Much of my area has problems with low rainfall and drought. As a landscaping alternative, many houses use clever designs with drought resistant plants, or low water / rock designs such as this one. It is still aesthetically pleasing, and it helps the overall community in trying times.
We noticed these earthships while driving through the state of New Mexico. Earthships are incredibly well designed, innovative, low-impact homes. They generally offer a multitude of sustainable features, are built with sustainable materials, designed for efficient heating and cooling, harvest both energy and water, and utilize a great variety of other friendly practices.
This LEED Platinum home plot exhibits a large variety of sustainable features, including this system for rainwater collection, which provides for 90% of the home’s water use. Several aluminum gutters attached to the house serve to capture and siphon rainwater down to a storage tank further down the plot. Since it is gravity fed, no pumps are required to move the water to the tank, though the home still has a water supply pump to bring water to the fixtures.
The house also incorporates a PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) manifold plumbing system, which serves as a main control center for all of the home’s water distribution lines, and allows for great ease of use. With this, individual lines to specific fixtures may easily be shut off when needed, and entirely from a central location.
More information on the PEX system :
The Dallas Arboretum is making efforts to research into and educate about water conservation practices in landscaping. Here, it displays a variety of plants that require less water than others, and an experiment towards ‘conservation turf’ as a possible sustainable landscaping solution.
We use a set of thermosiphons to heat water for the camp. The water supply travels through the system, being heated by the energy transferred from the sun to a solar collector. Even in cold areas, solar energy may be harnessed and utilized toward a variety of applications, such as this one.
Our hotel/hostel utilizes a well designed grey water system with heat recuperation- the second such system in the world. Through this, heat may be harnessed from previously used water, allowing for a decrease in energy necessary for heating further incoming water. The system saves around 4,000 liters of water daily. In addition, heat recuperation is also used in our air, ventilation, and cooling processes.
As seen here, our basement houses a recycling and regenerative unit- AquaCycle- which was tested and installed by Pontos Company. This system filters grey water in three cycles. We use the water for flushing the toilets, watering the plants, and washing the floors. This technology serves for the heat recovery from the recycling of grey water.
The water heating process is carried out in three steps. After cold water turns from 5°C to 25°C, heat recuperation from cooling heats the water from 25°C to 35°C. Then, our rooftop solar panels help us to heat the water from 35°C to 60°C. If the solar panels collect much energy during midday which is not used, the system stores the hot water (90°C) in an accumulating pot, and it is used toward any event rush.
All of our water is locally-sourced from the Moho River. It is UV triple-filtered for use in our cabanas, main lodge, and garden.
In addition to our lodge’s hybrid energy system, we have completed the construction of 16 stand-alone indirect solar water heating systems of 150 liters each. To date, the use of this system has succeeded in saving 370 MWh of electricity.
As well, we have created a reverse osmosis water treatment plant, with a capacity of 80 liters per minute. This has allowed us to clean over 14,000 m3 of water, to date.
Our septic system is a composting system whereby the water flows into a septic tank, and then to soak a field. These fields are contained in large block vats, lined with several feet of PVC pipe, then covered with earth and banana trees. The banana roots form a dense mat which then absorbs the water and nutrients from the vat, creating a closed system of bio and phyto (plant) remediation (restoring balance). As a result, our land and river are waste free.
Our camp uses a biofiltration system to allow for the treatment and reuse of wastewater from the bath, including showers and toilets. The system is comprised of a bioreactor and 5 layers set for water filtration, including a layer of California worms. As with our composting toilets, bioreactors use microorganisms to degrade pollutants biologically, and thus release water that is safe to be placed back in the soil.
These washcloths are suitable for several uses, biodegradable, compostable, and made from 100% botanic fibers. In their compressed form, they can fit in the palm of your hand. However, when used with water, they expand to full-sized washcloths.
Our park uses recycled water for irrigation, in order to prevent a drain on drinking water for the community in times of drought.
This is one of the nice reusable bags we had received at a local store, after legislation regulating plastic use was enacted in Colombia in 2016. Due to the large amount of plastic waste ending up in surrounding water bodies, Colombia has banned all plastic bags smaller than 30×30 cm, and placed a small charge on others that can still be purchased in stores (with a plan set to increase the tax each year until 2020).
By the middle of 2018, this initiative had served to decrease plastic bag consumption by 35%, and raised around $4 million in taxes [see articles below]. Success from these efforts is spurring other similar initiatives and will hopefully continue to drive progress toward mitigating damage from plastic moving on.
More on Colombia’s Plastic Initiatives:
Our camp creates energy where it can, utilizing both solar and hydro sources. Using solar panels, we are able to provide around 30% of our power needs. However, the other 70% is made available through a micro-hydro turbine, powering our appliances and lighting. The flow of the river is able to provide a steady 800 W to us, with an input of 5 liters per second and high net pressure.
Our hotel/hostel has installed special Raindance showers, which use up to 60% less water than others. They are designed to limit flow and adjust to differing water pressures, using only 1.5-2 gallons of water per minute, while maintaining a full shower experience.