NOTE: Make sure you read the first three posts (in order!) before tackling the rest, or it could be confusing: Post 1 is Designing the future, Post 2 is Setting up the problem, and Post 3 is Estimating basic requirements.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Designing the Future

The Peak Oil community focuses its efforts on two main themes: predicting the peak and exploring sustainable life. There is a great deal of discussion on sustainable design and organic subsistence farming, but there is very little in the way of comprehensively engineering future communities. I would like to change that fact.

A formalized engineering framework is needed in order for effective post-peak oil design. This goes far beyond the sustainable design or green building initiatives -- Peak Oil Design requires careful analysis of not only the nature of your shelter, but what you will produce, how you will produce it, how you will store it, and who you need to produce it. The list is lengthy and complicated.

Much of this information already exists singly within the blogosphere and elsewhere, but it is not taken as part of a comprehensive design. My approach is to use a Systems Engineering methodology to pull the required information together and develop the skill set needed.

Systems Engineering is an approach to defining all required aspects of a system by a comprehensive life-cycle analysis. It is an iterative technique that requires individuals from many different specialties in order to succeed. In the course of my career as a NASA engineer*, I have found systems engineering a very powerful and necessary tool.

My vision for this blog is to develop an engineering method for complete design of post-Peak Oil communities. I plan to post on varying aspects of community design -- anything from construction techniques and crop planning to required skill sets and security -- all progressively developed into a formal engineering methodology that we all can use as a blueprint for designing our own communities.

The key to systems engineering is open communication and iterative discussion, so comments are absolutely essential for the success of this project. One important thing to remember is that this project will never be completed -- as more information is compiled, the domain expertise of the Peak Oil community will expand and further enable a thriving sustainable future. Let's let this be the first post of many!

* Any opinions or statements found on this site are not representative of NASA or the U.S. government


At 11:23 PM, Blogger peaknik said...

Nice introduction!

I like your theme or you're objectives. Systems engineering? Sounds like something I would be interested in! lol

I will check back periodically to see what you come up with. ...And thank you very much for adding me to your blogroll. I haven't been keeping it up like I should. There is so much information it's overwhelming! I will add you to my blogroll the next time I enter my blog.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger PeakEngineer said...

Thanks! I've certainly enjoyed your site and I hope you'll find this one helpful. Thanks for stopping by...

At 12:42 PM, Blogger G Hubbers said...

I came to your blog via the LOTOC forum. What a fantastic idea, to break down PO community building using a Systems Engineering approach. I predict this will grow into an indispensble tool.

I first became aware of Peak Oil about one year ago and have since been reading all I could to educate myself and try to organize my thoughts and plans.

In the past year I helped form and Electoral District Association for the Green Party in my area and was the local candidate for the Green Party in the recent Canadian federal election in January.

I am a mechanical engineer with most of my work experience in (believe it or not) oil & gas, power generation, district energy, and cogeneration mostly in the design and construction fields. Plus, I am an old farmboy and worked my way through university building houses.

I'll be reading this blog regularly and would be happy to contribute where I can, knowing that it will increase my preparation by leaps and bounds.

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Don't forget to check occasionally with my other favourite systems design and peak oil aware culture change site, It sounds like you could even write an article or 2 for them. :-)

Welcome aboard!

At 12:27 AM, Blogger walter's energyblog said...

My thanks for the post.

Weird world this, as I am planning to go back to school in 2007 to take systems design engineering since I've started reading about peak oil. This technical support techie needs some retooling ;) Plus I want to make my own energy.

I was torn between water management engineering, mechanical or systems design and had thought of going with systems with some added mechanical eng courses (or personal projects) in Waterloo Canada. That way depending how the cookie crumbles, I'll be able to contribute regardless of exact dicipline, energy availability, or location.

I'd like to cheer you on in how things develop from a systems perspective. If a lot of the ground work can be done here, or encouraged, I think then we're on the right track.

Best guess is that we have a window of opportunity and I don't want to wait any longer discussing the issue. I hope I have enough time to finish.


(my ongoing rants?/notes/reviews

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Mechelle said...

Thank you for organizing your thoughts and sharing them. I really like the direction you are taking.

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