Introducing the term “self-sustaining community” might bring to mind images of sci-fi movies released in the early 20s with their futuristic architecture or all glass buildings as well as green areas that dominate the spotless clean landscape.
Although the futuristic image is not necessary correct, the concept of building an eco-friendly self-sustaining community is gaining notable momentum.
But what does self-sustaining community actually mean? Well, unlike other gated-communities, the eco-friendly communities seek to plant their own food or produce their own energy while having minimal dependence on the outside word. The community’s landscape mainly depends on how it defines itself.
Here is a list of the five eco-friendly communities that have already been established or are under-construction you should be on the lookout for:
It comes as no surprise that Germany makes our list with Vauban, a model sustainable community. Located five kilometers away from South of Freinburg, the community has become home for over 5000 residents.
The city’s move to become environmentally-friendly started in 1985, following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The planning of the district began in 1993 and by 1996; Vauban was successful enough to receive the “Best Practice” award at United Nations Human Settlements Program’s Habitat II conference.
New residents starting moving in by 2000 and the complete district planning was finalized in 2014.
Vauban pioneered in saving energy. The community has over 100 passive houses, which do not require traditional heating systems and rely mainly on solar energy. The community is also able to produce excess electricity to sell to the grid, which is becoming a source of income for its residents.
“More than 450 square meter solar collectors were built in the first section and about 120 kWp [kilowatt peak] are produced through photovoltaic systems by the end of 2000,” the community’s website said.
The district has also excelled in its water waste system with 80% of its residential area using infiltration of rainwater. As for the sewage system, the district relied on a new ecological system that transport feces to a biogas plant through vacuum pipes.
“There they [feces] ferment anaerobically together with organic household waste, thus generating biogas, which is used for cooking. Remaining waste water (grey-water) is cleaned in biofilm plants and returned to the water cycle,” the district website clarified.
The Sustainable City, Dubai
Developed by Diamond Developers, the ecological and environmentally-friendly city is constructed on a total area of 5 million square feet and will contain up to 2,700 residents. Located in warm Dubai, the city lacks the all-glass look but promises an eco-friendly community, relying on new and renewable energy to power itself. Energy consumption of the city’s residential units is minimized with solar water heaters and green home appliances as well as insulation to the unit itself.
The city promises a 100% water and waste recycling and “natural biodome greenhouses, organic farm and individual garden farms for local food production.” The city will also provide its residents with free-of-charge landscape and rood gardens.
Earlier this month, the city successfully installed 5,000 solar panels in its complexes.
Talking to UAE’s The National, CEO of City Solar Anwa Zebn, one of the Sustainable City project contractors, said that a total 40,000 panels will be installed on the rooftops of the city. The power produced from the solar panels will maximally total 10 megawatts. Families have already started moving in with more families expected during this year.
North West Bicester, Uk
A2Dominion developer took the initiative to develop the UK’s first eco-town and largest domestic solar array with 6,000 affordable eco-homes and jobs. The concept is to create a community where children can play outside and nature can continue to grow.
A2Dominion’s chief commercial officer and deputy group chief executive John Knevett said that NW Bicester will be “an example to future developments in establishing sustainable new communities in the UK.”
The town’s solar array will generate enough electricity to power 528 typical British homes.
“We will create an outstanding living environment, which will provide exceptional quality of life for residents, without compromising the needs of our future generations,” he added.
The first phase includes the construction of 393 zero-carbon homes that have high energy efficiency. All homes have energy efficient ventilation and installed solar panels. Homes also have water butts, barrels to collect rainwater, with which home-owners can water their gardens.
“This ground-breaking development will comprise of 40% green space, integrating cutting edge technology, economic opportunities and community engagement, with environmental integrity at its core,” the town’s official page read.
This year will mark the beginning of families moving in. The project’s first phase will be completed within the next two years. The price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom property in the town totals £460,000.
The community follows the ten principles of sustainability developed by the global initiative One Plant Living. All buildings are carbon neutral and polluting construction material will be avoided in construction. The community will be powered and headed by new and renewable energy, wither on-site or off-site.
“Zibi is designed around a waste hierarchy, prioritizing waste prevention first, then re-use, recycling and composting, and lastly energy recovery before disposal to landfill,” the community’s official website read.
Zibi seeks to achieve zero waste by 2020, the website added.
When it comes to food, the community promises to facilitate planting healthy and sustainable food. The community also encourages the use of sustainable transport such as cycling or walking and allows access to public transportation.
To encourage citizens in talking a step towards the future, the City of Gatineau, where Zibi is located, offered an eight-year 50% tax waiver to those who purchase a unit in one of the first two residential buildings in the community. The beginning price of a residential unit is $220,891 and can go up to $775,563.
RegenVillage, The Netherlands
California-based company RegenVillages sought to solve environmental problems such as water scarcity and food waste. Partnering with architectural company EFFEKT, the village is a step into the Sci-fi future with its all glass designs, greenhouses and wide spaces.
The first Regen Village will be located in Almere and 20 minutes away from Amsterdam.
The company believes that the opportunity lies in “off-grid capable neighborhoods comprised of power positive homes, renewable energy, water management, and waste-to-resource systems that are based upon on-going resiliency research – for thriving families and reduced burdens on local and national governments.”
The closed-loop community is aiming to build its own energy and grow its own organic food. In a sit-down with Fast CoExist, RegenVillages’ CEO James Ehrlich said that the company anticipates “tons of abundant organic food” each year.
In the next coming months, the company will start the design and integration of the first 25 homes which will be followed by the completion of the 100 pilot homes. The first houses are expected to be built by the summer of 2016.
The project was showcased in the Venice Biennale, a Danish architectural pavilion. If successful, the Almere initiative will be a prototype for future villages in Sweden, Germany, Norway and Denmark. RegenVillages will also partner with land developers, universities and architects to help the company spread its vision globally.