Modern Camp: Sustainable Systems

Camping, in its simplest form, is all about self sufficiency.  Its about getting back to, and relying on, nature, and using your own skills to harness it.  The modern take on camping can be far removed from the humble Boy Scout pup tent, but the goals should remain the same.  A modern camp should harness nature, help in every way possible to preserve that nature that provides for it, and allow for its inhabitants to reconnect with nature.  Here, we take advantage of what nature provides in abundance to make the Modern Camp a responsible answer to its challenging environment.


At the Modern Camp, a smooth metal or tile roof is preferrable to collect the water, and storing the water underneath the deck structure keeps it cool and protected behind the gabion wall and pool structure.

Though water is plentiful in Louisiana, it is still a resource to be controlled and utilized thoughtfully and carefully.  Rainwaters can inundate both natural and man-made drainage systems and cause backup riverine flooding.  Rainwater is also a natural resource as potable water with fewer contamination and taste issues, reducing the desire for treated bottled  water. Rainwater collection is common practice in drier climates with unreliable precipitation, but we certainly see limited dry spells in South Louisiana as well.  The water can also serve irrigation systems, to ensure your thirsty tropical plants don't burn up during a dry month or two.

These sorts of reservoirs will fill up quickly in our climate, however.  The Aggies over at Texas A&M have a nifty Excel calculator to determine what your system needs might be.  Once their retention abilities are maximized, it's important to avoid dumping the stormwater directly back into city or parish stormwater infrastructure, if any is present.  

You can even incorporate condensation from your AC system.  According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a central AC for an entire home can collect 5 to 20 gallons of condensate water per day, equating to more than 300 gallons per month in the summer! 


Key to a sustainable and resilient home able to be used in a disaster are efficient mechanical and electrical systems that take advantage of natural resources.  These can often be pricey, but Residential Energy Credits can be taken to be reimbursed for many of these systems that make the most sense.  All of the systems below are currently eligible for 30% reimbursement, including install, from the Federal government (find out more here).

Geothermal Heat Pump - Using the earth, or large bodies of water, to help get rid of the large heat loads in Louisiana homes makes sense, and especially so with access to a large cycling body of water.  Geothermal systems essentially replace the exterior condenser unit with a long tube that circulates water through either the earth or a body of water to dissipate heat in summer and absorb heat in the winter.  On top of that, it eliminates the exterior equipment that is most vulnerable to the elements.  Geothermal systems are eligible for tax credits as energy-efficient residential equipment, which I talk about a bit more below.

Photovoltaics - Solar energy is already deployed on many rooftops across Louisiana, and the technology is rapidly improving.  Recent presentations by Tesla indicate that options will become more attractive, too, in the coming years.  We envision a smooth PV tile that will also aid with potable water collection by not collecting as much dirt with fewer nooks and crannies.  With promises of a 22% efficiency (compare to ~10% now), and improvements in battery storage capacity, the loud, very heavy, fossil-fuel guzzling generators will no longer be needed to keep a livable structure during a grid outage.

Google's Project Sunroof is an attempt to analyze and quantify all the roofs in America for their potential for solar panel installation.  The numbers they come up with in terms of savings should probably be vetted with your local installer, but it's a good benchmarking tool for making a decision, and interesting to fly around the city and see the potential for solar.  It would be great if they could detect via their satellite view those surfaces with panels already installed so that we could see how a city is doing at optimizing its potential for solar harvesting.


Not deployed here but also available are credits for solar water heating, small wind energy production assemblies and fuel cell technology.  You can learn more about these credits from the IRS by learning about Form 5695.  Louisiana's own solar credit has expired, but power providers like Entergy and Cleco still have some incentives available at the local level.

Subscribe to the Studio BKA newsletter!

* indicates required