Green Building Heating, Power, Plumbing & Waste Systems:

These are the components and systems for heating, cooling, power, plumbing, growing food, and waste management that go into our homes so that we can live our lives self sustainably in the 21st century in an Eco friendly/energy thrifty manner. I once heard it said by a green architect that if your home didn’t grow food you couldn’t call it ‘sustainable’. Since I like to eat, I’ll go with that.

We’ll be covering Waste Management Systems like Incinerating Toilets, Composting Toilets, and the use of Passive Solar Gain for Natural Heating and Cooling for a more Sustainable Home.

Diagram of air cooling system using deep pond water, by VitorhetorHydroponic system of gardeningDiagram of passive Solar Water Heater, by EERE

Image Credits: Vitorhetor, wikimedia, wikimedia

Recent green building systems articles

Passive Solar Gain Technologies For a More Sustainable Home

Natural Heating and Cooling Through Alternative Architectural Design:

Passive Solar is a beautiful thing. The direct heat or light of the sun can be captured and utilized. Here are some designs that need only be placed in the direct line of the sun to get the job done.

Natural Heating:

Diagram illustrating Passive Solar Gain using the Sun and Architectural Design for a Sustainable HomeUtilizing the sun can go a long way to freely and efficiently heating your home during the daylight hours.  A building that is intentionally sited to Face the Southern Exposure taking into account the arc of the sun and the maximum exposure of daylight hours will enjoy Free Heating.  Removing any obstructions that prevent the sun light from touching your building is necessary to take advantage of this technique during the day.  So too is only planting deciduous trees and plants that drop their foliage in the winter months thus allowing sunlight to permeate through.

Likewise those same plants should grow leaves in the spring protecting the building from over exposure to the sun, hence Cooling the place down. Of course blinds and window dressings go a long way to controlling the heat (keeping it in or keeping it out) as needed.  Facing windows along the side of your building that faces south is a way of admitting light and heat into your space, but if you really want to take advantage…pair Passive Solar along with Thermal Mass for an outstanding combination.

Diagram of a Regular Earthship Design bermed into the hillside, using Passive Solar and Geo Thermal Principles for heating and cooling

A Perfect example of this is an Earthship aka Rammed Earth Tire Dwelling design.

We offer a more detailed Introductory Overview to Eartships.

Energy Storage Methods:

Thermal mass acts like a Battery storing the heat for release later on when the sun has gone down.  Considering we live in a time when people expect continuous 24/7 availability of energy this becomes an important feature. We can assist thermal mass by closing window dressings at night trapping the stored heat in the mass awhile longer.  So what passes for mass?  Cob, Stone Fireplaces/Floors, Water and Adobe are examples.  Usually mass is a very dense natural material that holds onto and retains the heat.  Make sure the sun ‘hits’ such a surface and you will enjoy the benefits of designing with passive solar in mind.

We offer a more detailed Introductory Overview to Cob, and Adobe.

Solar Furnace:

Take sunlight and combine it with a curved mirror that essentially reflects or concentrates light to a focal point raising the temperatures to some thing you don’t want to stick your hand in front of…and you have a solar furnace.  On an Industrial Scale this can be temperatures reaching as high as 3,500 °C (6,330 °F), and this heat in turn can be used to Generate Electricity or Melt Steel, make Hydrogen Fuel or give George Hamilton a rosy glow.

Solar Furnace in France, using Solar Concentators and Parabolic Mirrors, or Heiliostats, for Passive Solar Gain from the Sun for a renewable source of heat for Sustainability

The world’s largest Solar Furnace at Odeillo in the Pyrenees-Orientales in France can reach temperatures up to 3,500 °C (6,330 °F)

Solar Chimney:

Diagram of a Solar Chimney using Passive Solar Gain to create a Natural Cooling System for a Sustainable HomeSolar Chimney, TAS Model, using Passive Solar Gain to create a Natural Cooling System for a Sustainable Home

A Solar Chimney (or Thermal Chimney) is a Passive Solar Ventilation System composed of a vertical shaft connecting the interior and exterior of a building. As the chimney warms, the air inside is heated causing an updraft that pulls air through the building. Performance can be improved by using glazing and thermal mass materials in a way that mimics Greenhouses.

Image Credits: wikimedia, Jeffvail

Wood Stove Incinerating Toilet

What is an incinerating toilet you ask? One that literally burns off all your waste leaving nothing behind but a small amount of sanitized ash that you can dispose of in your flower bed if you wish. The advantages are no plumbing, septic or water, no electricity or reliance on fossil fuels, nor special products…

Storburn: The Incinerating Gas/Propane Toilet

What is a Gas or Propane Incinerating Toilet? Whatever you are picturing right now is probably close. Combine a toilet with a gas fireplace and ‘Le voila’ a toilet that burns your waste into a nice bit of ash that is completely harmless and ready to be dumped in your flower bed. The advantages are…

Incinolet: The Electric Incinerating Toilet

What is an Incinerating Toilet? Burn baby burn! Waste is incinerated using either electricity, propane, gas or even wood into a harmless ash that can then be disposed of any way you want. The beauty of this system is that it requires no water, no plumbing, no septic fields, and very little maintenance on the…

The Clivus Multrum Composting Toilet

Much to my surprise the guy who invented the Clivus Multrum was neither Clivus nor Multrum.  I know, weird eh?  Guess that’s what happens when you ‘ass-u-me’. Doe! Actually, the dude who invented it was a Swedish engineer back in 1939 by the name of Rikard Lindstrom, and the toilet was named after its unique…

The Outhouse

‘Privy‘, ‘Johns‘, ‘the Crapper‘, ‘the Can‘, or just plain old Outhouse is by any other name the classic, timeless ode to the original (in my opinion) composting toilet. In layman’s terms you dig a hole for the latrine and place a small building over it for protection and privacy to do your business. Over time…

The Eco John Incinerating Toilet, SR series

What is an Incinerating Toilet? In a nutshell it burns off all the waste into a completely safe little bit of ash, which you can then dispose of in the garbage or your flower garden if you choose.  It requires no plumbing, nor septic fields, nor water which is a beautiful option to traditional methods. …

Sun-Mar Composting Toilets

I can’t speak to all makes and models of Sun-mar’s full range of products, but I can comment on one in particular; the ‘Excel’ that retails in mainstream places like Home Depot.  I LOVE that composting toilets are making their way into the big chains because if the ‘Depot’ is carrying it, it can’t be…

The Humanure Toilet

First off let me just bow to Joseph Jenkins, author of the ‘Humanure Handbook’, when I say Bill and Ted style, “We are not worthy”. This man has single-handedly come up with the most practical, sane, hygienic, and useful means of dealing with human waste that I have ever heard of.  This is no light…

Why go Geothermal?

Geothermal is a method of tapping into the constant and reliable earth temperatures as a means to heat or cool your buildings or your home.  In laymen terms a hole is dug deep down into the earth, and a pipe inserted to form a loop that comes back into your home allowing the transfer of…

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