Kailash Ecovillage Tour


The passive house

Eight years ago, Ole and Matri Ersson wanted to create a unique co-housing community that did not require residents to be homeowners. They wanted it to be rentals, so no one was excluded. They now have 2 acres with room for 55 residents in the apartments, dorms and the passive home on their property. Ole and Matri continue to reside in, and contribute to, the Kailash community.



As you walk up to the property, about half of the grounds are plants. They spent time depaving parking areas to make room for more growing spaces. Flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees abound in the lush areas in front and beside the property. Residents help in the community garden and they also can work their own individual plot for $20 a year.


Our tour group



  • Economical – They have dorms, passive house rooms, and one bedroom apartments at reasonable prices.
  • Learn about sustainability – Residents need to commit to recycling and composting. They have some unique experiments on the property including a passive house, urination station, humanure project, and water collection from the driveways and roofs for an emergency resource.
  • Community – While residents still have their privacy, and live their individual lives, they are a community. There is a communal room that is vegan, where potlucks are held about once a month and they interact as they work together in the garden and compost areas.



The humanure project


Composting is a requirement of all residents. Kitchen scraps are put into cinderblock bins then layered with wood chips. They do not turn the compost bins, but allow them to fill, then transition on to the next bin. Local landscapers are allowed to drop off their wood chips for use in composting and amending the soil after depaving.


Composting area

Honey and Mason bees are on the property to help with pollinating crops. This year the apple trees bloomed so early the bees did not have time to fertilize them, so no apples this year, but lots of plum, pears and more.


Bees on the property

Massive recycling is encouraged by having separate bins in the basement for corks, eyeglasses, styrofoam, plastic film and more. Recycling is a requirement of all residents and their recycling team works to recycle everything possible.

The orange house is a passive house with very thick walls that allow the place to stay cool or warm, depending on the season. Creating a passive home is not cost-effective. But, like many other practices on the property, it’s all about trying new things in the hopes to learn and see what sustainable practices can be replicated.


Urination station

A urination station is in the center of the property to collect urine that is then diluted with 4 parts water and used on the plants for nitrogen. By doing this, they do not need to purchase fertilizer.

Humanure is not new, but at Kailash they are studying group collection and safe processing of human waste for fertilizer as they work with Recode Portland, to develop a permitting process. They presently have about 6 residents collecting humanure which is used on the flowers, not the edible crops.

A “free” table exists for people to put items they no longer want. Periodic donation runs happen with the excess items given up for free.


Resident bike parking

And, in case you’re wondering, the Kailash name comes from a mountain in India. If you wish to find out more, they have a Facebook page.


It’s good to see how other people live and to realize we have so many choices. I admire the beautiful space that Kailash has created and appreciate the eduction in gardening, composting, recycling and sustainability that they offer.

A big thanks to Pandora who provided the tour for our Portland Minimalist group and various other groups who joined us on August 6, 2016.

Do you live in an alternative community? Let us know in the comments below. 

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