Friday, December 31, 2010

How to Build a Tiny House

When she sold a three-bedroom home and moved into this 84-square-foot house in Olympia, Washington, Dee Williams found freedom.
Photo by Betty Udesen

How to Build a Tiny House
by Dee Williams
posted Mar 10, 2009

Three years ago, I decided to downsize. I sold my big house (which I loved!), got rid of all my stuff, and built an itty-bitty eco-friendly cottage. When I finished building, I slid my little house into a friend’s backyard. This isn’t as odd as it sounds. My house actually “fits” in the backyard. It looks like a tiny cabin, or a tree house. It’s also super-small and built on wheels.

My house offers 84 square-feet of living space and cost about $10,000 to build. It was built for the highway, but—honestly—it isn’t anything like a travel trailer. It doesn’t contain any space-age plastics or fake wood. Instead, it’s the real deal: knotty pine, cedar, and fir.

I made the house to be as simple and natural as possible. I minimized my construction footprint by using a bunch of “green” building techniques, including:

* Recycled and Salvaged Wood—The house took shape based on the materials that were offered to me or “found.” For example, I decided to install skylights after I found two huge windows at the salvage yard. I installed knotty pine siding on the interior walls and ceiling, and used cedar planks for the loft floor after the wood became available at the local reuse store. I installed exterior cedar siding after my neighbor offered me a bundle. He had originally purchased the wood in the 1940s, and had been storing it in his garage since that time. It was beautiful old-growth cedar—the kind you can’t find anymore.

* Insulated Windows—The house has nice, wood-clad windows that are low-emission (which reflects sunlight to keep the house cooler in the summer) and argon-insulated. They cost a mint, but have proven to work great! They cut noise and heat loss, and look fabulous.

* Solar Electricity—A 240-watt photovoltaic (solar) system powers my lights and other electric gadgets. It was sized to meet my needs, based on Olympia’s cloudy weather.

* Non-toxic Stains and Sealants—I used a water-based stain on the outside of the house, and a water-based sealant on the kitchen counter. I didn’t coat the floors, walls, or ceiling. As a result, the house carries a subtle, natural cedar and pine smell. I love the woodsy, peaceful smell of my house.

* Primitive Water/Sewer—I don’t have running water in my house. I pull water from a nearby garden spigot, and jug it into the house. I use a composting toilet, and I shower elsewhere. This “primitive” set-up has presented some of the greatest challenges for me. But I’ve gotten used to things, and I recognize that (on a world scale) any sort of toilet or shower is a blessing. Millions of people live without running water or a sanitary sewer. My situation is gifted by comparison.

* Other Good Ideas—I used shredded cotton insulation in the walls and ceiling, and Marmoleum (a natural linseed product) on the floor. I placed the house in the backyard with consideration for wind, sun and shade. Most importantly, I simply minimized the size of the house while creating a sense of space, utility and natural beauty (smaller really is better for the environment).

I’ve been in the backyard for over two years. I didn’t intend to find myself stumbling down a “greener” path, but the house has worked on me. I buy less stuff (there’s no place to store it). I re-think leaving lights on, and mull over better ways to manage my compost. I take fewer and shorter showers because I’m imposing on someone else. My ecological footprint has definitely gotten smaller by living in my little house.

I’ve saved a lot of money (my utility bills don’t really exist, and I don’t have a mortgage). I also spend less time fixing things and cleaning. Now, I have more of the “stuff” that I always wanted: time and resources.

I’ve tried to explain my house to other people. It’s a bit awkward. For example, a few weeks ago, a group of 5th-graders visited my house. I was trying to explain how my house works, and what makes it “green.” And ultimately, we spent less time talking about the house (itself), and more time talking about how the house has connected me to the community.

I’m less autonomous. I rely on the sun to power my lights. I trust the rain on the roof to keep me company. I love that the wind cools my house in summer (it works!). I depend on the library and food co-op, and the generosity of friends and neighbors. I have to ask for water every day, and that has changed me!

I find myself wanting (more than ever) to give something back. And that is at the root of all sorts of new ways to live more simply and in-step with my world. Downsizing just keeps getting better!

Dee Williams' tiny house was featured in Sustainable Happiness, the Winter 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Dee is an inspector with the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Reprinted with kind permission from South Sound Green Pages.


Dream House: Tour Dee Williams’ house
See the houseplan at

How to Move Yourself Off-The-Grid


How to Move Yourself Off-The-Grid
Story by Michael Janzen on July 27, 2010 and filed in How To

It’s easy to take flush toilets, grid-power, and fresh water on tap for granted. I can’t blame any of us for thinking that all these modern conveniences are normal… it’s the only normal we’ve known. Due to this most folks have a hard time imagining an off-the-grid life because it’s not clear what’s needed to make the leap.

