Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pre-Course Questionaire

Please fill out this survey once before the class.

Thank you.

Dan Halsey

Monday, July 16, 2012

 Hi Everyone,

 Welcome to the Advanced Permaculture Design Course. Wayne and I are excited to present this material and expand many of the basic Permaculture concepts into new thinking. We talked many times about the basic physical laws that keep repeating in our designs in order to maintain ecological efficiency. So many of the principles in Permaculture can be applied to any situation, that we are always looking for the basic concepts involved, the overriding physical principle in as few words as possible.

During the week as we go through the design process, we will be focusing our attention on ecological services that nature provides and the climactic and geological forces that we must consider when creating or retrofitting our sustainable lifestyle. Many of the dynamics involved while cooking our food are also involved while cooling and heating our living space. The vocabulary used, and the definitions that we must verify, make a huge impact and how we think about our lifestyle and living systems. Southwoods will be our working lab for much of the discussion, it has much to offer as an example (good and bad) of ecological design and the built environment.

We will also discuss at length cultural influences, economic and marketing pressures, and how we must focus our energies on developing enhanced ecological services using ecological solutions and keeping technology and consumerism to a minimum. Our entire design process will be based on the scale of permanence. We will go into detail concerning the scale of permanence as we devise our solutions from patterns to details, from patches to niches, and from functional spaces to the actual plant species that will perform those functions.

Wayne and I would like to begin this discussion early. We would like to use this blog as a place for us to begin understanding these expanded concepts so we can discuss them further in class and go deeper in the conversation.

We will be sending out this week a survey so you can help us tailor the breadth and depth of the topics to your context. We want to make sure that you get what you need from your point of view as well as what we feel is important. Please fill out the survey at your earliest convenience and let's begin the conversation.

 We look forward to directly working with you beginning the 29th of July, but for now let us introduce ourselves and discuss our current situations and concerns.


Daniel Halsey

Sunday, July 15, 2012

As part of this advanced course, I look forward to working through the design process on an excellent 5 acre lot (Pike Lake) that has agreed to be involved. 

Although we will use the permaculture principles and a well develop path to sustainable design, knowing your environment, soils, weather, and site specific conditions is very important. 

Soon by mail you will receive the Site Assessment Workbook. Upon receipt, print, punch, and place the workbook pages in a D-ring binder and start familiarizing yourself with the material. This binder is for site-specific data (later needed pages I will bring for the course). Please read over the workbook and during the course fill in data (with pencil) as available. 

Add pages as needed. Flag pages for action and needed information. You will use this for the design process of the Pike Lake site and implementation logistics. Other assessment information and notes should be in separate sections.  We will add pocket pages and clear sleeves for graphics.We will collect the needed documents and build the property dossier, insert photos, lots of photos, notes and added material as available. 

We will put plant lists and design documents in the appendix and hand out copies of resource materials as needed. Please do not share the workbook. 

Lastly, permaculture solutions are site specific. Although the custom design and resource system you and I devise will be tailored to your desired “lifestyle”, the natural capital and ecological services that exist in the landscape will be our guide. Our goal is to adapt ourselves to the abundance that already exists, reduce our dependence on outside resources, steward the ecological services, and increase our natural capital.

 Looking forward, Daniel Halsey

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Principles of Eco-Design by Ken Yeang

FROM KEN YEANG  via Wayne Weissman

Yeang is an architect of some renown. These dictates and questions are formed from his early PhD work at Cambridge University where he studied how ecological design and Eco-aesthetic principles could be combined in the built environments.  dh


1. What are the reasons for this particular design?
2. Determine the amount of environmental integration that can be achieved in the design.
3. Evaluate the ecological and settlement history of the site
4. Inventory the designed system’s ecosystem and built infrastructure
5. Delineate the designed system’s boundary as a human-made or composite ecosystem
6. Design to balance the biotic and abiotic components of the designed system
7. Design to improve and to create new ecological linkages
8. Design to reduce the footprint of the built environment on the ecology of the locality


