Final Report of the
YEE Study session in at EYC - Budapest, Hungary
1 – 8th of December 2002
Thirty-five young people from 19 different countries participated in the six-day course about
Sustainable lifestyle. The objectives and programme had been outlined as follows:
1. To understand and define what sustainability is, exploring different aspects by using participants’
experiences and providing additional input.
2. To define and demonstrate viable solutions for environmental sustainable lifestyle (using the example
of Ecovillages and Permaculture)
- Presenting and trying out the natural building concept
- Presenting and discussing the concerns of viable use of energy (example of use of alternative
sources of energy, country energy plan
- Presenting the permaculture approach and trying it out
- Ethical aspect of sustainable development
3. Making it available for YEE MOs
- Encourage participants to act as multipliers in their own organisations and community
During the first presentation/workshop on Monday morning it became apparent that the majority of
the participants were interested in using the time and efforts available during Friday and Saturday to
improve the Sustainability of the EYCB. We immediately accommodated this wish.
The following is a summery of presentations, handouts and results from the various programme
elements, presenters and work groups.
1. Sunday Dec 1st Introduction
2. Monday Dec.2nd Sustainability and Natural Building
• Introduction to participants and objectives. Presentation of CoE
• “An introductory talk about Sustainability”
• A multimedia introduction to various designs, materials and considerations, with focus on
Earth building techniques by Eduardo Carvalho.
• An overview of various techniques.
• Into the Dirt! –A hands on experience!
• International Evening
3. Tuesday Dec. 3rd: Ecovillages; A Solution?
• Experiences in Reality:Visit to the ecovillage initiative Gyurufu
• Organisations’ Fair: Slides and video presentations of participants’ countries or their NGOs
4. Wednesday Dec. 4th: Permaculture ethics and design
• Introduction to Permaculture
• Applied permcaculture design
• Organisations’ Fair: Slides and video presentations of participants’ countries or their NGOs
5. Thursday Dec. 5th: ‘Open Door’ workshops
• Participants workshops, with five different topics
6. Friday Dec. 6th: Work in groups
• Optional presentation of PermaLot
7. Saturday Dec. 7th: Finishing up
• Finishing up projects, cleaning up after floor construction
Questions initiating the pre-session online debate
Complete contact list for participants, team and lectures
Statistics of EYCB’s use of resources
Brochure for the kitchen and future groups
Insert for the welcome brochure
Proposal for poster
Letter to Centre and technical manager
Day by day presentation of the programme, including lecturer’s notes and
summaries of group work:
Sunday Dec 1st Introduction:
Introduction to the facilities, the surroundings, team members and participants.
This event lasted a total of four hours, with an initial ‘couch-tea session’ where participants introduced
themselves, a walk around the building, and dinner followed by various ice breaking games and a
general introduction of YEE and EYCB
Introduction to participants and objectives. Presentation of CoE
The Monday started with a brief
round of names etc, before the
word was given to Goran
Buldioski who presented CoE
through a series of overheads.
This was followed by an
introduction game (Carousel
game). After a break the
educational part of the Study
Session began with:
“An introductory talk about Sustainability”
By Max Vittrup Jensen:
(This is the whole presentation; feel free to copy any part of it if you can use it. Let me know if you need the accompanying
The following session should seek to define the term sustainability in relation to the term development,
and we will briefly outline some of the many strong and weak sides of different definitions of
sustainable development. This clarification is intended to help us in the week to come, in order to help
us to focus on ‘environmental sustainability’
As you can see sustainability means something different for everyone. It’s kind of what President
Bush’s election campaign on ‘family Values’.
It has been hard for me to plan what to say here because I have an overwhelming mount of material to
look through, much of it defining what’s wrong with the world. I'm also aware that some of you may
be more suited to make this presentation, you may have been politically engaged in the subject for
years, while I have been working on it on a more practically level. For some of you it will be a new
thing to discuss and so I believe the first thing we need to do is to find some common ground.
And, no. I’ll save your time in telling you all the latest statistics about the human race’s race for
extinction; using up our resources on behave of future generations and other species. I believe you all
came here today because you are well aware about many of these facts.
In order not to get depressed in the week to come, I’ve been inspired to structure this week in
accordance with one of the basic permaculture principles: The problem is the solution: Lets find
solutions for Young Europeans to help the Environment
What is “sustainable development”?
Over the past thirty years the expansion of the international economy and the spread of development
has placed increasing pressure on the environment. As markets expand and develop, the world’s
resources are more intensely extracted. While the process of development continues and modernisation
spreads, the strain upon non-renewable resources as well as renewable resources is more intense and
some ecosystems become more fragile and endangered. Sustainable development becomes an issue as
the upper ‘limits to growth’ are realised; economists do no longer dispute that nature has its limits.
Development can be interpreted as a set of goals or objectives which society aims to achieve.
Sustainable development as first defined at the World Commission on Environment and Development
(WCED), refers to “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”1. It requires that each generation be endowed
with sufficient resources to generate its own wealth. The WCED’s Common Future (1987) was the
first international meeting to initiate concern and debate over the linkages between environment and
economics. Since the WCED there has been increased recognition between the integral problem of
development and the environment. The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 highlighted the
importance of identifying ‘indicators’ of sustainable development. Rio de Janeiro’s Work Programme2
on sustainable development concluded that there is still no precise definition for sustainable
Development itself is a complex issue and the many definitions do not necessarily promote action or
responsibilities. It was therefore the intent of the Work Programme to emphasise ‘indicators’ of
sustainable development instead of a concrete definition. The ‘indicators’ introduced by the Work
Programme are still open-ended and do not promote real action by the state or press any responsibility
on human activities. This is especially highlighted when seen in relation to the RIO +10, as stated by
Gary Gardener in the introductory quote.
To help us gain a mutual understanding of the word I’ll introduce Poul Lübke3 ‘s four main definitions
used in describing the term sustainability, as it is being used in modern literature:
The following chapters will highlight each of these definitions.
This is being defined as a natural science term for: “a certain amount of species or matter which within
a given period can be removed from a determined resource area, without the resource loses it’s ability
to rejuvenate the equivalent amount afterwards.”4
In short this is what’s typically understood as a natural balance, a balance that in large part of the world
is under threat as highlighted by the following statements “The greatest threat to forests, wetlands, mountains
and biodiversity is the expansion of agricultural land due to increasing demand for food and loss of arable land due to
over-intensive cultivation.” And “Nearly 30 per cent of the world ’s major watersheds have lost three-quarters or more of
their original forest cover, reducing water quality and increasing the risk of floods. …nearly 9 per cent of all known tree
species are at some risk of extinction.”5
This definition of sustainability, (which is related to the ability to reproduce, outcome and optimising)
seem to be the pure meaning of the word, however in reality it has to be viewed in relation to the three
other definitions, as our current state of society and preferred life values does not allow us to abide by
this definition while implementing development.
2) Ecological Sustainability
This definition has been defined in many different ways. In this chapter I’ll focus on examining one of
the control measures; Environmental space.
1Rio de Janeiro’s Work Programme
2 Working paper in preparation for the United nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992
3 Paul Lubcke (1995): Bæredygtighed og velfærdsstat, p365, Kbh, Fremad.
4 Paul Lubcke (1995): Bæredygtighed og velfærdsstat, p365, Kbh, Fremad.
5 U.N. Report for the Johannesburg Summit: Global challange, Global Opportunity, 2002.
The measure of ’Environmental space’6, has been introduced to serve as a reference for an ecological
sustainable balance. It was defined as: “The total amount of energy, non-renewable resources,
agricultural land, lumber and freshwater we can use without compromising future generations use of
the same amount of resources”
-In addition a list of references relating to equality, distribution, reference year etc was determined. In
short the environmental space can be calculated as the maximum amount of matter (in tonnes, m3 etc)
a single individual has available in shape of resources, which can be used or polluted.
Some of the strong points of constructing such a measurement instrument is to have a clear definition
of one of the views of sustainability, which puts the environment and future generations as the highest
point of reference. The downsides to it could be the technical difficulties in measuring the actual
available resources, deciding on the a fair reference year for everyone, as we all are in a different state of
development, and none the least to gain the public, political and commercial accept of the measure.
3) Economic Sustainability
Although sustainable development is the ultimate target, it is contradicted by the objective to develop
economically. In many cases economic development in the developing world intensifies the situation,
where older non-environmentally friendly technology is used. The problem with achieving sustainable
development (from an economic perspective) as the objective of economic development tends to
contradict sustaining the environment.
For the most part, development is defined too crudely and usually by economic growth in terms of
domestic product. Michael Redclift (1992)7 asserts that in order for the use of the environment to
change, the structure and focus of development needs to be changed.
It’s been said that economists "know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
As a positive science, economics concerns itself with value in exchange; the prices at which goods and
services change hands in competitive markets. Economic science does not traditionally claim that these
prices indicate or reveal anything about the contribution goods or services make to human welfare in
any substantive sense. Economic science uses the term "welfare" or "utility" in a purely formal way, to
designate whatever it is that price is supposed to measure. This may have no relation to the true sources
of human well being or flourishing.
The classic articulation of this view is in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations8:
”The word VALUE, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some
particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one
may be called "value in use"; the other, "value in exchange." The things which have the greatest value in use have
frequently little or no value in exchange; and on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have
frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce any thing; scarce any
thing can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of
other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.”