So here’s a crash course in practical and sustainable solutions for moving yourself off-the-grid.

Photo of The Urban Rancher and his off-grid cabin.

Pee and Poop

Flush toilets are really insane when you stop to think about what they do. They begin by taking several gallons of perfectly good drinking water and mix it with a little pee and poop to produce sewage. Sewage is a mess and really hard to turn back into safe drinking water; but it is easy to transport to treatment plants through enormous networks of pipes, an infrastructure that need regular maintenance. To clean it up, chemicals are used to treat the water which in-turn keeps everyone in the chemical business very happy. Isn’t there a better way!?

Compost it! – Poop loves to decompose and if given a little time and the right conditions it breaks down into rich compost, yes even human poop. Remember we’re just critters just like the our furry friends and our poop will actually decompose into a safe compost, under the right conditions.

Humanure Handbook – A fellow by the name of Joseph Jenkins has actually written an book on the topic called the Humanure Handbook. He’s also designed a toilet nicknamed, The Lovable Loo, which is essentially a 5 gallon plastic bucket in a plywood box. You might also hear these toilets referred to as sawdust toilets because sawdust is literally used to cover the deposits between visits.

The other component you need with this system is a dedicated compost pile out in the backyard with enough space to cook your poop for two years. The stink stays buried in the compost pile under a layer of straw. When you need to add a bucket load you simply pull back the straw, add the fresh material, and cover it back up. So there is some stinky work involved but the the chore is a simple one. This may also be the most sustainable, low-tech, and safe way to turn our waste into something useable.

Commercial Composting Toilets – If the virtually free sawdust toilet seems far too gross, consider spending around $1,000 for a commercially produced composting toilet. These units work swiftly to decompose the material making them more palatable by most folks. If you move your tiny house around a lot this kind of system would be much more practical than a Lovable Loo too, because it’s self-contained and required no backyard compost pile.

Another somewhat tricky waste material to dispose-of is the runoff from sinks, showers, and laundry. This is referred to as greywater which will still have traces of human waste in it, so it can’t just be left to run down the street. In a normal house this water is mixed with sewage to make more sewage. Seems kind of silly doesn’t it?

The solution is to reuse and/or treat the water right there on-site instead of funneling it down a sewer line to a treatment plant miles away. There are many different high-tech and low-tech ways of dealing with greywater but if you choose to build a tiny house be sure to consider handling the plumbing for your sewage separately from your greywater. The people at Earthship Biotecture have an incredible greywater system that is built right into homes and could serve as a model for any home’s future greywater system.
Fresh Water

Instead of drilling a well or tapping into municipal water sources, consider collecting rainwater and storing it in tanks for year-round use. Rainwater harvesting is becoming more and more popular because it’s so simple and low-cost. It can also be perfectly healthy to drink with a little filtration. I wrote-up a detailed post on some ideas for rainwater harvesting which you might find useful.

The power grid is an incredibly complex network that requires constant maintenance and monitoring. The entire system is actually incredibly inefficient. For example, line loss, literally the resistance in the wires, sucks electricity from the system before it reaches its destination in your home. To compensate the utility company has to produce more just to defeat the inefficiencies of the system.

Imagine a world where people made their own clean electricity at their point of use. For such a system to remain low-cost we’d need to learn to use less power and move way from using the energy hogging appliances that grew-up dependent on fossil fuel sourced grid power. We’d also need to invest in our own off-grid systems up-front. The good news is that alternative power options are coming down in cost.

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panel – Most folks these days are familiar with this technology, panels that produce electricity when exposed to direct sunlight. For a tiny house and a frugal occupant a few solar panels, batteries, and some simple electronic control equipment may be all that’s needed for an off-grid electric system.

Wind Turbine – If you tend to stay put and live in an area with ample wind, a small wind turbine can be a great addition to an off-grid system because it increases the diversity of you power sources. Many off-grid systems also include a backup generator that is used to charge up the batteries when the sun is not shining. By adding other renewable sources of electricity, like wind and hydro, you can reduce your dependency on fossil fuel burning generators.

Micro-Hydro – If your land has water running crossing it, and you have water rights to it, you may be able to tap a small portion of it and spin a small turbine. This can be one of the most reliable and steady ways to produce electricity because as long as the water flows you have water.

