Sunday, March 26, 2006

Humble Beginnings

Today, I was fortunate enough to have my second meeting with Tomoko Sakano to discuss permaculture ideas and plans. I feel that these meetings are vital for permaculturists as it is too easy to drift out of permaculture if left on one's own.

Tomoko discussed her plans to go back to Australia on a scholarship from an NGO to study more permaculture. She is leaving in May for one month and is considering a second trip in October. While there, she hopes to collect information to start a permaculture database as a resource for permaculture in Japan. Before leaving for Japan, she intends to visit the Permaculture Center Japan to get a better idea of the state of permaculture in Japan.

During the course of our meeting I gave a short presentation to her on passive solar straw bale homes and retrofitting old homes and apartments in Japan for energy efficiency. I feel that the best bale-building technique in Japan is bale infill (tune in this summer to find out more on this method) due to the amount of rainfall and the extreme humidity in Japan. This technique (namely the bale wrap) can be easily retrofitted to the post and beam homes that one finds in Japan. In situations where bales cannot be used, blown in cellulose insulation may be an option.

Also discussed were solar reflectors. Architect and solar specialist Derek Wrigley has utilised (and perhaps invented) solar reflectors on the shade-side of buildings to increase solar gain. Derek says that, based on calculations, his 4.3m^2 reflector system on his home in Canberra "is the equivalentof having a 1kW electric radiator on in the room for 9.72 hours each sunny day."

Additionally, I outlined my permaculture plans this year. In April, I'll go to Canada where I have a design on a house in Toronto. From there, I will tear down my cottage, recycle it's wood and replace it with a passive solar straw bale infill home (more on this as it happens). The final step is to establish a permaculture design and consulting company.