Monday, October 13, 2008

i like it with the border =)

no border

photoshop rendering

Now, I am not a pro in photoshop, so feel free to be critical!

Water_Distribution-Individual Household_PAW

The colours are wrong- for some reason in the conversion to JPG it changed them- what is blue is actually red.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Site Photo (2a)-no diagram

Site 2a: (not a collage, but one single photo):
I think this one is the best for our program- I have already started to do the illustration.

Site Photo (2)-no diagram

Here is the next site possibility (2):

Site Photo-no diagram

Hi all-
This is Site_1 possibility for the project - (there is no diagram overlay just yet, I will try and get to that tonight, if not first thing tomorrow morning.

grey water recycling videos

Snow melting methods and collection

As far as winter irrigation in the greenhouse goes, melting snow in big barrels is the next best thing to a really long hose, a well and an electric pump. Fill ‘em up, cover with clear plastic, wait a day (even on a dull, cloudy day, it gets up to 60°F in the hoophouse). Repeat a couple of times, and you have 50 gallons of rainwater in a barrel! The alternative is dragging 200? of hose through deep snow from the barn to the greenhouse, then reeling it in and draining it, every couple of days. The weather has put the kibosh on the early-March, barely heated greenhouse plan, the happy prospect until March actually came around. (

I think this is one pretty easy, reasonable and affordable method. What can be possibly derived from this method, Kelly (since you are doing water collection), is maybe a combination of solar heated barrels and drainage/collection of melted snow that will flow into the main cistern.

Also, there is a number of existing systems that are used in the cities in order to melt snow on the roads. They are based on embedding heating cables into the pavement or concrete slabs that eventually get heated and thus melt the snow. Such systems can also be powered by solar power and then a water collection system can be applied.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Photo compilation

Solar composting toilets!

Passive solar composting toilet:

Commercial composting toilets:

Check this out, too:

A great website on wastewater treatment with images and good descriptions:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rendering samples

taken from


Check this out! Taken from:
Afterwards, check the "Earthship" further at
And mos def, their website:

"The other day I noticed that one of my tires had a slow leak. I took it to a place called M&M Tires, where it was expertly repaired within a few minutes by owner Bonifacio Martinez. While he worked, we chatted, and he remarked that, had he been unable to fix it, he might have donated the worn-out tire to the Earthship community, a few miles outside of Taos. I was fascinated by what he told me and decided to visit.

The Earthship community is a collection of unusual homes that look, at first glance, like something from a strange dream. They are organic in shape, studded with bottles, and partly buried in the ground. These are Earthships — passive solar structures that do not use any conventional power or water source, thanks to a combination of ingenious design, recycling, and solar and wind power. Water comes from snow melt or rain collection, and is used four times before it is finally discharged in a conventional septic system. The houses are amazingly pretty inside, airy and not at all dark.

The walls are made of recycled tires, aluminum cans, bottles (sometimes placed so as to let light in), and adobe, which is then oiled on the inside surfaces to make it darker, the better for absorbing sun and maintaining heat. Here’s a cutaway view of a wall:

Sloped windows on the southern side collect sun and also nourish the gardens that provide food, purify water, and beautify the space. When the sun is too intense, or to retain heat after dark, the windows can be covered:

The houses are wired with conventional electric outlets and the appliances are ordinary, albeit energy-saving models. They are priced competitively: a 1,200-square-foot home in this community might cost $200,000 (this includes all labor, the most expensive part of building an Earthship). Members of the Earthship Foundation have built them all over the world, and also are available to teach others. They have also published the building plans in several books."

Rainwater harvesting - Changing water realities - California (Australia)

Guys, I just came across this site, explaining severe water issues that both California and well, on a more extreme level, Australia are dealing with.

Courtesy of California Green Solutions (

Rainwater harvesting is a feasible, and highly efficient solution for residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Save stress on water infrastructures and save money!

Take a look at the posted images to read what the article says:

Rainwater harvesting made easy:

Take a look at this link, not exceptional or anything, but gives you an idea as to how it could be done.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I found a great mapping website. I really like the diagram Yana found, where the catch basin branches out and resembles almost exactly the root system of a plant. Anyway, I just quickly did a topographical map showing the contour of the land in our region. It's not as detailed as I'd like but something worth looking at. In the site you can also select/deselect various icons and information to show. I highly recommend exploring the site, you have access to tons of information and there is even a section specifically on "Freshwater." From what I can see there's maps ranging from % of people harvesting ground water to where/how it is consumed.

here is the link:


air gap: a vertical space between a water or drain line and the

flood level of a receptacle used to prevent backflow or

siphonage from the receptacle in the event of negative

pressure or vacuum.

aquifer: an underground waterway that is replenished by


backflow: flow of water in a pipe or water line in a direction

opposite to normal flow.