All that is needed is a drop in elevation between the inlet and the turbine, some pipe, and a way to get a small portion of the water out of the stream and delivered to the tiny turbine. The inlet can simply be a submerged bucket with a pipe connected that brings the debris-free water downhill to the turbine.
Heating & Cooking Fuels

In most modern homes natural gas, propane, and heating oil are the common fuels burned. But we’re really beginning to see the true cost of using these limited natural resources. If we moved from being dependent on fossil fuels to using renewable energy sources we’d significantly reduce the risk of rising energy costs and continued environmental impacts.

Wood – Burning wood is actually a carbon neutral way of heating a home. When a tree grows it absorbs carbon. When we burn it it releases that same carbon. If we use a highly efficient wood stove in a small living space we can actually get through the winters with little environmental impact and effort. The problem with burning wood for heating a large home is that it would take acres of trees to make it sustainable. Heating a small home requires less energy input which in turn reduces the cost, impact, and effort needed to stay warm in winter.

Methane – Some inventive folks have actually built systems that produce mathane gas from their waste, both human and vegetable. It’s rare to come across this kind of a setup, and they are reportedly a bit tricky to operate, but they can provide a renewable natural gas for cooking and heating.

Alcohol – I’ve not seen this done a great deal but the idea of having a small still for distilling alcohol for burning in an alcohol stove may be a viable alternative on a small scale. I plan to use an alcohol stove in my extreme tiny house experiment, Nine Tiny Feet.
Wrapping Up

In this modern world it’s hard to imagine life without fossil fuels, flush toilets, and fresh tap water. Actually I think it’s perfectly logical to say that without these things our lives would be very different.

Tiny houses are much easier to maintain in good or tough times. Every time we take-on one more square foot, we increase the effort required to maintain our living space. Living more simply and sustainably lowers risk and can increase our opportunities to prosper.

Changing the way we think about the basics is the first step in changing the way we live. Imagining downsizing to a smaller home and owning fewer possessions is a giant step. But it’s a giant leap for most to learn to live without the reliance of modern conveniences. Most of us are still on the way there too, living with a foot in both worlds, testing the water and exploring. I hope this little introduction to alternative utilities helped move you forward.

My Tiny, Free House

Planet | Families & Homes | Simple Living

My Tiny, Free House
Michael Janzen had a big house and a big mortgage. Then the financial crisis hit, and he wondered just how small, and how cheap, a house could be.

by Michael Janzen
posted Aug 10, 2010

In 2008, as the value of my big house was evaporating and layoffs seemed to loom in the distance, I came to my senses.

I began to question the true value of a home—and the real risk of a mortgaged home. I was making a huge financial commitment but not buying the things that really matter, like security and more time with the people I love. A mortgage can buy a lot of instant luxury, but at a significant cost in time, money, and financial risk.

In short, I woke up to the reality that I had taken on too much risk during good times and was totally unprepared for tough times.
I had taken on too much risk during good times and was totally unprepared for tough times.

Armed with this better understanding of the financial risks I’d already committed to, I started looking for answers and found the tiny house movement, which offers a different way of thinking about housing.

The core values of the tiny house movement are that living simply in small spaces empowers us. Committing to a tiny house removes many of the burdens we accepted when we bought into the idea of a "normal" American lifestyle. Instead of focusing on how much we can afford, the tiny space forces us to consider how little we really need.
Building Tiny, for Free

mj1.jpg I wouldn’t have believed this scale of housing was possible until I was introduced to Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. Jay has spent years living in tiny houses smaller than 100 square feet. As I learned more about the tiny house movement and began blogging about tiny house design, I met many more people who are carving out fulfilling and happy lives through extreme downsizing.

mj3.jpg I decided to take this minimalist approach even further: to build a tiny house without it costing me anything but time and energy. I use mostly recycled materials I can get for free; any money I spend on building supplies will be recaptured by selling the free stuff I find.

mj4.jpg The house is built on a small trailer that measures about seven feet wide by 12 feet long, making the total interior space about 80 square feet. It will sleep three people, two in a loft and one on a handmade flip-out bench/bed. A small kitchen and bathroom with a composting toilet will also be included.

Most of the framing wood has come from used shipping pallets I’ve salvaged from dumpsters. Pallets aren’t very easy to build with, but it seems like poetic justice for a house that questions consumerism to be made from the very things that carried so many consumer products to market.

I’ve scored some used plywood for the sheathing and a pile of scavenged felt for the roof. I thought about collecting and flattening 200 #10 tin cans for shingles, but a stormy summer has convinced me to hold out for some scrap corrugated roofing.

Construction of my tiny house been slow going, but I couldn’t be more convinced that it’s worth it.

