In the middle of Lebanon, a housing revolution is underway. The Lifehaus project transforms preconceived notions of small-scale living with innovative dwellings that blend environmentalism with technology, farming and self-sufficiency. The Lifehaus is the world’s first 100-percent, self-sustainable home in the Middle East, utilizing recycled and upcycled materials and ancestral building methods.
Most importantly, Lifehaus suggests that a trend of homes inspired by nature is in our near future, and that buildings can adapt to nature, not vice-versa. For people who are eco-conscious, home construction can be a tricky spot. In the United States, for example, 6 percent of all carbon emissions come from building construction and materials, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.
“It is time that we adapt to the Earth, not the Earth adapts to us,” the Lifehaus team says on its website. These adaptations center on consumption: how we utilize water, how much electricity and power we use, where we get our food from, and how big our dwellings are.
“Leading a high-consumer lifestyle is not compatible with the Lifehaus project, seemingly since unconscious consumption and the destruction of the planet go hand in hand,” the project’s website says. “Adjusting our way of life is key to creating a sustainable, eco-friendly culture –one that suits both the Lifehaus and the environment.”
Lifehaus dwellings will feature on-site water harvesting and recycling, self-production of electricity and power, and a greenhouse with every home. Utilizing Passive Annual Heat Storage technology, Lifehauses will heat and cool themselves… all without using fossil fuels.
Passive Annual Heat Storage uses soil to store solar heat. The earth around a partially buried home is treated as part of the building’s thermal mass. A cap called an insulation/watershed umbrella is installed several feet above an underground building’s roof and stretches outward to keep the dirt directly around the building from normal temperature fluctuations. This process keeps the structure at a constant thermal mass, ensuring cooler temperatures in the summer and warmer in the winter.
John Hait, the Misoula, Mont., man who discovered Passive Annual Heat Storage, claims this system will keep a home around 70 degrees in the winter, and 76 degrees in the summer—no need for any cooling or heating systems.
Lifehaus was founded in Lebanon by Nizar Haddad of NH Architectes, a firm specializing in optimizing sustainable materials and energy on all its buildings. The Lifehaus by its very design will be inexpensive while still feeling luxurious. Ecological consideration was giving to every aspect of the Lifehaus template, from dry toilets and showers (instead of tubs), to manual water valves and limiting artificial light. Every Lifehaus even includes a greenhouse so everyone can grow his or her own food, and utilizes ancestral building methods, such as mud and clay. Right now, Lifehaus structures are expected to cost half that of an unfurnished, Lebanese home, with runs about $800 per square meter.
“Lebanon’s construction industry is one of the leading factors behind desertification in the country,” Lifehaus media rep, Nadine Mazloum, told Inhabitat. “Entire hills and mountains are being turned into wastelands as demand for conventional buildings continues to rise. Also, with Lebanon being a post-war country, successive governments, since 1990, and up until now have been and continue to be unable to provide many of the country’s citizens with round-the-clock water and electricity – so this got us thinking of going off the grid.”
Lebanon’s 2015 trash epidemic was the final straw, Mazloum said, noting, “As garbage was left on the streets for months at a time, we felt that we could no longer wait and so dedicated ourselves fully to Lifehaus.”
Construction of the first Lifehaus will begins this summer. You can check out their crowdfunding campaign here.
“Now is the time for the human species to reconcile with nature,” Mazloum told Inhabitat. “The Lifehaus is not just about building a house, it’s about community and communication. We hope to reinforce the feeling of being in a community and communicating a strong message that yes, we can all make a change no matter how dark the world seems.”
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