of 2 bedrooms to 6 bedrooms depending on the plan combinations selected. The original renter and owner over a period of time could make more money living in the community than they were before and the renter then can move and be an owner in another unit. The owner then has the option of expanding the duplex into a single family residence. Expansion areas off of bedrooms could have a slab poured during the initial construction which could be used as a patio. The roof would be designed for expansion at a later date. This would allow for expansion within the community without continuous construction occurring all of the time.
The apartments could adapt some of the same ideas as used in the duplexes. The green bedrooms on the ends of buildings are examples of modular add on units. One example is shown top right. Pink lines show wall removal options.
By just taking out some walls there could be over 12 combinations of units ranging from one to four bedroom units. At a later date the units could be combined to meet market demands. Blog 5 shows other designs for apartments and Blog 22 shows triplex options.
Modular housing units are inexpensive pre fabricated housing units that can be installed rapidly and provide low cost housing. Some of the ideas shown could be made in a modular factory.
Day Care Centers:
One or more day care centers will be provided throughout the community. They will be licensed by the government to insure the highest safety measures. This would be an opportunity for the elderly to participate in if they wanted to do so.
Sites for churches in larger developments will be made available for sale as well as the actual buildings.
Art Workshops and Training:
These facilities will be made available if needed and there aren’t any problems with Covid-19. It will stress occupational and graphic art applications. They will also provide workshops in printmaking, photography, etc. and these would be open to the public for a fee.
Technology and Environmental Display Center:
This center will be available to show how the community has been designed to emphasize sustainability and adherence to protecting the environment. It would also be used to encourage people to engage in environmental practices within their own homes. It and the IT Center will be the area where all the on site research will be coordinated. will also be This could be located in the IT Center or in a separate building.
Additional Housing Units:
This would allow for additional housing units to be scheduled for construction within the community that is not provided by the original study and located in areas near the PDP to meet the mandates of the project developers and government.
Special consultants will be used to maintain the authenticity of the concept. Part of this would be in the styles of architecture selected. This will be a very important decision process since there are so many options to consider. The people that will be living in the PDP will be consulted during this part of the planning process.
The governance of the PDP will be up for discussion by the members selected for the PDP non-profit board. This will include discussions with the funding group, George Hunt and the advisors selected to be associated with the project. People living in the area of the proposed site could also be selected. The board then will be the main governing agency until the property is partially developed. Blog 21 provides a detailed plan for governance considerance.
Education and Training – Lowering Inequality for the Poor
Trends for the future, especially in the economic and economic sectors, will be hard to predict at this time in the middle of a pandemic. Education becomes a major factoring for helping people combat many of the unforeseen problems that will come up. This is not education in the normal way of thinking, but education in being able to adapt to constant changes. The PDP will offer education in learning how to know how to provide food and understand the food chain. It will expose people to the need to help the earth and what harm we are doing to it and ourselves. The logic of the Circular Economy coupled with Doughnut Economics will expose the corrupt thinking of our present political and economic rhetoric. When the stock market and the GDP is high doesn’t mean we have a good economy. Since 1970 the lower percentile of people in the United States has been level and the economy for the middle percentile has been dropping. If the Gross Progress Indicator (GPI) was used instead of the GDP it would show that we were not in a healthy economy before the pandemic. Presently under the GDP guidelines the expenditures for the Covid-19 would be included in the GDP. Training in the PDP would include trades in the housing construction field and learning how sharing and collaboration can make you happier and wealthier. This will have personnel available to build additional communities. The training in regenerative faming would introduce a new type of food chain marketing similar to what is happening in China. The small farmers would become a unified cooperative for each individual market. They would determine what plants to grow by meeting with restaurant owners, individuals and grocery stores before the local planting season. If they can’t meet year round demand by growing in greenhouses they will work with farmers in other locations. This is letting the farmer become the distributer.
Transportation details would have to be worked out with some existing distributors if necessary. See Blog 7 for more info.
Big Ag will have to change by eliminating the use of chemical inputs such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides before all the pollinators are killed. Soils under Big Ag are being depleted and not usable or productive. The picture on the left shows two pepper plants that were pulled up in October that were in 4″ pots in May. Some of the peppers were 6 foot high and had over 150 peppers on each plant. The secret was in the organic additives that were added continually to clay soils for a year and a half. This would be the knowledge taught in the training sessions.