An Education in Independence

You can apply this kind of thinking to any size living space—it really begins with downsizing possessions, debt, and other external burdens.

With a family of three, I don’t plan to live full-time in the tiny house—it’s more of an experiment to find out if a totally free house is possible. I’m convinced, though, that the biggest impact of a tiny house is the way it changes your thinking about what you really need. You can apply this kind of thinking to any size living space—it really begins with downsizing possessions, debt, and other external burdens.

How House Size Balloned - The Righteous Small House

An architect asks, at what point does size cancel out sustainability?

When we choose to live with less, we also choose a lifestyle that requires fewer inputs and increases our immunity to outside forces, like economic turmoil.

Building the tiny house has definitely changed the way I think about my “normal-sized” house: Its upkeep and expenses keep getting in the way of things I want to do (including building the tiny house!), and it feels enormous. I look forward to the day when we’re free to make our own downsizing move—I’ve learned that a home’s value should be measured by the happiness and security it brings instead of its size and cost.

Now I feel like I’m on a path toward a more sustainable, lower-risk, and more fulfilling lifestyle. I still have a long way to go but I take comfort in the knowledge that I’m moving forward.


Janzen wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Michael is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. While he makes his living as a professional web designer, he shows others what it takes to make their own tiny house dreams come true through his blog His education is in the arts and he lived as a studio potter for several years.


* Living Large in a Tiny House
Dee Williams doesn't need a big house to be happy. Instead she found happiness in a 84-square foot house on wheels.
* How To Build A Tiny House
How Dee Williams built her Tumbleweed tiny house.
* 10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy
Scientists can tell us how to be happy. Really. Here are 10 ways, with the research to prove it.

Dilapidated 18th Century Church Transformed Into a Private Home

Dilapidated 18th Century Church Transformed Into a Private Home
by Jamie Hall, 12/23/10
filed under: Architecture

st nicholas church, kyloe northumberland england, church renovations, adaptive reuse, green renovation, green architecture, church houses, green homes, sustainable design

Adaptive reuse projects generally call to mind industrial warehouses and factories turned into trendy studios, or shabby-chic restaurants and bars, but the transformation of the St. Nicholas Church in Kyloe, Northumberland, England has taken this concept of renewal and grounded it much closer to home. The church was purchased not too long ago by Sally Onions and Ian Bottomley, who went the unconventional route when scouting for their newest digs. Far from a Norman Foster style box, or even a classic and quaint Victorian house, the duo instead opted to transform an 18th century basilica into the sanctuary they now call “home.”

The church was originally built in 1792, so the couple wanted to maintain as much of the building’s classic architecture as possible. Rather than undertaking a full-on renovation — which actually would have been cheaper — they opted to restore the key elements of the church, such as the vaulted ceilings and original stained glass windows.

While sofas and beds have replaced pews, the integrity of the architecture remains – you can even find the old cemetery within the churchyard. But don’t think the two are reading by candlelight once the sun sets — the former house of worship has evolved to accommodate contemporary living with modern appliances, fixtures, electricity, and other creature comforts.

More at

st nicholas church, kyloe northumberland england, church renovations, adaptive reuse, green renovation, green architecture, church houses, green homes, sustainable design

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Asia’s First School Made of Plastic Bottles is 3x Stronger than Concrete

These bottles are filled with adobe!

Yuka Yoneda
Asia’s First School Made of Plastic Bottles is 3x Stronger than Concrete
by Yuka Yoneda, 12/27/10
filed under: Architecture,Recycled Materials,Sustainable Building

This morning, we have another awesome project to add to our list of amazing bottle architecture - this cleverly constructed schoolhouse in San Pablo, Philippines, which happens to be the first of its kind in Asia. The innovative building was conceived and constructed by Illac Diaz and MyShelter Foundation as a way of turning a negative - an abundance of discarded plastic bottles - into a positive - a brand new place for children to get their learn on. The school is made from 1.5 and two-liter soda and water bottles filled with adobe, a combo that is relatively cheaper than concrete and - get this - is also about three times stronger!

From family homes to entire temples, we’ve seen a lot of bottle architecture here at Inhabitat, but this is the first bottle school we’ve come across, and we think it makes so much sense. Plastic bottles are every where, and until we can finally do away with them completely, why not turn them into livable, usable structures?

In order to raise awareness for the school, MyShelter Foundation organized a run in June. They also collected bottles – which most people were more than happy to get rid of – at the event. The Bottle School was constructed with the help of dozens of volunteers who secured the bottles with liquified adobe and steel bars. The site was donated by the local government of San Pablo.

