Sustainability is always a hot topic for debate. Questions like ‘is it possible?’ or ‘so how exactly can a community become sustainable?’ are amongst the most common questions that are asked. This article will put an end to these frequently asked questions once and for all. Examples will be given that show sustainable communities are possible, and how they actually go about becoming fully sustainable.
Reynolds, Indiana in White County
In Business magazine described this community as a ‘One-town rebellion to launch homegrown local energy production’. The vision of this community was to create the first biorenewable in the United States. The main drive for this was that the Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wanted to Reynolds to be self-reliant by no longer depending on Foreign oils. A number of features, such as its size and easy accessibility, made it perfect to become Biotown.
Here a couple of the measures they took in order to become sustainable:
Increasing Biomass sources
An inventory was made of all the materials and feed stocks in Reynolds and surrounding areas which could be used as Biomass fuels. Materials such as corn grain, manure and sewage were in abundance. However additional materials were introduced such as canola and switchgrass in order for a bigger biomass energy system to be established.
Increased the use of ethanol and biodiesel
As the main aim of Reynolds was to become independent from foreign oil this was by far the most important measure. The town would not be able to claim its title as Biotown without outing the use of petrol and diesels. A unique partnership was formed between GM and Reynolds, GM offered a number of discounts to residents to purchase or lease flex-fuel cars. These cars are specially designed to run on gasoline or a mixture of ethanol and gasoline.
You may be thinking, Great one example of a rural town that became sustainable what does that prove? However not all sustainable communities are situated in rural areas. This next example is situated only 3 miles west from downtown LA.
Los Angeles Ecovillage, California
The main aim for this community is to create a sustainable way of living, whilst not sacrificing a quality way of life. The Los Angeles Ecovillage prides itself on being sustainable whilst still being close to things such as public transport, schools, churches and shops.
Here a few ways in which they became more sustainable:
Creating Gardens and Planting Trees
Similarly to Reynolds LAEV increased the amount of biomass and sustainable foods available in the community. On their website they state that nearly two dozen small gardens and more than 100 fruit trees were planted in its 2 block neighbourhood.
Reused twenty tonnes of red clay brick
Twenty tonnes of red clay brick from an earthquake that occurred in 1994 was saved from going to landfill. Instead the brick was used in a number of projects in the Eco-Village.
Still not convinced? What is the problem now? Is it that both of these examples are from America? This next example will change just that!
Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, New Zealand
This community describe themselves as a ‘innovative urban cohousing development’. Cohousing is a form of collaborative housing it allows residents to actively participate in the design and operation function of their own homes and also the neighbourhoods. They claim that their neighbourhood is ‘a model of socially and environmentally sustainable living’.
Here is how they became sustainable:
The site of this community was perfectly designed to work in with the existing landscape, vegetation and climate to create an amazing ecosystem. This prevented damage to crops and allowed them to make the most out of the location.
Orientation of homes
All the homes in Earthsong are correctly orientated towards the north, which is perfect for energy efficiency. This allows the solar panels which are fitted on the roof of every house in Earthsong to absorb the greatest amount of light possible and generate the biggest amount of energy.
So there we have it: 3 brilliant examples of towns that have become sustainable and independent from the fossils fuels of other countries. Examples like this show that sustainability is possible, it merely requires a great deal of passion and commitment but none the less is far from impossible.