Research: Research would continue in evaluating how to reduce food chains as well as understanding all the different types of agriculture practices. Nationally we have to change from monoculture production and introduce more diversity of the crops that are being used.
The diversity of the people that would be living in the PDP would reduce inequality through sharing and collaboration activities. Polarization, hopefully, would be reduced by understanding.
Sharing and Collaboration – Cooperatives
Sharing will be the keynote of the PDP. One example would be the introduction of community money and a new type of banking. An excellent book to read by Roar Bjonnes and Caroline Hargreaves is Growing a new Economy-Beyond Crisis Capitalism and Environmental Destruction. It provides an economic path to follow that includes nature.
If individual companies cut down on research due to their inability to take out patents on some of their inventions, society could easily step in and provide the necessary incentives to universities and other institutions to participate in the process. By employing collaborative creativity and shared solutions, those inventions would benefit humanity on a larger scale and increase the economic and social benefits far more than if the invention had been monopolized by a single individual or company.
This represents one example of how collaboration could help the world by society working together. Farmers working together in a cooperative is another example. My book also provides additional information on cooperatives.
Nature and the Environment
This has been a common theme in my book and blogs. Our future looks bleak if we keep using non-renewable natural resources. This is easily seen in the Doughnut and Circular Economics concepts. This will also be an important topic that will be used in the training programs.
Trends in Working from Home
The entire concept of living in a self-sustaining community such as the PDP is to work in the community to provide necessary services. The car is not needed, but available, and there is the opportunity to learn a trade or be able to us a computer and the internet. However you can do all this in a social setting unless it is prohibited by the pandemic. Most primary needs can be met within a community setting. Its having the feeling of helping others while helping yourself.
Research: Develop new innovative ideas for work opportunities in a community setting. Research pros and cons of PDP community living. What would make it better?
Following are some additional ideas (in no particular order-like a idea thought process) that could be incorporated into a PDP Community to make it more sustainable both in providing continuous employment and recognition of the importance of the environment and eco accountability.
The main purpose of this new “Collaborative Community” is to provide a community that will be as self sufficient as possible over a long period of time. Some of the primary factors suggested are as follows:
- That persons and families be interviewed to determine their willingness to live in this type of community. This would also determine what skill they have and what aspirations they have for additional skills or types of occupation to pursue.
- That the design of the community will include the determination (approximately) of the type of community, types of businesses and public facilities to be included and the types and number of jobs that will be required to serve the community through an estimated period of time.
- That the income from the community in fees, profits on sales, rent, etc. will be sufficient to pay back some of the money expended for the financing of the community development. A feasibility study and market study will be required.
- That collaboration activities will be a part of the community structure as noted in the report “Collaborative Communities,” and my book/blogs.
- That some of the families living in the community will have the option of working outside of the community for existing firms. These firms may want to offer training programs also.
- That the community will have a combination of uses where it could be functional without the ownership of an automobile. Busses and community rental vehicles would be available at low cost.
- That there would be available for self-help programs for the construction of the homes, landscaping, maintenance, etc.
- That many sustainable activities would be available as noted in the book “The Post Carbon Reader” and many other books.
- That the community center and recreation/training facilities would be the first building constructed after the model homes. Training programs would be developed, especially for agricultural production/construction trades through instructions hired for that purpose or through coordination with local high schools, community colleges and universities.
- That the homes and business facilities would be constructed to withstand hurricanes and be made out of native materials as much as possible. Several types of construction will be available.
- That the buildings, including residential units will be designed for multiple functions, including mixed uses, by designing movable kitchens, utilities, etc. Also some of the walls could be made of material where they could be disassembled or relocated.
- That the community have a maximum population ceiling so that it doesn’t grow past a certain point of governance and workability.
- That there would be public facilities as in a typical town including parks, bike trails, utilities, alternative energy facilities, etc. Special waste facilities would be provided that would be as sustainable as possible.
- That most of the new businesses would be cooperatives. The community would be financed through a community bank whose facilities would be there for loans and special community functions.
- That there would be other education programs available for all family members in sustainable practices. Collaboration activities would be available to reduce the purchase of individual items (lawn maintenance, etc.) and lower consumption of goods.
- There would be available for group purchasing of insurance and other goods to reduce prices.
- Internet businesses would be encouraged with special IT centers within the community. Savings would also be available for cable and telephone.
- The community association would be composed of PDP members through a community election process to be determined. The association would also provide input on the types of services to be provided.
