This is a project that I am pushing in an effort to get move Sustainability research forward.
All dreams of mankind will diminish in the future because of the lack of strategic materials and the growing Global competition for what is left. The battle to save our grandchildren needs a positive model for new construction. The Ecomindium as described here is a small apartment house that would permit small investors to hold land so that it would be not be built up in houses and would be saved for future generations. Our present society is completely unsustainable without fossil fuels. Unsustainability is a grim word that means starvation and death to millions. We must mobilize against it. The only way that Sustainability can be achieved is by creating large buildings and complexes, on minimal land area, which combine dwelling, farming, and manufacturing. Any useful housing model must cut per capita energy consumption by at least 70%. The ideas that are expressed here have nothing to do with traditional Philosophies such as socialism or liberalism but rather are trying to deal with a hostile environment where it is crucial that everyone work productively.
I am hoping to get support for this proposal from the local Sierra club, from Smartgrowth, from the Ecology center, from the city and county, from local builders, and from any other group or individual that is interested in Sustainability, protecting land, or in low income housing, It is essential to get support from the Universities and schools in order to carry out the experiments. This would be a massive and meaningful research project. Individuals could support this project by buying a unit and then recovering their money through selling, renting, or living in it. Cost per unit might be from $100,000 to 150,000 thus providing at least a $million to build. Elderly people living here could get communal support that would be better than that available in a house.
The arbitrary arrangement for the building would be 8 apartments on two floors, with apartments arranged in a square thus giving eight 1000 sq ft apartments. The basement could be used for commercial or communal activities. There should be a shop and heating plant close to the building so that experiments could be constructed. There would be a 50% geometric reduction in heating costs as compared to a 1000 sq ft house. With better insulation and windows this might drop to 25%. The building could then be heated from solar, wastes, and locally grown biomass. It would be help to have gas and electric lines but every attempt would be made to avoid using them. However the building must be maintained at full occupancy in order to pay off the mortgage.
The experiments would be biomass heating, gas production from bio digestion, gas production from a biomass gasifier, solar heating, heat pump heating, cogeneration, comanufacturing, and an electric system that combines solar and wind. There should be an attempt to use solar reflectors for electricity, heating, water distillation, and food drying. Other experiments would be water recycling and use of sewage as fertilizer and energy.
At least one acre and if possible 10 should be associated with the building. This would permit agricultural experiments such as planting fruit and nut trees, planting perennial food plants, using forage animals for mowing, sewage and ashes for fertilizer, hydroponic gardening using sewage for irrigation, and growing a substantial portion of food on the property. It is hoped that elementary schools would help in designing a national program to mass plant fruit trees, nut trees, and food perennials at lowest cost.
There should be an attempt to develop a small manufacturing facility as part of the model. Waste heat from manufacturing would help heat buildings in winter.
Preferably this business would be concerned with cogeneration or other aspects of sustainability.
These Ecomindiums could be clustered to form sustainable communities which could combine both manufacturing and farming without commuting. Car pools and buses would reduce the cost of shopping and other travel. Travel will be an expensive commodity in the future and every bit of it should be saved for recreation and essential transport.
It would be hoped that the entire community would pitch in with enough volunteer labor to ensure the success of the project. This is a must for our grandchildren.
Kermit Schlansker PE firstname.lastname@example.org web page at http://www.provide.net/~kssustain