Friland is a small settlement approximately 35 km north of Aarhus, Denmark, and a part of a growing movement known as intentional communities. What this entails is a vastly reduced dependence on regulated sources of energy. These communities are also known as “green” or self-sustaining settlements because they essentially utilize privately produced means of obtaining their energy consumption needs. These include generators driven by solar, wind, or hydroelectric power, which are purchased and maintained by the community.
How Do These Communities Operate?
These communities are a response to the growing prices of non-renewable energy sources. In terms of rising monetary costs, many small homeowners can no longer accept the ever-increasing portion of their earnings that these much-needed sources of energy are claiming. As a matter of ecological consciousness, the methods by which these energy sources are obtained have become insupportable, even as modern society’s appetite for them increases. The solution that more individuals are utilizing is to remove them from that balance as much as possible.
While it is not a new concept, the intentional community has been growing in popularity over the past several decades as a way to reduce the human impact on the environment while also slipping from beneath the yoke of dependence on non-renewable energy sources and large energy syndicates. Recently, private companies have developed business plans and products to aid in this growing movement. Greenwatt Way is a project by Southern Electric, a leading green energy company based in the UK that is diversifying the ways in which zero-carbon homes and self-sustaining communities operate and thrive.
How Does the Greenwatt Way Project Impact the Movement?
The goals of the Simple Living movement, known by other names in other places, is to save energy, become free of debt, practice self-sustaining subsistence farming, avoid modern advertising and move away from a consumer-based way of life. While the Friland community is currently billed by outside sources as building straw-bale houses in order to accomplish this self-sufficiency, a zero-carbon house may be just as feasible and more resistant to the elements without posing a danger to the environment. Greenwatt Way is a collection of ten zero-carbon houses built by Southern Electric in Berkshire, England. Utilizing the principals of reducing human impact on the environment and producing sufficient energy in a sustainable and responsible manner, Southern Electric’s experimental community may be the wave of the future.
How can similar projects with a focus on self-sufficiency be realized in the UK market without endangering the energy market? The important idea to keep in mind is that this movement need not be focused on dismantling social institutions. Rather, it should be seen as a call to action to shift cultural focus from ways of living and methods of obtaining the necessities of life that are ultimately shortsighted and destructive, to more sustainable practices and sources of energy. This is simply a different way to do business. Companies with vision can not only thrive, but help others to thrive.