“It’s very empowering because what used to be a problem is now a solution,” said Mr. Diaz about the inspiring project. Congratz to MyShelter Foundation for completing their very first Bottle School and stay tuned because word on the street is that there are many more schools like this one in the works.

Photos © Kristel Marie Fuentes Gonzales

Tags: bottle school, illac diaz, school made of bottles, my shelter foundation, myshelterfoundation, bottle house, bottle architecture, green design, eco design, sustainable design, green architecture, eco architecture


Illac Diaz - AVP My Shelter Foundation 4 min - Apr 17, 2008 - Uploaded by viker173
This project was instigated by illac Diaz to further study sustainable architecture.
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My Shelter Foundation
MyShelter Foundation aims to create a system of sustainability and replicability through its capability-building and employment generating projects.

MyShelter Foundation Creates Asia's First Plastic Bottle School ...
Dec 28, 2010 ... Developed by Illac Diaz and the MyShelter Foundation, the school is made from thousands of discarded plastic bottles that are filled with ...

Article: Earthbag House May Solve Filipino's Problems
The first three-room school that My Shelter Foundation built in Siargao, in collaboration with the Abakada Foundation (a Filipino non-government ...

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Bottle School

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brownstones Go Green in Brooklyn

Brownstones Go Green in Brooklyn

posted by Chaya, selected from Networx Dec 28, 2010 11:01 am

filed under: Conscious Consumer, Crafts & Design, Green 101, Materials & Architecture, On The Go,

Brownstones Go Green in Brooklyn

Deep in the heart of Brooklyn, NY, a green building revolution is happening. I was fortunate to visit the site of a green brownstone renovation recently. Amidst doom and gloom reports of insane global-warming-induced weather patterns, Gennaro Brooks-Church of the green building company Eco Brooklyn gave me one big dose of hope. Here’s an interview with him and photos of the site:

What’s your name and what do you do?

My name is Gennaro Brooks-Church. I’m a green builder. Eco Brooklyn started out of necessity. The company is 3 and ½ years old. I have 25 employees. The history is basically we started exploring radical building techniques and it started being desired by homeowners. What are “radical building techniques?” It’s what I call a “zero brownstone.” Zero waste, zero new materials. We build a brownstone that uses zero off-site energy.

What’s the hardest project you’ve done?

It was a retrofit where we were trying to keep the existing detail work and moldings. We were trying to air seal it and get behind it.

The brownstone's backyard in process will have native species plants.

[Pictured here: The backyard-in-progress of Gennaro's current brownstone renovation project. The native species garden will be irrigated by a greywater system.]

How many beers would it take to get you to build a McMansion?

I’d probably go unconscious before they’d get me to build it.

What’s an underappreciated building material that you like to use?

Clay. Aesthetically, it’s really nice. It’s a very natural material. We use it for walls. It has the cool effect of breathing. It absorbs and releases humidity. We use it instead of paint or plaster. It regulates humidity in the room.

[Pictured here: Gennaro with $20,000 worth of salvaged glass decking that cost him next to nothing. Gennaro says that it's important to build the deck out of glass so that light will reach the garden below.]

Say an average homeowner wants to retrofit his house to make it more green. What should he know before he starts?

His money is going to be allotted differently. A lot of the money goes to the air sealing and ventilation, and less goes to the frilly stuff like fancy moldings and Jacuzzis. What pays off in the long run? Pragmatically, what pays off is focus on energy efficiency. From a more global view, is triple bottom line. Everybody involved is focused on benefiting the people involved, the planet, and making sure that the interaction is a win-win for everyone. With triple bottom line, everybody profits – the neighbors, future generations, and all the workers.

How are workers in a green building company different?

The workers in a green building company are there for more idealistic reasons. I have really great people who could get good jobs elsewhere, but they’re working in construction because they could make a difference to the world.

Learn more about Eco Brooklyn here:

Read more:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beyond Fossil Fuels ~ Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use

New York Times - Environm
December 10, 2010
Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use

KRISTIANSTAD, Sweden — When this city vowed a decade ago to wean itself from fossil fuels, it was a lofty aspiration, like zero deaths from traffic accidents or the elimination of childhood obesity.

But Kristianstad has already crossed a crucial threshold: the city and surrounding county, with a population of 80,000, essentially use no oil, natural gas or coal to heat homes and businesses, even during the long frigid winters. It is a complete reversal from 20 years ago, when all of their heat came from fossil fuels.

But this area in southern Sweden, best known as the home of Absolut vodka, has not generally substituted solar panels or wind turbines for the traditional fuels it has forsaken. Instead, as befits a region that is an epicenter of farming and food processing, it generates energy from a motley assortment of ingredients like potato peels, manure, used cooking oil, stale cookies and pig intestines.

