Joost Bakker’s new self-sustaining, zero waste Fed Sq. dwelling is nice sufficient to eat

Joost Bakker’s new self-sustaining, zero waste Fed Square home is good enough to eat

Joost Bakker is one of the most provocative advocates of sustainability. He questions valued ideas and leaves nothing to be felt. His latest project in Melbourne is no different. He doesn’t care about wood, says that food must be grown at home and that the grid will be the future.

In the fifth iteration of Joost Bakker’s self-sufficient “greenhouse” prototype with no waste, this time in the heart of Melbourne’s Fed Square, he went to great lengths to eliminate materials that he could not safely eat or drink.

In fact, he believes the 87-square-foot, two-bedroom home could be certified organic.

“We want to design buildings the way you approach a food system.”

The walls, floor and ceiling of the three-story house are made of a sheet of straw called a Durra Panel. The durable, fireproof panels are made from one of the most ubiquitous debris on earth, the hollow stems left over from harvesting barley, wheat and other crops, according to Bakker.

Straw is a problem for farmers because it takes so long to break down and many choose to burn it. Long-lasting, fire-retardant panels are currently made in Australia, although Bakker says they are primarily used in stadiums and performing arts centers because of their superior acoustic properties.

Perhaps more surprising is the steel frame (not so much edible, but what cookware is made of) from Greenhouse 5.0. Bakker has been an advocate of steel for a while and has received some criticism for its carbon-intensive manufacturing process.

But it is recycled easily and frequently, and when you talk about one of the increasingly popular substitutes for steel, wood, things get complicated.

While wood could trap carbon, Bakker brings with it a whole host of other sustainability problems.

“There is no FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] Wood in the building as it is such a destructive industry. “

He says the rise of monoculture plantations to meet the growing demand for wooden buildings is wiping out wild forests and harming biodiversity in many regions.

“There would be no tree left on earth if you started making all buildings out of wood.”

He also questions the recyclability of wood due to the adhesives and chemicals used in some products.

Bakker says it is “probably easier to climb Mount Everest” than building a house out of materials that do not harm the earth or humans, or cause waste and pollution.

Even in green buildings, avoiding pollution and harmful materials is not exactly an established practice.

Bakker says he won’t be working with the Green Building Council because it isn’t ruling out enough toxic materials. However, he likes avoiding the Living Future Institute’s long red list of materials and has worked with the organization on a few projects, including the Burwood Brickworks mall.

Wood is fine when grown in the right place

Wood is used in Bakker’s projects, but only if it comes from a farm. He is an advocate of agroforestry, a land management strategy that involves growing more trees and shrubs on arable land, some of which are left over for rebuilding in the long term and others are harvested for wood products.

All of this is possible in Bakker’s vision for the future, when our cities become our feed bowls and free up agricultural land. He showed that with the latest greenhouse project: That it is possible to live in houses in which all or most of the food in a household is grown.

“If the average house was covered with earth, that much food could be grown.”

The house is a completely closed system that would not function without the people who live in it: the residents grow food on the roof garden and raise mussels, yabbies and barramundi in an aquaponic system.

There is a mycelial wall that mushrooms grow on with nutrients from used coffee powder and steam trapped by the shower.

There is also a biogas fermenter that converts food waste into fuel to power the ovens in the kitchen. With resident chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone, meals are prepared for small groups of guests in an intimate restaurant at home.

Bakker has historically focused on keeping restaurants free of waste. His latest project aims to get even closer to the heart of our food problems by bringing food production home.

“We have been doing everything we can to remove ourselves from the food system for years, and I think it is fundamental that we are surrounded by plants.”

As any gardener knows, this is not only beneficial for our well-being, he also says, “The most destructive thing we do is create food.” The modern food system relies on large amounts of fertilizer and transports food-crazy distances causes emissions.

As an antidote, Bakker says it is possible to live in a full ecosystem where we grow most of our own food.

“Water, sunlight, and nutrients from waste are all present in the home.”

The roof garden is literally the foundation

At the center of all Bakker projects is the roof garden, which also serves as the basis for the load on the structure.

“We weren’t allowed to put windows or panels in front of the roof, otherwise it would blow away.”

By reverse engineering the design, using the weight of the roof to hold the structure in place, no money or resources are wasted on a foundation foundation. He says this makes rooftop gardens more affordable as they are often viewed as an afterthought and then abandoned for budget reasons.

We already have all the technology

Apart from some innovative technologies such as the aquaponics system and the coal tank that filters water, the house is operated 100 percent with renewable energies using known technologies and processes.

The passively oriented, airtight design with double-glazed windows requires little mechanical heating and cooling to keep the house comfortable, according to Sam Frost, Stiebel Eltron’s Victorian account manager.

The heat pump manufacturer is supplying hot water, heating and ventilation for the project. The best option was a combined system for heating and cooling water, as well as hot water, which, according to Frost, is the size of a single-door refrigerator.

He says it’s a premium product for around $ 15,000, but it’s great for inner-city locations with limited space.

The company also supplied a decentralized ventilation system with heat recovery with high performance filters for superior air quality. This is one of the company’s standard offerings, according to Frost, and costs between $ 2,500 and $ 3,000.

The energy-saving heating, cooling and hot water systems are operated with 20 kW solar modules, Fronius Primo solar inverters and a Selectronic battery, so that the house can be operated completely independently of the mains.

According to Bakker, it wouldn’t be particularly difficult to replicate and scale the model as it relies on a familiar mix of technologies and principles for sustainable design.

Here we goGrid

Remote locations aside, the appetite for off-grid homes seems to have diminished as efforts to decarbonize the built environment have focused on a smart, responsive grid powered by renewable energy.

But Bakker believes that in the future we will all live off the power grid because maintaining the power grid will be too expensive.

“The electricity system is decentralized, as is the food system.”

There’s the cost of cutting the trees for new power lines (not good for forests either), transportation, and the skilled craftsmen to set them up. There is also endless pruning of trees surrounding the wires for safety reasons.

He says this will run into rapidly falling prices for solar, batteries and other off-grid technologies. However, it is unclear whether this applies to all building types, with denser apartments such as apartments being difficult to take off the grid.


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