Just get out of the excess company?
Whether one must go so far as Greta Taubert describes in her book "Apocalypse Now", is open to question: In it, Taubert tells how she has quit for a year and thus prepared for a new form of society - away from the affluent society, towards simple life forms and self-making, including food extraction from dumpsters and catching fish themselves.
Much more should be the return to natural resources and sustainable management as a model for other areas of life. Because the conscious handling of our environment can also be transferred to dealing with ourselves and our work: Energy-efficient, sustainable working means saving resources, making your work more productive and better.
Sustainable living as an alternative
Because even if such experiments are always exciting, I think getting out is not a sustainable model. Rather, we should use our technological knowledge to make our existing society more ecological.
So, on one of my press trips to the Canary Island of Tenerife, I visited the bioclimatic settlement ITER and spent one night there - and I am concerned with the question: What does energy-efficient, CO2-neutral life actually mean? And could eco-houses be a model for the future?
The emergence of the eco-settlement ITER
1995, the Canary Research Institute for Technology and Renewable Energies (ITER) wrote an architectural contest for CO2 neutral houses, which were attended by 400 architects from 38 countries. The following editions were given for the houses: No larger than 120 square meters, maximum 3-4 bedroom and not more expensive than 1200 US dollars per square meter.
At the end, 25 of the so-called Casas Bioclimaticas were built in the south of the island at the foot of Montaña Pelada - cost point over 10 million euro. The stream comes from the wind turbines that surround the settlement, and from solar collectors. Electricity is also used to operate water pumps and seawater desalination plants, all of which are equipped for ecological water treatment.
How ecological are eco-houses?
The houses used not only natural building materials such as stone and wood, but the houses also produce their own energy while at the same time minimizing consumption. Each house has its own way of solving this task:
For example, the winner of the competition, "La Geria", is surrounded by a semicircular wall in a pit that protects against wind and moisture. This is what architect César Ruiz-Larreaz has copied from viticulture in Lanzarote. Lined in place, matched to each other and to the wind, the air vents not only provide ventilation, but also function as a natural air conditioning system.
They are also available in the French house "El Rio": Here a water channel flows directly through the house and cools the room temperature. And the Spanish architect of "Las Bóvedas" constructed a partially subterranean building with volcanic stone vaults, opening only to the south.
No house works regardless of location
What really fascinated me in this respect is that each house is exactly matched with the space on which it stands: Many a house would not function like 100 meters. This harmony with the place is the true secret of energy efficiency.
The energy consumption of the houses is monitored at the very least: the room temperature, the temperature of the walls, the humidity, the draft, the CO2 emissions as well as the presence of people. In order to ensure this and in order to cover the costs, the houses are rented, as are design features, to holidaymakers.
What we can learn through ecology for our work
- Use natural, existing resources optimally: The bioclimatic houses in ITER use, for example, draft or water channels as natural air conditioning, ie they make use of the conditions and strengths that are already there and use them naturally and naturally. That's the way we should do it and use our natural strengths to succeed at work. This means, for example, to follow your natural biorhythm while you work and to do what you do best. If, on the other hand, you work against your biorythm, you practically waste your resources.
- Generate energy instead of consuming it: Not only do the energy efficient homes in ITER use no energy, they also generate their own energy. Now many will argue that one's energy is limited. That's true, but we can also generate our own energy by doing what makes us happy. Because if we work self-determined and do what we like, a lot will be better.
- What goes out, must also come in: Energy efficient houses do not give off more energy than they have produced themselves. And that is exactly what applies to us: Energy-efficient living and working also means conserving resources with existing energy. In other words, we should be careful not to give off more energy than come in - otherwise we'll soon be exhausted and out of power.
- Working in harmony with its environment: The energy-efficient houses in ITER also work so well because they are optimally adapted to their location and climatic conditions, thus saving energy. A house would only work 100 meters so much more. This does not mean that our way of working is rooted in our office and that we do not have to step out; It is much more about creating the working conditions that are most ideal for us and our workflow: for example, the desktop on our computer. An organizing system in the office where every thing has its own place. And above all - very important - a certain routine in the work environment, so that all the little things that have to be done casually, can routinely quasi run out of the FF, so we do not have to waste additional energy on such trifles.
Conclusion: no model for Germany?
Today, the Canary Islands already cover more than 15 percent of their renewable energy needs - more than twice as much as the EU average. And the example shows quite clearly: Environmental protection can teach many things for a better, more productive working environment and maybe implement and improve some of it in their own projects.
The rest of the energy supply in the Canary Islands, however, is largely dependent on the outside. The eco-houses should now help to find energy-efficient solutions for warm regions. For me, that's exactly the big sticking point in the eco-house settlement: The Canary Islands offers with permanent sunshine, wind and heat practical ideal climatic conditions for co2-neutral houses. Unfortunately, the system is simply not transferable to our cold region: In the cold north, greater energy efficiency is likely to be required for energy efficiency. But ITER has no answer.
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