4) Social Sustainability
“In several countries around the developing world, abundant natural resources are at the root of the matter-either triggering
violent conflict or financing its continuation. In fact, about a quarter of the 49 wars and armed conflicts waged during
2000 had a strong resource dimension. And many of them are taking place in areas of great environmental value.
Michael Renner, World Watch Institute9”
’Milieudefensie’ Action Plan Sustainable Netherland
7Redclift, Michael. 1992. "The Meaning of Sustainable Development”.
8Adam Smith 1776 The Wealth of Nations.
9Michael Renner, World Watch Institute, State of the world 2002
It’s commonly understood that if individual interests and capitalism can be harmful to the environment,
then the environment should be managed by legal regulations for the collective good. In Hardin’s
Tragedy of the Commons,10 Hardin argued that people are intrinsically incapable of placing ‘collective’
interests before ‘private’ ones. Hardin assumes that resources are constantly under threat by behavior at
a disadvantageous level and that some legislature is needed to preserve more valued endangered
ecosystems. Bearing this in mind, perhaps environmental management is a socio-economic solution to
maintain the environment for sustainable development.
The smog caused by domestic fires provides an apt example. All the characteristics of private
consumption break down. Firstly, no one person can claim direct ownership over the air, so it is a non-
universal good. Secondly, any improvement in air quality will benefit a whole range of agents regardless
of whether they switch to smokeless fuel or not. This means air does not enjoy exclusivity. While the
obvious optimal situation is that everyone benefits by switching to smokeless fuel, it also serves to
illustrate the lack of individual responsibility. This provides a useful insight is what has become to be
known as the "tragedy of commons". In this case it seems to be the responsibility of the government to
take action on behalf of society, geared with the knowledge that it is in at least the majority's best
interest. However this is first generally happening and desirable when the public's complaints become
sufficient loud for the government to take action. This serve to explains the significance of property
rights and their correct identification if a market is to operate efficiently, and that the free market offers
no solution to such complex problems.
Policy makers' attitudes towards environmental damage may be reactive or anticipatory. It can be
argued that each is optimal in different circumstances. However, further research reveals that there are
few if any situations in which a reactive mode is optimal, and yet in practice environmental policy is
rarely anticipatory. In the case of scarce resources whose exhaustion is irrevocable, an anticipatory
policy should certainly be favored. For instance, there is an unstable critical level of fish stock, below
which it is unable to sustain itself. In this instance a reactive policy will simply be too late. In the case of
non-renewable resources like oil and gas, this belief would only be acceptable if substitutes that are
currently uneconomical were expected to become financially viable as scarcity raised price and
innovation reduced costs.
It is not just the present structure of development that is damaging the environment, but the limited
power or political resolve of developing countries to regulate and control their resources.
The above presentations demonstrates that to obtain sustainability, as in a sustainable development a
balance between the many different viewpoints and interests has to be reached, as none of the
definitions seems to be capable of implementation on their own. This is not stating that the
environment should be put before ‘basic needs’, but human activities must work within the limits of
nature. If limits are not realized, sustainable development is not achieved and then development has
compromised ‘the ability of future generations to meet their needs.’
I suggest we limit ourselves to think and use the word sustainability in regards to the environmental
impact, this will help in our mutual understanding, give us a mutual word definition.
In arranging this seminar we have a few boundaries to guide us ahead. There’s a schedule which is
focused on teaching you a handful of different techniques through the next couple of days, both
through lectures, discussions, practical experience and demonstrations. There’s also the focus of the
YEE magazine that will be published shortly:
To publish a magazine aimed at the NGOs themselves i.e. "teaching" the "multipliers".
So, although some basic information/knowledge can be given, we should focus on what NGOs can do
to bring about sustainability, how to do sustainable projects and in what ways can they themselves
10 Garrett Hardin, 1968, Tragedy of the Commons10
promote sustainable processes with their members and general public. We encourage the creation of a
creative presentation, utilizing all of the centre’s capabilities.
We have one week ahead of us. Around in the world are numerous groups working on these issues,
both from official side and through the many NGO’s. Some of them has been doing so for many years.
Recently they all flew down to the end of the world where 30.000 people met for a week of talk and
politics. Many of us are not experts and we will only have one week, before we return to 19 different
countries in Europe.
I would like you to come up with ideas for targets, which are realistic to meet during this week. Targets
which has a disseminating effect and which can help the planet
In other words; We’re in an unsustainable building, our travels here has aided in the depletion of the
Ozon layer, using oil resources and so on. The money to fund all of this can be traced back to
individual taxpayers, who may have been able to live a more sustainable life themselves, should the not
work the extra hours to pay earn the taxes.
This makes us responsible of using the next week to gain a maximum effect!
Remember: The Problem IS the Solution
After the presentation the participants worked in groups and brainstorm on what they want to have as
an outcome of this
groups all agreed
that they want to
focus on make
i.e. more energy
efficient and save
Goran concluded the enthusiastic morning by leading us through the tedious process of filling out the
reimbursement forms (Overheads)
A multimedia introduction to various designs, materials and considerations, with focus on
Earth building techniques by Eduardo Carvalho.
It started with a bit of history of building techniques used. Ever since mankind has been on earth
building, earth has been one of the most frequent building materials in the world because it’s available,
because it’s easy to use, because it works.
Before there were cities, that is, before agriculture, people would wonder around for food, gathering
and hunting. Their shelters would have to be light and mobile, built with wood and cloth or using
natural caves. Of course the use of earth must have been known since primordial times, as a layer
against weather in shelters or as a decorative material for the body and dwellings.
Once «civilized», or living in the city (coming from the same Latin word), there was the need to keep
food and goods protected, and to house people and institutions.
The earliest ruins known today go back to 10,000 bc and are located in Jericó near Jerusalem. But we’ll
find earth constructions in every continent, ranging from desert to forest areas: amazing cities in north
and central Africa (Djene and Timbuctou in
Mali, the Casbahs and Ksars in Marroc), or
in the Middle East (Shibam in Yemen,
Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan) and the far East
(China), in Europe (France, Spain, England
or Sweden), in America (from the dry
American southwest to tropical south
America, remains of colonial and native
cities) and more recently in Australia.
Up to one third of mankind lives in some
kind of earth construction. This picture is
from Hungary, near Gyurufu:
How does it work?
Loam is a product of erosion from rock in the earth’s crust. This erosion occurs mainly through the
mechanical grinding of rock by the movement of glaciers, water and wind; through thermal expansion
and contraction of rock; expansion of freezing water in the small cracks of rock; or caused by chemical
reactions between organic acids in plants and water plus oxygen.
Loam is mixture of clay, silt and sand, and sometimes larger aggregates like gravel and stones. In soil
engineering these particles are defined by their size: particles smaller than 0.002mm are termed clay;
between 0.002 and 0.06mm are called silt; between 0.06 and 2mm are termed sand.
Clay is the binder for all other particles (silt, sand, gravel) which work as the fillers in loam. There are
different kinds of clay. The most important factor for building purposes is the way they react to water.
According to their molecular structure each type of clay will absorb more or less water. Water is a non-
compressible material meaning that the absorption of water will cause a volume increase in loam. Upon
drying (and remember there is no chemical bonding between water and loam: water going in will come
out), it will occur a variable contraction in loam. If in presence of a highly expandable clay cracks will
occur in the drying process.
As a general rule we can say that dirt with a percentage of clay up to 30% can be used for earth
construction. It is possible to compensate the lack of sand or clay by adding either a binding material
(clay, lime, cement) or a filler (usually sand). Cracking can be reduced by adding tensile resistant
materials like mineral or animal fibers (straw, hair). For certain construction elements like floors and
plasters, where water resistance is crucial, one can add linseed oil and other substances to the mix.
How does it work – techniques:
There are three main techniques to use of earth as a construction material:
Adobe - It’s a sun-dried brick, made of dirt with around 30% clay, mixed with cut straw and water until
it becomes wet enough to pour into a form. It should take around 15 days until the drying period is
over. It allows the construction of vaults and domes without the use of any formwork. It’s possible to
mechanize the process and produce thousands of adobes per day.
Rammed earth – Way of building monolithic walls, without joints. Moist earth (not wet) is placed inside
a formwork and is compacted by ramming. The form consists of two planes (made of wood or metal)
connected by spacers. Once the formwork is filled, it moves to another part of the wall, this allows for
a small need of wood during construction. The formworks used in this technique are similar to the
ones used in concrete, and the ramming tool can be pneumatic, making it possible to mechanize the
process in some countries. Dirt used in rammed earth shouldn’t have more than 15% clay in it, in order
to achieve the highest levels of compaction. It’s usually used in areas where there isn’t much water
Wattle and Daub – Under this name we can find many different kinds of construction techniques
around the world. Earth is used as an infill between the resistant structure of the building. The structure
can be any available material, usually wood or bamboo. It’s the most effective way of building in
seismic areas, for it allows tensile stress to be carried by the main structure. It’s been extensively used in
South America, Africa and northern/central Europe.
How does it work – disadvantages
-Loam isn’t a standardized material – Loam is different from place to place, the proportion of
sand, clay, silt and gravel will change, making it necessary to know the specific composition of
loam and type of clay to judge its characteristics.
- Loam shrinks when drying out – the evaporation of the water needed to achieve the maximum
resistance of the material causes contraction and therefore shrinkage.
