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There is a complete
equivalence between energy and Urban Sprawl because cheap energy enables it to
occur and because Urban Sprawl causes the waste of tremendous amounts of energy.
The depletion of fossil fuels and Global Warming are really the best reasons for
stopping Urban Sprawl. We need to start copying and improving upon the European
model which was formed by centuries of energy deprivation.
One way to show how people can live comfortably with greatly reduced amounts of
energy and no cars would be to sponsor and build an Ecomindium. The Ecomindium
would be a housing project, a demonstration project, and a research project. The
objectives of the Ecomindium are to conserve heating and transportation energy,
to grow as much energy and food as possible on the project, to create as many
jobs as possible within the project, and to formulate a life style where poor
people and elderly could exist without cars.
preliminary model could be 8 units with four units in a square configuration on
each story, with 2 stories and full basement. This reduces the ratio of surface
area to living volume by a factor of 2 as compared to a single story house and
thus saves heat by an equivalent amount. Further amounts of energy would be
saved by better insulation and better windows.
system improvements could be Combined Heat and Power (Cogeneration), Combined
Heat and Manufacturing, the Wood Fueled Heat Pump, and solar heating panels.
Passive solar heating could be used to some extent. Greenhouses close to the
building would provide some heat. If natural gas is available fuel cells could
supply both heat and power. An example of combined heat and power would be a
wood fired steam engine which drives an alternator which generates electricity.
The waste heat supplies heat in the winter. An example of Combined Heat and
Manufacturing would be to operate a small foundry adjacent to the building in
winter. Again the waste heat is used for space heating. The Wood Fueled Heat
Pump produces almost twice as much heat per lb of wood as a wood furnace.
Another energy experiment that should be carried out would be solar powered
boilers which I believe are cheaper than solar electric cells and could supply
much of the summer electrical energy.
experimental system would be to totally recycle all water on the project. This
could be done by using septic tanks to simultaneously digest sewage and biomass,
to filter the water, to create biogas, and to create solids which are useful
fertilizer. Water could also be filtered in sand beds placed in greenhouses. All
wood ashes should be used for fertilizer.
experiments on the project would center around energy, gardening, horticulture,
water recycling, food preservation, and the social structure necessary to make
it all work.
It is my belief that within 100 years our
energy resources will shrink to less than 25% of what we have now. The
Ecomindium is a mode of survival without large amounts of natural resources or
help from external sources.
This is not an expensive
project as research projects go. If a group of people would push this before
city council and the county commissioners then such a project could be done. The
city has land at the old landfill. Furthermore, such a project could be the
subject of many classes and many ideas coming from both high school and
university students. Private sources could also help to fund this. The fact that
it is a housing project means that it will have value for years to come.
Financing could come from many sources if the idea were popular.
The idea is totally compatible with reducing Urban
sprawl and the project would serve as a permanent place to put posters and other
anti sprawl educational materials. During tours, docents could also talk about
the evils of sprawl.