Natural Building and Construction – Permaculture Zone Zero

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The words building and construction are both verbs for the act of, and nouns for the finished (or unfinished) product of labor, that is building a building.

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Permaculture Zone Zero

Sometimes, permaculture zone zero is referred to as the home or building around which a permaculture garden or food forest is designed. Just as with permaculture (as opposed to natural farming) the different zones are constructed. The main difference is that zone zero or the home is generally not living, and is also protected from (most of) the elements.

Permaculture buildings include earth-based buildings, though of course every kind of dwelling counts as a kind of zone zero. In the case of the term permaculture, it is hard to include materials such as concrete and steel, and most modern roofing and insulation material, in a definition of permaculture (otherwise permaculture is just human habitation, no matter how destructive).

In envisioning a new location, the concepts of sustainability (of building materials, construction, and ongoing maintenance) are very important. The amount of concrete and steel is also a factor (less is more). In general, there are decisions to be made at many different parts of constructing a house:

Different Elements of Permaculture Buildings

  • Foundation material, how does it protect from flooding, insects, earthquakes, etc;
  • Flooring material, including subfloor, insulation, flooring, and finish;
  • Exterior walls, including how they will be sealed and protected from the elements;
  • Interior walls, how they will be made;
  • Ceiling and interior insulation;
  • Roofing framework and exterior roof;
  • Doors and windows, materials, insulation, airflow, etc.;
  • Waste septic system;
  • Electric system including solar hot water, solar water pump, solar electrical generation, wind, hydro and run-of-river electric, etc.
  • Water system, including graywater treatment/re-use;

Thailand Building Construction

In Thailand there is a wide diversity of decisions made at each of the levels, though there is a vast majority that lean towards reinforced conctrete and steel for most structures, and either heavy tile or pressed metal roofing.

Thailand Natural and Recycled Material

There are several building materials in Thailand that lean more toward permaculture and sustainability:

  • Bamboo (treated with borax), including recycled bamboo;
  • Recycled teak
  • Earth bag/adobe/cob/stucco/etc.
  • Recycled tires and glass bottles (aka Earthship aesthetic)