- Loam isn’t water resistant – Water will cause earth to turn into mud. Walls must be well
protected by roof overhangs and/or plasters.
- Loam doesn’t take lateral stresses – in seismic areas this is a major concern. Some design
features must be respected in order to preserve structural stability when under the effects of an
- Loam isn’t as strong as other construction materials – This will only be a disadvantage when
high resistance structures are needed, which isn’t the case of single family houses up to two
floors. Nevertheless, earth construction, if not threatened by earthquakes can support
- Loam is not accepted as a construction material in most parts of the world – Only but a few
countries have some kind of building codes for earth construction. This fact will make it
difficult to negotiate building permits or insurance coverage.
- Loam is a poor insulation material – In countries were there isn’t much sun, earth walls won’t
provide insulation levels necessary to keep a comfortable temperature inside the house. In those
countries earth can be retrofitted with straw, cork or other insulation material.
How does it work – advantages>
- Loam saves energy – It’s an available material on site so doesn’t need transportation; it’s used
raw so there’s no energy input to it.
- Loam is low-tech - three persons can do the job without the help from machinery, it’s an ideal
material for self-construction.
- Loam is recyclable – there’s no limits to the number of times to reuse loam. If there’s no
stabilizer in the dirt, it’s always possible to add water and redo a wall.
- Loam balances indoor temperature and humidity – because it’s a heavy material loam is able to
store heat during day time and release it in the evening; and because it’s a porous material has
the ability to absorb and desorb humidity.
- Loam saves wood – It’s possible to build solely with earth. If you choose to cover the building
with vaults and domes, it’s possible to build totally without any other material. Only in the
foundations there’s the need for another material, like stone.
- Earth is a proven construction material – There’s has been a 10,000 year continuous test on
earth, in almost every climatic area of the planet.
- Earth is a perfect material for solar passive architecture – Passive solar architecture uses sun-
energy to heat up the house or cool it down. Massive walls and floors will take the heat coming
from the south facing windows and store it inside. Passive solar is the simplest and cheapest
way of having a comfortable house all year.
Regardless of all the history and tradition involved, and despite the built heritage all over the world,
earth construction, today, should be approached in industrialized countries as a building material
among other. One with special characteristics - some good, some not so good – but still as a possible
way of building.
In a time when the concept of “sustainability” has taken control of the main political speech in
industrialized countries, one should be careful about the tendency of considering “sustainable or
natural” architecture as good, correct architecture. There isn’t such thing as “good” sustainable
Architecture addresses environmental aspects – of course – but deals also with cultural, economical and
psychological ones. There’s no doubt earthen construction is appealing to the “sustainability speech” –
as all natural building materials are – but one should be critical regarding the way this speech and the
materials are used.
There’s a gap in the world and we should remember that both the “sustainability” speech, the
development concept and the pollution comes from the same side of that trench. So does “alternative”,
“ecological” or “natural” building, the rest of the world is “sustainable” without an option.
Architecture deals with materials and ideas. Good architecture will be a creative and meaningful
compromise between both, not a climatic machine or a stylistic exercise. Architects deal with costs,
more or less environmental friendly materials, their ideas and their clients’, but shouldn’t disregard light
and darkness, sound and silence, for these are also architectural materials.
An overview of various techniques.
It's not complete as new techniques always gets developed, old techniques rediscovered and hybrids
evolve. I have taken most of the pictures, however I must shamelessly confess to having 'borrowed'
many from the internet and I've lost track of the real photographers. I trust they agree to the
educational use of them...
A century old technique of compressing moist earth within forms (Shuttering). This allows large
wall segments to be build in place at the same time. It's possible to do it by hand, but presently
pneumatic tampers and expensive shuttering systems are used, along with earth moving
machines, which makes it more efficient, however also more costly. It's widely used in Australia,
where the earth mixture is required to be supported with cement.
Rammed earth has excellent thermal mass properties, and thereby offers a very low insulation
value. In S. Spain there still exists a castle made by this technique, which is close top a 1000
years old...(without cement!)
A mixture of straw (or woodchips) mixed in a watery clay-mix poured into forms much as with
rammed earth. The organic matter provides an insulation value, and the clay protects it from
rotting, as it dries out any moisture. It is easier to work with than rammed earth, as it doesn't
need to be compacted, however the shuttering is still a prohibitive element for many.
The traditional mud brick. A mud (wet earth mixture) poured into moulds and left to dry in the
sun. The technique is still popular in the S.W. USA, however often the modern adobes are
stabilized with asphalt. Good adobe requires a special soil, and get quite heavy to work with.
Compressed Earthen Blocks:
Another way of producing a mud-brick, especially suited for regions without the baking sun,
and the special adobe soil. A mix of earth (clay and sand) gets put into a mould and
compressed. That's it! It can be done manually or through various industrialized methods, the
best machines currently on the market seems to be made by Oskam, and the setup enables
builders to make the CEB's of local available soil. The advantage to this method in comparison
to commercial bricks is that it is unbaked, and thereby low in embodied energy and better at
adjusting the moisture balance in the house, as well as having excellent thermal qualities.
Another very old technique, recently revived by the Oregon Cob Cottage Company. Cob is an
old English term meaning a 'lump or a rounded mass' and is basically a mix of mud and straw.
The Oregon Cob is preferably mixed by dancing feet and excellent to build rounded artistic
structures, as well as combining with
various other materials. It has been named
“The Duct-tape of natural building!”. It
has good thermal qualities, some
insulation value, is very versatile and dirt
Wattle and Daub:
A technique often seen in Africa or as
infill in old European framed houses. The
'Wattle' refers to a woven mesh of
available branches, which gets covered by
'daub', a muddy mixture of mud and
straw, which gets thrown onto the mesh. It's an excellent way to build dividing interior walls,
and with basic plastering skills it will look like a' normal' wall. A very easy and inexpensive wall
which will last for centuries.
Typically the technique used in Europe. Small straw bales are stacked within a (typically)
wooden structure, and secured to each other and the structure. After the stacking the real work
begins; the plastering of everything, often with an interior clay plaster and an exterior lime
A good way to get a well insulated house, and usually the easiest to get approved by the
authorities. In general they are perceive as being inexpensive but in reality they tend to cost the
same or more as a standard house, if professional labour is used.
This is the original technique used by the settlers on the American prairie. The Strawbales are
used as bricks and once the final height is reached a bond beam gets mounted on top and the
walls gets pre-compressed through various techniques, before the roof gets build on top. The
strawbale house on the picture was
build by one young Slovak couple 1,5
hours drive North of Budapest during
one summer, using only local free
[There are many more ways to build with
wood, however most are well known, and
tend to rely on huge amounts of lumber
which support the logging industry which
seldom do sustainable logging. The following
technique relies on surplus trees, which easily
can be cut yourself.]
A technique utilizing thin trees which
usually is used for firewood. The trees
are basically cut into short lengths
equal to the thickness of the wall, and then placed in a matrix of normal mortar. The cavity
between the exterior and interior mortar is filled with sawdust. Experiments are presently being
performed with using cob as well as papercrete as the mortar.
It's seems to be a good and inexpensive way to
build, (was used in Siberia and N. Greece some
1000 years ago), however it's been pointed out
that often there are problems due to the natural
tendency of wood to swell and shrink, as well as
it's abilities to transport moisture. Much of this
could be solved by plastering the house on the
As technique as old as humans... Takes a strong back as
well as a strong mortar, and a special eye for 3D puzzles!
Invented by Michael Reynolds in Colorado. Earthships are best know because of the walls being build
of old tires compacted with earth. What's more noteworthy about the design is the integrated rainwater
catchment system, the build in reedbed system, and that it also is self sustained with energy, thereby
being self contained as a ship. The whole structure is also very well concealed in the landscape.
Papercrete: (Fibrous cement)
This technique utilizes used unprocessed paper and mixes it with 10-20% cement for strength, and at
times sand and lime to gain other qualities. It results in a very well insulated house, and the material can
be mixed in relation to application; thin for spraying, thick for pouring into forms, or at times large
building blocks are pre-made.
The biggest problem is the papercrete's ability to absorb moisture (as a sponge), which makes it tricky
to use in a damp climate.
The idea of this is to get misprinted sacks made of PET plastic or the like. It\s often possible to get
rolls with misprint very cheap. The bags then get filled with various materials; I've seen soil, papercrete,
and pumice, before they get closed and stacked onto the wall, not unlike how a dike is build with
sandbags. Between the layers a couple of rows of barbed wire are placed to prevent the sacks from
This technique lends itself well to domes and artistic houses, and it's really a quite fascinating thought
that its possible to hike in to the back country with a backpack full of ricesacks and some barbed wire,
and be able to build the major parts of a house this way.
An old technique which is reemerging, aided modern engineering and new metal brackets. The pictures
speak for themselves...
An aesthetically pleasing solution, which I suspect will have an increased interest after the scenes of the
hobbit dwellings in “The Lord of the Rings”. Underground houses can be done in numerous ways,
however the preferred way tends to be with massive amounts of concrete and various chemical sealants
or plastic membranes, and it seems that many of the houses still have numerous problems in terms of
leakage from above and they typically require mechanically air ventilation.
Into the Dirt! –A hands on experience!
