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Ecological Technology
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Hey there...

I've been perusing this forum for the past few months... here goes on the first post.

I'm studying architecture... it sucks. All the architects I know and a vast majority of students really don't give a gosh darn about "sustainability" aside from qualifying for the next rank of LEED. I don't plan on sticking around the field for too long but while I'm here I figure I might as well have some fun and try to teach some other, more conscious students some cool stuff.

So I'm starting a club called something along the lines of Ecological Technologies. We'll have a partnership with our engineering school so hopefully we can get some cool graphs and charts with fancy numbers on 'em. In the club I'd like to hit some uncharted (at least as far as the educational system is concerned) territory. Some cool stuff that I thought we could tackle was as follows:

Rocket Stoves

Rocket Mass Heaters(a bit ambitious perhaps)

Wall Systems (Cob, Straw bale, Rammed Earth, Earthbags)


Parabolic Solar Collectors

I know there is a wealth of awesome technologies we could delve into and these are just a few.
This semester is basically over but I'll be getting the ball rolling in January and I'll definitely be posting our adventures on here.

I'd love ideas for what we could get our hands dirty with and any feedback once we're started would be awesome too.

Passive Solar Design
g'day oliver,

i haven't realy seen much that gets the the jist if building simply, the building industry nowadays are realy only assemblers of pre-fab wall and truss components.

anyway we build a house to our design basically i got ideas off other people who wanted simple, you welcome to have a look at it, we built it for sub-tropics, but should be adaptable for tropic to warm temerate, it is illuminated troughout by 1 light globe, and being modest 3 bedroom designed for partition walls it worked well for us.

but the scary bit for those in teh idustry it needs correct aspect land that is what realy is needed no matter what, the correct aspect has teh capacity to give you the better micro climate in an area.

anyhow have a look with latteral out of the box thinking, teh cladding we used suited our climate, all sorts of things could be used cement blocks, bricks, rocks whatever.

it is definately sustainable as it needed no termite protecion or barriers, was high rated storm and in a bush fire has almost nothing to burn except for furniture.


Let me clarify something...

The purpose of this club is to take on small scale projects and build them... things of the scale that a group of around ten people who potentially have jobs and full courseloads can handle on their off time. The group's aim is not to explore architecture but to explore small scale technologies associated with building.

I'll be interested to see where your club goes with their explorations, Hoad.

I took the manufacturing route rather than architecture or engineering all those years ago. Now I'm trying to transfer the knowledge gained there to the other disciplines, in order to design a home and the systems required to make it comfortable and sustaining. So if there is information you gain from experimenting, I'd love to hear about it. Can we offer ideas for you to look at?
Hi Lolly,

You most certainly can... part of my reasoning for posting here was to get ideas for the group.


hi hoads,

i posted this on the "green concrete" thread


and if your architecture school is unfamiliar with the wedsite, then shame on them
Sorry your foray into architecture is not working out for you. Do you mind me asking what school?

I second Shawn's Passive Solar Design. Its a perfect fit for what you seem to be trying to do depending on your climate..

I got burned out my first year of architecture. My teacher had presentation drawings of an apartment building that got turned down by the city as not fitting their community. The building had retro details and color. Nice, very close to what is being done today, but that was 1978. Creativity is not allowed. Sorry, you get creativity drilled into you but if you actually use it you get shot down.

My largest disagreement is with zoning and building codes. If I want to live in a 200 square foot house that I built myself and not pay a mortgage why should I be stopped? We could end homelessness. We waste billions of dollars on square footage alone. 10 to 15 % of my income should go to shelter. Not 50 or 60%.

The same goes for transportation. I would like a small two person wagon top speed 30 MPH, bicycle and 9 volt technology. If we can build a lawnmower for $100.00, we should be able to build my wagon for $300.00. No gas, very little maintenance.

The technology is all right there, just the other side of the law.
@H Ludi Tyler... I dig the appropedia link, thanks.

@Springtime Homes... I go to University of Colorado. As for passive solar, it is awesome and definitely applicable to our climate but our group isn't trying to design structures of any kind. Way too much red tape, not enough time or money.

@Duane McCoy... Indeed, shame on them. I looked into geopolymers for a project I did this semester, pretty cool stuff. I ended up scrapping the idea for some reason or another but I'd be interested in experimenting with it. I think we'll definitely want some soil engineers to delve into it with us. From the research I did do I remember there being some fairly significant kaolinite depoisits in Colorado that are mined... maybe we could get our hands on some?

@Dennis Mitchell... Oh how times have changed. Nowadays you won't get a second glance if you're not trying to reinvent the wheel for every project. Digital has taken over, I was one of two people out of probably 100 to hand draft and hand craft my presentation drawings and models. Do you think you would stopped driving your wagon down the street? try it.
I would expect different things out of Boulder, such a progressive city. I think it all depends on the professor. In my architecture courses (construction undergrad) we were highly encouraged to think outside of the box and the architect professor got upset when students didnt explore new ideas and methods. It was very encouraging and easy to dream up great alternative ideas when no clients money was on the line.

I guess Iam confused by your group set up to "explore small scale technologies associated with building" but "not explore architecture". Solar ovens might be something you could explore. You can build them cheap with no red tape required.
Unfortunately CU isn't really part of Boulder... physically sure, but its a state institution run by businessmen. The reason we can't explore architecture is we're trying to research, build, and test. A small group of us can't very well put up structures on the weekends. Or maybe we can. You may have just inspired me to take this a step further. I'm almost sure CU will have nothing to do with it but maybe some local farms...

I like the solar oven idea too.
Hoads, are you in touch with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) group at CU? EWB, in some countries at least, is very interested in sustainable design and sensitive development.

I should add a caveat that I haven't had direct dealings with EWB-USA, apart from some emails exchanged with Bernard Amadei from CU a few years back. My experience has been with EWB-Australia and EWB-UK. (And I've had a look at translations of stuff about water and agriculture from the Belgian EWB, called ISF, and that seems pretty sound.)
Got a book for my Father in Law, "Design like you give a damn" after I saw an hour long documentary on how the book came to be...on PBS or discover I think.
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We're having our first meeting on Thursday, bound to be tons of fun.

Chris, I got in touch with EWB and some other engineering groups and we're working with them and some other faculty to get into shops and labs around campus to do material research and testing. That being said if anyone has any cool ideas or things you've tried before but isn't much data on we are going to have a huge opportunity here to get physical results from (hopefully) all sorts of labs.

Hoser, I've heard of the book...I'll keep my eyes open for a copy.

You need to check out Paul's video and design for a "portable" rocket mass heater. It is definitely something a few people with limited free time could tackle.

Something you might consider is recycling household materials into sustainable designs. As an example, I have seen a geothermal heating unit made from soda cans painted black and stacked inside a frame with a piece of plexiglass on top. Here is a link: http://faircompanies.com/blogs/view/building-a-solar-heater-with-recycled-cans/

Just a suggestion. Innovation is a powerful tool in sustainability.
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more ... richsoil.com/wd-gardening.jsp

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