The Movie

Synopsis

In a society faced with multiple ecological, economic and energy … crises, Chloé and Olivier felt that living differently could be a starting point to launch a new social and ecological change, which is vital today.

To see if their feeling corresponded to reality, and how much and how far, they went to meet scientists to understand the impacts of accommodation on our planet (overexploitation of natural resources; climate changes).

After establishing that, the core of the film consists in 5 projects which are told as stories dealing with the various building techniques, each shedding a new light on the potential of ecological and alternative building, standing as a witness to an ongoing global movement.

The relevant Film

 

What is the residential sector’s impact on the Planet ?

« Ecological housing… what difference does it make ?! »
Housing and building consume more than 40% of the energy produced in the world and produce a third of the greenhouse effect gases. Would building ecological houses on a massive scale slow down climate warming? And consequently avoid conflicts over natural resource supplies ?

Using natural materials rather than concrete in the building industry ?

«An earth house ? What else ? Why not going back to the Middle Ages and use candle light ? »

What about depolluting our imaginations ? Are those earth, wooden, straw, recycled material houses more comfortable, nicer and stronger than those built with concrete … while being cheaper and less energy greedy ?

chloecamera

Which are the obstacles met by the ecologically alternative buildings ?

« If those houses are so exceptional, why can’t they be found on a large scale ? »

Is it interesting for those construction multinationals making billions each year to see alternative techniques emerge ? And moreover, who wrote the construction codes and how are they written ?

A large scale viable solution ?

« Ecological buildings are essentially for the new rural inhabitants or for poor countries where people cannot afford a genuine house !»
On a planet with more and more people and more and more towns and cities, are affordable ecological buildings possible in towns and cities ? In southern countries as well as in northern countries ?

And beyond construction ?

« Building in an ecological way, that is fine…. Yet it is not going to change my life or society !»

How can alternative building projects help new labour organisations emerge, or other ways of living together while sharing goods and spaces ? What if building a house costing 5 or 10 times less made it possible to devote time to fulfilling activities and commitments towards common good ?

 

5 projects-stories

Straw: a better insulation to reduce the energy bill

maisons en paille du GREB - QuébecStraw is not anexpensive material at all, it is available in huge volumes, it is a great insulator – against the cold and the heat as well as against noise – so it is a favourite with more and more self-builders and professionals in the building trade. The members of the Groupe de Recherche Ecologique de la Baie (Quebec) have developed an ingenious straw ball building technique. Their technique is easy, fast and economical and for 20 years now it has successfully resisted the harsh winters in the region where temperatures as low as – 30°C are fairly common. Through the French association ‘Approche Paille’, which is regularly organising trainings in France, this technique, known as the ‘GREB’ has now been widely adopted in France, but also in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Romania, Ukraine, Chili, Argentina, Morocco…

Guadua Bamboo: Fighting deforestation

avec l'architecte du bambou Simon Velez - colombieThe Guadua is a giant Bamboo found in Columbia. Sometimes also called ‘vegetal steel’, this plant offers an efficient substitute to deforestation owing to its particularly fast growth… A plant reaches maturity in only between 4 and 8 years and then it may be used as building material. No more than 60 Guadua bamboos are necessary where 500 hectares of primary forests are needed yearly to build 1,000 accommodations… Furthermore, this plant needs no fertiliser, no pesticide, no heavy equipment to collect it and transform it!

Raw earth: Giving value back to the traditional know-how

maison en adobe (brique de terre crue) - nicaraguaRaw earth buildings and more specifically adobe buildings (bricks comprising clay, fibre and water) have always existed throughout the world. From Antique Egypt to the pre-Columbian kingdoms in Sahelian Africa, not forgetting colonial Spain in Latin America, all those civilisations have made wide use of the earth to build houses and other structures. A local resource which does not need any energy for its transformation, has excellent thermal inertia and unrivalled costs… so many advantages which gave this material its hay days.
Yet, in many developing countries, adobe houses in Nicaragua, made with raw earth are sometimes abandoned favouring concrete, despite the cost being higher and the fact that it is not really suitable to the climate there. In Nicaragua, for several years now, a movement has been rising to give back their values and improve the traditional raw earth building techniques. And more specifically thanks to the energy of an architect, Dulce Maria Guillen, the very first master’s degree in Adobe construction in Central America will be set up in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua!

The Earthships, positive energy houses

earthships- désert du Taos aux USAThe impact on the environment of a house starts during its construction stage (extraction, transformation and transport of the materials), but also in use (heating, air conditioning, electricity…). For more than40 years, in the heart of the desert of New Mexico, the architect Michael Reynolds and his team have been building earthships. Those original houses are built with used materials, such as the car tyres that pile up in millions in open waste sites or whose recycling would require huge energy costs. Completely off any network, the earthships produce their own energy with solar panels, use the passive sun for heating, integrate Canadian wells for airing, collect the rain water and re-use it up to 4 times….

Earth bags: meeting emergency situations

chantier école en sacs de terre - NépalEarth bag constructions are an option to meet emergency situations and find dignified accommodations for war victims or victims of natural disasters. Built with bags, earth, barbed wires, such accommodations are simple and may be ready in a very short time, and on top of that they are quite cheap! Such accommodations also prove to resist earthquakes as was evidenced by the school built by the NGO, First Step Himalaya, and the sixty or so constructions of the same type in Nepal which all still stood after the terrible seism of 25 April 2015. Today more and more inhabitants and NGOs choose this technique to rebuild the destroyed areas of Nepal.