Little green Gallic village aims for ‘triple zero‘ homes

FRANCE • The village of Langouet in Brittany, northern France, is well on its way to energy autonomy and is aiming for food self-sufficiency, too.

Over the last 20 years, this community of 600 inhabitants has been home to a host of green projects.

These include a canteen that serves 100 per cent organic and local produce; passive social housing that uses very little or no active heating; a hamlet of “kitchen-garden houses”; a garden used for teaching permaculture; a community cafe; a solar power plant; an activity hub focused on social and solidarity economy; and a shared electric car.

To finance these projects, the local council has twice borrowed from its inhabitants – €25,000 (S$39,000) this year to create a communal permaculture learning garden, and €40,000 in 2016 for the village‘s redevelopment.

“Anything we can do locally, we go for it,” said Mr Daniel Cueff, Mayor of Langouet.

Langouet boasts two hamlets comprising energy-efficient wooden houses that are equipped with solar panels. These were built in 2005 and 2011.

“We‘re working towards a social ecology model,” Mr Cueff said, gesturing towards the 15-or-so wooden houses, located at the entrance of the village and nestled against a backdrop of greenery.

“Our local council buys land that we make viable and resell at a low cost so that sustainable housing can be built at an affordable price,” he added.

Each of the homeowners did 30 days‘ work on the building site, assisted by Compagnons Batisseurs (Building Companions), a non-profit organisation that fights for decent housing solutions.

Not content to stop there, Langouet plans to build a hamlet of “triple zero” houses that use zero energy, emit zero carbon and generate zero waste, and which are equipped with greenhouses on their roofs, within the next 10 years.