We finished this introduction to natural building by going to
the gym and engaging in construction of test Earthen floors,
having a hands on experience while mixing the soil, sand and
water and making the floors. It was intended that a
representative from a local natural oil company should had
come and demonstrated his products, thus learning how to
complete the floor, however even though we arranged several
appointments throughout the week he failed to show, which
was a great shame for the educational efforts put into making
arranging this element of the study session.
The evening was dedicated to learning about the participants
culture; food, music and drink, which unfortunately led to an
accident causing one participant to return to Romania.
Tuesday Dec. 3rd: Experiences in Reality!
VISIT TO THE ECO-VILLAGE INITIATIVE GYŰRŰFŰ:
In addition to the lectures about natural building we visited a real eco-village initiative, Gyűrűfű , in
south west Hungary. The Gyűrűfű Foundation was established in 1991. It was founded to create a
sustainable rural village based on principles such as Permaculture and Biodynamics. It is an
independent environmental organisation with a special focus on the Gyűrűfű region in Southwest
Hungary. Its principal aim is to elaborate a well-structured, realistic and feasible rural environmental
planting concept with strong emphasis on small-scale human settlement schemes, such as villages,
hamlets, and farms.
The Gyűrűfű Foundation searches for
sustainable alternatives to present day
development practices. It is assumed that the
principles of ecological lifestyles and the
application of co-operative methods and
appropriate technologies can be organised into
one comprehensive, integrated, and holistic
scheme meeting all the principal needs of human
existence without upsetting the natural balance.
The structural set-up of the village community
reflects the physical environment: the individual
is surrounded by the family, a household
community. This in turn fits into the hamlet,
while the hamlets make up the village community. The principal aim is to build up a human scale
community pattern which gives high priority to mutual co-operation, personal contacts and
understanding without giving up individual freedom and dignity.
In the case of Gyűrűfű , building materials were taken from natural resources, in most cases from
renewable ones. The main objective is to develop alternatives based on Schumacher`s principle of
intermediate technologies, which are energy efficient and ecologically beneficial, but at the same time
not too time consuming.
In principal terms, the settlement will be by no means 100 % self-sufficient, especially from the point of
view of energy. Methods to be applied include biomass utilisation for heating combined with passive
solar solutions( underground buildings, heat mass, orientation, attached greenhouses, etc.), modest use
of photovoltaic, thermo-collectors for water heating, and so on.
Usable water is obtained by harvesting water from
rooftops and other surfaces, with subsequent
recycling. The drinking water is based on unconfined
ground-water rather than deeper layers.
The project seeks the ability of an economic system
which would enable the members of community to
earn private income as well as enrich common
resources through different economic activities
ranging from the marketing of surplus agricultural
and forestry product through private enterprises to
free-lance white collar jobs like writing, consultancy,
etc. The goat cheese workshop is one of the only
income resources for the eco-village.
Situated on a distant site in a beautiful area, Gurufu had several natural or partly natural built houses
and a stable, a 35 meters deep well, a pond, a filtering system where water was being filtered in a reed
bed. There were also horses, sheep and goats, and cheese was being made from the goats’ milk.
When we came a new house was under construction, which gave us the opportunity to see the adobe
building technique, using bricks of clay and 30
% straw. Concrete, PVC and bricks were also
used in this eco-village, which are
For the house our guide showed – he was
living there with wife and children – clay from
the building site itself was used, shaped by
having it rammed into wooden frames, which
were removed after the clay was dry. Right
beside the house we could still see the large
hole from which the clay was dug. The clay
was covered with a lime plaster. For its
foundation concrete was used, and between the foundation and the clay walls a plastic layer of water
Driving back in the bus we divided into groups and discussed what we had seen. Then each group
presented its opinion on the eco-village:
- There are far more solutions needed to make this village really ‘eco’, for instance for the supply of
electricity, the social situation, and the use of materials. The electricity comes now from a nuclear
power plant. The inhabitants live isolated and they don’t seem to cooperate like a community.
There are still materials like plastic and concrete used.
- The building of the house took too many hours and muscle work.
- A stable income and funding are of vital importance for the establishing and running of such eco-
- The houses are too big. They need too much energy to be heated. These big houses may be nice for
a demonstration house, but these sizes are not necessary.
- This group had members of Serbia, Macedonia, Yugoslavia and Estonia. The materials that are
being used are also used in their country. They weren’t really new to them.
- The question rose of why they didn’t sell the goat cheese on the local market. (there is no local
market for goat cheese).
- This group found the time to look around too short.
- This group had members form Armenia, Estonia and Lithuania. They remarked that the sort of
houses they saw already exist in their countries. Not because of ecological motives, but because of
poorness. These sometimes don’t even have electricity or running water. In this perspective the
eco-village was not more ‘eco’ then some of the houses in their own country.
- There are not so many people living there and the inhabitants don’t really form a community.
- The group suggested training courses and a community room.
- The group questioned what an eco-village really is. What are the limits? They mentioned the TV,
computer, the phone and cars they saw and were in doubt about whether these things were
necessary for an eco-village.
- This eco-village is not self-sufficient enough.
- The group remarked that you need a lot of commitment to realise a project like this.
- Too many power tools have been used in building the structures and other machinery is still used.
Examples are the machines used for making cheese (stirring?), saws and two refridgerators.
- The group asked the owner about what material was being used for the pond. He answered he
didn’t know. The group found this strange, because the village is an environmental project.
Probably they used the cheapest material, PVC, for it.
- Some experiments in this eco-village are a success, like the water filtering system and the structures.
They work well and you can see that there has been thought about it.
- The group found the area very beautiful.
- About the place: it is put in a nice context. You can see that it has been taken care of.
- There has been thought about the place: it is put in a valley where two creeks come together. You
can get water from there.
- It is a long way to town. The transport may not be sustainable. But it is a community and you can
make transport more effective by buying goods once a week for the whole community.
- The group liked the architecture.
- The group wondered whether there was a community room. That is necessary for a community to
- The houses didn’t look unusual to this group.
- They wondered what the source of income for this eco-village was. According to the group tourism
could be a source of money.
- Furthermore the group supported what had been said by the other groups.
- They liked the visit. They liked the walk and the surroundings.
- They wanted to know about the social life in the eco-village.
- There is too much electricity used, for instance for TV’s. This point should be considered because
the electricity is coming from a nuclear power plant.
- The group suggests seminars, and education for children, for instance about how the goats are kept.
- The group liked the walk.
- The group remarked that there was only one house with renewable energy (solar).
- Bricks and concrete are being used.
- The group added to a comment on another group about the use of TV’s and computers in an eco-
village. Living in an eco-village doesn’t mean doing without modern communication.
Max rounded up the discussion emphasizing that this was an ecovillage initiative and that they had
achieved a great deal since they started, considering a rather low amount of people. He also emphasized
the native Indian saying: Judge not before you have walked a mile in your neighbors moccasins” : It’s
very easy to come as a quality inspection team from outside, but how would you have done yourself?
What have you achieved during the past 10 years? He then gave a much to quick introduction to the
concept of eco villages, as the scheduled presentation had to be cancelled due to the additional 3 hours
we lost on transport.
After dinner we continued to:
Organisations’ Fair: Slides and video presentations of participants’ countries or their NGOs
Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia
FYCA was founded in 1999 by uniting several youth clubs. Its mission is to raise the active
involvement of young people in their community life. We have clubs all over Armenia. Its main
activities are aimed at sustainable development, active participation of young citizens and information
supply. We worked and are working on ecological, sustainable development, participation and
involvement projects (hikes, excursions, seminars, round tables, study sessions, etc.). As our task we
also see the education of young people in fields like ecology, citizenship, participation, cultural
understanding, etc. This is done through different TCs, international youth exchanges, etc. We are
YEE, European Confederation of Youth Clubs, National Youth Council of Armenia members.
Tourist and Environmental Conservation Centres in the Web- Bulgarian project
Currently in the project are involved 7 centres from Bulgaria- Karlovo, Madjarovo, Caliacra, Poda,
Ribaritsa, Shiroka laka, Strandja. The information centres that are included in this project have different
kinds of activity - informational, educational, tourist services, natural protection, organization, etc. The
project will improve significantly the communication between the centres themselves, between the local
people and the world. Our goal is to share continuously information about the work in the centres, to
manage similar problems , to give each other advice. We believe it's a contribution to the development
of civil society in Bulgaria. There is no doubt that a strong civil society only is capable to solve its
problems including the ecological ones.
GAIA showed a snazzy powerpoint presentation explaining about: GAIA’s Background, What does GAIA mean?
Environmental education, (Schools, Scouts groups, Beach cleanings, Lisbon´s Mini- Marathon,
Protest Actions). Participating in Internacional Activities, Taking part in the organization of international events,
Biketour+10, Social Festival, Other activities, Information
Youth Organization for International Sustainability
YOIS showed an even more snazzy power point presntation, explaining that it is an independent youth movement that
unites young people who want to build a better future for today’s youth and future generations. We offer young people a
chance to discuss issues of importance and then influence and lobby political decision-makers.
Our goal is a sustainable and inter-generational just society. YOIS is a non-profit, non-partisan youth
movement with it’s headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.
