If you are looking for solutions to progress towards self-sufficiency and you have a housing project, the Maison Autonome and the Ecohameau du Ruisseau are unavoidable places to discover practical solutions. The demonstration is impressive and comes with explanations enabling the transmission of not only the concrete set-up but as well the values and positive behavioral changes that are essential to walk the path towards self-sufficiency.
We visit the place during a day called “A place to live, A life project”. This day happens about once a month and is the second part of a discovery hald day the day before, in order to go further with the technical knowledge as well as provide the opportunity to put words on one’s own project and objectives.
In Middle-Earth, the “pays de la Mée”, the eco-village is located between Nantes and Rennes. Initially, in 1976, the Baronnet buy a house with a bit of land which slowly expands over the next 30 years. Always motivated by a will to spread their message and promote their values of self-sufficiency and ecology, they decide to upscale from the family grade to hamlet size with the purchase of the adjacent lands from 2010.
WATER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT
The houses of the hamlet, include the residence of the Baronnet renovated 30 years ago are all autonomous in water and electricity.
Water autonomy for the Baronnet family is obtained through 2 tanks of 4000 liters each which are collecting rainwater through a connected pipe network from the rooftops of the various constructions there. The tanks’ cement helps make the water drinkable by removing its acidity. Self-sufficiency itself is achieved by adequate and economical ways of living. For example, water waste by using classical toilets is avoided through the usage of compost toilets.
Energy autonomy is ensured through the usage of several sources for the energy which combine with an economical consumption of electricity. For the electricity production, a windmill and a photovoltaic panel use the wind and solar energies to transform it and store it into a set of batteries. Water is directly warmed up through solar captors. The bi-energy concept is used on site to enable a combination of the heat generated by the cooking stove using wood and the solar heat to both warm up the water. The idea is to follow the seasons and adapt to the most abundant resource accordingly while securing enough energy and heat to live in comfort and with awareness.
Overall, changing the way we consume those resources is a first step and a continuous fundamental aspect of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency goes together with a thoughtful and sober usage of both water and energy, enabling us to rediscover the essential value of these resources and their respect.
Thanks to the usage of composting toilets, there are no black waters on site. Their waste is composted and reused in the garden as a rich soil for the plants. Grey water is produced carefully by using cleaning agents which are as natural as possible. This grey water us then put through a phytodepuration system using a series of basins which are filled with pouzzolan and planted with aquatic plants which are adapted to this environment and clean the water. These cleaned waters end their way into the garden, rich in nutrients for the plants.
The rest of the waste is limited by an economical and responsible consumption and is evacuated through the regular French waste management network.
THE WAY IT WORKS
The Maison Autonome is a place to promote a system of values revolving around self-sufficiency and ecology, a place to demonstrate and learn the techniques enabling to put these values into practice. The demo houses were constructed by their inhabitants and through collaborative works.
Trainings, conferences and events are regularly organized around these themes by the Ecohameau du Ruisseau and the Maison Autonome.
Vegetable production is not an objective of the place, at least not aside food for the inhabitants which is coming along with the setting-up of a mandala shape vegetable garden planted together with fruit trees.
One of the production is that of research and development as well as practical application to demonstrate self-building techniques in order to show the real possibility of building by one's self affordable and comfortable housing as well as to promote additional self-sufficiency techniques that complement an eco-responsible habitat.
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