9. Design to reduce the consequences of the various modes of transportation and the provision of access and vehicular parking for the designed system
10. Design to integrate with the wider planning context and infrastructure of the local bioregion
11. Design for improved internal comfort conditions in the built environment
12. Design to optimize all passive-mode (or bioclimatic design) options in the designed system
13. Design to optimize all mixed-mode options in the designed systems with partial use of renewable resources of energy and as low-energy design in relation to climate of the locality
14. Design to optimize all full-mode options in the designed system in relation to the climate of the locality
15. Design to internally integrate biomass with the designed system’s inorganic mass (ex. by means of internal landscaping, improved indoor air quality, etc.)
16. Design for water conservation, recycling, harvesting, etc.
17. Design for wastewater and sewage treatment and recycling systems
18. Design for food production and independence
19. Design the built system’s use of materials to minimize waste based on the analogy with the recycling properties of the ecosystem
20. Design for vertical and horizontal integration
21. Design to reduce light and noise pollution of the ecosystem


22. Designing the built environment as the transient management of materials and energy input flows
23. Designing to conserve the use of non-renewable energy and material resources
24. Design for the management of outputs from the built environment and their integration with the natural environment
25. Design the building over its lifecycle from the source to reintegration
26. Design using environmentally benign materials, furniture, fittings, equipment, and products that can be continually recycled, reused, and reintegrated
27. Design to reduce the use of ecosystem and biospheric services and impacts on the shared global environment (systemic integration)


28. Reassess the overall design of the entire system in its totality for the level of environmental integration over its lifecycle
About Ken Yeang Eco-Architect Design Pioneer
Yeang’s single minded pursuit of ecodesign and ecomasterplanning and their aesthetics for close to four decades have influenced countless architects and professionals whose work impinges on the environment not just in the way they approach design, planning and the natural environment but aesthetically (greatly encouraged by his former PhD Supervisor at Cambridge University, Professor John Frazer) – in asking what a green building and masterplan should look like?
What is particularly motivating in Yeang's work is this original eco aesthetic, as an aspect of ecodesign that is close to Yeang’s heart. Yeangs contends that an ecological architecture should look natural and green, making nature and its processes visible in the biointegration of the synthetic physical components of building with the ecology of the land. Much of existent architecture and masterplans elsewhere that lay claim to be green are simply commonly-styled or iconically-styled builtforms stuffed internally with ecoengineering gadgetry. Yeang contends that an ecoarhitecture and an ecocity should look 'alive' like a living system, not 'de-natured', and not be nor look predominantly inorganic, artificial and synthetic. Yeang asserts that ecoarchitecture and ecomasterplans demand their own 'style'. It is this green ecoaesthetic in Yeang's architecture that brought considerable international attention to his work and to his selection as architect of choice.
This work in a relentless pursuit of an original biointegrated 'ecological aesthetic' may be Yeang’s other significant contribution to this field.
Because ecodesign in the 1970s did not have the benefit of prior research or theoretical models and frameworks, Yeang early years involved doing empirical research, experimental design, and investigative studies of ecological processes that he could replicate or mimic in his humanmade structures. His early research work is evident in several of his key books including, Designing with Nature (McGraw-Hill, 1995) (see above), The Skyscraper, Bioclimatically Considered: A Design Primer (John Wiley & Sons, 1997), The Green Skyscraper: The Basis for Designing Sustainable Intensive Buildings (Prestel, 1999), Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design (John Wiley & Sons, 2006), Eco-Masterplanning (John Wiley & Sons, 2009), Eco Design Dictionary (an Illustrated Reference with co-author Lillian Woo (Taylor and Francis, 2009)). He is currently researching for a monograph, Ecomimesis: Bases for Designing the Built Environment, on the mimicry of the ecological properties and attributes of ecosystems (Taylor and Francis).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Design Elements and Vocabulary

A. Broad Scale Site Design

Methodology of Design

Permaculture design emphasizes patterning of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks the question, “Where does this element go?  How is best placed for maximum benefit in the system?”

Permaculture is made up of techniques and strategies:

·            Techniques are how we do things (one-dimensional)
·            Strategies are how and when (two-dimensional)
·            Design is patterning (multi-dimensional)

Permaculture is all about the science and ethics of design patterning

Approaches to design:
      -Maps: “where is everything?”
-Analysis of elements: “how do these things connect?”
-Sector planning: “where do we put things?”