Our Aim: We wish to express Irish identity by designing affordable products and systems from sustainable materials and
1. To produce products and systems that encourages and protects natural cycles
2. To change material values and promote environmental awareness
3. To create a national and international platform for young Irish design explores
4. To promote a mish-mash of tradition values and modern lifestyles
5. To introduce globalisation in design to Ireland: combining local activity with global vision
6. World domination : )
The Field Biologists/Faltbiologarna - Sweden
The field biologists is a small alternative organization for youth up to 25; no adults are allowed. Our
emphasis is the nature around us, to live in unity with nature, and to avoid all those things that are
nowadays an obstacle to sustainable development. We arrange a mixture of local biology-related camps;
environmental campaigns, international cooperation etc.
Nature and Youth, Denmark
Nature and Youth (N&Y) is Denmark’s only environmental organization targeting children and youth.
It was established about 40 years ago, and has members in all ages, although the target group is children
and youth aged 8 to 25. N&U consist of a number of local branches, they being both youth branches
and so-called nature clubs for kids run by voluntary adults and youth.
The overall aim of N&Y is to emphasize the importance of linking nature with environmental work.
Our thought is by taking kids into the nature they’ll come to care for the nature, and hereby they’ll
N&Y are involved in a broad range of activities from local to international level. A lot of activities take
place in the local branches or in national working groups, that are more specifically focused on a certain
topic. The groups are open to everyone
Yugoslavia - Student Union of Faculty of Biology
Student Union of Faculty of Biology is a syndical organization that gathers creative, inventive students
who likes changes and want to improve quality of their surroundings (in social and environmental
meaning). We develop student activities, support student initiatives, and take part in reform of higher
education in our country. Also, our activities include environmental protection, promoting
environmental and biological issues. One of the latest projects includes promoting organic food to the
farmers and not using GMO in the fields.
We have presented at this study session film that we made it to show what do people in Belgrade
actually do in according to sustainable lifestyle. We took some nice scenes at green markets, ethno
restaurants, village close to Belgrade, faculty … all together with ethno music in our surroundings. All
other participant enjoyed watching it.
EH21! Is an organization initiated by students of Belgrade University who share the same interest in
environmental problems. Besides students there are a lot of other citizens including foreigners as
members. We took part in organizing Bike Tour 2001 through Serbia. We create workshops for
children to promote natural issues by celebrating World Biodiversity Day, Earth Day, World Forrest
Day, World Water Day etc.
Ecological club of the post-graduates, students and schoolchildren of the Baltic-Ladoga region is a non-
governmental youth organization founded in Saint-Petersburg in 1992 by State Technological
University for Plant Polymers and State Technical University. The main direction of its activity is
environmental education of youth based on its participation in practical and scientific research work for
the environmental protection.
Environmental information centre
A little bit of history
Our organisation has a long history…….
In 1962 was established Vilnius Nature Protection Society, which was one of the biggest environment
protection organisation in Lithuania.
The group of young and enthusiastic students, studying in the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Vilnius
University, joined to it as its “youth club” in 1996. After three years, Vilnius Nature Protection Society
Youth Club separated and became self-sufficient organisation.
And, finally, this year we have changed the title to Environmental Information Centre, because we are
Our aim is to involve more people, especially youth, to the environmental work, to increase their
knowledge about the environmental problems and their responsibility for the environment. Main fields
of our activities are: water issue, protected areas (Natura 2000), sustainable development,
Local agenda 21, climate changing, genetically modified organisms, waste, green consumption
Turkey MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY NATURE CLUB ANKARA, TURKEY
Middle East Technical University (M.E.T.U.) Nature Club was founded in 1994 with the aim of
developing and spreading the love of nature and awareness about nature.
From the first day it was set up, “environmental awareness raising” has been one of guiding principles
of the Club, and therefore, the Children Environmental Education sub-group has been one of the most
important among others. It carries out an environmental awareness program for primary and secondary
school children and familiarizes them with the basic concepts of nature, ecology, conservation and
recycling. Within the context of this program, slide shows have been composed to more than 3000
children in Ankara, for four years. Moreover, field trips and plantation activities have been organized
The Nature Trekking Group organizes nature trips to natural areas around Ankara. The main purpose
of these trips is to give people knowledge and feeling of nature.
For Club members, ‘Nature Conservation’ sessions are hold to maintain and/or develop their
environmental consciousness and awareness. As well as teaching the basic concepts of nature to all
newcomers, these discussions also help to improve the club’s way of thinking and help refresh its
philosophy of nature.
The other studies carried out are:
One-week activities, called “Nature Festivals”, were hold in METU, in 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999 and
2002. Seminars, slide shows, exhibitions, nature trips and camps were organized with the cooperation
of other groups from METU and Ankara.
Nature Club also has co-operation with other environmental organisations of various universities in
Turkey. The Club participates the national symposiums called “Student Perspectives on Environmental
Issues” which started to be held annually since 1995.
In the implementation of some forestation projects, the club has worked in coordination and
cooperation with various environmental foundations and associations in Turkey to take active role in
carrying out these activities.
“The Field Guide to Wild Flowers of METU Campus” was published in 1999 and it consists of
coloured photos of plants at the METU forest and also brief biological information about each plant.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ..http://www.metu.edu.tr/home/wwwdoga/
Wednesday Dec. 4th: Permaculture
What is permaculture?
We attended a lecture led by Patricia Končková, Chairman of Permakultura(CS) from Slovakia. She
came to Budapest for a lecture and a workshop in which the participants would design their own
Patricia introduced and explained the basic principles of designing a permaculture site following an
example of a farm.
We would like to give you, in a few lines, a vague idea of what we learned.
Permaculture is a way of arranging your life to be happy and abundant. It’s been said that if you accept
Permaculture as an ethical system, then you’ll no longer be able to differentiate between work and
Patricia demonstrated how Permaculture handles organic farming based on traditional farming and
scientific knowledge. Its moral principles are to take care of the earth, to take care of people and about
When making a permaculture design every element on a site, like plants, infrastructure, buildings and
animals should be taken care of. All these elements have relationships. Their location on the site should
be chosen according to these relationships. In this way the needs of all elements can be fulfilled. You
can use permaculture everywhere.
Objective of the session: to give a clear idea about permaculture as a designing system
Aim of the session: to introduce permaculture as a practical system for sustainable human settlements
Permaculture design is a very difficult and long time process, but we have tried to simplify the
permaculture theory so you have chance to practise how to create such a design of various kinds of
sites in the countryside.
PERMACULTURE DESIGN PROCESS
1. Input information
To collect basic information about the site and its owner: MAPS with above sea level and
contour lines, clear border line of the site, chart of requirements and wishes of the owner and
other people living there (it is about animals, plants, events and structures that they would like
to have there).
2. Visit of the site
Observations of the site and the analysis of environment: water, animals, plants, soil,
topography, sector analysis, climate and weather condition, pollution, infrastructures – such as
pipelines, canalisation, telephone, shops, hospitals, electricity and roads.
Input/output analysis: after observation of the site, we will find out what is on the site. We
do this analysis to fulfil needs of each element that is or should be placed in the system. We
think of all the basic needs for ach elements as well as all things hat it produces.
3. Needs of people and needs of the site
Designer adds elements that are necessary for people’s lives as well as all the other
important needs of the used land to the chart of requirements of a man. All the basic needs
of the people must be fulfilled from at least two sources (e.g. two lovers, pipeline, pond
4. Real possibilities
To reduce requirements according to people and land’s resources and possibilities. To take
away things that seems to be nonsense, e.g. the statue of an elephant instead of an alive
5. Input/output analysis
Estimation of each element given in the chart.
Another input/output analysis of all elements that we as a designer added to the site.
6. Consultation with the owner and verification
Verification of elements according to the results of the analysis. We should examine for each
whether it is possible to implement it in the design or if it doesn’t fit there at all. We can ask
different experts for help. To talk with a client about things we have found out and to talk
about his requirements. Ask him if he still wants to have an alive elephant and explain him hat
there is no real chance to feed the elephant on his site.
7. Idea of things placed on the site
We do not think of concrete places or structures placed on the concrete parts of the site. We
just give an idea what is real in the implementation of the design.
To sort things according to number of visits needed to service them or how often we visit
them. How many times a day/a week/a year we have to visit the elements, how much care does
the elements need.
Deal with the wild energies, the elements of water, wind, rain, and wildfire. All of these come
from outside our system and pass through it.
We look at the site in profile noting relative elevations to decide on the placements of dams,
water tanks, wells, drains and roads. All the elements are efficiently placed on the site, but we
haven’t found the exact (concrete) place to put them on. We also deal with energy flows such as
wind and freeze.
Now we know WHAT and WHERE, but not WHERE EXACTLY.
11. Relative location
It is the core of permaculture design because design means connections between things.
Using this principle we enable design components (house, animals, plats, ponds, etc.) to
function efficiently. We can ask the question: ‘Where does this element benefit other parts of
the system or where is this element incompatible wit others?’.
So that every element performs as many functions as possible, but on the other hand all of
its basic needs (we mean alive creatures) should be served in at least two ways. We can also
use information from input/output analysis.
12. Finished design
Permaculture design is NEVER finished. It is a dynamic system that develops all the time (e.g.
wild animals coming to site, new friends, new plants, etc.).
We start working on the design. We start from the centre of activity, from ourselves, from the
We take care of the system, but as the system grows and becomes more stabile the les work has
to be done by us or supplemented by resources from outside the site.
