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SG-W:/ Re: [energyresources] Ecomindium

Dear Ted,
        Unless you know something I don't know the thermocouple idea wont work. Thermocouples need high temperatures to work and are less than 10% efficient. They may suffer attrition with use and may have limited life. My own thought about using them would be to use them in combination with a steam boiler to get higher efficiency. Saving energy in hot and cold water is a good idea in terms of heating and cooling. A heat engine is the only way I know to get the energy back and its efficiency would be limited by the Carnot theorem. The best alternate energy sources are still biomass, wind, and solar. Biomass is the only alternate that will warm you in winter. Plant those trees!
         Good luck with your house. However it will not be possible to demonstrate shared walls and ceilings, people working toward common goals, shared work loads, built in manufacturing, and shared transportation. Eventually people will have to apply these tactics to survive.
                                  Kermit Schlansker
-----Original Message-----
From: Ted Swarts <tedswarts@hotmail.com>
To: energyresources@yahoogroups.com <energyresources@yahoogroups.com>
Cc: Sustainable Community <sustainablecommunity@egroups.com>; smartgrowth <smartgrowth-washtenaw@great-lakes.net>; Malletts Creek Group <malletts@umich.edu>
Date: Wednesday, November 21, 2001 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: [energyresources] Ecomindium

Good luck in your pursuit of sustainability within the housing market. This particular subject is of great interest to myself and for years I've struggled to incorporate its underlying concepts into several residential design and build projects I've worked on. For the most part, due to customers and regulators being fixated on the status quo, my efforts in this regard have been unsuccessful.
It is my belief that housing, energy generation, and food production must all be seamlessly integrated if true sustainability is ever to be achieved. An added benefit of these objectives is freedom in the form of reduced dependence on the market system, a reality that is not lost on corporate interests who no doubt see this as a threat.
Your idea (Ecomindiums) is similar to ones espoused by futurists and environmentalists. It is also like some prototypical projects that have had some success on some levels but have fallen far short of their overall objectives. There are many reasons for this failure, but the one that is most significant, in my opinion, relates to scope. They all tend to strive to be all to all and end up being little to everyone.
A finer solution, in my mind at least, is one that I am trying to express in what I call the Pineridge Project, a single family dwelling on a small lot I've acquired in Peachland, British Columbia. The objectives of this project are a house that integrates energy efficiency, energy generation, and basic food production.
The energy efficiency is achieved through the incorporation of high thermal mass, low-energy radiant heating and cooling, a ground source heat pump, a contra-flow masonry fireplace, etcetera. Design considerations relate to solar orientation, window placement and glazing treatments, and so on.
For low quality energy requirements, like heating and cooling, energy generation will involve the use of thermal energy from the sun and fireplace. For high quality energy, like electricity, I'm undecided and I'm actively evaluating all reasonable options from photovoltaic to wind but the state of these technologies are not currently viable and reliance on the grid will have to serve as a substitute until suitable technologies emerge. My own preference for an electricity source involves conversion of thermal energy. The objective here is to separately store hot and cold water with a temperature differential optimized to drive thermocouples. I like this technology for its simplicity and elegance; it has no moving parts and wastes little. The problems with this idea involve finding suitable thermocouples and engineering them to generate enough power to drive contemporary electronics and electrical equipment. 
For food production, a greenhouse and solarium are to provide basic vegetables. A friend is working on a technology he calls EctoCulture that will provide protein by integrating fish (trout and carp) with hydroponics.  Exterior gardens and fruit trees will add to the production matrix. Chickens in the backyard are a possibility but unlikely so long as supermarkets exist. Rainwater will be collected and stored for irrigating the greenhouse along with the exterior gardens and fruit trees.
On the surface, this house is not intended to differ markedly from conventional houses. It is designed to fit in, so to speak.
Hopefully, the Pineridge project will demonstrate that sustainability is achievable within a reasonable budget, that its systems may be maintained and operated at a fraction of the cost of their conventional counterparts and that they are highly superior in terms of comfort, security, reliability, durability, and longevity.
Ted Swarts
Kelowna, British Columbia.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2001 5:56 AM
Subject: [energyresources] Ecomindium

This is a project that I am pushing in an effort to get move Sustainability research forward.

                 Kermit Schlansker

The Ecomindium

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.