A hulking 10-year-old plant on the outskirts of Kristianstad uses a biological process to transform the detritus into biogas, a form of methane. That gas is burned to create heat and electricity, or is refined as a fuel for cars.

Once the city fathers got into the habit of harnessing power locally, they saw fuel everywhere: Kristianstad also burns gas emanating from an old landfill and sewage ponds, as well as wood waste from flooring factories and tree prunings.

Over the last five years, many European countries have increased their reliance on renewable energy, from wind farms to hydroelectric dams, because fossil fuels are expensive on the Continent and their overuse is, effectively, taxed by the European Union’s emissions trading system.

But for many agricultural regions, a crucial component of the renewable energy mix has become gas extracted from biomass like farm and food waste. In Germany alone, about 5,000 biogas systems generate power, in many cases on individual farms.

Kristianstad has gone further, harnessing biogas for an across-the-board regional energy makeover that has halved its fossil fuel use and reduced the city’s carbon dioxide emissions by one-quarter in the last decade.

“It’s a much more secure energy supply — we didn’t want to buy oil anymore from the Middle East or Norway,” said Lennart Erfors, the engineer who is overseeing the transition in this colorful city of 18th-century row houses. “And it has created jobs in the energy sector.”

In the United States, biogas systems are rare. There are now 151 biomass digesters in the country, most of them small and using only manure, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The E.P.A. estimated that installing such plants would be feasible at about 8,000 farms.

So far in the United States, such projects have been limited by high initial costs, scant government financing and the lack of a business model. There is no supply network for moving manure to a centralized plant and no outlet to sell the biogas generated.

Still, a number of states and companies are considering new investment.

Last month, two California utilities, Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric, filed for permission with the state’s Public Utilities Commission to build plants in California to turn organic waste from farms and gas from water treatment plants into biogas that would feed into the state’s natural-gas pipelines after purification.

Using biogas would help the utilities meet requirements in California and many other states to generate a portion of their power using renewable energy within the coming decade.

Both natural gas and biogas create emissions when burned, but far less than coal and oil do. And unlike natural gas, which is pumped from deep underground, biogas counts as a renewable energy source: it is made from biological waste that in many cases would otherwise decompose in farm fields or landfills and yield no benefit at all, releasing heat-trapping methane into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

This fall, emissaries from Wisconsin’s Bioenergy Initiative toured German biogas programs to help formulate a plan to develop the industry. “Biogas is Wisconsin’s opportunity fuel,” said Gary Radloff, the initiative’s Midwest policy director.

Like Kristianstad, California and Wisconsin produce a bounty of waste from food processing and dairy farms but an inadequate supply of fossil fuel to meet their needs. Another plus is that biogas plants can devour vast quantities of manure that would otherwise pollute the air and could affect water supplies.

In Kristianstad, old fossil fuel technologies coexist awkwardly alongside their biomass replacements. The type of tanker truck that used to deliver heating oil now delivers wood pellets, the major heating fuel in the city’s more remote areas. Across from a bustling Statoil gas station is a modest new commercial biogas pumping station owned by the renewables company Eon Energy.

The start-up costs, covered by the city and through Swedish government grants, have been considerable: the centralized biomass heating system cost $144 million, including constructing a new incineration plant, laying networks of pipes, replacing furnaces and installing generators.

But officials say the payback has already been significant: Kristianstad now spends about $3.2 million each year to heat its municipal buildings rather than the $7 million it would spend if it still relied on oil and electricity. It fuels its municipal cars, buses and trucks with biogas fuel, avoiding the need to purchase nearly half a million gallons of diesel or gas each year.

The operations at the biogas and heating plants bring in cash, because farms and factories pay fees to dispose of their waste and the plants sell the heat, electricity and car fuel they generate.

Kristianstad’s energy makeover is rooted in oil price shocks of the 1980s, when the city could barely afford to heat its schools and hospitals. To save on fuel consumption, the city began laying heating pipes to form an underground heating grid — so-called district heating.

Such systems use one or more central furnaces to heat water or produce steam that is fed into the network. It is far more efficient to pump heat into a system that can warm an entire city than to heat buildings individually with boilers.

District heating systems can generate heat from any fuel source, and like New York City’s, Kristianstad’s initially relied on fossil fuel. But after Sweden became the first country to impose a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, in 1991, Kristianstad started looking for substitutes.

By 1993, it was taking in and burning local wood wastes, and in 1999, it began relying on heat generated from the new biogas plant. Some buildings that are too remote to be connected to the district heating system have been fitted with individual furnaces that use tiny pellets that are also made from wood waste.

