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Off-grid Living for the Normative Society: Shifting Perception and Perspectives by Design

Abstract
Off-grid houses in the United States are often connoted with mostly non-professional, home-made structures and isolated, hippie living in remote rural areas. These off-grid homeowners may also complete their consumer-independent commitment with a minimal-waste, land-dependent lifestyle that includes methodical harnessing and recycling of resources and materials, raising livestock, and productive gardening on the property. This research paper explores the background, methods and kinds of typical off-grid living structures, their ability to harness natural resources for function and performance, and the ability of its occupants to remain resilient in the face of depleting fuel resources, extreme weather patterns, and rising costs of living. The goal of this research is to propose modern and resilient off-grid housing design to exist as normalized, micro-communities within typical suburban communities in the United States. The housing prototype, sited in Dudley, Massachusetts, optimizes passive resources for heating and cooling thermal comfort, prefabricated materials for construction, and modern technology for inhabitation. Its hyper-local design incorporates building science that integrates researched techniques and philosophies from current movements of sustainable design in the United States and Canada, such as Passive House, Net Zero, LEED, and the Living Building Challenge.
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