Building Communities to Conserve Energy

OsumPODS building sites will be inherently different than sites for conventional homes or other structures. Because of modular design and the interlocking configurations, space will be utilized in a more efficient manner. Typical units vary from 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, but could vary from 1,000 to as many square feet as may be required for any given purpose. Modules could also be built in many sizes, but then different size modules would not interlock, thus defeating the purpose.

In creating clusters, it will be important for individual properties to share open space. In general, clustering will create much smaller lots, thus less expense in landscaping, and much larger common areas that will be more natural and will require far less maintenance. With OsumPODS construction, most natural areas will be left undisturbed. With the hexagon shape, it is easy to see that clusters could be contiguous, thus taking less space, and additional clusters could be added in infinite configurations. Although conventional construction could adapt to this concept, it is apparent that without modular design, doing so would be much more complex and far less efficient.

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Building sites in conventional construction can quite often make a home, however, lot size and location aren’t always important to create interest or a pleasant environment. Homes can seem packed, one on top of another, yet the feel of the neighborhood can still be inviting. Whether high density or rural, it is important to maximize our utilization of space. This certainly doesn’t mean that structures need to be interlocking or contiguous, but it doesn’t preclude that concept either. What is important is that we design in an adaptive manner, so that we are able to incorporate whatever demands we have to meet our objectives. Structures in the OsumPODS concept in general will be designed to interlock.

Urban sprawl is certainly not the answer. Too often land is wasted in subdivisions, yet they can still seem overcrowded and unpleasant. With innovations now available on the Internet such as Google Mapping, it is easy to look at satellite views of neighborhoods and see the wasted land in streets and yards, yet still perceive overcrowding in a landscape view. When plotting land, it is important to bring our perspective to the view we live in, not some view we never see unless we fly.

With OsumPODS communities, the plotting of land will be inherently different because of demands. Without the need of utilities or extensive landscaping, and far less demand for roads, clusters of building will therefore be defined by natural open space. Walkways will no longer define the boarder for streets, but instead will wind their way between and underneath buildings and through natural vegetation.

Most subdivisions today are designed to accommodate traffic and parking. This is a prerequisite to building, thus seemingly giving automobiles more status than the occupants. Communities in general are built to empty in the morning and fill back up in the evening. Most of the community’s occupants leave for work, school, or shopping. This is even true in metropolises with extremely high density. Certainly, our desire or need for personal transportation puts a heavy demand on our land both for right of ways and the many resources needed to build and maintain roads. Simply by changing our concept of how to plot communities can lessen this demand.

Future OsumPODS communities would be zoned to include many businesses that are generally segregated in the conventional wisdom used by current community planners. Changing our concept of communities to lessen our need to leave would substantially lessen our demand for personal transportation. This factor can have a huge impact on how we spend our time. Let’s suppose we drive a thousand miles per month to and from work and shopping, which is less than the average commuter. This represents approximately 40 hours, or a workweek wasted on the road. In a year, each of us could accumulate six times the average vacation just by not driving. If our communities are designed where we create our livelihood in or very near our homes, then it is clear to see that we can either become much more productive, or have much more leisure time. It is also important that we are able to shop in our communities, thus intermixing residential and commercial properties. It will be very important to intermix these elements without creating an influx of cars into residential/business environments.

It is probably not practical to envision a day when no one will have to commute to work. Certainly, certain industries are not adaptable to communal environments. In these instances, such industries should compensate its workforce for wasted time on the road. Then and only then will we begin to factor this wasted time into the cost of these products. Once we examine these costs, then we will start to make better choices in how and where to manufacture. I believe it is also imperative that manufacturers demand that their workforce lives within a specified distance to work if they are compelled to accept the obligation to compensate workers for wasted time on the road.

It is clear that with booming populations, people need incentives and choices to change current habits that are at least partially responsible for the exploitation of this planet and destruction of our environment. If better choices are available and also more affordable in the long haul, most people will make these choices for their own benefit. By rethinking our community environments, it is interesting to speculate how this one factor can affect habits, and that in turn can reduce our dependency on energy.

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