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Sustainable Design (Continuing Series)
A new working order Sustainable Design Part One

Nick Radford, Director of Ecoliving Design, lays the groundwork for a new way of thinking about how humans interact with the environments they create, using the sustainability of forests as a model. Wherever we live humans have an impact on the environment but what would happen if we could design those places so that they were sustainable?
 
Managing water sustainably in agriculture 
Our water management motto needs to be .... Slow and conservative
Water is appallingly managed almost everywhere in the world, with Australia no exception - but how do you do it right? The general behaviour of water management in nature, our model of sustainability is to slow water down, spread it out, sink rain into the soil and give it a complex pathway. Nick Radford discusses effective strategies that apply to humid landscapes, where annual rainfall exceeds evaporation 
Sustainable Design Part II: New Designer Genes

Nick Radford, Director of Ecoliving Design, examines the elements of good design and how design needs to become sustainable. Design is how we put together all the different elements and processes included in a plan. A house, is not just pieces of timber and roofing but also a set of processes involving different people, for example, tradespeople and owners. The finished house incorporates many different processes such as cooking and cleaning and movement and interactions between people. Designers have to think about both elements and processes but architects, for instance, don’t often include processes. The poorest people in the country live in units and state housing designed by architects who live a completely different lifestyle. Very few of such homes actually work. A better approach is iterative design where the aim is to make the design a solution to a problem. The designer must ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers to gain the information needed to understand the design problem.
Sustainable Design Part III

Permaculture is applied environmental science. Australia’s Bill Mollison (known as the founder of permaculture) published Introduction to Permaculture in the early 1980s and Permaculture: a designer’s manual which can be applied all over the world. He taught in almost every country principles that could be applied in locally appropriate ways. He pioneered sustainable design techniques using a multidisciplinary approach that involved sustainable house design, sustainable landscape design, water, forestry and animal husbandry and indigenous wisdom about the land in his quest to apply the efficiency of nature into farming systems. Nick Radford from Ecoliving Design, outlines how sustainable design techniques can be put into practice.
Sustainable Design Part IV

Sustainable design: microclimates and biodiversity
Nick Radford, Director of Ecoliving Design, continues his examination of the elements of sustainable design with a focus on microclimate and diversity. Energy is used if the climate is outside a favourable range and the main way to influence the outside microclimate (and save energy resources) is vegetation. Trees provide shade that is cooler than the shade under a tin roof. Trees also cut out wind and both cold and hot winds put a lot of stress on plants and animals. It can be really simple to have a low energy house without air conditioning. Nature is stable because it is diverse. A farm with one crop has a big problem if something goes wrong with that crop. One with a hundred crops has a small problem if something goes wrong with one of them. Monoculture agriculture is a huge problem and obviously unsustainable. We have been growing food for thousands of years in a diverse manner and today the progressive farms are diversifying, recognising the economic security of having a diverse range of crops and products. People are doing good things. The organic farming industry is growing in Australia Shops that specialise in organic food way are more accessible than in the past. It is true that we don’t have a high availability of sustainably grown food at a good price but people should either grow their own or develop a better local organic food industry. font face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif" size="1">The Philippines is a good example of diversity. A lot of people only have 10-20 m˛ of garden and they grow all their food in it. This whole backyard ecology even controls insect predators and pests. Nature is self-maintaining which is why diversity is so stable. When we try to force oversimplified solutions onto landscapes we are fighting nature and that takes an awful lot of work and energy.
 

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