Green Dream II

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This is the second in a series of articles by architect Alex Shirley Smith about his planned collaboration with Off-Grid to produce a low impact woodland development containing tree houses, a tree restaurant, pod lodgings, and a meeting area, all connected by mid-air walkways. The diagram is on the next page — click “more” to see it.

We are looking for partners, financiers and landowers who want to collaborate with us in the UK and the US to build long-lasting, sustainable off-grid dwellings and leisure areas. We are in advanced planning stages of this first project in Thetford Forest, Suffolk, UK.

Tree Houses You Can Actually Build (A Weekend Project Book)Tree Houses You Can Actually Build – buy it from Amazon UK


Solar powered Prius

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A presentation at the Green Car Congress details how a Canadian engineer named Steve Lapp has created his own version of a prototype Photovoltaic Prius. The car is a 2001 Toyota Prius modified with roof-top solar panels and an additional battery system to supplement the charge in the original equipment NiMH batteries. The car is still a rough prototype — a demonstration of concept — but even with the limitations of the systems, he says he has achieved an initial 10 percent fuel efficiency improvement from 4.5 l/100km (52 mpg US) to 4.0 l/100km (59 mpg US).

Steve Lapp’s PV Prius is still a rough prototype—a demonstration of concept—but even with the limitations of the systems, he has achieved an initial 10% fuel efficiency improvement from 4.5 l/100km (52 mpg US) to 4.0 l/100km (59 mpg US). Click below for more on this story.

IRS Certifies Toyota Prius. : An article from: Battery & EV Technology – Buy it on Amazon


Downshifting lovers of Oz

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On Australia’s highways and byways, under the stars, enjoying the wide open spaces, romance is blossoming all over again, writes sex and relationship counsellor JO-ANNE BAKER.

I recently attended a downshifting conference, organised by Dr Clive Hamilton, executive director of The Australian Institute for a Just Sustainable, Peaceful Future ( ). His research in this area found that 92 per cent of people were happy with their downshifting decision.

This had a flow-on effect to their primary relationship. As people felt more balanced in their life overall, their intimate relationships blossomed. At the conference I met Jessica, a financier, who made a sea change five years ago when she and her husband moved from the inner city of Sydney to the Gold Coast hinterland.


Educate your Barbeque

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The proportion claiming to have adopted an eco-lifestyle has reached 15% according to a poll for ITV’s This Morning, which regularly features issues like disposable nappies and organic cooking.
Over the summer the show has appointed green goddess Joanna Yarrow to present items on greening the home and garden. Her first item included advice on how to Barbeque in an ecologically sound manner.

“Don’t use imported charcoal “she told me in the kitchen of her house in North London. “It’s likely to be from non-renewable rain forest, and it’s been doctored to make it heavier because it is sold by weight.”

She popped some scraps into her elegant Japanese mini-composter as we talked. The additives in imported charcoal also make it more likely to need petrochemical firelighters instead of paper and kindling said Yarrow, an eco-consultant helping businesses go green.


Home Exchange Holidays

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House swaps offer a cost-effective holiday choice, and you can use this site to advertise your off-grid home or even your normal old on-grid home and seek a swap.

While you’re making the most of someone’s beachfront apartment in Sydney, Australia, they could be enjoying your home in La Jolla, thanks to the increasing popularity of this type of break. Just go to our Classifieds section and place a free ad. The link is at the top of this page.

The idea is simple: you swap your home with someone who lives in a part of the world you want to go to. You fill out an exchange agreement, they come; you go; you water each others’ plants; and you get a holiday for next to nothing. It’s simple – for some so simple it’s scary. If you’re a worrier, house swapping probably isn’t for you – spending the holiday wondering whether the nice couple’s six-year-old twins have set fire to your antique rug is not going to be very relaxing. But if you’re willing to go with flow, you could get a lot out of it.


The Green Dream

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The Arboratory, is a proposed architectural, engineering community. It is the brainchild of Alex Shirley-Smith from London, who will update us regularly as he designs and prototypes new methods of Arboreal Construction or treehouse technology. The completed space will accommodate up to twenty full time staff and students with fields of expertise ranging from agricultural geneticists to carpenters and construction engineers.

The site lies at the heart of Thetford Forest in East Anglia, a cultivated landscape of recreation and farming. Trees are grown here under a 50 year crop rotation cycle.


Electric bikes, cars, buggies

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One day, all garages will sell electricity like they do petrol.
Electric vehicles, especially electric single-person vehicles, are the wave of the future whether you are on-grid or off. Money-saving and clean burning, they can be charged from solar or wind-powered batteries, from a friend’s house when you are visiting, or even a pub or cafe, in return for a small payment.

On the next page is another electric buggy for sale (in the US only). For now, here are 136, carefully-researched links to sites specialising in electric cars, buggies and bikes for you to buy, rent or to discuss your electric powered vehicular options:

Electro Automotive
SolarSailor Benelux
EVT Mobil
e-Traction Europe
Open Source Velomobiles
Green Speed
Electric Bikes Northwest
Dahon Folding Electric Bikes
BionX Intelligent Bike
Solar Mobility


Ollie, row the boat ashore

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With three sets of oars, two months’ worth of provisions and one seriously tricked-out rowboat, a 23-year-old British adventurer is behind schedule in his solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ollie Hicks pushed off from a marina dock about 20 miles south of Manhattan May 27th in a 24-foot open rowboat, hoping to become the youngest rower ever to make the 3,000-mile trip alone. His destination: Falmouth, England, an estimated 400,000 strokes away.

Hicks’ red boat is no fishermen’s dinghy. Equipped with a satellite telephone and a computer, it is a self-righting vessel with watertight cabins at the bow and the stern.

And he has packed its cargo holds with creature comforts, including a desalinator that makes seawater drinkable, an iPod music player, a small gas stove, a cache of dehydrated food and a six-pack of Yuengling beer. And of course, he figures he’ll have a chance to fish, so he brought along a pole.


The Woodland House

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Ben Law is a phenomenon of nature. He lives in a house he built himself in a wood he manages, coppices, and loves. He is almost unique in being a first-rate woodsman- a child of the forest who lives in a near-natural state, and also quite a good writer, able to communicate his thoughts and feelings as well as the details of how to build a house from willow in the middle of a wood.

We have written about him before because his book the Woodland Way has been an inspiration to tens of thousands of off-gridders.

After he wrote it Ben became famous as the star of an episode of Grand Designs, an architecture series on UK TV. Now he has written another book, “The Woodland House” cashing in on his new found fame, and good for him. The Woodland House – Buy it from Amazon UK now. Read the review below


The Real Good Life

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ITV, a commercial TV station in the UK, just launched a new reality series about people going back to the land. Now it has axed the show from its Tuesday night line-up after a disasterous performance in the ratings.

The Real Good Life , lasted for two episodes instead of its planned three. The opening 60-minute show last week had 2.7 million (13%) with the audience falling by 400,000 to 2.3 million (12%) in its second outing in a 30-minute slot at 8pm. Next week it will be replaced by a repeat of It’ll Be Alright on the Night.

Like so much on ITV at the moment, it feels like this programme was first conceived in 1978, and then forgotten for years until it was found in an old box marked “stale ideas”.

“The Real Good Life” is a reference to a 1970s comedy about a middle class couple who gave up urban bliss for country hell. But the families in this series haven’t moved to the countryside; they’ve dug up their own back gardens in suburbia. And the ITV cameras are following them through four long, tough seasons, to see whether they achieve fulfilment and full stomachs.

The Smiths from Lincolnshire, the Attfields from Hertfordshire and the Aldridges from Berkshire gave


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