Talk:Autonomous building

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Errors[edit]

I posted a big red flag in the hopes someone will pickup on this quick. While I find the artical quite good there are many serious errors. Suggesting N. Dakota is in permafrost is just one example.

Another is the idea that the average western citizen consumes only about 1000 kwh per year. At 5 cents that is $50 bux and while I know I am certainly not your average wikipedian I consume about 2x that per month. But then I run several servers which offset the space heat for my office.

This is a good artical but it needs some real engineering! Then it will be a great artical.

I found a reference for ground temperatures, and corrected them. I couldn't find the part of the article that gave a figure of 1000 kwh, that is an economical monthly usage, and quite possible in a house that doesn't use air-conditioning and has an economical refrigerator. 65.171.255.181 16:52, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Fabric water tanks[edit]

. Fabric water tanks can be purchased that fit the bed of a pick-up truck and which convey more than four thousand liters (a thousand gallons)- enough for three person-years of water.

This may be advocating the illegal. Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon - the loading of over four tonnes would exceed the load-limit of most pick-ups, which would be illegal in the UK and I suspect most other countries. Anyone doing this should find their vehicle's maximum payload and only fill the container to the permitted amount. -- Chris Q 15:16 Dec 13, 2002 (UTC)

POV[edit]

This is an advocacy article. I seriously doubt that any careful analysis would show that it is cheaper for everyone to provide their own sewage service, water, etc. I have a cabin in the woods and it is delightful, but it is not more efficient than my suburban home. Ortolan88 15:23 Dec 13, 2002 (UTC)

I'm sure it depends. If everything is lo-tech, you have reed systems to treat waste, a nearby spring or minimally treated rainwater etc. it probably is more efficient. If you have high-tech treatment of water and sewage I expect that the energy needed to make these systems fas outways the saving. Individual systems in densely populated urban areas can't make sense. -- Chris Q 15:29 Dec 13, 2002 (UTC)

Or, to put it another way, cities are the most efficient way of living for large numbers of people. I see someone toned down the dubious statement, btw. Thanks. Ortolan88

Disaggree[edit]

I respectfully disagree about efficiencies, and I encourage you to run the numbers with real prices in your area. Most utilities have prices almost exactly 5% below the amortized price of the mass-produced rural systems that provide private utility service (e.g., electricity will be just below the fuel costs and amortization of a natural gas generator). Many people pay for central utility networks from after-tax income, so the home-based utilities are 15-45% more efficient just because they create untaxed value. (I know that utilities are often price-controlled monopolies. I think it's interesting that the prices are just low enough to suppress obvious competition.)

Unless the area has local nuclear or hydroelectric power, new construction could probably afford to make its own heat and light. In the coldest areas of the U.S. passive solar heat costs only 15% more than normal construction. In milder areas, it costs nothing. It usually commands a 15-20% price premium.

In Southern California, new solar roofs already provide cheaper electricity than the utilities, because they keep the rain out, and the amortized untaxed marginal value of such electricity is cheaper than the power prices. In most great plains areas, a 10-meter wind turbine on a hundred-foot tower will run an all-electric house, for about 10% of a new house's cost.

Sewage and water are harder, not least because of local health regulations. In my area, (water is horrendously expensive) they would break even, or make a tiny profit. However, they are more secure everywhere. Many areas have groundwater depletion and poisoning. In all rural and most suburban areas buying land for swales instead of digging storm-drains is cheaper and more pleasant.

I also respectfully disagree with the "lo-tech" comment. For example, a modern switching inverter is cheaper than a rotary inverter, and should last longer because it has no moving parts. As it happens, high tech windmills, solar cells, water and composting toilets are less expensive, too. Solar heating is substantialy easier with high-tech windows, and advanced aerodynamic design of the ducting.

Personally, I think the big reasons why people don't do this are an unwillingness to pay the capital costs, and a belief that it's a hassle to keep the systems running. Solar-electric roofs and passive solar heat have no moving parts, and are therefore nearly hassle-free. Cisterns, greywater systems and septic tanks have pumps and require life-style changes.