Maps: A main tool of a designer, but “the map is never the territory”.  Be careful not to design just from maps, no map tells the entire story that can be observed on the ground.  A sequence of maps is valuable to see clearly where to place elements: Water, Access, Structures, Topology etc.

The analysis of elements: List the needs, products, and the intrinsic characteristics of each element. Lists are made to try and link the supply needs of elements to the production needs of others.

An example that is easy to understand is the lists needed to link a chicken into a system:

Experiment on paper, connecting and combining the elements (buildings, plants, animals, etc) to achieve no pollution (excess product), and minimum work.  Try to have one element fulfill the needs of another.

Observational: Free thinking or thematic thinking (e.g. on weed species)
a)     Note phenomenon
b)    Infer (make guesses)
c)     Investigate (research)
d)    Devise a strategy

Experiential: Become conscious—of yourself, feelings, and environment.   Can be free-conscious or thematically-conscious.  Zazen-walking without thinking, unreflective.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER:  Use all the methodologies of design

Select elements – pattern assembly
Place elements – pattern relationship
B. Applying Specific Methods, Laws and Principles to Design

Methodologies of Design
Permaculture design emphasizes patterning of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks
the question, “Where does this (element) go? How is it placed for maximum benefit in the system?
Permaculture is made up of techniques and strategies:
• Techniques: concerned with how to do things (one dimensional) e.g. organic gardening
• Strategies: concerned with how and when (two dimensional) e.g. Fukuoka system
• Design: concerned with patterning (multi-dimensional) e.g. permaculture

Approaches to Design:
1. Maps (“Where is everything?”)
2. Analysis of elements (“How do these things connect?”)
3. Sector planning (“Where do we put things?”)
4. Observational
5. Experiential

Maps (be careful- the “map” is not the territory”) Must make observations.
Sequence of maps valuable to see clearly where to place many elements. Clear overlays to plan: Access,
Water, Buildings, Topology.

Analysis of Elements
An analytical approach: list the needs, products, and the intrinsic characteristics of each element. This is
done on paper. Lists are made to try to supply (by some other element in the system) the needs of any
particular element.
Experiment on paper with connecting and combining the elements (buildings, plants, animals, etc) to
achieve no pollution (excess of product) and minimum work. Try to have one element fulfill the needs of
another element.

Free thinking or thematic thinking (e.g. on blackberry or bracken)
(a) Note phenomenon
(b) Infer (make guesses)
(c) Investigate (research)
(d) Devise a strategy

Become conscious of yourself, feelings, environment. Can be free-conscious or thematically-conscious.
Zazen- walking without thinking, unreflective.
Putting It Together: Use all the methodologies of design.
Select elements - pattern assembly

            1. Analysis: design by listing characteristics of components
            2. Observation: design by expanding on direct observations of a site
            3. Deduction from nature: design by adopting lessons learned from nature
            4. Options and decisions: design as a selection of options or pathways based on decisions
            5. Data overlay: design by map overlays (see above)
            6. Random assembly: design by assessing the results of random assemblies
            7. Flow diagrams: design for work places
            8. Zone and sector analysis: design by application of a master pattern

            Sector Planning
            Sector planning includes (a) zones, (b) sector, (c) slope, and (d) orientation
      Zones: It is useful to consider the site as a series of zones (which can be concentric rings) that form a single pathway through the system that moves outward from the home center. The placement of elements in each zone depends on importance, priorities, and number of visits needed for each element. E.g. a chicken house is visited every day, so it needs to be close (but not necessarily next to the house). An herb garden would be close to the kitchen.

