Autonomous building

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An autonomous building is a building designed to be operated independently from infrastructural support services such as the electric power grid, gas grid, municipal water systems, sewage treatment systems, storm drains, communication services, and in some cases, public roads.

Advocates of autonomous building describe advantages that include reduced environmental impacts, increased security, and lower costs of ownership. Some cited advantages satisfy tenets of green building, not independence per se (see below). Off-grid buildings often rely very little on civil services and are therefore safer and more comfortable during civil disaster or military attacks. (Off-grid buildings would not lose power or water if public supplies were compromised for some reason.)

Most of the research and published articles concerning autonomous building focus on residential homes.

British architects Brenda and Robert Vale have said that, as of 2002, "It is quite possible in all parts of Australia to construct a 'house with no bills', which would be comfortable without heating and cooling, which would make its own electricity, collect its own water and deal with its own waste...These houses can be built now, using off-the-shelf techniques. It is possible to build a "house with no bills" for the same price as a conventional house, but it would be (25%) smaller."[1]

Contents

History

In the 1930s through the 1950s, Buckminster Fuller's three prototype Dymaxion houses adopted many techniques to reduce resource use, such as a "fogger" shower head to reduce water use, a packaging toilet, and a vacuum turbine for electric power. While not designed as autonomous per se, Fuller's concern with sustainable and efficient design is congruent with the goal of autonomy, and showed that it was theoretically possible. One of the three prototype Dymaxion houses that Fuller produced was made part of the conventional Graham family residence in Wichita, Kansas, and has now been reconstructed at the Henry Ford Museum.

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