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ReGen Villages: Regenerative living at a neighborhood scale

What would regenerative living on a community scale look like?

The ReGen Villages model emerging in Europe offers one answer. It may seem almost too good to be true, but it’s happening — the first one in the Netherlands being scheduled for completion in 2018 — and the model surely has a lot going for it.

 

ReGen Villages are small, self-sustaining residential communities. The villages are “regenerative” because they are designed to function as a closed loop: the outputs of one system become the inputs of another.

For example, household waste is sorted and then put to new uses, such as compost, which fertilizes the community gardens and the soldier fly larvae that feed the fish that in turn fertilize the aquaponics system. Other household waste is used to generate biogas for fuel. Rainwater harvesting systems store rainwater for irrigation, graywater systems return household water to the landscape. Needless to say, the villages produce their own energy with solar panels. The landscaping is edible, and the villages also raise livestock to feed the residents.

Each village can have about 50 homes on about 100 acres. Each residential unit is cased in a glass envelope to regulate temperature and provide further year-round gardening space.

This “Tesla of ecovillages” is an ambitious vision. The aesthetic and some of the high-tech systems it relies on may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But the concept is compelling. The ReGen Villages are an intriguing example of what the “regenerative” principle might look like in our everyday lives: It is possible to design our urban neighborhoods differently. It is possible to look at the inputs and outputs of our lives and start applying this waste-to-resource kind of thinking.

Here’s the video for some more snazzy visuals:

Now here’s a question: not all of us are going to move into a ReGen Village in Amsterdam. But how might you apply some of the same principles into your own life, your own household, your own neighborhood?

How can we harvest available energy and resources and put it back into the system for good use? How can we rethink what a residential unit, or residential area, is for and what it’s capable of?

Wishing you a ReGenerative day!

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