      Zone 1:

·    Home centre
·    Herbs, vegetable garden
·    Most built structures
·    Very intensive
·    Start at the backdoor

Zone 2:

·    Intensive cultivation, main crop
·    Heavily mulched orchard
·    Well-maintained
·    Mainly grafted and selected species
·    Dense planting
·    Use of stacking and storey system design
·    Some animals: chickens, ducks, pigeon
·    Multi-purpose walks: collect eggs , milk, distribute greens and scraps
·    Cut animal forage

Zone 3:

·    Connects to zone 1 and 2 for easy access
·    May add goats, sheep, geese, bees, dairy cows
·    Plant hardy trees and native species
·    Un-grafted  for later selection, later grafting
·    Animal forage
·    Self-forage systems: poultry forest etc
·    Windbreaks, firebreaks
·    Spot mulching, rough mulching
·    Trees protected with cages, strip-fencing
·    Nut tree forests

Zone 4:

·    Long term development
·    Timber for building
·    Timber for firewood
·    Mixed forestry systems
·    Watering minimal
·    Feeding minimal
·    Some introduced animals: cattle, deer, pigs
·    Zone 5:
·    Uncultivated wilderness
·    Re-growth area
·    Timber
·    Hunting

Species, elements, and strategies change in each zone.

SECTORS: the aim of sector planning is to channel external energies (wind, sun, fire) into or away from the system.

The zone and sector factors together regulate the placement of particular plant, animal species and structures.

SLOPE: placement of an element on slope so that gravity is used to maximum capacity:

-water storage
-mulch and other materials (kick down)
-cold air falls, warm air rises

ORIENTATION: placement of an element so that it faces sun-side or shade-side, depending on its function and needs.

            9. Zoning of information and ethics
            10. Incremental design
            11. Summary of design methods
            12. The concepts of guilds in nature
            13. Succession: evolution of a system
            14. The establishment and maintenance of systems
            15. General practical procedures in property design

C. Ideas and Applications 
(give examples of some of these principles in your site)
            1. Relative location
            2. Each element performs many functions
            3. Each important function is supported by many functions
            4. Efficient energy planning
            5. Using biological resources properly
            6. Energy cycling
            7. Small-scale intensive systems
            8. Accelerating succession and evolution
            9. Diversity (poly-cultures)
            10. Edge effects
            11. Water Conservation and the Keyline System (swales, dams, ponds, etc.)
            12. Attitudinal principles in practice

D. Draw Basic Design based on initial observations of your site (use bubble diagrams and drafting tools)

Principle Summary: Definition of Permaculture design: Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth. 

Functional design: Every component of a design should function in many ways. Every essential function should be supported by many components.  

Principle of self-regulation: The purpose of a functional and self-regulating design is to place elements or components in such a way that each serves the needs, and accepts the products, of other elements.

-Barrat, Krome, Logic and Design, Design Books, Guilford, CT, 1980.
-Birkeland, Janis, Design for Sustainability, Earthscan, Sterling, Virginia, 2004.
-Fuller, Buckminster, Synergetics, Macmillan Publishing Company, NYC, 1975.
-Grillo, Paul, Form Function Design, Dover Publications, NYC, 1960.
-Hemenway, Toby, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, Vermont, 2001.
-Holmgren, David, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, Holmgren Design Services, Victoria, Australia, 2002.
-Lyle, John Tillman, Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development, John Wiley and Sons, NYC, NY, 1994.
-Lyle, John, Design for Human Ecosystems, Island Press, Washington DC, 1999.
-McHarg, Ian, Design With Nature, American Museum of Natural History, Garden City, NY, 1969.
-Mollison, Bill, Introduction to Permaculture, Tagari Publications, Tyalgum Australia, 1991.
-Mollison, Bill, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, Tagari Publications, Tyalgum Australia, 1988.
-Schneider, Michael, Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, Harper Collins, 1994.
-Todd and Todd, Nancy and John, From Eco-Cities to Living Machines, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 1993.
-Van der Ryn, Sim and Cowan, Stuart, Ecological Design, Island Press, Washington DC, 1996.
-Yeang, Ken, Designing With Nature, McGraw Hill, Inc., NYC, 1995.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Changing Our Personal/Cultural Preference

 Imprinted Beauty
Aesthetic: a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. (ref:Merriam-Webster)

