Skip to main content

BSC2009 – Permaculture – Jesse Lemieux

Jesse Lemieux, now living on Denman Island is a Permaculture educator who has been engaged in Permaculture principles around the globe. His presentation at the Building Sustainable Communities Conference was a primer on Permacultur, the reasons and means to make a difference in sustainable design of human settlemtn and the relationship to the environment and resources..

Permaculture is a set of Patterns for Sustainability

The background –

Peak Oil Impacts

  • 1 barrel of oil 25,000 man hours – 4 cents an hour of labour

  • 4 – 6% decline in oil production

  • The majority of people in the world will never have the opportunity of wasting energy in the way we have.

Climate Change and Peak Oil

  • It is the “destructive” use of fossil fuels which is depleting them and exacerbating climate change and pollution.

  • Internal combustion engine is only 25% efficient

  • Large-scale collapse of global ecosystem, fisheries, deforestation, urban sprawl.

  • Eco-systems and their services have been replaced by a finite and decreasing supply of fossil fuel energy.

  • Jesse mentioned Transition Towns as a great concept that accurately links the relationship between Climate Change and Peak Oil.

  • Possible Futures

    • Rapid Depletion

      – Collapse, Lean Economy

  • Slow Depletion

    • Techno-Markets

    • Burnouts

Business as Usual – Linear Model

  • Energy + Raw Materials ? Industrial Processing ? Consumers (how about Citizens?) ?

    Waste Streams =

    • Increased GHG

    • Pollution

    • Wasted Energy

    • Decreased Health

  • Chaos

    • Pollution is nothing more than energy that has not been put to productive use

      • Algae Blooms

    • Permaculture aims to put all the energy to productive use and reduce the bumps (highs and lows)

The Permaculture case – The Eco-System

  • Sun, Wind, Rain + Soil Mineral Resources ? Biological Interconnectedness ? Sink of CO2 & Mineral Leaching =

    • Carbon stored as biomass

    • Increased Diversity

    • Increased Organizational Complexity

    • Foirest Growth

    • Soil Building

    • Resources Increase

  • Every element must serve multiple functions, every function in our system must be achieved by multiple elements.

  • Redundancy

  • Resilience

  • Feedback loops

    • Predator / Prey Species relationship

How does Permaculture Approach Design?

  • We must define our values

  • It is not enough to sit back passively and observe what is going wrong

  • “What do we want?”

  • Integrated human habitats

    • Care for the earth

    • Care for people

    • Returns of surplus

    • Positivism and co-operation

  • Design Approach

    • in harmony with the local climate and landscape

    • use a multi-disciplinary bio-social approach

    • Assemble all components to form connections (energy production)

    • goal is to produce a self-managing design which builds soil ands grows forests.

    • Any bylaw is a deficiency in design

Practical Edge

  • Education

    • Empowerment and Enthusiasm

    • Intra courses in Langley

  • Community Development

    • Trading labour for a place to live

    • moving away from the linear system and into an ethical system.

  • Design

    • how do we take the money and resources we have and use them to the best of our resources.

    • Water is life, Life is Water

      • no matter what scale, water is the first point in design, (home through to city scale)

      • Access follows

      • Structures follow

    • Energy

      • 1st Elements that produce energy and resources

      • 2nd Elements that save energy

      • 3rd Elements that consume energy

      • Avoid Type 1 Errors (house on a ridge example – not water collection etc). Anything that requires a continuous input of energy over it’s lifetime is a type I error.

Establishment and Maintenance of Systems

  • on paper first

  • set priorities based on ethics and economic reality

  • locate and trade for components locally or cheaply

  • expand on information

  • information is only a resource if it is acted upon.

Through active and ethical approach we can be part of the change – the change required is massive, active groups and individuals making small scale changes.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.