Building Enduring Assets: Part III Antifragile Properties
Check out the other posts in the Building Enduring Assets Series:
An enduring asset is one that maintains or appreciates in value regardless of external market conditions. It does so because because it meets real needs that are independent of the main market forces that push marginal assets down. Let’s take a look at what such an asset can look like.
The Ultimate Enduring Asset: The Antifragile Property
Check out my past blog posts on this subject, Buying the Right Piece of Land and Investing Like an Ecosystem. Every piece of land has potential (though some more than others). Good design should enhance this potential. The trick is to tease it out in such a way that it is fortified against food, energy, climate or water shocks. These are non-negotiable elements that will provide value to you and others. Most properties out there are set up with the assumption that there will be an endless supply of food, fuel, and water. If you’re a regular follower of Verge’s blog, you know that I believe this will change drastically in the upcoming decades.
The Characteristics of Antifragile Properties
1) They Have Perennial Food Systems
Perennial food systems produce food with next to no fossil fuel input. They generate net positive food calories – one unit of human energy in provides more than one unit of food energy out. These systems continue to produce year after year without expensive machines to plant, fertilize, weed, harvest and process. They are typically polycultures of fruits, nuts, tubers and livestock that need minor amounts of management, depending on the design. Food forests are ones that are brought up most often, as they can be set up and managed with minimal effort once established.
Perennial food systems can be initially expensive to setup as there is typically water and earthworks installation, but they last a long time. They are designed to last for generations, which can’t be said for much of today’s homes, farm systems, commercial or institutional buildings. These systems are also inherently beneficial for ecosystem health; birds, insects, wildlife, soil fertility and watersheds are all enriched by them. At the same time, they produce for us food, fuel, fibre and fodder through a wide range of climatic cycles and according to natural rhythms. When food output is down, fodder may be up. Some years the system produces fruits and nuts, others more proteins and fats. This variance in output fosters resilience, and is a key reason for the system being antifragile.
2) They’re Designed to be Solar-Powered
The homes and buildings on these antifragile properties are designed to be heated and powered by the sun- as long as it keeps shining in the sky, you’re good to go! No stock market controls solar energy pricing, and peak sun is billions of years in the future. Best of all, when you spill solar energy, there’s no mess to clean up. Instead, you get biomass, not pollution!
3) They Possess Renewable Resources Onsite
Antifragile properties are able to harness renewable resources such as wood, water, and wind. Every location has varying degrees of onsite resources – the trick is to optimize them. Water is the most important, yet we often tend to pay the least attention to. The prevalent attitude we have in Western society for water is that we can always put in a well or hook into the municipal system. We can do better. Water can be harvested, and with a functional and sustainable water cycle wood and food can be grown, soils can build fertility, and buildings can be designed to create comfortable and healthy living spaces.
Next Up: Alternative Revenue Streams.