|the Omnigma Compendium
Habitat and Environmental Design
|as of 12 February, this is a draft. We are working on expanding it and providing links to pertinent resources in the near future.
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- as responsible stewards of the earth Among the important concepts we consider is our impact on and successful survival in the world around us. We are modest of means and work to be reasonable and responsible in our needs.
There are so many destructive, excessive and wasteful uses of natural resources in the world, we respond to that by working to find and implement ways of using resources efficiently and responsibly. Permanence, efficiency and durability are important factors in any design. There are already many elements of efficient, responsible building design extant and we have documentation on them, as well as details of the elements of our own designs.
The implementation of our comprehensive habitat design has been quite limited due to a number of external factors. But, as we overcome those limitations, our designs will include the following topics: Structure, Water, Energy, Food, Communication, Resources to produce, maintain and repair electro-mechanical systems and devices, Societal concerns including education, cooperative work, the arts, etc.
While there is some biased criticism of the use of exotic or non- renewable materials in the manufacture of many of the technologies mentioned herein, these materials are only a minor one time use, whereas fossil fuels, petroleum pipelines and nuclear energy are extremely dangerous and pollute horribly for the entire time they are in use and for many years after. Long distance grids waste 10-20% of the electricity generated and often fail in extreme weather and fires. And, if manufacturers of habitat technology would shift to simpler, longer lasting designs and materials, considerable amounts of raw materials would be saved over the life of the devices. (As examples, we had a floor furnace in a home built in 1942. The only moving part in it was the gas valve. It was about 80% efficient, quiet, and in 1992, 50 years later, when we sold the home it still worked beautifully and safely. The only part ever repaired or replaced was an external draft diverter duct that wasn’t even part of the furnace. Also, we have a 1999 vintage Personal Computer that I built from components which is still fully functional and in use today.)
There are already buildings, in Northern Europe and the ‘earthships’ in New Mexico and elsewhere, that require no heating or air- conditioning using artificially produced energy. And, there are many even more durable ways to accomplish that. A structure’s design and materials should be made impervious to wind and other weather factors and located to prevent flooding. Buildings, including windows, need to be highly insulated while allowing and controlling fresh air flow. Trees must be located far enough away from foundations, walkways, streets, underground pipes, drain fields, roofs and photovoltaic panels to avoid causing any problems.
There are many buildings using photovoltaic panels that generate more electricity than they use and the panels often have a life-span of ~20 years. However, battery storage lags. Yet, batteries can be optimized better and be much more effective than currently designed. And, the problem with the rare materials that lithium batteries need can be eliminated practically by using some older battery technologies (including Edison cells and deep-discharge AGM lead-acid which is 99% recyclable). Even many lithium batteries are now over 90% recyclable. And, in many locations wind turbines provide a significant amount of electricity. They are quiet, nonpolluting in use and, contrary to some propaganda, do not kill significant numbers of birds, especially when compared to fossil fuels. Since ~1910 there have been solar powered heat engines reliably producing 8-10 hp. Electric vehicles are on the verge of being universally practical. Lighting by L.E.D.’s is proven to dramatically reduce electricity use compared to incandescent and even compact fluorescent.
By collecting all rainwater and using filtered gray water, which can minimize or eliminate the use of wells, homes can often practically eliminate outside water use.
If heating or air-conditioning is needed, heat pumps are much more energy efficient compared to electric resistance or gas or oil heating or conventional air-conditioning and can be made much more reliable. Also, running ducting inside the heated area instead of sub-floor or in the attic increases efficiency by 10%-20%
Food production using greenhouses, root-irrigation or hydroponics and even cooperative truck gardens (which abide by all specific safety/hygiene/recycling requirements) are quite viable. The following are important practices: seed saving and reuse, safe means of manure recycling into fertilizer (precluding use of polluting chemical fertilizer or pesticides whenever possible) and safe disposal of dangerous by-products and animal waste, composting, etc. Do not use contaminated water for food crop irrigation. Whenever possible, use non-resource intensive and nitrogen fixing food plants such as sorghum, peas, amaranth, sweet potatoes and more. Sugar beets can be a basis for distilling into alcohol for emergency energy, heat production and as a sanitizing agent. Cultivating hemp for fabric and rope makes a lot of sense, as it is a robust plant that uses little fertilizer and water and the fibers are quite durable. Being vegetarian is commendable, but not essential. Beverage alcohol and marijuana must be used responsibly. Drugs must be proven as beneficially medicinal or non-harmful if recreational. But, hard recreational drugs are forbidden.
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