After the lecture we were all divided into
groups where we were given some starting
conditions and the task was to make a
sustainable permaculture site using the
permaculture principles and the
knowledge gained at the lecture. We were
proposed to design a virtual model of the
site. We had 5 groups working on models
of permaculture site in a village, in a city
building, small area, etc.
Here’s a few of the creative projects. Patricia remarked that we had managed to do in one afternoon
what usually takes a four day permaculture course!
We continued our organisations fair in the evening, as we hadn’t had enough time for all the countries
in one evening.
Thursday Dec. 5th: ‘Open Door’ workshops
The time before lunch was dedicated to give some of the participants a chance to present issues or
guide discussions on various issues. We had announced the possibility earlier on and five topics was
chosen and facilitated: Strawbale house construction, ‘Hippies versus Yuppies’, Holistic Health care,
Small scale composting and Jo’burg ’02. The following is a summery of the information exchanges:
1) Workshop: Straw bale houses introduction
The first straw bale houses were built in the U.S. 1904. Immigrants coming to Nebraska lacked
traditional materials for building houses and experimented with straw bales. The strawbales functioned
as walls and also beared the weight. There are still houses from this period left in good standing.
From 1980 and onwards there has been a revived interest in straw bale house building. An european
organization named “Straw Build Europe” was formed 1998.
In the U.S. 200 million tonnes of straw is produced every year. This would be enough for building
approx. 5 million houses. A lot of straw is burnt every autumn.
The most common type of straw in the world is wheat (Triticum spp.). There is no big difference in
function between different types of straw. Flax and hemp have better resistance against rot and funghi.
The ideal strawbale for building should be
Dry - not rotten and no funghi - hard pressed - precise form - no seeds - not artificially fertilized
Straw bales insulate very well. They are also very fire resistant with plaster on them. The disadvantages
of straw bales are that they are sensitive for moisture. To protect from rain a straw bale house should
have a large hat and big shoes – good ground and a roof that protects the walls from rain. The ground
should be well drained, and no plastic materials should be used in the walls.
A straw bale house can be as costly as a normal house, but has the potential to be much cheaper. A lot
of the work can be done by the people needing the house.
There are two major types of straw bale houses – houses with load bearing walls (“Nebraska style”)
and with a wood frame – where the straw bales do not bear the roof. The wood-frame type gives
greater freedom in placing the windows – and the straw bales will not sink so you do not need to wait
to put plaster on.
2. Workshop: Finding Sustainable Models for Health Care
Ralf Tinga, Dan Stoia Sajerli, Nevenka Popovic, Elena Dzartovska, Ayfer Duru and Aysegul Ozbek.
From the beginning, we realized that this two-hour discussion would not be able to solve the global
problems of universal health care; but our purpose was to define some of the questions and challenges
being faced around the world, and to find some broad goals to shape future discussion.
Here are some of the many questions we posed for ourselves:
What are the challenges of providing a comprehensive health care system in different areas of the
What is the purpose of such a system?
What is missing in current examples, and how can this be improved?
What are the best elements of our current systems that we want to preserve or emulate in other
Who should pay and who should be allowed to use?
What is the role of prevention?
What is the role of so-called ‘alternative medicine’?
Should it be provided for under national health insurance plans?
What are the basic elements of professional health care that should be provided to every human being?
The six workshop participants represented the following countries: Canada, Turkey, Macedonia, the
former Yugoslavian states, the Netherlands and Romania.
Our first goal was to find out about the state of the health care systems in each of the represented
countries. Despite the diverse economic and cultural nature of our countries, we discovered that we
had much in common: waiting lists, doctors under pressure, bureaucracy, state health insurance failing,
two-tier public/private health care systems in which the poor or unemployed are not provided for.
Every country represented, except the Netherlands, had a socialized medical system that was slowly
weakening and under threat from private health care companies. Turkey, Macedonia, and Yugoslavia
all faced problems with corruption and bribery. Most of the countries represented also faced the
“brain-drain” of trained medical staff leaving for richer countries or to work in the private sector –
except the Netherlands, which is importing doctors from Africa and India. Also, most countries face a
situation in which medicine is a ‘family’ business, because the only people who can afford to be trained
as doctors are the children of doctors – as opposed to a system based on merit.
What are the basic elements of professional health care that should be provided to every human being?
Emergency, regularity (same service everywhere, rural or urban), equal service, maternity care,
vaccination, psychological health care, prevention, free choice of doctor and guarantee that doctors will
be properly skilled.
What is the purpose of a health care system? What would an ideal system include?
Some of our ideas: efficiency, immediate response, emergency care, healing diseases, research,
psychological health care, equal service, better education, epidemiology, free basic services, competition
between national insurance providers (see below).
One model discussed concerned competition between insurance providers: there should be more than
3 insurers in a country, to create competition and avoid monopolies. There should be fewer than 5 to
ensure than each would have enough money to provide expensive services. As well, a national
organization might be necessary to oversee the insurance providers, control corruption, and guarantee
equal care to citizens, but this might also create too much bureaucracy. Citizens would be taxed
according their income.
To what degree can information contribute to public health? Should the public be providing care for
those who do not take care of their own health (for example, cancer treatment for a smoker)? We
concluded that the media, public schools and campaigns are all effective education methods. But we
also realized that we can’t (and don’t want to) force people to care for their health. But ‘scaring’ people
is an effective method (for example, pictures of diseased throats and lungs on cigarette packages, as can
be found in Canada).
What is alternative medicine?
Some phrases that came up in discussion: based on treatment without drugs, corresponding to nature,
holistic in view, connection between body and mind, not a part of the public system, “The patient is the
best doctor”, knowing yourself and your body, trust or build your own immune system.
We couldn’t find consensus on ways to provide for alternative therapies within public systems –
although many citizens want to have access to both conventional and alternative health care, we
couldn’t decide how it to regulate alternative therapy.
On the question of who can train to be a doctor, the Romanian model was shared, in which
prospective students take an exam, and the highest-scoring two-thirds receive free medical training.
What are the other aspects of the social system which are affected by, or which may affect the medical
We came up the following list: administration, taxes, information/education/training, economy, family,
research and prevention, ecology, and the insurance system.
In conclusion, there are many factors influencing the quality of the health care system, and which must
be considered when making changes to it. We found many similarities between our countries. We
didn’t arrive at any final solutions but shared many ideas, which will shape future discussions.
3. workshop: Small scale composting:
Facilitated by Lilia
Explanation about what is compost, different types-small/ big scale, vermicomposting. Possibly by
presenting some pictures, and slideshow.
2. Modeling of two very popular way of building of compost sites- opened and closed. Material-
straws, clay, and other, for instance the derbies from the breakfast. Equipment, instruments that
are used for composting.
3. Information about useful books and websites that one can learn more about composting.
4.Time for questions and discussion. Possible topic of the discussion is how to develop a bigger market
for composting. (Problems- availability of other fertilizers, transportation, promotion)
4. workshop: sustainable lifestyles
Facilitated by Eduardo
Any discussion about the `correctness` or `wrongness` of human actions has to be an ideological one,
for it doesn’t seem to exist no such thing as `good`, `bad` or `fair` in the natural world.
Assuming that an action is correct for mankind or adjusted to nature has implicit the moral assessment
that there is a `natural` or `correct` way for actions.
The fact that environmental depletion is nowadays backed up by scientific data proves only that
humans are consuming planet resources and destroying other living organisms, not that this is `wrong`.
Ecological movement, like any ideological movement, has established a conceptual (moral) framework
by which is structured. Within this framework, concepts like unsustainability or development (as
conceived by `developed` countries in the modern age), are considered to be, in most cases,
misadjusted, that is, incorrect for the planet.
The discussion in this workshop has to clarify what is `human nature` and find out if humanity, by
destroying the planet, is or isn’t working against it’s own nature.
Then it will have to find out which kind of living settlement is suited to fulfil most human needs
(according to the findings we’ll do about `human nature`).
Finally we’ll try to link our discussion with the study session theme, `sustainable lifestyles`.
1- First part of the discussion aimed to clarify concepts such as: good, bad, nature, development,
and tried to find out what human nature is. As an outcome we’ve agreed there is no such thing
as a human type, but rather individuals that are driven by some general `rules`: selfishness;
survival, procreation and comfort instincts; the need to socialize; cultural context.
2- We then tried to find which human settlement could fulfil human needs according to the
previous findings. Observing human evolution we were convinced that communal lifestyle
seemed to have been well adapted to human nature and needs in an early stage of development,
for it would provide the highest chance for survival and procreation. Whenever some of the
basic human instincts are fulfilled by technological or social developments (agriculture, cities,
religion, politics, transportation, communication), the selfish nature of man becomes
predominant, leading to some detachment from nature as a means for self-sufficiency and
spiritual healing. It seems possible to argue that both communal and individual lifestyles can
fulfil `human nature`.
3- We can also argue, according to scientific data, that communal living, especially if based upon
self-sufficient communities, is less resource consuming than individual living (having in mind
that individuals are dependent on outside inputs such as food or energy). Nevertheless, urban
culture, which allowed individualistic lifestyles, has produced the main cultural and
technological achievements of mankind. In this sense we can say mankind is a result of urban
As a complement to the workshop/discussion it was presented a slide show of an experimental
building that can support high density living, while allowing for a self-sufficient lifestyle in terms of
food, energy and safety.
The building hosted the Dutch exhibition at the Hanover Expo 2000 in Germany and was designed by
MVRDV, a Dutch architectural office.
