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Montréal ZERO Launches Experiment in Autonomous Living

Montréal ZERO launches a long-term experiment in designing and building an autonomous, off-grid living arrangement.  The site for this initiative is a 42-acre farm in Estrie near Sherbrooke, Québec.

The first structure, slated for construction-start this spring, is an integrated barn and greenhouse.  The barn will house livestock while the greenhouse will house aquaculture as well as soil-based agriculture.  This structure will contribute towards the food autonomy objective of this future community.  The structure will be self-sufficient in terms of energy and water with a state-of-the-art BIPV-T array harnessing both heat and power from solar energy and a precipitation harvesting system to provide all the water for the structure’s functions.

“Civilizational change towards a more balanced and sustainable existence can only begin by first changing our living arrangements,” said Sevag Pogharian, President and founder of Montréal ZERO.

Our livelihoods depend on our jobs and our jobs depend on an economic system that depends on continuous growth.  This continuous growth, which most of us seem to accept as a given and a law of nature, is turning our planet into a toxic mess.

Montréal ZERO’s initiative in autonomy represents an effort in designing a comfortable and elegant living arrangement which does not rely on selling labour for wages to then buy stuff from insanely complex, highly globalized and energy intensive supply chains.  A living arrangement such as the latter is nothing more than a form of slavery and an extremely vulnerable one at that.

Ultimately, the question is: how long can a finite planet support exponential growth in consumption-based economic activity, energy use and emissions?  The growth imperative inherent to our civilization has pushed Earth’s systems beyond their natural variability by severely altering the planet’s land surface, atmosphere, oceans, coasts, biological diversity, water cycle and biogeochemical cycles.  These perturbations to planetary systems, once unleashed, cascade through the natural environment and interact with each other in complex and unpredictable ways, occasionally engendering positive feedbacks, and always exacting some toll on life and well-being.

Massive change at the scale of human civilization seems inevitable given the unsustainability of our current course.  Will this massive change occur in a catastrophic, unmanageable and disruptive fashion or will we successfully design a smooth and timely transition into a non-destructive future civilization?

As a rugged individual acting in isolation, one stands to contribute very little towards this transition.  As engaged members acting collaboratively within informed communities, however, one can become a valuable engine for change.