User:Ray Van De Walker

Sewers[edit]

In a smaller detail, the article says that in rome the sewage system was the street. This is a bit funny even while it may have been correct at the intended time, wasn't Rome one of the first cities to have a real sewer system? --blades 23:15, May 6, 2004 (UTC)

Indeed, ancient Rome had the Cloaca Maxima built in 532 BC, though they were preceded by the Indus civilization by some thousands of years.--albamuth 23:22, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

pick up truck[edit]

"Fabric water tanks can be purchased that fit the bed of a pick up truck."

What does this (and several other sections) have to do with autonomous buildings? - Omegatron 03:15, Jan 13, 2005 (UTC)
It frees one from dependence on (possibly nonexistent) infrastructure. A fabric water tank is an affordable hack to access the nearest available water source.
I gotta add that using periodic resupply from an unknown source is no better than relying on an constant connection to infrastructure. Surely you're either AUTONOMOUS or you're NOT AUTONONMOUS.
In real life, autonomy depends on personal choices and a budget. Are you autonomous if you live in a cabin in the woods, gather your food, and chop your own wood? (Very much so, I think.) But what if you sell forest products to buy party clothes (for the square-dance!), ammunition, nails, matches and an axe? A job, and a gas heater for the fourth cloudy day is a similar trade-off, though not as robustly manly. Ray Van De Walker 20:33, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Information[edit]

Perhaps a more useful heading would be communication? - Birkett 01:09, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Neutrality of Article in Question[edit]

Obviously the author has a bias in rec. these sorts of systems without an objective basis in reality. Instead of explaining these systems they provide details on implementing and using such networks, which is not the point of wikipedia in any regard ~ using implemented examples for comparisons sake is fine, but suggesting and pulling down numbers for possible use is contrary to how articles should be written ~ This is not Home and Garden!

Point of View of article is also skewed, as stated above, it makes the assumption that you are looking to implement such systems while providing no equal ground for informing instead of advocating the use and theory behind such a system.

Would someone be kind enough to mark this article for editing and clean up?

  1. In re POV: I respectfully disagree. The article primarily describes "what" with just enough history, "why", "how" and "where" that the existence of such systems is somewhat credible. Advocacy, of the sort, "You should go and get one of these right now!" is conspicuously absent. Instead, the article describes the subset of advocates, whose biases are reasonably well known. I honestly am unaware of people with philosophical objections to autonomous buildings (other than cost or convenience!) User:Ray Van De Walker
  2. In re Theory: Earlier revisions had some theory, and supporting text; At one point there was quite a long discussion of green building and diffusion of environmental impacts (not by me). It, along with the sections on gardening and recycling, were removed as "irrelevant" (also not by me). Of course, gardening and recycling are essential to reduce the environmental impact and reduce the fragility of citified life-styles, which export many environmental impacts to distant forestry, farming, mining and manufacturing sites, using fragile transportation, storage and credit systems. Keeping these activities on-site not only diffuses and mitigates their impact (people have to live with them), but can increase security and reduce waste. The tantalizing possibility is that technical advances might make more autonomy efficient and convenient. I was interested to find Australians active in this! They need a more sustainable society because their ancient, rain-leached, mineral-poor soils, caused a long expensive history of exporting farming and forestry (See Jared Diamond's "Collapse" for convenient references). User:Ray Van De Walker
  3. In re so-called "how to" aspect: A common reaction to this article without some technical information is to dismiss the concept as pie-in-the-sky. The so-called "how-to" text barely indicates common techniques and links to them. In contrast to genuine how-to information, the article lacks gritty details of vendors, materials, dimensions, methods of calculation, actual calculations, project plans and case-studies of home-built projects. In this, it resembles comparable industrial articles in encyclopedias such as World Book. This is the relevant type of article, because an autonomous building is a different way of distributing basic industries. The article could definitely use more information about historical, artistic and social impacts of small-scale autonomy. User:Ray Van De Walker

Error in the Heating section[edit]

These words were posted by User:66.18.218.43 in the Heating section, beneath the sentence Wind breaks reduce the amount of heat carried away from a building.