5th workshop: Johannesburg 2002
This workshop was centred on showing slides from the Summit and the projects Pernille and Fabian
was involved in.
Goran concluded the morning by giving us an introduction (Powerpoint) to some of the sights in
Budapest, and a very efficient accountant was waiting to reimburse us before we enjoyed a free
afternoon in Budapest, the city of new and old!
We all met again at 20:00 at a restaurant in Buda, where we enjoyed a fine vegetarian meal along with a
floor full of walnut shells and some …interesting.... music!
Friday Dec. 6th: Work in groups
The basic outline of the day had initially been expressed as follows: Participants will divide into work groups
according to prepared interest field, will present prepared viewpoints, reach consensus and prepare a presentation for the
plenum. The Presentation will be part of the publicized result of the study session. Basically the idea at the TC in
Caparica was to publish a magazine aimed at the NGOs themselves i.e. "teaching" the "multipliers".
With this in mind the participants first divided into groups(as defined during the pre-session online
debate groups). Through the dynamic group process it eventually lead to dissolving some groups in
order to focus on some tangible results
Here’s first the report from the ethics group:
Members: Dan (Romania), Zuzka (Czech Republic), Pernille (Denmark), Delia (Germany), Zara
(Armenia), Elena (Macedonia)
We had an interesting discussion on human nature and how to change it, if it’s possible at all. We also
tried to link ethics to sustainability, and to make a set of guidelines for ‘sustainable ethics’ to be used in
this particular place (EYCB in Budapest, Hungary).
Are humans born hedonist that is doing everything for their own benefit, and are everything they do to
cover this natural hedoism equal to hypocricy ? There is good and bad in everyone, and we as so-called
intellectual species are capable of changing bad to good. The key to understanding is education, a way
of bringing up kids so that they are good humans. The problem is also that we’re not happy with
ourselves due to the too fast ‘development’. We must love and understand ourselve, before we can help
and love other. Is self-respect equal to love ? Do we only do charity work because it’s a nice feeling, or
do we really want to help other ? (diverse opinions).
Is human nature equal to sustainability ?
In the basic our aims are to give life, to defend ourselves and our life-space, environment and to
survive. Is it also to destroy ? When we destroy, does it mean that we’re fearing not being able to live
We are suddenly starting to think much of sustainability. Before nature didn’t want us to think about it,
but now when the circle is broken, nature has made us think about it. We must multiply that personal
responsibility of caring for nature to everybody.
Have we lost our basic instincts or are we born without instincts ? We’re born consumers and creators:
The thing is that we want stuff (are consumers, and always look for something better) can be changed
to a search for alternatives, in order to make it a positive and constructive search for the meaning of
In addition to our very interesting discussion we came up with a few general recommendation to EYCB
seen from a sustainable ethics point of view.
- Dissemination of information to users of the centre (brochures).
- A short training course for the staff in sustainability.
- Promote collaboration with local NGO’s.
We also suggested a couple of key phrases for the EYCB to implement:
“Have you ever thought of how your everyday life is affecting everyone’s life ?” and “Our aim is to run
the centre as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible and we suppose that you would like to
continue your worth-while life. We therefore recommend you to read the following guideline for your
stay at EYCB. Pass on the word to wherever you go in the world.”
Summary of the discussion in the building group
Our team consisted of Eduardo Carvalho, Rade Curuvuja, David Billington, Kate Byrne, Adam Lind,
Eimeir Johnston, Allan Kokota, Rui Ferreira, Thomas Hoejemo
The team surveyed the interior and exterior of the EYCB building and found it to be perhaps too
“institutional” and not ecologically sound. We discovered opportunities to make it more ecologically
friendly, sustainable, and educationally useful. Other workgroups focused on more specific aspects, so
we concentrated on the broader issues of the building and grounds.
Some of the items we’ve identified are difficult and expensive to implement, so we propose a three
Short term objectives:
Facilitate an area for guests of the center to express their ideas in creative ways (for example, a papered
wall on which to draw or write, maybe in one of the lounges where the couches are).
Using the room next to reception as an exhibition area.
In the entrance hallway, relocate the drink machines, table, plant etc to give easier access to the garden.
Also the area could be used to show results from study sessions.
In the parking lot, change the location of either the sign or the sculpture so that both can be easily
Place chairs (not plastic!) on the fourth floor balconies to encourage use of the space and enjoyment of
Measures to implement whenever possible (for instance, when major work is scheduled).
Substitute double-glazed energy windows for the current windows.
Use natural and non-toxic paints and finishes on interior and exterior surfaces. (Not latex paint; real
Use the garden not only as a recreational area, but also for education and production. For instance, use
the steep slopes on the edge of the property to plant fruit trees, use part of the garden in front of the
kitchen to produce vegetables and herbs for cooking. We will suggest local NGO’s to coordinate these
projects. Build a green roof and collect rainwater to water plants and use for the 95 toilettes in the
building. This could also be a recreational and educational area.
On the roof, place photovoltaic panels and/or solar collectors for energy production and water heating
for bathing and the radiator heating system. We will provide local contacts for technical support and, if
The energy group created a poster to showcase how to use less energy at the centre. They came with
the following recommendations:
- Close curtains at night and open during day.
- Use the stairs instead of the lift.
- If it’s too hot in your room/the corridor and the meeting room, turn the heater down.
- Check whether the lights are off when you leave a room/corridor/toilet/meeting room.
- Put the computer on stand-by after use or turn it off
Participants: Jelena Ilic (Yugoslavia), Aysegul Ozbek (Turkey), Ester Kokkota (Estonia), Sussi
(Denmark), Ekaterina Vasyukova (Russia), Ilya Shishkin (Russia)
Water group made water audit and presented the results of it to building manager.
We made suggestions what should be put in welcome brochure of the EYCB, guidelines how to save
water and make people more aware of water consumption. We found some scientific facts that prove
water consumption in the buildings.
The idea was that there should be made stickers to put in bathrooms, laundry room and sauna detailing:
Use shower instead of bath (saves more than 100 litres of water)
Turn off water while soaping yourself and brushing teeth
Use half load option when you use washing machine
Share washing machine to make sure that it is full of clothes
Use “stop” button on toilette
Use sauna with more than 4 people
We thought that rainwater could be used, it would be gathered from the roof for watering plants and in
When that kind of suggestions would be implemented the water usage would decrease a lot. Right now
the average water usage is 300 cubic meters per month, maximum water usage was 840 cubic meters, all
together there are 67 rooms for guests + other office rooms.
We presented our ideas to the Centre manager with other workgroups and some of them will be used
and put into the welcome brochure. But probably they will not start using rainwater.
The food group made a brochure to be used 1) for the EYCB kitchen staff and 2) for the future visitors
to EYCB. These are some of the main point from the brochure:
- Look for the organic and/or fair trade food in our cafeteria.
- Be aware of what you eat (organic food, Genetically modified food, local products etc.).
- Make sure that your stomach capacity is enough to hold the food that’s on your plate.
- Consider picking less packaged products.
- Feel free to turn to the administration or kitchen staff is case you have problems, suggestions etc. -
and don’t forget to smile while doing this. They are ready to make an effort.
- When you leave take these ideas with you.
Statistics of the building
Another group worked on statistics for the building, which was supposed to be used for the brochure
as well. We got the following statistics:
- Water consumption Average water usage is 300 cubic meters per month, maximum water usage was
840 cubic meters
- Energy consumption:
- Paper consumption: 500.000 sheet per year
- Money spend on food per year: 160.000 EUR
- Linen used: Towels and linen are changed every 4th day, which is equal to 3500 sheets and towels
per person per year.
- Volume of garbage and/or food waste: 1500 m3 per year collected twice a week.
- Number of people using the building - visitors and staff: 40 employees
- History of the building - age/purpose: the building was renovated in 1995 – before that it was a hotel.
The total number of visitors in 2000 was 10.710, the total number of visitors in 2001 was 13.377. It
seems as the number of visitors is increasing. Please see additional figures and pages for occupancy per
There was no set program for Friday night, however many participants volunteered to join a .jpg
presentation of PermaLot by Max, which resulted in the following remarkable comment: : “I can’t
believe you won’t going to show us this!”
Saturday Dec. 7th: Finishing up
The morning was spent on finishing the above projects, (please see the attached information material),
as well as listening to La'zlo' Pevneizky, from the Regional Environmental Center. He outlined the
offers of the center, a little about the programmes they handle and went into details about how they
had initiated a programme to minimize the ecological footprint of their office building, and the
obstacles in doing so. After lunch we cleaned up the gym and packed away the floor elements, earth
etc. and gathered for the formal evaluation (Summerized below) as well as an informal talk about how
to follow up on this session during other YEE events, especially during the training course on
Sustainability next summer in PermaLot. Points mentioned were:
A Daily Reflexion, Communal accommodation, Regional meetings, Flexibility in Schedule, Specific
focus, less class room, More active, include
learning crafts, more learning by doing.
The following recommendations was made
regarding the online debate, which was very
positively received by the majority of the
participants, also among the ones who only
had been receiving emails and not taken
active participation: Use a better server; easier
sign up and less junk(adverts). Have only one
group. Start it up well in advance, use a
forum. Include a personal (CV) intro , (-
Which we could have included from the
We had a good bye ceremony to the tunes of
‘Open Up’, with many warm greetings and
fast spins. Subsequently one group headed for
the baths and restaurants, while a very
committed group worked all evening to
prepare this report. During the night we
headed for the ‘Disko’ in the basement
(Excerpts form participant’s evaluation forms)
What do you consider the most important elements that you have learned during this study session?