- Community money and bartering would be available to reduce family costs.
- The original planning would be designed to meet these goals, but would be subject to change by community members as long as the collaborative activities would be available.
- There would be an ongoing study of options for renewable or other types of energy and utility designs in order that the community can be as economical as possible for its members. Greenbelts will be used as much as possible for storm water disbursement rather than using underground pipes.
- The agricultural facilities will be designed to provide food for the community as well as income outside of the community. Proper health nutritional practices will be encouraged. There will be health clinics in each community as necessary.
- All the buildings for businesses will be designed so that they could be easily converted to other uses with minimum costs. The bathroom will stay in place as shown on the plans.
- Unique sewage systems would be designed including the use of plants and fish to purify the water. All homes would have rainwater collection where feasible. Septic systems could be used to irrigate lawn areas through different sewage field designs. Special recycling of solid waste would be encouraged to be a sustainable practice
- The communities would be designed to incorporate local customs, especially for those located in developing countries.
- Lots could be designed where there are ownership, rental and leased homes on one lot. Mortgage financing would be through the community bank with several financing options available. Micro financing would also be available structured off the Grameen bank format.
- Diversity will be encouraged in the production of plants for agriculture and native plants will be used for landscaping. Trees will be located where they can provide energy efficiency. Only lawns that require low water use will be allowed.
- Bicycles, walking and golf carts will provide alternatives for most of the internal movement within the community where this is acceptable.
- Other features will also be incorporated into the community design as long as it is as sustainable as possible. Short term uses could be allowed with the alternative for replacement at a later date due to better sustainability function and new technology.
- All types of energy use will be reviewed to see what would be the most effective for the community. This could be non-food biomass production, geo-thermal, solar, wind or a combination.
- The design of the collaborative community will require people to buy less things to have a comfortable living. Less consumption means less waste and less water and energy that would be required to manufacture objects and produce food. Conservation of energy use will be a major community objective.
- The community money system would allow people to utilize their talents on a part time or full time basis. This would be important in using people for training, day care, agriculture, and the reuse of outgrown clothing and other objects. Many businesses now can be home based due to the internet. Community goods could be marketed in this manner.
- The housing provided will be smaller and in higher densities to reduce costs and allow for more common open space for other activities. Sustainable land planning can be a major factor in reducing waste and energy.
- The community can also be used to move people from disadvantaged areas where they can get credit for their housing regardless of the condition it is in. The land that was purchased by the bank then can be improved or torn down. Major inter city areas could then be redeveloped and be part of the community even though it is separate from the community site. The people could be trained and use the advantages found in the collaborative community and then move back to their original lot if desired or the collaborative community could develop the inter city site.
- The community bank could allow for several families to obtain loans for businesses. One business would be to have families with various construction trade abilities to get together and build homes. This could be expanded for other business ideas.
Research: Any of the deign considerations could be used for research, especially in the social functions. It would be interesting to consider if. Social justice and inequality issues becomes a prominent consideration.
Duplex/Triplex Housing Concept:
The duplex housing unit concept is for the development of duplex housing in areas of need for people who would benefit from their special design attributes. They are unique in that they can be used for many different purposes and design changes can be made to accommodate the addition of separate rental units to existing duplex or triplex units. The units are just discussed and they can be seen in detail in my book and on the blogs on my website: towarselfsufficiency.com
The following plans represent just one of these features
- Use of Add-On Rental Units
- Use of the rooms for a living room and bedroom or two bedroom areas or an office
- Separate bathroom facilities for the unit
- Design of the units can be made smaller or larger very easily
- Capability of using the space for expansion of the duplex unit for private use
- Advantage to design double glass sliding doors with access to outdoor patios
- Access into the adjacent duplex/triplex for kitchen and living room use
- Many Ownership Alternatives
- The floors are stained concrete with grooves so tiles and carpets are not needed
One owner could own all of the units in a duplex and rent them all or live in one or two units (if combined) and rent the rest. Several of the units in the same duplex could be used as a condominium under multiple ownership or they could be under one ownership and sold as timeshare use. They could also be used as staff housing. One owner could also stay in one of the units in the duplex and rent out the other units to help pay for the duplex. Uses such as assisted living units, construction labor housing, student housing, retirement housing and other uses are also applicable. A managers unit, for example could have one, two or three bedrooms any of which could be converted to other uses.