backflow preventer: a device or system installed in a water

line to stop backflow from a nonpotable source.

blackwater: the wastewater from toilets

and kitchen sinks.

buffer: to shift pH to a specific value.

building footprint: the area of a building on the ground.

cistern: an above or below ground tank used to store water,

generally made of galvanized metal, fiberglass, ferrocement

or concrete.

disinfection: a process in which pathogenic (disease producing)

bacteria are killed by use of chlorine or physical processes.

diverter: a mechanism designed to divert the first flush

rainwater from entering the cistern.

erosion: the loss of topsoil that occurs as a result of run-off.

filtration: the process of separating particles of 2 microns or

larger in diameter from water by means of a porous substance

such as a permeable fabric or layers of inert material housed in

a media filter or removable cartridge filter.

first flush: generally the first 10 gallons of rainwater per 1,000

square feet of roof surface that is diverted due to potential for


flow rate: the quantity of water which passes a given point in

a specified unit of time, expressed in gallons per minute.

forcebreaker: an extension of the fill pipe to a point 1” above

the bottom of the cistern, which dissipates the pressure of

incoming rainwater and thus minimizes the stirring of settled


greywater: the wastewater from residential

appliances or fixtures except toilets and kitchen sinks.

groundwater: water found below ground that has seeped

there through spaces in soil and geologic formations.

hardness: a characteristic of groundwater due to the presence

of dissolved calcium and magnesium which is responsible for

most scale formation in pipes and water heaters.

hydrologic cycle: the continual exchange of water from the

atmosphere to the land and oceans and back again.

leaf screen: a mesh installed over gutters and entry points to

downspouts to prevent leaves and other debris from clogging

the flow of rainwater.

micron: a linear measure equal to one millionth of a meter,

or .00003937 inch.

nonpotable water: water intended for non-human consumption

purposes, such as irrigation, toilet flushing, and


pH: a logarithmic scale of values of 0 to 14 that measure of

hydrogen ion concentration in water which determines

whether the water is neutral (pH 7), acidic(pH 0-7) or basic

(pH 7-14).

pathogen: an organism which may cause disease.

potable water: water which is suitable and safe for human


pressure tank: a component of a plumbing system that

provides the constant level of water pressure necessary for the

proper operation of plumbing fixtures and appliances.

rainwater harvesting: the principle of collecting and using

precipitation from a catchment surface.

roof washer: a device used to divert the first flush rainwater

from entering a cistern.

run-off farming: the agricultural application of harvested

rainwater involving a system of terraces that directs the

rainwater from higher to lower elevations.

sedimentation: the process in which solid suspended particles

settle out (sink to the bottom ) of water, frequently after

the particles have coagulated.

total dissolved solids: a measure of the mineral content of

water supplies.

xeriscape: a landscape practice which specifies regionallyadapted,

drought-resistant plants and other water-conserving


healthy house link

Here's just a link to the Healthy House project I showed you in class and the one Andrew (our guest) was referring to:

Toronto Water Figures/Facts etc. from the City of Toronto

Dean Kamen-Water Purification

I know this may not be exactly the type of thing we are looking for, but I think it is good to know what types of technologies exist out there- obviously some require power etc, but most if not all could be powered solar/wind energies stored in batteries.

You may or may not know Dean Kamen, but he is an inventor of the Segway and other things. As for this water purification invention, it supposedly works and he has created it in order to help create drinking from toxic, polluted waters in developing and third world countries. According to him, it is supposed to be a low-cost and low-energy water purifier. Take a look at the links I posted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drainage basin = Root system

Above is an image of a drainage basin that acts like a funnel, collecting all the water within the area covered by the basin and channeling it into a waterway. Each drainage basin is separated topographically from adjacent basins by a geographical barrier such as a ridge, hill or mountain, which is known as a water divide. Other terms that are used to describe the a drainage basin are catchment, catchment area, catchment basin, drainage area, river basin, water basin and watershed.

Drainage basins are important elements to consider also in ecology. As water flows over the ground and along rivers it can pick up nutrients, sediment, and pollutants. Like the water, they get transported towards the outlet of the basin, and can affect the ecological processes along the way as well as in the receiving water source. (As a note, may be there is a way of designing an underground drainage basin piping system with its own filtration system...???)

Modern usage of artificial fertilizers, containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, has affected the mouths of watersheds. The minerals will be carried by the watershed to the mouth and accumulate there, disturbing the natural mineral balance. (back to my red note?)

Because drainage basins are coherent entities in a hydrological sense, it has become common to manage water resources on the basis of individual basins. In the U.S. state of Minnesota, governmental entities that perform this function are called watershed districts. In New Zealand, they are called catchment boards. Comparable community groups based in Ontario, Canada, are called conservation authorities.

