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Open-sourcing: Taking Sustainability to Another Level

Can you imagine receiving free tools and instructions to build your own house and building materials, and possibly start your own village? Open Building Institute, founded by TED fellow and founding member of the Open Source Hardware Association, Dr. Catarina Mota, has teamed up with Open Source Ecology to open source blueprints and tools for building a 700 square foot, ecological, starter house. The open-source Eco-Building Toolkit has been under development and testing for the past few years but is now ready to be shared with the rest of the world.

An illustration of green building features of the 700 square foot starter home by the creators of the Eco-Building Toolkit. It will be crowd-sourced and built in November 2016. (Image courtesy Open Building Institute)

An illustration of green building features of the 700 square foot starter home by the creators of the Eco-Building Toolkit. It will be crowd-sourced and built in November 2016. (Image courtesy Open Building Institute)

The Toolkit includes a library of modules (walls, roofs, doors, windows, etc.) that can be put together like building blocks and a variety of house designs. The design of the house pushes the envelope of traditional construction. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are all “hackable,” meaning that they can be easily accessed via boards or channels to be repaired and modified at any time, without the need to destroy any poured concrete or open up any drywalls. Its structure can be built within five days with compressed earth blocks. The self-sustaining house has water- and energy-efficient plumbing, lighting, and HVAC including in floor hydronic heating; rainwater harvesting system; solar PV system; greywater garden; and modular building components. The house is designed to be not only easily expandable and off the grid, but also slated to achieve the Living Building Challenge certification.

The experimental modular home incrementally built between 2013 and 2015 is the basis for the Eco-Building Toolkit. (Photo courtesy Open Building Institute)

The experimental modular home incrementally built between 2013 and 2015 is the basis for the Eco-Building Toolkit. (Photo courtesy Open Building Institute)

The project team has recently launched via Kickstarter its open source initiative to make affordable eco-housing widely accessible to the world.

Per the team,

The goal is to not only help train a growing number of open-source, regenerative builders, but also to encourage entrepreneurship and seed the replication of many similar facilities worldwide. Like everything else in the project, all training materials are open-source. Everyone is free—in fact, encouraged—to use those materials to launch their own training program and enterprise.

Hats off to the team at Open Building Institute and Open Source Ecology and thank you for connecting the concept of open-sourcing with green building and architecture. The Eco-Building Toolkikt project not only provides easy access to affordable ecological housing but also empowers interested parties with the knowledge to become self-sustaining. This is what the world sorely needs.

About Mignon O'Young

Mignon O’Young, Editor, is a California licensed architect, LEED Accredited Professional, and Certified Green Building Professional with more than 15 years of experience in the design, construction, green building, and affordable housing development industries.
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