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Memewatch: Passive Survivability
Alex Steffen, 2 May 06

Passive survivability is the idea that in an age of increasing climate instability and Wexelblat disasters, it is part of the design brief of a good building to make sure that its inhabitants can survive outages in services (especially power), and that the best way to make sure buildings promote survival is to build them full of systems which don't need as much electricity, tap water, etc. in the first place:

Passive survivability can be achieved by incorporating the sustainable design features that have been so actively promoted by the green building community: cooling-load avoidance strategies, capabilities for natural ventilation, a highly efficient thermal envelope, passive solar gain, and natural daylighting. Indeed, these measures are so important that they may need to be incorporated into building codes. Buildings can go even further with features such as generating and storing photovoltaic electricity and collecting and storing rainwater....

Bright, green, rugged.

(Good grab, Kif!)

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Alex Wilson, the author of the article, "Passive Survivability" is a close friend and someone I admire greatly. He's the publisher of Environmental Building News, the best journal of Green design and construction there is. If you work in architecture or construction, it's an indispensable tool, and a subscription is worth far more than its cost. You have a choice of a print or online subscription. While you're at it, check out their Green Builder Advisor software.

Posted by: David Foley on 2 May 06

I've actually been thinking about this a lot the last few days, as a reaction to the goofy H2opia article.

What would a rugged green subdivision or village look like?

To the naked eye, pretty much like the subdivisions and towns we got. However:

Houses all have minimal solar-charged backup power systems, along the lines of the $600 systems described on WorldChanging at one point. The system would be enough to keep the water pump, refrigerator, a few lights, a few appliances (radio, cell phone charger) and perhaps a fan running.

Every house has a cistern to store rain water. Bigger in dryer climates. If you don't need it for an emergency, would can have a green lawn guilt free.

The streets have cisterns under them too, to water the landscaping and for fire emergencies.

Traffic signals and streetlights at intersections and along major boulevards have solar-charged power backups.

The place has a survivable emergency communication infrastructure. Solar charged, hardened boxes bolted to the light poles.

How much would it cost to have a parallel graywater "sewage" system? In arid environments, it might be worth it to collect wash and bath and sink water.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 2 May 06



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