- Built in and Movable Furniture
The kitchen appliances and cabinets are all movable and the kitchen use area can be changed if the two duplex units are made into a single family unit. The closet areas can also be designed to have curtains or storage units on wheels that can be moved around. Cabinets can be hooked into place and moved to meet changing needs. Murphy beds and built in seating can also be used.
- Individual Lot Design and Cluster design of Units:
The units can be placed to take advantage of views and have ample parking provided as necessary. The clustering of the units and the provision of green vegetative areas between the duplexes will add to the privacy. They also could be used for leftover lots in the village or community areas. The lots would have many choices for different landscape and outdoor activities. The individual garden areas off most of the units would provide space for any number of different activities. The different types of units and building elevations would add additional variety.
- Duplex Made from Triplex
The living room in the larger unit has been expanded out from the original triplex design. The kitchen has been removed. Part of wall removed.
- Original Triplex Design-Reverse
There are many other land plans available and these are just a few examples of what could be done.
- Individual Entries:
All units regardless of their size have individual entries from the outside, so that ample privacy is provided even if they are using some of the facilities offered in adjacent units.
- Design Simplicity
The bath and kitchen areas are similar in most of the duplexes and triplexes and the concept is applicable to modern construction methods of panelized housing construction. Since there is minimum built ins the shell is adaptable to several old or new housing techniques.
- Variable Use of Building Materials and Types of Construction
There are many different types of building materials available as well as types of construction. One firm can install one concrete homes in a day or less. The importance in selection of materials is to be cost effective, yet sustainable. Model homes in a complex may feature more than one method of construction.
- Variety of Floor Plans
Several floor plans are shown and many more are available to meet specific needs. The size of each of the duplexes can easily be changed to adapt to any need by the market demands. This can be done very easily. There are over 40 different designs available and just a few are shown here. Others can be made available by request if financing is available.
Many additional ideas can be incorporated into the project to add sustainable capabilities. This can happen using the Circular Economy process and passive energy options. There will be many different building processes used in order to research comparisons. Using the cradle to cradle process on each one would do this also. There are also many different parts to each building type/process so each of these add up to the sustainable rating that has to be taken into consideration. As I know of research like this has this never has been done before.
Duplex/Triplex and multi unit housing solutions are an applicable design consideration that would be useful in solving today’s affordable housing dilemma, while still incorporating as many green building principals as possible. By following the Circular Economy guidelines, and the use of the internet, the logistics for the research for this is now possible. During the lull caused by the pandemic there is time to organize an expert team so they can make a presentation (Phase 1) for estimated costs including optional site locations.
Presently the use of space in a typical subdivision has many areas that are wasted or non-usable. For example, front yards can be designed for private use or reduced in size (setbacks, incorporating parking, etc.) and more greenbelts can be designed into the subdivisions that can be utilized by everyone in the area for recreational or protected open space. Also, the incorporating of mixed uses within communities would make them more sustainable and encourage other means of transportation than the automobile. Diversity within communities can be encouraged by varying different housing types to make them more affordable, densities, uses and sustainable building systems. Land planning techniques can be varied within the same subdivision or village to offer further diversity. The diversity then can be useful by expanding the housing market to encourage a mix of housing in various economic categories. By doing this many people living in the community can work in the community in the construction and service fields. This paper will present many design solutions that could be adaptable to accomplish these recommendations.
The information in this section was obtained from the book “Green by Design” by Angela M. Dean. The information from the book is used to introduce sustainable principals that will encourage developers to use Green Building practices in developing communities. In depth information should be obtained from this publication as well as many other organizations. Some of the organizations offering information are:
American Institute of Architects (www.aia.org)
American Solar Energy Society (www.ases.org)
Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility (www.adpsr.org)
International Institute for Bau-Biologie and Ecology Education and Resources for Healthy Building (www.bau-biologieusa.com)
Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org)
Solar Energy International (www.solarenergy.org)
U.S. Department of Energy (www.eere.energy.gov.)
U.S. Green Building Council (www.udsgbc.org.)
Forest Stewardship Council (www.fscus.org.)
Certified Forest Products Council (www.certifiedwood.org.)
Environmental Defense (www.environmentaldefense.org)
Other information can be obtained from searching the internet under appropriate categories pertaining to sustainability, green building, etc.
