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Re: SG-W:/ Ecomindium

>                               The Ecomindium
>    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.

I disagree, although I understand your point. Sprawl could continue even 
after fossil fuels are gone, since we will have other sources of energy 
(solar, wind, biomass). And, likewise, global climate change and fossil 
fuel use could be addressed without affecting sprawl, through a similar 
shift in energy sources. Sprawl is a land use issue that exacerbates 
problems that stem from excessive energy use, not a problem of energy 
use, per se, although the low cost of energy does currently contribute to 

>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 
>    The 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. 
>    Heating 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.

What about cooling in the summer? That sounds like an awful lot of heat 
to move out of the living space. And with all those heat sources, I doubt 
that a wood-fueled heat pump would be necessary or even desirable. Or is 
that what would provide for cooling in the summer? Eliminating it and 
relying on solar PV or wind would eliminate the need for a wood source, 
along with the extra heat (and emissions) from combustion.

>     Another 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 
>   Various 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.

Do you have anything to back up your belief? In particular, why don't you 
think renewable resources like sun and wind will compensate for the loss 
of fossil fuels?

>The Ecomindium is a mode of survival 
>without large amounts of natural resources or help from external sources.

There's a difference between survival and living a quality of life that 
people expect or choose. Even simple modes of living require broader 
interaction than what you're proposing.

>     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.

I think transportation is a more complicated issue for a site like this 
that's not within walking distance of services, entertainment, etc.

>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.
>                             Kermit Schlansker    kssustain@provide.net

I appreciate the amount of thought you've put into this. We certainly 
must work to incorporate many of these concepts into our way of living. 
However, given that these structures would have to be sited somewhere, 
just as would any other residential buildings, I don't see how it 
addresses the issue of sprawl any differently than would other forms of 
clustered housing or high-rise urban apartments. If you choose to 
continue your efforts on this idea, I hope the comments above are helpful 
in helping you refine it.


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