Not vandalism: The above paragraph is obviously wrong. Since I do not have the data I'll post this big red flag in the hopes that someone who DOES have the data can make a correction. If the ground temps in N. Dakota were in the freezing range as cited in the above paragraph then there would be permafrost in N. Dakota. This would mean that cities like Fargo would not be able to bury their water pipes below the frost line because as the paragraph states the temperature "several feet _below the earth_" ...is below freezing. Perhaps this is true is Fairbanks alaska but even there I doubt it.

Omphaloscope » talk 16:09, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

I found a reference for ground temperatures, and fixed them. 65.171.255.181 17:04, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

"Well-foot"[edit]

The water section mentions something called a well-foot, but doesn't explain what it is. I checked the water well article, and couldn't find it in there either (nor could I find a definition via Google). That needs to be updated so people who've never used a well know what it means. -Juansmith 20:02, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Thoreau Doesn't Belong Here[edit]

I'm tempted to remove this or at least change the wording unless there's a good argument for keeping it as is: In 1854, Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden, a nonfictional account of his time in a self-built home designed for maximum independence from the neighboring town of Concord, MA, USA. It includes detailed descriptions of his home, garden, costs, time, and associated labor.

Clearly in Walden Thoreau is frugal and perhaps a bit interested in personal autonomy but his house wasn't exactly designed for it any differently than his neighbors' homes were. He had a wood stove, as did his neighbors in town; he went into the woods to cut his own fuel, as did his neighbors in town; and he used the outdoors as his bathroom, pretty much as his neighors in town did (except they put up a little room around the hole-in-the-ground for privacy(outhouse)).

Yes he had a garden but he exclusively grew beans in order to sell them. He specifically discusses what types of food he buys in town to nurish himself.

So yes, he built the house himself, he gardened, he didn't have utilities and he was a bit of a recluse. But his house was no more autonomous than any one elses house at the time, it was just smaller and far from town. If he had kept a balanced garden for nourishing himself or developed some kind of passive heating system or a clever indoor plumbing setup I'd agree his house was autonomous. But actually it wasn't autonomous, just small and otherwise run-of-the-mill. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Glippy00 (talkcontribs) 03:34, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

No references[edit]

I tagged this article as unreferenced, as no sources are given. I found it well written and informative, and am surprised at how extensive it is without any sources cited. Unless the original author(s) return with sources, it would take a lot of research to verify and source everything in the existing article. -Agyle 01:11, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Someone just changed the sentence in the Financing section from "A passive-solar house usually commands a 15-20% price premium" to say "7-10% price premium." No citation before, no citation now. It illustrates the problem of having no references; anyone can claim anything. The whole section is based on unsourced numbers, so I'm deleting it. -Agyle 10:19, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
I removed most of the unreferenced sections and statements in the article. It's been a month, and no citations were added. Hopefully the article can be rebuilt based on reliable sources. -Agyle 21:55, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I added citations where requested, and removed the marker. Hope that helps. The price premium on passive-solar houses is cited in "Natural Capitalism" by Hawken and the Lovins's Ray Van De Walker (talk) 12:00, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Pictures[edit]

Please include the pictures found at the gallery at the off-the-grid article.

Thanks. 81.245.167.85 (talk) 19:05, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Sincere Congratulations[edit]

I have only read small parts of the article but even so I want to sincerely congratulate all contributors for their hard work. I have no further words. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rickproser (talkcontribs) 01:58, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Disadvantages[edit]

It seems like the 'disadvantages' section is talking about the disadvantages of the pursuit of a fully autonomous lifestyle, not the disadvantages of a autonomous house. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.30.173.64 (talk) 23:58, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

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