Thank you, I am very pleased for recognition of this off grid, rammed earth building , where I designed and built the house, energy & water systems and sewerage.
The award-winning rammed earth Otto cottage in Maun, Botswana. Designed and built by Paul Marais. Photo courtesy of Paul Marais.
How did you first get involved in natural building?
I have been always interested in natural buildings and as a student studied natural building in Malawi and Zambia. I have travelled a lot in remote Africa and have an interest in indigenous architecture which is both material and energy efficient. Continue reading →
Passive solar design is the starting point of sustainable building. Once one understands the basic principles of using the abundant natural renewable resources at our disposal we become more creative in our approach to design, more in tune and observant, reconnecting us with the natural rhythms that surround and sustain us, if only we would pay attention. Sustainable buildings save money, reduce your carbon footprint and provide a healthy living environment, transforming buildings from consumers of energy to producers and forging buildings that meet our needs.
From a permaculture perspective, incorporating these aspects into the design of your home are excellent examples of several permaculture design principles. To mention the most obvious: Observing and interacting with your environment to make the most of the sun’s migration, catching and storing energy, using and valuing renewable resources and services, integrating functions and elements rather than segregating them and obtaining a yield from the planet’s most abundant energy source, the sun.
Passive Solar Design uses the energy provided by the sun and stored in the earth. First we need to look at how this energy is utilized by defining insulation and thermal mass and then look at the strategies of how to incorporate them into our designs.
As we’re heading into winter South Africa’s continued loadshedding will have an even greater affect at home and work as people spend more time indoors requiring amongst other things more lighting as well as heating. We are blessed with abundant sunny days making solar very reliable without the need for a lot of backup storage in the form of batteries. If you are considering going off the grid, whether partially or fully, my previous post will give you a basic understanding of how solar energy works and the components of the system. In this post, I show you how to calculate your energy requirements, as well as choose an inverter, batteries and solar panels to suit your needs.
Currently, in South Africa the centralized electrical grid is unstable and has led to the current reality of regular power outages; subsequently many people are considering solar as an alternative. We are blessed with abundant sunny days making solar very reliable without the need for a lot of backup storage in the form of batteries. These equations shift depending on where you live, however even countries like Germany which is not as blessed with as much sunshine, place a large emphasis on solar technology as part of their energy solution. Whether you live connected to the electrical services grid, or off-the-grid, there are compelling reasons to use alternative sources of energy.
This post will give you a basic understanding of how solar energy works and the components of the system. If you have no experience in electrical energy at all it may seem a little daunting, however the math is really simple and with a little practice it’s as easy as ABC.