There are lists of sustainable features that are incorporated into the houses shown in “Green by Design” and they vary from one home to another depending on the site orientation, area location, natural available materials, building practices, etc. Some of them are noted below:
Minimize construction waste
Minimize site impact
Restoration with native-drought tolerant plants
Integrated design process
Building shell efficiency
Renewable energy use
Passive heating and cooling strategies
Use of salvaged and recycled materials
Hard surface flooring and surfaces
Heat recovery ventilator
Site orientation (use of overhangs where applicable)
Efficient utilization of space, multiple uses of space
Minimized size of home
Salvaged building materials
Straw bale or rammed earth construction
Simplified living through the design process
Day lighting strategies
Energy-efficient building envelope
Use of composting type toilets or low volume flushing toilets
Permaculture design and organic gardening
Restoration of a degraded site
Gray water use for landscaping
New urbanist community
Preserved existing vegetation
Flexible functional space
Energy saving appliances and light bulbs
Breathable wall systems
Off-the-grid renewable energy systems
Site responsive design
Constant flow of fresh air with heat recovery
Nontoxic pest control
Vernacular design response
Extended outdoor living
Detached multi-use garage
Co-housing community location
Design for adaptability of use
Sustainable features may be utilized depending on local conditions and methods of site planning used in the design process. The main reason for noting these features is to show how many are available and worthy of consideration. Most sustainable features may cost a little more during initial construction, but each one will have a payback formula that should be calculated during the design process. Another consideration is the life cycle of most of the materials used that could enhance or degrade the environment.
Site Design for Sustainability:
If possible, all land planning and individual site designs should evaluate the local climatic conditions during and after the design process. Other considerations should include views, natural existing vegetation and waterways, terrain conditions, soils, geology, and political and social mores. New site planning approaches may need to have local zoning regulations changed in order for it to be approved. All of these valuations then will have to be equated with costs and cost-benefits over the long term. Uses around each home may be adjusted to make the best use of available exposures.
It is important to capture natural energy flows from the wind and the sun. A beginning analysis would be to review a table such as a wind and sun shade analysis showing monthly wind directions and yearly shade patterns. Depending on the area location the buffering of winter winds by earth berms and windbreaks when there is space to do so. It is very important and can save homeowners considerable money. Consequently the proper use of evergreen or deciduous trees and overhangs can reduce summer and winter energy costs. Site planning can also be used to evaluate potential hazards, prevent undue erosion, preserve natural assets and be used to allow people to connect to the community by greenbelts, mixed use development, bike routes, convenience of public facilities, etc.
Site planning can minimize energy needs and maximize passive energy strategies. Waste management, gray water use, rainwater catchments that can be utilized. These and other environmental practices may even be considered as applicable throughout the community that would even serve several houses at one time. Another example of adaptability would be for the same house design to change its overhangs and exterior yard activities according to the exposure to the sun. This would be applicable because not all family rooms, for example, would not be oriented in the same direction throughout the community. In today’s housing development activities there is no coordination between the developer and the actual housing builder in regard to sustainability and energy efficiency considerations in the site design for each house. Thus, sustainability on a mass scale is not utilized due to the fracturing of responsibility between the developer and the builder. This is especially true in the building of affordable housing.
The values could be very subjective or complex and many of them would vary according to the values established by the person or people analyzing the site map. Its main value would be to have the site studied from many different aspects by different people. For example, the administrator of a hospital would have different values than the building contractor or developer as to the cost of certain facilities.
There is also a question as to the value of ambience (surroundings or atmosphere of a place) from different areas on a site. This should also be compared to other sites or competitive sites or other developments of the same type. The solution is being innovative, unique and attentive to the trends in the marketplace while maintaining proper costs for the project to be successful.
The cost of land is only one component to the value of a property. Other factors include:
- Appraisal value and comparison to other like projects (if possible) – Site visitation
- Costs of off-site improvements required – Adequacy of utilities
- Infrastructure contractor for the site development (Variables in price and reputation)
- Allocation of share of costs if other properties border the access street
- Association with other development in the area – uniqueness of the site
- Market analysis to establish value of the property – inartistic values of the site – views
- Cost of improvements due to site conditions – Approval time frames
Sustainable Site Design:
Now the topic of sustainable site design is becoming more important and many new developments are trying to use sustainable practices incorporated into their site designs. This is comprehensive since it encompasses the ecological, social and economic issues of a project. The general definition is that sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This involves site and place-focused solutions and employs complex, integrated, and multifunctional systems that must be developed in collaboration with multiple disciplines. (Landscape Architecture Graphic Standards)
One of the factors leading toward this objective is to build a complete consulting team at the onset consisting of several disciplines. The first step is to understand the bioregional and cultural systems as expressed in many Environmental Impact Statements. The environmental considerations have already been noted and the cultural analysis could incorporate some of the following ideas:
- An analysis of current land use patterns to determine how people use land around the site.
