Kibbutz Kramim, the Negev

Identity A pioneering conceptual project led by a young Israeli community who choose an alternative way of life, closer in balance with nature and in a more responsible ecological footprint which protects the earth's ecological systems and processes. Our firm acted as the strategic environmental consultant to the project. In its conceptual development the project aimed to comply with LEED Platinum compatibility, the European Directive for Energy Performance of Buildings (EU 2002/91), and the Israeli 'Green' Standard IS 5281, and as a community to adopt the 10 principles of 'One Planet Living' (UK), and the principle of "One Israel Living" (as opposed to the 10-times-Israel needed for the average Israeli to meet his/her 'needs' today).

Organization The Kramim Ecovillage concept included 100 families, as an extension to the already existing two dozen families. The new extension, aimed to be a leading ecological community in the Middle East, planned, built and operated entirely based on concepts of sustainability. The project would comprise of housing units, units for students and visitors, public buildings, such as schools and a kintergarten, and a visitors' center with workshops and a public hall for meetings and events. It woud also contain an energy center, where energy will be produced from the sun and also a 'living machine' or constructed wetlands for the treatment of sewage.

The preliminary planning included the preliminary design of typical housing units - based on the interior courtyard model, a traditional housing type for desert climates - and the renovation of an existing hangar to serve as a stage for creative activity for the community, using strawbale and earth plaster for its insulation and finish respectively, and surrounding wooden pergolas for shading.

Materials The choice of materials would follow guidelines of Life-Cycle Analysis and green label, found locally, using techniques. The project would also investigate the use of alternative construction materials, such as earth (adobe bricks), rammed earth, straw bale, reclaimed containers, and other low-embedded-energy and low-emissions materials found in the vicinity of the project.

'Green' design The project was intended to act as a showcase for sustainable construction, sustainable living, renewable energy production and use, renewable technologies, ecological technologies and materials, water recycling, natural-cycle-based sewage water treatment and storage, waste recycling and composting, energy conservation, ecological construction, and an advanced ecological character, rooted in the deep commitment of the community who intended to live and work in this place.

The conceptual plan for the Kramim Ecovillage project was developed between 2007 and 2009.