Since the advanced permaculture design process, or any design process, is influenced by the designer’s personal values, we need to assess our aesthetic defaults. We need to critically examine and reevaluate why we act the way we do and how decisions and choices are made. We see more with our eyes through the aesthetic filter of our culture than through our innate organic vision. We appreciate great beauty in the natural world that we do not incorporate in our controlled living space because we have learned a separation between that world and our personal space defines us as “superior or civilized”.  How we perceive beauty, which is the learned cultural aesthetic, conflicts and causes stress in the permaculture design process. In serious ecological design, I believe, we need to redirect our vision to the functional aesthetic of natural systems. In the design process we must follow all the steps in the scale of permanence and apply our design process in a manner that redefines our personal aesthetic to a more natural expectation. Using a structure of decision-making, from large-scale patterns to details as they are justified does this. Following an organic design process allows us to discover the design solutions rather than impose them[i].

In order to do ecological design in a sustainable manner we follow a functional aesthetic as nature does. What we perceive as beauty in nature is the functional aesthetic that is the result of billions of choices as solutions to efficiency and fitness of living organisms. These patterns that repeat in our vision show us the most efficient use of space, resources, transportation of resources, and resilience.   Organism fitness is directly related to its ability to thrive in its niche. Each cell, each genetic mutation either increases or decreases the fitness of the affected organism. The simplicity of design for the most efficient use of space, resources, and structural resilience, must also be sufficient to allow the system to survive changes in a niche, be they as in our world, climactic, geological, meteorological, or through competition with other systems.

When we as Permaculture designers begin to read the land, we want to make sure that we are being imprinted by the land so that our design is not imprinted (forced) on the land. That is why the assessment process, in site-assessment, cannot be motivated by extraction of resources. We are only looking for available resources that we may enhance, restore, and integrate in a design that will increase the fitness of the land and its ability to buffer extreme events, which may deplete its resources. Within the boundaries of the property for which we are making a master plan, we are the new genetic code. We are like a virus in its most positive sense. We as ecological designers can supply a  “new genetic code” bringing increased resilience to a property. We can help the land restore itself to natural fertility. We can assist the land in developing deeper and richer organic material on its horizon. As stated in many permaculture articles, we accelerate succession. We must see ourselves as a steward of the land, not its master. By increasing the ecological services available to the natural systems we create increased resources for ourselves. We are the primary livestock in this natural system, yet as the stewards of this land we know that if we were to vacate the property, the natural systems will be more resilient, deeper in organic materials, and at a higher state of natural restoration than if we had never appeared. There will be increased diversity of flora and fauna and increased levels of complexity in the ecology.

The biggest challenge we have in ecological design is refraining from imprinting our personal, cultural, and economic aesthetic on natural systems that already exist.  We ourselves are imprinted by our culture to create personal space that follows the cultural aesthetic of our origin. It is not hard to imagine the design of a house built by a consumerist suburban American. It is also not hard to imagine how that design would change based on the native origin of the designer. That subconscious design driver, which infiltrates are ecological design, is most likely contrary to natural ecological design. This is the predetermined aesthetic that is subtly incorporated in our concepts. As we walk an undisturbed property, we can see the natural aesthetic of ecological systems, mostly in what we would call Permaculture zone 5. The natural aesthetic or beauty is the functional design of natural systems. As we move down the zones to zone 4, zone 3, zone 2, and zone 1, we can see the cultural design choices appear and begin to negatively effect ecological services. The greatest challenge we have is trying to adapt the predetermined economic and cultural design drivers (defaults) to our goal of a natural design (intention) based on enhancing ecological services rather than our economic and lifestyle preferences.

In the SouthWoods Organic Design Process we observe, through a tour of the built environment, the differences between learned beauty, cultural defaults, and an appreciation for functional beauty, which appears when nature’s patterns are valued as the primary guide to beauty.

[i] Meaning, decisions are based on necessity rather then preference.  As will be shown in the course, plant species are not considered until all other design items have been defined. It is the last consideration in ecological design.

Steep Slope Water Catchment Techniques

Permaculture Keyline Water Systems: Don Tipping @ Seven Seeds Farm

Permaculture Keyline Water Systems: Tom Ward @ Wolf Gulch Farm