- An inventory of existing structures noting potential for reuse
- Identification of historical or cultural features of the site and the surrounding region
- Applicable data on the human population and economic setting in the region around the site
- Interviews or meetings with project users, project staff, community groups, and other stakeholders in the project
- Review social literature that is available and visits to local universities to see if students and/or professors would be able to act as survey takers and consultants
- Work with cultural anthropologists/geographers to determine how to recognize cultural design features in the existing architecture and the reasons for existing building locations in urban and rural areas
- Review special holidays and festivals
- Establish a citizens committee to work with project development of the staff housing community
- Set up training for stakeholders in the practices of sustainable design
- Identify sustainable design information resources and manage information for future use
The list of consultants for sustainable design can be varied according to the size, location and type of project. The first team or consulting group would be for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement. In the preparation of the first phase of the master plan the following team members could be present to insure all disciplines can interact to produce the best design product.
- Land Planner and associates
- Ownership Team
- Owners or representatives
- Construction contractor – Infrastructure
- In country architect, engineers and others as necessary
- Water management consultant
- Landscape Architect
- Engineers – Power – Electrical – Water Storage – etc.
- Marketing Consultant
At a later date during the design process (or initially) the following consultants may be needed:
- Geographer or Cultural Anthropologist – Normally from in country
- Biologist and Environmental Impact Statement Team – Building and Landscape Maintenance
- Association of professionals from local or U.S. universities in appropriate disciplines
Sustainable Design – Leed Program:
The following criteria is patterned after LEED requirements for sustainable site design. Headings are used, but other information is available that goes into additional detail. The original LEED system is designed to guide high performance commercial and institutional projects. It has also been applied to schools, multiunit residential buildings, manufacturing plants, laboratories and other building types. Registered projects can choose from a variety of sustainable strategies and earn points toward a certified project in the following six categories:
- Sustainable Sites (up to 14 points)
- Water Efficiency (up to 5 points)
- Energy and Atmosphere ( up top 17 points)
- Materials and Resources (up to 13 points)
- Indoor Environmental Quality (up to 15 points)
- Innovation and Design Process (up to 5 points)
There are other categories that are applicable and the following refer mainly to site design other than (ND) Neighborhood Design. Projects can be certified at a variety of levels based on the points they have earned, as follows:
- Certified (26 – 32 points)
- Silver (33 – 38 points)
- Gold (39 – 51 points)
- Platinum (52 – 69 points)
Principals and Strategies of Sustainable Design
- Employ Process and Project Delivery Techniques to Facilitate Implementation of Sites
– Include a broad range of stakeholders in the project planning and design process
– Educate stakeholders about sustainable design
– Establish consulting teams early and include the entire team in goal setting early
– Identify sustainable design information resources and manage information for future use
– Establish criteria for decision making early in the process
– Include contractors in the design process, and educate the construction team about sustainable goals
– Document sustainable design goals in the contract specifications
- Design for Healthy Site and Regional Systems
– Select and develop appropriate sites
– SS credit 1: Site selection
– SS credit 2: Development density & community connectivity
– SS credit 3: Brownfield redevelopment
– Understand regional systems and analyze the impacts on the planned site development on these systems
– Inventory and analyze natural and cultural features of the site
- Minimize Site Disturbance
– Protect existing features while surveying
– Protect existing features during construction
SS Prerequisite: Construction activity pollution prevention
– Minimize site development footprint and develop density
SS credit 5.2: Site development, maximize open space
SS credit 4.4: Alternative transportation, Parking capacity
– Reduce negative impacts of roads and parking areas
SS credit 5.1: Site development, protect or restore habitat
- Preserve and Restore Natural Site Features and Habitat
– Preserve or restore wildlife habitat, reduce lighting pollution
SS credit 8: Light pollution reduction
- Protect and Restore Soil Health and Fertility
– Minimize soil compaction
– Minimize grading and earthwork
– Control erosion and sedimentation
– Conserve or restore native soil fertility
- Protect and Restore Appropriate Native or Adapted Vegetation
– Inventory existing site vegetation and understand regional native plant communities