Here's an idea:

Underground drainage basin / reservoir. Basically, all the wastewater from homes and businesses from the neighbourhood drains down to one big underground reservoir (where all water gets stored). On its way, it gets its preliminary treatment, i.e. some nutrients/minerals/chemicals go back to the soil, the rest remain in the water. Then, it gets further filtered (possibly above ground, using any or all of the proposed filtration systems) and after that it then gets distributed to homes.



Another natural filtration system I just came across that can potentially use the so-called 'mycelium':

Mycelium (plural mycelia) is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelia are found in soil and on or in many other substrates. Typically a single spore germinates into a monokaryotic mycelium which cannot reproduce sexually; when two compatible monokaryotic mycelia join and form a dikaryotic mycelium, that mycelium may form fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. A mycelium may be minute, forming a colony that is too small to see, or it may be extensive:

It is through the mycelium that a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment. It does this in a two stage process. Firstly the hyphae secrete enzymes onto the food source, which breaks down polymers into monomers. These monomers are then absorbed into the mycelium by facilitated diffusion and active transport.

Mycelium is vital in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for its role in the decomposition of plant material. It contributes to the organic fraction of soil and its growth releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The mycelium of mycorrhizal fungi increases the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption of most plants and confers resistance to some plant pathogens. Mycelium is an important food source for many soil invertebrates.

One of the primary roles of fungi in an ecosystem is to decompose organic compounds. Petroleum products and pesticides that can be contaminants of soil are organic molecules. Fungi therefore should have potential to remove such pollutants from the soil environment, a process known as bioremediation.

Mycelial mats have been suggested (see Paul Stamets) as having potential as biological filters, removing chemicals and microorganisms from soil and water. The use of fungal mycelia to accomplish this has been termed "mycofiltration", although there is no reason to suspect that the process is any different from that of bioremediation using fungi.

Some Mycelium has symbiotic property with many plants. This opens the door to soil supplementation to improve crop yields.

Mycelium, spread on logging roads acts as a binder holding new soil in place and preventing washouts until woody plants can be established.


- Basically, what I gather from this research is that it is practically possible to create a biological (natural) water filtration system that can be incorporated into our solution.

- Also, these kinds of natural filtration systems has been long in use by many people around the world. They are real and possible to implement and incorporate into our project. There are specialists who can provide us with a number of such solutions for homes. Only I do not think that for this particular exercise we actually need such detailed research. I am sure that it is already enough to just know that such natural systems are available.

Scenario exercise


Every month I used to get a hydro bill. I no longer have to thanks to the solution provided by a group of four brilliant students from OCAD, who were working on “INTERVENTION” project in their class called “Socially Responsible Design Practices” taught by Martin Liefhebber. Thanks to their solution I no longer have to worry about where my water is coming from. I also don’t have to stress out about our planet and that I somehow impact global warming that the whole world is so concerned about. I like living my life knowing that my actions do not harness our environment. I also like to be a part of nature’s own natural processes. It is good to know that I can contribute to our environment. Thanks to the solution, the extra minerals go back to nature and contribute to plant and wild life in my community. Now I can even have my own garden and not worry about water and mineral supply because I know it comes directly from my household. During warmer seasons we collect water from rainfalls. When its winter the snow melts and gets treated through this special process and then we use that water for our needs. We even have enough excess water that we use to take ‘to go’ when we leave house so we no longer need to buy bottled water. Also, the excellent filtration system that apparently is based on a filtration system used in our plants, allows us to have clean and safe water for drinking, cooking, and washing ourselves. Also, the group developed the system where all excess of water that has not been used gets stored somewhere outside so in case any of my neighbors runs out of water, they can have it from our communal cistern that is available 24 hours. Overall, the solution provided by this group affected my lifestyle in an extremely positive and environmentally-friendly driven way.

Something to think about

I'm reading a book called "Breakthrough" by Mark Stefik and Barbara Stefik on invention and innovation and here's an exercise that might help us with our process. Basically, we have to answer two questions: What is possible? and What is needed?

Please, post your comments/ answers so we can discuss them on Thur. meeting.

Issue: Zero supply of fossil fuel

What is possible?

-Building off-grid systems
-Use of rain water/snow melt
-Reuse of wastewater
-Use of eco-machines
-Building of greenhouses
-Use of filtration system based on plants
-Use of Folkewall
-Cistern water collection and preservation

What is needed?
-Public awareness of the 'issue'
-Solution for all

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eco-Machines-Water Treatment

Todd Ecological-John Todd Eco-Machines

Here is the John Todd website both Tamara and I were referring to in class the other day. As a quick intro, John Todd is a highly accomplished academic with degrees in ecological design, parasitology, agriculture, science and engineering. Through his work as Professor at the School of Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, he has developed programs and Eco-machines, which employ the ecological knowledge to address urgent human and environmental problems. One of these urgent items is the treatment of contaminated water and John Todd has devised Eco-Machines to do just that.