Most people mentioned the Permaculture principles, saying that they would have direct application in
their daily lives.
Earth-building and straw-building were generally seen as being interesting and practical knowledge that
people could apply in their future lives. For some it was their first contact with the idea.
Many also mentioned the ecovillage concepts. Again, some said it was the first time they had heard
The group work and general discussion about sustainability were also practical and inspiring, focusing
our attention on “small but important things from everyday life”.
Other topics mentioned included green consumption and general ‘sustainable lifestyle’ ideas, learning to
work in a group and find consensus on difficult issues, the Organization Fair (which was said to be
inspiring), and the cross-cultural sharing and learning.
Proposals and suggestion for future similar events of YEE:
Most people recommended holding a future session in a more sustainable environment, as well as
including more local input, and ensuring that participants have similar communication skills. Here is a
list of some of the suggestions people gave: more activities, going outside into nature, holding the
session in a sustainable (or outdoor) environment, holding it in summer, excursions around the city to
learn about local issues and history, have regional meetings to reduce travel cost & pollution, focus on
practical results, email or ‘chat’ interview with applicants to make sure they really need to be here, make
sure there is local representation (we missed the Hungarians), better presentation materials precisely
informing participants of the issues to be discussed, sticking to the program more (there was some
confusion), making sure the participants have similar backgrounds, language and communication skills,
less talk-talk-talk, more ‘active lectures’ instead of sitting on a chair all day, put the NGO presentations
first, more freedom of discussion and flexibility of structure, make it longer than one week, more time
for networking, identifying projects, making the projects and the whole session more focused, include
more on-line discussion to identify a project, more spare time (several people mentioned this), more
local research done in advance (like with the ecovillage), better group communication, and have more
people in the preparation team.
What was missing?
Most people mentioned a need for practical, hands-on work with concrete results, and also expressed a
desire for more free time. Here are some other things they thought were missing: organic food,
sustainable building, free time, visiting Budapest, concrete results, specific training, Max’s cat (thank
you Fabian), responses to Max’s comments, time, practical education relating to the local area,
consensus agreement, happier participants, more efficient schedule, briefings each morning, Hungarian
people, a co-assistant, walking and moving instead of sitting, more social time, a central focus for the
session, a scanner (!), more themes, fresh air, more time for participant food, things we can do to
change the patterns of consumption.
Patricia Končková, Slovakian, Chairman of Permakultura (CS), Lecturer in Permaculture,
Eduardo Carvalho, Portuguese: Architect, Instructor in Earth building.
La'zlo' Pevneizky, Hungarian, Regional Environmental Center, Presented REC and Office Greening
Andra's To'th, Hungarian, Clean Air Action Group, Presented ‘Greening of Budapest’
Goran Buldioski, Macedonian, Educational Advisor: Presented CoE, EYCB, Budapest,
reimbursements, rules and regulations
Max Vittrup Jensen, Danish, Cat owner, Presented Programme elements, Sustainability, GEN and
natural building techniques. Attempted to introduce the concept of punctuality!!!
I believe I speak on behalf of all the participants in saying that the YEE study session on Sustainable
lifestyle at EYCB was very educational and successful. The participants have had an opportunity to
meet with many diverse cultures (which would not have been possible without the included travel
reimbursement), exchange opinions and gain new knowledge in a captivating manner. The consensus
of the Participants was to change the initial aim of the study session to focus on improving the poor
environmental record of the EYCB.
In doing so we hope the EYCB is able to accept and continue our efforts, and the involved participants
experienced group work across the national boundaries, and they will be able to disseminate the results
to their respective organisations, as well as directly use them at other institutions abusing our common
On a personal level I will recommend YEE to think twice about the environmental impact of arranging
such study session, and advice the council of Europe to finance only land transportation (train/bus)
costs and accommodation costs at more environmentally sound facilities (www.zegg.de,
www.findhorn.org etc), until EYCB is able to offer an appropriate solution, in accordance with the
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!
Max Vittrup Jensen,
Questions initiating the pre-session online debate:
Before the study session we had a two weeks and a half week long online discussion started on five
different topics: building, ethics, water, food and energy. Following are the questions that were the
starting points for the discussions. The question was meant to initiate a debate, which would serve in
getting to know each other somewhat before the study session, as well as focusing on what the Friday
group work should be centred around.
1. Every animal is able to build its own shelter, however through the past centuries this skill has been
removed from humans, both physically and through regulations. Why did this happen, and do
you think it is good?
2. Why are 99% of the modern buildings square/rectangular?
3. In the Eastern countries it used to be a tradition that people build their own house. Now people are
being encouraged to take 30-50 year loans in order to have a home build for them. Why do you think
this is happening? Do you view it as progress?
4. One hundred year ago we had only a fraction of the building materials available as we have now.
Many new products, made of many new materials, (often chemical composites) have been introduced
facilitate the building industry. It's been claimed that the human body take 600 years to accept a new
5. Allergies and skin diseases has been increasing rapidly during the past 20 years. Do you think that has
any relation to the homes people grow up in?
6. A Danish research has shown that ordinary mineral wool insulation (Rockwool) has caused a 6000%
over mortality rate among the trade people specialized in insulating. The product still doesn't have to be
labeled as dangerous due to EU regulation and heavy lobbying.
7. How do you feel about that? What do you suggest should be done?
8. It's possible now to get an `environmental house' with low energy use, usually made out of bricks
with mineral wool insulation. Try to consider the amount of embodied energy that it contains. Is it
really environmentally sound?
9. Explain the difference between `thermal mass' and `insulation'.
1. Where do we use energy? Heating, cooling, insulating, lighting, watching, listening, for reading this
mail,.. Where does it all come from?
2. Why new energy sources? Are we in an energy crisis? Do we need more energy?
3. What does energy efficiency mean? How can you be more efficient?
4. What are the criteria in our energy usage apart from the bills we pay? What kind of a payment does
the environment have to pay while we consume? Suggest better ways to share the embodied costs.
5. Make a list of renewable energy sources? What are the criteria for them to be renewable?
6. How can you use wind energy generators, turbines? In which geographical areas in Europe?
7. How can you utilize the sunrays?
8. What is biomass energy?
9. Is hydroelectric power a good enough way of producing energy because it's clean and doesn't emit
greenhouse gases? What does it cost to the environment? What is the environmental impact?
10. Can we reduce oil dependence through transportation efficiency? How?
1. Does every creature have an intrinsic value i.e. they are valuable only because they exist? Or is it us,
human beings who puts a value on them?
2. That is; what are the variables we measure in putting values on `other' forms of life? Their usefulness
to us, their being harmless to us (and to others), their being cute and domestic, their being holy
according to some beliefs,........?
3. Do we have moral responsibilities towards the other species? Maybe it's only towards some species
and not towards other species? (for example only to animals because they can suffer, and not to plants
because they do not (As far as we know)....)Why/ why not? Are there degrees of responsibilities?
4. Can we call it `speciesism' if we value our own species, humans, more than we do other creatures ?
What is the difference between `speciesism' and what we call racism (putting more value on white
people only because they are white....)
Species versus individuals:
5. The panda bears are more important to us than a rabbit because pandas are in danger of extinction
while there are thousands of rabbits and they can reproduce rather quickly. Thus you can sacrifice a
rabbit for a panda.
6. Do you agree to that? How about a panda bear compared to a very endangered plant?
7. Often there's a dilemma of using animals in scientific experiments. What about `factory' animals? (
fish we hatched in farms, cows, chickens,.....) Anything we can do about them? Shall we?
8. Sometimes economic interests and environment clash (for instance when a polluting factory has to
be shut down, or a nuclear power plant is to be built). How can we make a choice between those?
9. Is there always a middle course?
1. What are the factors affecting our choices in food?
2. What do we have in the food we eat other than what comes from the soil? Do we know what we buy
? -And where it comes from to the markets ?
3. Is the food we eat `environmentally sustainable'? What does it mean?
4. How much of our food is from plants that are grown from chemically treated or genetically
5. What do you view as the reason for starvation in the third world?
6. If the genetically modifying of food would mean we could produce more food, what would be the
pros and cons to do so?
1. According to a new UN Report it is shown that if current patterns of development continue, nearly
half of the world's people will suffer from water shortages within the next 25 years. Why is it that we
are running out of water?
2. Suggest solutions to stop this negative development. Is it possible to implement the suggested
solutions with what we know of the mentality of the water consumers?
3. What needs to be done on a global level, what should be done internationally and locally?
4. We often think of clean water as a basic human right. However lately we are becoming accustomed
to having to buy drinking water from shops and the water distribution are becoming privatized in some
countries. Suggest some international basic human rights, and how to enforce them.
5. (How can we guarantee in the future that everybody gets some water, while there may not be
enough? Should this problem be countered globally?) Should there be an international law/ on water
6. Most of the used water is used in industry as cooling water and in agriculture. During these processes
this water evaporates fast. If there is a lack of water, should there be rules about how to use it and for
what purpose using it in the most effective way, for instance for drinking water)?
7. Can we generate water in a dry area? –(You could try to study the history of Auroville…?)
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