A creatively decorated water-turbine casing makes an attractive focal point. It's real use is to guide water to the turbine blades that turn the electricity generator and there is plenty of water in Wales at the moment. Water-powered electricity generation is probably more reliable than wind in temperate Britain and should be used to complement wind-powered electricity production. The environmental cost is absolutely minimal.
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is organically grown in a disused slate quarry in Wales. CAT is the mulch where alternative ways of living are developed using low-technology materials and high-technology ideas. Set in a green diamond in the heart of Wales.
This root storage cellar uses no electricity and root vegetables and many others can be stored in one of these over the winter months. Think how much electricity would be saved nationally if more of us relied on these instead of high energy-consuming refrigerators.
This ecohouse at CAT has a full-wall passive solar collector to get free solar energy. The capital costs can soon be recouped with one of these - even in damp Wales and it doesn't need any moving parts. Below the glazed wall is an array of photo-voltaic cells to convert light into low-voltage electricity. At the moment, they are too expensive to recoup the capital cost within a few years but they are coming down in cost every year. The more people who buy and use them the lower the cost will be.
Drawing water from the well every day makes one realize how precious water is. It's also good exercise. Without potable water we would all die in a few days. Well water - providing it is free from pollutants - has a clean taste that makes our tap water taste like chemical waste - which some of it is.
Brithdir Mawr or Great Speckled Land is an intentional, self-sufficient community where the members grow their own food, generate their own electricity, use composting toilets and welcome people to join in the work.
This small octagonal ecohouse at Brithdir Mawr is unusual and surprisingly spacious and warm. It was cheap to build and is very cheap to heat. It stands in the middle of a large vegetable garden so the occupier can just walk outside and gather food for dinner and it is really fresh - not supermarket 'fresh' (two or three or several days old and practically valueless as food).
That Roundhouse, built by Tony Wrench, Jane Faith and helpers was built for very little money, caused minimum disruption to the earth, showed what could be done to help save our countryside from more exploitation and yet caused so much bother from some members of the local authority. It is still there - despite the short-sighted, antihumanity stance of the local authority.
I asked Tony Wrench if I could go and look at his and Jane Faith's roundhouse and he told me where it was. I followed his directions: along the lane, turn right at the stone, walk about 50 paces ... but thought I'd taken a wrong turning and was in the wrong place, that is, until I saw the stove flue-pipe just in front of me, apparently coming out of the ground. I was nearly standing on the turf roof . Anyone who complains about this home spoiling the welsh countryside (one councillor did) has a big problem. Thankfully, the councillor has gone and the roundhouse is still there. Common sense prevails - sometimes. If all the people without homes could build one of these there would be no housing problem and probably much less anger and frustration in our society but in our over-regulated country (regulated with those who have nice homes) many of us don't stand a chance of having somewhere to call our own and bring up our children in natural surroundings.
The turf roof overhangs the walls to protect them against the heavy rains that can fall in Wales. It also provides shade during hot sunny days. There is nearly as much greenery inside the house as outside. No available space is wasted here. 'It would be so nice to come home to ... ' and when the house becomes empty it can either be left to turn back into earth or taken to pieces and the glass and metal reused or recycled.
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