– Protect existing native and adapted vegetation
– Use plant material appropriate to the ecoregion
SS vegetation credit 5.1: Site development, protect or restore habitat
– Use a diverse plant palette
– Use structural soil to promote tree root growth under pavement
- Conserve and Protect Water Resources
– Conserve, harvest, and reuse fresh water
– Specify low water use or drought-tolerant plants
WE credits 1.1 and 1.2: Water efficient landscaping
– Use efficient irrigation systems
WE credit 1.1: Water efficient landscaping
– Use rainwater collection systems and reuse gray water in the landscape
– Encourage groundwater recharge through on-site infiltration strategies
– Respect natural drainage patterns
– Minimize impervious surfaces and make paving permeable
– Slow runoff, and employ surface drainage strategies
SS credit 6.1: Storm water design quality control
– Protect, treat, and restore water quality
– Reduce water pollution
– Avoid building products and materials that contribute to water pollution
– Minimize use of applied landscape chemicals
– Treat wastewater on site
WE credit 2: Innovative water technologies
- Minimize Resource Use and Reuse Materials
– Minimize construction and demolition waste
– Reuse existing structures
– Use resource-efficient, durable, and low maintenance materials
– Specify materials with reuse potential
– Use salvaged and reused materials
– Use recycled-content materials
– Use renewable materials
– Use certified materials
MR credits 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3: Building reuse
MR credits 2.1 and 2.2: Construction waste management
MR credits 3.1 and 3.2: Materials reuse
MR credits 4.1 and 4.2: Recycled content
MR credit 6: Rapidly renewable materials
MR credit 7: Certified wood
- Minimize Energy Use
– Design landscape features to conserve building energy
– Design site plans for energy conservation, orient buildings to take advantage of solar and climatic conditions
– Use low embodied energy materials
– Use local materials
MR credits 5.1 and 5.2: Regional materials
– Minimize use of operating energy or use renewable energy sources
– Minimize use of power equipment for maintenance and construction
- Minimize Impacts to Air and Atmospheric Quality
– Reduce heat island effects
– Minimize paving and increase shade
– Build green roofs
– Reduce air pollution
– Avoid building products and materials that contribute to air pollution
– Design to promote alternative transportation
SS credits 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4: Alternative transportation
– Reduce light pollution
SS credit 8: Light pollution reduction
- Protect and Foster Human Health
– Use low and emitting materials and products
– Avoid products that contain persistent biological toxins
– Design for safe and secure environments
– Design fort pedestrian and non motorized vehicles
– Connect people with nature and natural materials
- Manage and Maintain Sustainable Landscapes
– Consider maintenance during design
– Establish management structures, and include maintenance personnel during the design process
– Make a maintenance plan or manual
– Monitor landscape system function during post installation
– Employ appropriate maintenance techniques
Other Considerations – Site Analysis:
In the preparation of the site design from information obtained there are other aspects that should be evaluated to see if they would be pertaining to the site in question. Some of these are:
- Applying Visual Resource Assessment for Highway Planning
- Historic Landscapes
- Review and Establishment of Cultural Districts
- Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
- Site Security Planning and Landscape Design Criteria
- Review of the Traditional Neighborhood Design Concept
- Transit Oriented Development
- Runoff Control Management
- Water Supply Systems for Irrigation Water Conservation
- Water Distribution – Road Alignment
- Storm Water Quality Control
- Stream Restoration
- Wetland Preservation
- Landscape and Landscape Nursery Management and Maintenance
The site analysis is included in this study to ensure that the project will be developed as sustainable as possible and that the planning of the project will be as through as possible. The site analysis and environmental study will provide information that will make the project viable.
See Blog 16 for details on a complete site analysis.
This is a brief (?) analysis of explaining the importance and uses of the Circular Economy and the Doughnut Economy. It also provides a research vehicle that shows where and how it can be used – The Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP). What is needed now is funding agencies to make it a “on the ground” project. The research components alone would make it a valuable asset to our society and the environment. There is such a shortage of affordable housing throughout the world, that such a solution as offered here should be welcomed. It is adaptable for any location or climate. The social considerations makes it more unique and the training/education facilities ensures that it will help people and make the project to be continually growing. This is little to ask for everyone’s viable future.
George R. Hunt Associates
341 Birchwood Drive
Garland, Texas, 75043
© 2020 by George Hunt