ReGen Villages, a completely self-sufficient village that can power and feed itself, is rising across Europe—and hopefully, one day, around the world.
ReGen Villages Holding, B.V., a visionary real estate development company founded by entrepreneur and developer James Ehrlich, is piloting its first 100 homes across 15,500-square-meters in the planned city of Almere in The Netherlands with construction set for this summer. The company is also developing four other eco-villages in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany and has partnered with Copenhagen-based architectural firm EFFEKT as the global architectural framework company.
The village features a slew of already-existing green technologies such as energy-positive homes, mixed renewable energy sources, energy storage, organic food production, vertical farming, and aquaponics, water management and waste-to-resource systems. ReGen itself stands for “regenerative,” an apt name for a village that aims to have its input and output entirely full circle.
“Today we spend 40 percent of the surface of our continents producing food,” EFFEKT co-founder Sinus Lynge explained to DW. “Food production is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, the biggest driver of deforestation and responsible for 70 percent of our global freshwater consumption. We ship our food from one end of the world to another just to waste 30 percent of the total production before consumption.”
The village’s pre-fabricated homes are enveloped in a glass shell to protect the building from area’s cold and wet climate. The units also include passive heating and cooling systems, built-in solar panels, a garden and water collection. Household waste can be composted or converted into biogas.
As for food production, the village will host aquaponic and vertical farms. Both urban farming methods require much less space compared to traditional farming methods, meaning they have minimal impact on the surrounding area’s forests and fields and will help preserve its natural beauty.
Public areas in the village also include electric car stations, space for livestock, communal dining and community centers.
“ReGen Villages is all about applied technology,” the company points out on its website. “Already existing technologies are simply being applied into an integrated community design, providing clean energy, water and food right off the doorstep. ReGen Villages adds not only environmental and financial value, but also social value, by creating a framework for empowering families and developing a sense of community, where people become part of a shared local eco-system: reconnecting people with nature and consumption with production.”
According to Gizmag, funding for villages has come from investors who have been looking to divest from fossil fuels “into impact and knowledge-based investments.” The company is also working with national and local municipalities that support the project.
Lynge told DW that if all goes to plan, the first ReGen Village is just the beginning. “We are launching our prototype in Almere, Holland, but the big potential for ReGen lies in developing countries, where billions are moving away from rural communities in search of better living conditions,” he said.
Ehrlich explained, “We tackle the first two hardest climate areas [wet and cold]. Then from there we have global scale—rural India, sub-Saharan Africa, where we know that the population is going to increase and also be moving to the middle class. If everybody in India and Africa wants the same kind of suburbs that we’ve been building so far, the planet’s not going to make it.”
The off-grid neighborhood is comprised of power positive homes, food production units, renewable energy facilities, water management and waste-to-resource systems, and community areas. Photo credit: EFFEKT
HALF MILLION RAND AVAILABLE IN NEW #COCREATESA FUND
Cape Town, 8 April 2015 – Today, the Kingdom of the Netherlands officially kicked-off the Open Call for the new #cocreateSA Fund 2015. An investment of half a million Rand will be made in projects that aim to combine Dutch and South African knowledge, that seek innovative solutions to local challenges and involve the sectors of agriculture and food, energy, life sciences and health, logistics and water. More information on the application process and requirements can be found on www.cocreatesa.co.za.
The initiator of the #cocreateSA Fund is Bonnie Horbach, the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town. She calls on everyone with innovative ideas for local challenges to reach out and find a Dutch counterpart – and vice versa, of course – and to apply by writing a project proposal. A professional jury will consider all applications and make a final decision on who is granted the #cocreateSA Fund awards on 25 June. The main requirement is that the project is based on South African-Dutch collaboration with a long-term outlook. Ms. Horbach explains: “To me, international trade relations can only be successful when we take our time to build genuine and long-term partnerships so that we truly understand the demand and the local challenges.
Luckily, I am not alone in this. When we launched the #cocreateSA Fund last year, we were overwhelmed by the number of South African and Dutch projects that were based on exactly that vision.” #cocreateSA is a platform for South African and Dutch counterparts to exchange ideas and innovations and thereby find solutions for a sustainable future. It was launched by the Netherlands last year during World Design Capital Cape Town 2014. Nine projects in the field of electricity, water management, solar lighting, health services and urban farming were awarded through the first round of #cocreateSA funding. Ms. Horbach: “Last year’s winning projects included incredible, ambitious projects that are now starting to report their first results.
A great example is the Ikwhesi Clinic near Khayelitsha where they are working to drastically reduce the waiting times and improve the waiting experience through innovative design-thinking. Things like this encourage me to continue this fund. If we can help kick-start these types of projects, we can truly make a difference and co-create innovations for South Africa.” Submissions for this year’s #cocreateSA Fund can be made until 1 June 2015. Ms. Horbach continues: “With the new round of funding, I again hope to inspire and spark innovative thinkers and doers from South Africa and the Netherlands to reach out to each other, share ideas, partner up and create the solutions that will work in South Africa.” For more information on the application process and requirements, please visit www.cocreatesa.co.za and keep an eye on the official #cocreateSA Facebook page.
Source: Press Release