Burning wood in this form is more efficient and produces less carbon dioxide than burning logs does; such heating has given birth to a booming pellet industry in northern Europe. Government subsidies underwrite purchases of pellet furnaces by homeowners and businesses; pellet-fueled heat costs half as much as oil, said Mr. Erfors, the engineer.

Having dispensed with fossil fuels for heating, Kristianstad is moving on to other challenges. City planners hope that by 2020 total local emissions will be 40 percent lower than they were in 1990, and that running the city will require no fossil fuel and produce no emissions at all.

Transportation now accounts for 60 percent of fossil fuel use, so city planners want drivers to use cars that run on local biogas, which municipal vehicles already do. That will require increasing production of the fuel.

Kristianstad is looking into building satellite biogas plants for outlying areas and expanding its network of underground biogas pipes to allow the construction of more filling stations. At the moment, this is something of a chicken-and-egg problem: even though biogas fuel costs about 20 percent less than gasoline, consumers are reluctant to spend $32,000 (about $4,000 more than for a conventional car) on a biogas or dual-fuel car until they are certain that the network will keep growing.

“A tank is enough to get you around the region for the day, but do you have to plan ahead,” Martin Risberg, a county engineer, said as he filled a biogas Volvo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010, producing potable water


Please send your tax deductible donation to:
Family of the Americas Foundation
5929 Talbot Rd.
Lothian, Maryland 20711

Note: Checks payable to:
Family of The Americas Foundation
this Foundation is a 501 (c)-3

Factory Ecofiltro Antigua:
Telephone: (502) 79346208/ 79346526
Res. San Pedro Panorama, Casa 13 "A"
Antigua, Guatemala (Camino Ciudad Vieja)

Guatemala City:
10:00 to 20:00 hrs.
Tel.: (502) 22507224
C.C. Eskala Roosevelt, kiosko sótano1
Calz. Roosevelt Km. 13.8

Tel. (502) 58461836
C.C. Santa Clara, kiosko 1er. nivel
Km. 17.5 Carr. CA-9 Sur Villa Nueva

CC. Metronorte Km. 5.5 carretera al Atlántico zona 17
Teléfono: (502) 22560002 2do. Nivel


Excerpt from the article in the Revue:

The EcoFiltro has won awards for sustainable technology, now there is a need to make many more of them

written by Michael Sherer

On the outskirts of La Antigua Guatemala, set back in a corner of the 22-acre, lushly planted Finca El Pintado, is the factory that churns out daily miracles: clay pots, crafted from the best deposits from Rabinal, mixed with pine sawdust, fired in a brick kiln and then brushed with a coating of colloidal silver. There are a few more steps to this process but nothing resembling rocket science: What is this local miracle?


Invented and perfected by Dr. Fernando Mazariegos in the early 1990s, it won awards from the World Bank for sustainable technology in 2003 and 2004. Today, Philip Wilson, director of EcoFiltro, produces 2,500 filters a month, which are shipped to the four corners of the Earth. His largest client is World Vision, a Christian public service organization serving over 100 million people in over 100 countries.

The process: the clay is mixed with carefully screened pine sawdust until the proper consistency is achieved. There are three molds for the pots. The clay/sawdust mixture is poured into a mold. Squeeze gently and remove molded form. Place on drying rack. Fire in kiln. Test for porosity. Brush on the colloidal silver solution, a natural anti-bacterial, and bingo—a gravity-based filter that traps bacteria, parasitic cysts, fecal residues, smell and color. And it also removes any turbidity, which is the final taste/visual test for the recipients (clarity). Add water from any source and wait. The finished filter produces one to two liters an hour of cool, deliciously pure water.

This is a very simple but elegant approach to much of the developing world’s predicament—no access to pure, clean water. In Guatemala, for example, it is estimated that at least 75 percent of the water available to the rural areas is contaminated. For the price of an EcoFiltro, Q275 ($34.33USD), a family can have fresh water daily, eliminating the charges for bottled water indefinitely or buying wood to heat and boil water. The interior filter lasts for a year, although it has been said that it can function beyond the stated shelf life, and costs Q175 ($21.84 USD) to replace.

Today, Wilson wishes to expand and double the output. Funded by other non-profit organizations from around the world, his foundation constantly struggles to keep up with demand. Mr. Wilson, 41 and a graduate of Notre Dame and the Wharton School of Business (MBA), is looking at another location to expand. The current buildings have stacks of drying clay pots lining the yard, the halls and until lately, the roof.

