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.


Jez said...

Very exciting! I'm looking forward to reading up on your progress. And if you have time to contribute to the FRRE now and again, much 'preciated.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Jez. I have arrived in Toronto and the first job has presented itself: my brother's home. It's going up for sale this summer and I am going to recommend a number of things be done for energy efficiency and increased sustainability (there is almost no way this house could ever be truly sustainable).

I'll be here for a week or two going over this house, my plans for my cottage, business plans and getting incorporated. Then I'll head out to Muskoka to work on the cottage. The details are coming - honest.

Guy Jean said...

This looks very interesting. I know next to nothing about permaculture, or about gardening, plants, energy efficiency, etc, but would like to learn more. Am in the process of building my house (or rather having builders build it for me). Everything's been more or less decided, but perhaps I can learn a few useful tips. Any suggestions for sources of info? Am in Japan and speak Japanese (and can read some, painfully).

Unknown said...

Without knowing anything about your home, all I can say is that the design you incorporate must be site specific.

I cannot tell you this or that will work without seeing the site. I could offer some advice if I know a few details.

Where are you in Japan? Samui tokoro? What latitude are you at? Are there any hills or mountains around you? Are you on the sun side? Are there any obstructions blocking out the sun? Just asking these questions will start heading you off in the right direction.

For now, you can check out the Permaculture Center Japan (Their work at the Expo was so-so, unfortunately.) If you are interested, I have a good friend in Tokyo doing permaculture who knows about my ideas for reflectors and is familiar with good energy efficient design. If you go through him, you'll likely have me on the side as an unnamed player giving some consultation.

In any event, having lived in Japan for 12 years, I can say that we could improve upon the design you have.

Feel free to contact me at duckrace2000(at)

Anonymous said...

Thought you might be interested in these few historical factoids about permaculture in Japan! luv your blog btw

Unknown said...

Thanks TpL, your story was an interesting look at the roots of permaculture in Japan. Drop me a line. I'd love to hear more. dbarnes(at)