Here is the link:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Drainage system

Hydroponic farm +...

The photo at left shows a sub-tropical hydroponic farm growing bok choy in Brisbane, Australia using clip-together oval channel equipment under hail netting. It is the kind of food-from-the-roof technology likely to be adopted for Singapore rooftops - with the hail netting serving as a worker safety net, plus a barrier to rooftop debris flying away with wind gusts. An acre of this kind of hydroponics is more productive than six acres of good soil -- using less than a 10th of the water.*

** More info on hydroponic farming is on:

Here's something intersting I just came across, might be of some use later... It's called a FOLKEWALL. Further info is taken from wikipedia.
Inspired by Dr Gösta Nilsson's "Sanitas wall" at the Sanitas farm in Botswana, this technique makes an efficient use of space by fulfilling on its own two essential functions: a mutually beneficial system allies vertical plant growing and the purification of greywater.


The basic design is a wall of hollow concrete slabs with compartments opening on one or both sides of the wall. The hollow parts are filled with inert material like gravel, LECA-pebbles, perlitevermiculite. In order to let the water trickle over the longest possible treatment path, plastic sheets are laid horizontally at intervals along the length of the wall between the pebbles. or

The water is brought at the top, and percolates following a zig-zag pattern throughout the inside of the wall. As it does so it feeds the plants which purify it in the same process. The plant rootsbeneficial bacteria grows over the pebbles, releasing the nutrients in the percolating organic material. At the bottom of the wall a container collects the purified water, which can then be used for non-drinking house uses or for watering the garden; or it can be returned to the top of the wall. grow through the inert material and extract nutrients from the water. A film of

Other considerations

Plants used: since the harvesting of the plants is a part of the purification process, fast growing, herbaceous crops are specially suited for the Folkewall. Perennials like trees and shrubs should be avoided.

Greywater: The water feeding the plants in the wall must be devoid of heavy and/or unsafe pollutants notably blackwater. This requires using source-separating toilets.

Pay-back period: Gus Nilsson calculated for his walls at Sanitas farm, Gabarone Botswana, that the growth and selling of tomatoes on the wall would pay the entire erection cost of the wall in three years.

  • Better use of the water: most of the evaporation happens through the plant's leaves, which makes the method specially useful in arid climates. It is this aspect Gus Nilsson makes use of.
  • More efficient use of the area, for example in greenhouses or other glazed areas.
  • In a greenhouse where the wall is used as a greywater purification device, it also works as a heat exchanger and -buffer.
  • Purification of the percolating water, if greywater is used as irrigation.
  • A wall x by x m2 is sufficient to purify greywater for 3 (or 4) people. The water can be reused in the house for non-drinking purposes, or to water the garden.
  • In warm climates, the wall can be used as building material on the south side. This will cool the building.
  • Low-cost housing: the combined use of Folkewalls and source-separating toilets would reduce the infrastructure cost by about 30%
Q/A with Dr. Folke Gunther from

First, I will tell you why I use the name 'folkewall' instead of 'living wall' as I used earlier. It is because I realised that this word already was in use for a sort of tombstones and in certain architectural constructions. Therefore I choosed the unique, although presumptious, word 'folkewall'


"one of the advantages of 'vertical growing' that attracts me is the better utilisation of the growing area especially in greenhouses.
The example in Gus Nilsson, Gabarone, Botswana is therefore most fascinating"

"and is especially useful when you have a greenhouse that is constructed against the concrete wall of a building ( or even in the middle of a east-west greenhouse.
Do you know of any such application in a greenhouse in Stockholm ?"

Although they have been discussed (on Ven in Öresund, also in large scale in Gotland, Sweden) none have been erected yet, to my knowledge. I planned to build one by myself the summer 2004, but circumstances came between.

"Do you have any data or can you say that productivity (product yield) per unit of greenhouse space is higher when a mixed ground and vertical cultivation are used ? ."

In a greenhouse, seveal walls will restrict light entrance, why you have to have them either in the middle or on one side. The other spaces have to be used for lower types of growing. The pcture above is for a planned greenhouse in Umeå (Farnorth Sweden). The beds are filled with horse manure to heat up the building as well as serving as a growing place (pictures of such a 'hotbed' at , I will translate it)

Gus Nilsson calculated for his walls in Sanitas, Gabarone, Botswana, that the growth and selling of tomatoes on the wall would pay the entire erection cost of the wall in three years.

The interesting thing with the folkewall is that you combine growing with water purification in a mutually beneficial system

"Are there any crops that are specially suited for Folkewall ?"
fast growing, herbaceous. Perennials, like trees ans shrubs should be avoilded, since the harvesting of the plants is a part of the purification process"