Eco-housing is a term largely of US origin, developed with the goal of reducing excessive US housing patterns to sustainable levels. Many of these goals are already achieved and in common practice in Japanese housing. Japanese goals need to have somewhat different priorities. High priorities need to include:
1. Stopping conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.
2. Improving quality of life within existing resource use levels.
3. Stabilizing population within sustainable levels
4. Re-establishment of spiritual values underlying community and housing.
There seems to be both individual and public perceptions that things can't be done, and lack of available shared information on resources, strategies, techniques, and examples of successful projects. There is opportunity and need for individuals, educational organizations and technical and construction companies to network the needed research; host a conference; disseminate the gathered information; and build demonstration projects showing the new possibilities.
AGRICULTURAL CONVERSION: There is more than the equivalent of all of Japan's agricultural land available in undeveloped low-slope hillsides. Continued loss of agricultural land to other uses is not justifiable. Hillside construction on the geologically active Izu Hanto (Atami, for example) suggests that seismic and landslide protected construction is quite feasible other places.
* Document agricultural losses and rates of loss.
* Develop alternate hillside strategies of accommodating further urbanization where desirable.
*Map geology, slope, orientation, soils, depth to bedrock, landslide potential, costs of slide-resistant construction patterns.
* Land use, construction and design patterns for hillside locations.
* Develop and implement agricultural protection legislation (Oregon as one example).
CLIMATE MODIFICATION: "Paddy" agriculture practices have resulted both in a traditional environment with virtually no trees and a significant increase in air humidity and heat discomfort. Vegetative shading in urbanized areas and non-flooded truck and dry grain farming may be able to give significant improvement in local climate at low cost.
* Reducing sun heat load - shading, reflectivity, smog
* Humidity alternation - winter/summer
* Non-inundated agricultural practices
* Tree and vine planting
* Breeze and wind
* Air quality
DURABILITY: This is the greatest contributor, other than energy efficiency and population stability, to overall reduction in resource use in housing.
* Individual building elements
* Whole house / Neighborhood
* Fire protection strategies
* Land use change management avoiding unnecessary destruction (housing patterns)
* Weather, insect, and rot resistance
* True cost analysis
ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS CONTROL: Japanese living environments are becoming heavily saturated with electromagnetic fields from high voltage transmission lines and transformers, electric trains, communications systems, and home heating systems.
* Documentation of problems
* Strategies for improvement
BUILDING CONSTRUCTION STRATEGIES BY REGION AND TYPE (Single family, row houses, apt. blocks). A working conference on natural building materials I took part in this week showed that excellent progress is occurring in earth and straw bale wall construction, straw insulation, earth plasters, etc. I also verified availability of clay soils in Japan suitable for construction (but not detailed sources of high-esthetic finish plaster soils).
* Natural building materials and techniques inventory:
* Forest management needs and strategies
* Soils for walls/plaster
* Wood products for wall panels, etc.
* Straw bale resource areas
* Reeds for roofs / tatami
* Skills and teachers
* Heating / cooling / ventilating strategies
* Solar and natural cooling techniques for humid climates
* Supplemental wood heat / charcoal cooking
* Insulation - natural - non-carcinogenic materials
* Mineral-impregnated cellulose insulation (clay-rice straw)
* Rice hulls
* Summer ventilation/cooling strategies
* High-R walls, windows, and crackage control
* Retractable shading and roof shading/venting
* Solar chimneys / dehumidification
* Role of thermal mass
* Solar water heating
* PV / solar electricity
* Sound separation
* Financing / durability
BUILDING DESIGN STRATEGIES: Significant improvement is possible in building design in Japan for more effective space use, dealing with belongings, site use, preservation of sunlight and view, thermal and ventilation comfort.
* Improved new / existing / infill // single family / row / apartment complex patterns.
* "Retrofitting" existing buildings and neighborhoods
* Living space organization
* Storage / dealing with "belongings" - storage buildings, rentalls, storage organization in homes, attitudes, sharing, etc.
* Building with a soul
* "Protected view/sunlight/breeze" locations -
* river floodplains,
* abutting temple properties,
* abutting protected agricultural/forestry zones
SACREDNESS: The psychological, mental, and spiritual health of our cities is largely being ignored today, resulting in growing problems. Development of a new spiritual basis for building and living in our cities is vital.
* Ki and feng shui
* Protection of sacred places
* Putting heart in our homes
* Development of new places of the soul
COMMUNITY STRATEGIES: Both the technical and people connections of where and how we build are vital and need to be realigned on new values.
* Participation and place
* Connected systems, urban structure
* Water / waste/ food cycle systems
* Health and learning - mental/psychological and spiritual as well as physical
* Work patterns
* Population stability
REAL WEALTH: Sustainability is not possible until we realize that different values and different paths to personal happiness and community are more rewarding than our present ones.
* Sustainable values
* More direct paths to satisfactions
* Quality of Life improvement
* Strategies for real wealth enrichment
* Sustainable cultural beliefs, institutions, and goals
* Knowing that the health and well-being of all creation is essential to our own survival and well-being.
38755 Reed Rd.
Nehalem OR 97131 USA
© October 94