What is an ECOVILLAGE?

Throughout the world, many “eco-villages” and sustainable communities have been developed, especially over the last few decades. An Ecovillage can be defined by the following statement:

“An Eco village is an intentional or traditional community using local participatory processes to holistically integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments.”

(Global Ecovillage Network)

Why studying EcoVillages?

These communities strive for what they consider a sustainable way of life, motivated by a desire to protect our planet from our own impacts. These communities are often very enthusiastic about installing renewable energy systems and energy efficient technologies to lessen their dependency on fossil fuels and try to meet there energy needs from a sustainable source.

In a context where governments and associations propose loans and grants for a numbers of renewable systems, Eco villages have taken advantage of this situation to install as much as systems offered as they could and have often ended up with a wide mixture of different technologies. Something that is worth bearing in mind is that, despite their good intentions, these communities may not be utilising these new technologies at their full efficiency and there will often be a scope for improvements.


This project has focussed on one such Eco-community – Findhorn in the North East of Scotland, between Inverness and Elgin– that makes use of a variety of renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, photovoltaic and solar thermal panels, and small scale biomass district heating systems.

The methodology of the project looked at the current problems presented at the village and proposed methods to solve these problems:

High energy demands specifically related to heating demands were identified and so it was thought that improvement of the heating systems would allow for a reduction in demand.

Projected expansion will result in increased energy demands therefore the introduction of new renewable energy generation systems was investigated as it could help satisfy this future increased demand.

Unused on-site generation results in exportation of ‘green energy’ to the grid and so introduction of electrical energy storage options can provide suitable storage for excess energy produced for use at a later time.

These modifications can then be compared with the current scenario through a Supply and Demand Match (SDM) analysis. This will show the potential benefits of the new systems proposed in this project.

Findhorn Eco-Community

The Findhorn Community counts approximately 450 residents with approximately 120 residential and 30 commercial buildings. The community integrates 90 ecological buildings and a 750kW wind farm comprising 3 off Vestas V29 225kW turbines and 1 off Vestas V17 75kW. In addition, 25kW of solar-PV is installed and 15 solar water installations are connected directly to dwellings. Findhorn also has a 250kW biomass boiler to serve the central Park area, and a biological Living Machine waste water treatment system.

To learn more : http://www.findhorn.org/

The ORIGIN Project

Findhorn alongside Strathclyde University is currently involved in an EU funded project named ORIGIN . Although standalone in its own right; work that we have been doing can be viewed as a sort of scoping exercise to compliment the wider ORIGIN project. This European project is also doing a monitoring work in Findhorn in order to have a better understanding of the actual energetic situation. We have used this data to support our analysis.

To learn more: http://origin-energy.eu/

Meet the other two Communities which participate in the ORIGIN Project:

The Team