Case Studies for Sustainable Living
Photographs by Audrey Hall
Off the Grid Homes looks at six contemporary architectural projects that integrate alternative technologies for generating and conserving energy. Being off the grid can refer to many different aspects of energy and resource independence, from rainwater collection, to photovoltaic (PV) systems, to gray-water systems and more. Diagrams and clear explanations of technologies and their appropriate applications are provided alongside the case studies that explain just how the technologies work and how they may best be applied to each individual situation.
Facts about living Off the Grid:
More than 180,000 American homeowners live off the grid,; each year the national number grows by about 33 percent.
Most states offer tax breaks and financial incentives for people who live off the grid. A recent study found that after 15 years, an increase in America’s alternative-energy investment would create almost 150,000 jobs, increase wages nearly $7 billion, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions roughly 30 percent and save close to $30 billion in electric and gas bills.
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Off the Grid confronts the ecological and cultural problems associated with the way we get and use energy, and explains how it is possible to live in a beautifully designed home using much less–no matter where your home is located.
Our homes are connected by a nearly invisible grid of infrastructure that binds us together. It is a system of electrical poles, wire, substations, hydroelectric dams, telecommunication towers, and water extraction and sewage systems. From within this system we work, play, and raise families. We have also created one of the greatest environmental challenges known to modern civilization. The signs of our impact upon the world can be recognized in the reports of environmental changes occurring across the earth, and they can also be seen in the growing failures of the energy grids across the world as the current system is stressed beyond its capacity.
Technologies that can be used to live off the grid (geothermal energy use, wind turbines, photovoltaic arrays, micro hydropower, rainwater collection and reclamation, and more) are explained as author Lori Ryker shows how to choose and incorporate these sources according to geography and climate.
Off the Grid beautifully illustrates that this is not just a concept for rural living; examples of homes that are “off the grid” to varying degrees are found in New York City; Ontario, Canada; Stuttgart, Germany; Belmont, California; Pipe Creek, Texas; Clyde Park, Montana; Twin Lakes, Minnesota; Laytonville, California; Venice, California; and New South Wales, Australia.
Off the Grid shows how we can take responsibility for our future choices and conveniences now, and proves that off-the-grid living is a concept that can be easily understood and adopted by everyone, regardless of where you live or how much money you make.
Lori Ryker grew up in Texas and has lived and worked in a variety of locations, including Boston, New York City, Portland, and Basel, Switzerland. She now resides in Livingston, Montana, where she teaches in the School of Architecture at Montana State University and is a partner, along with Brett W. Nave, of Ryker/Nave Design. Their work has been published in The House You Build, and Western Interiors and Design. Ryker holds a MArch from Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Ph.D. from Texas A & M University. She is the author of Mockbee Coker: Thought and Process.
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