Design Criteria: Inventory

Whether you are designing your site yourself, or handing the job over to a professional Designer, you will need very specific information before you can proceed. You can gather this information yourself or work together with your Designer. Expect to collect additional information if you have a rural property, or if you plan to harvest wind or solar energy. Monthly average wind speed and direction, and maximums, monthly total solar radiation, and contour maps are just some of the data you may need to consider. Then, armed with accurate information, and a good knowledge of permaculture design principles you can start to formulate a plan. The list below is a pretty good start for our urban site.

Site Specific Information:

  • City lot with gas, hydro, sewer & water, phone, adsl high-speed internet, and cable available.
  • Facing two paved streets, with South-facing frontage.
  • 18.3 m x 39.6 m (60’x130’) lot with a 6.1 m (20’) margin along the South and East sides.
  • Big box retail store across the street with truck loading bay directly East of us.
  • Local noise, light, and diesel exhaust pollution from the East side.
  • Moderate traffic on side street with light traffic on frontage street.
  • Modest 50 year old homes with large, modern infill housing in the same block.
  • Sandysubsoil with organic content on the low end of the scale.
  • Low lying relatively flat lot, barely above street grades and curbs


  • 50 year old frame house with full basement:

80.27 m2 (864 sq. ft.) 2 bedroom and office. Aluminum sliding windows with magnetic plexiglass storm windows. 38 x89 (2×4) insulated walls with added 25 mm (1”) Styrofoam under vinyl siding. RSI 7.0 (R40) insulation in attic. Gas hot water heater and older gas furnace with masonry chimney. 100 amp 16 circuit main panel. 4.2 m x 3 m (14’x10’) covered deck at rear of house gets morning and evening sun in summer.


  • Insulated, unheated garage/workshop:

49.4 m2 (532 sq. ft.) with 1.2 m (4’) mezzanine at one end and 3.6 m (12’) high ceiling. Concrete slab floor. 30 amp 220 volt service. 7.2m x 1.2 m x 3.6 high (24’x4’x12’ high) covered storage rack at rear for building materials.


  • 4.2 m x 3 m (14’x10’) covered deck at rear of house gets morning and evening sun in summer.
  • 2.4 m x 3 m (8’x10’) wooden storage shed.

Site Additions:

  • 165 m2 (1776 sq. ft.) asphalt pavement in driveways facing two streets.
  • Four 200 l (45 imp. gal) rain water barrels connected to house downspouts.
  • 2 m x 1m (6’x3’) cold frame.
  • Seven 1.2 m x 1.2 m (4’x4’) raised planting beds.
  • 3.4 m x 0.6 m (11’x2’) brick planter.
  • Double wood crib compost bin (pallets) for Uriah Heep and Gomer Pyle.
  • A mature apple tree. Apples are tart, good for cooking and cider, but don’t keep very well.
  • Two chokecherry trees in poor health.
  • A nuisance ornamental crabapple tree.
  • A nice looking young mountain ash supplies berries for wintering birds
  • Two beautiful Japanese tree lilacs (trimmed as trees, not shrubs) shade the front yard.
  • Two lilac bushes.
  • Eight pyramidal cedars provide privacy and a sound buffer between the patio deck and the commercial activity across the street.


  • British Columbia on the interior plateau at North latitude 53o 50’, altitude 594 m (1950’).
  • Weather inversions due to location in a bowl at the confluence of two rivers.
  • Heavy industrial pollution from pulp mills, and a refinery, and odour from a sewage treatment plant are ignored by official monitors who prefer to point the finger at citizens and wood burning appliances (none of which seem to be cranking hydrogen sulfide or formaldehyde into the atmosphere).
  • Garden zone 3b with an average 85 consecutive frost free days per year.
  • Average annual precipitation = 600.8 mm (23.7”) [418.9 mm (16.5”) rainfall, 216.1 mm (8.5”) snowfall].
  • Degree days below 18o C (65o F) = 5149 (9238).
  • Annual hours of bright sunshine = 1937.
  • January design temperature = -33o C (-27.4o F).
  • Annual daily average temperature = 4o C (39o F).
  • Annual average wind speed = 9.4 kmh (5.8 mph).
  • The most frequent wind direction is South with the strongest winds coming from the South-West.

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