“My vision,” he explained, “is to provide pure and safe drinking water to anyone and everyone who needs it. We have a simple process that is ecologically clean and green, with no moving parts and minimal maintenance and costs. Our only need is for more publicity and exposure … and a larger factory.”

His current brainstorm is to reduce what he calls the “plastic footprint” in La Antigua—the purchase and use of bottled water and the subsequent disposal of empty plastic bottles in landfills. By stationing his units in strategic locations throughout the city, offering free refills to any and all, he reckons there will be a significant reduction of plastic throwaways. Offering an immediate positive impact on the environment of La Antigua, this is a model that other cities and countries might want to consider.

A few local organizations are taking advantage of this remarkable invention. For example, the American Legion recently donated 10 large units to a nearby school. The school saves the Q1500 ($187 USD) per month that it had been spending on bottled water. ($187 is the equivalent of monthly tuition for 1.5 students.)

The filters also can be invaluable in the home when the municipal water supply is disrupted by earthquakes, hurricanes or power failures. We might not have ice when the electricity goes out but we will have fresh water from whatever water might be available.

Want to help or lend a hand? The Boy Scouts in the United States are road-testing these units on their walk-about following the Lewis and Clark expedition, and not relying on costly bottled water. Reducing the volume of plastic bottles is good for the planet and you. Contact Philip Wilson and offer your support, visit to learn more.

photos by Michael Sherer


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Plan of St. Gall monastery

The Plan of St. Gall monastery

Catherine S. Todd Mon, Nov 8, 2010 at 11:42 PM
To: Genevieve Croker

I think you are probably getting close to this, without "planting religion at the point of a sword." Amen!

Long Way Home's work might one day become a World Heritage Site as well.

St. Gall Monastry Plan
Plan Guide


The Plan of St. Gall is the earliest preserved and most extraordinary visualization of a building complex produced in the Middle Ages. Ever since the Plan was created at the monastery of Reichenau sometime in the period 819-26 A.D., it has been preserved in the
Monastic Library of St. Gall (Switzerland). Indeed, its presence there was singled out by UNESCO as a reason that the library, the repository of over 2000 late antique and medieval manuscripts, was designated a World Heritage site in 1983.

This web site, created with the financial assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by scholars at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Virginia, presents the plan, its origins, components, and notations, as well as four centuries of scholarship on the plan within the context of ninth-century material culture.

Church of the Plan

Drawn and annotated on five pieces of parchment sewn together, the St. Gall Plan is 112 cm x 77.5 cm and includes the ground plans of some forty structures as well as gardens, fences, walls, a road, and an orchard. The buildings are clearly identified by 333 inscriptions. Of course, primary among the buildings is a church (pictured above) with its scriptorium, sacristy, lodgings for visiting monks, and reception rooms. There is also a monastic dormitory, privy, laundry, refectory, kitchen, bake and brew house, guest house, abbot's residence, and an infirmary. Finally, there are numerous buildings associated with the specialized economic operations of a complex community of over 110 monks and some 150 servants and workers.

Why the Plan was created, and who is responsible for its design remain the great, unsolved enigmas of Plan scholarship. What is clear from one of the inscriptions on the Plan itself is that it was designed for Gozbert, the abbot of St. Gall (816-837 A.D.) and the person responsible for building the monastery's great Carolingian church in the 830s. But the built structure does not entirely reflect the design of the church on the Plan; and the monastery complex foreseen by the Plan could not, in any case, have been fit onto the actual terrain of St. Gall. These facts have caused scholars to see the Plan less as a blueprint commissioned by Gozbert for St. Gall than as a generic solution developed by Carolingian monastic authorities for the ideal, or typical monastery that could be built anywhere in Europe. When and why they would have done so has been the focus of Plan research during the last fifty years.

While our inability to pinpoint the Plan's author and his motivation is frustrating, the conclusion that the Plan was not created for a specific time and place paradoxically makes it more valuable: the Plan might be fairly characterized as a two-dimensional meditation on the ideal early medieval monastic community, an "objective correlative" of the Rule of St. Benedict, created at a time when monasticism was one of the dominant forms of political, economic, and cultural power in Europe.

This site will provide access to the results of our long-term project of creating an extensive data base to aid research into the Plan and Carolingian monastic culture. Besides a variety of digital representations of the plan itself, the site includes a graphic representation of how the plan was physically made, detailed information on each of the component elements of the plan, and transcriptions and translations of its inscriptions.

In addition, the site contains a series of extensive data bases including one presenting physical objects found across Europe that add to our understanding of Carolingian monasticism, one devoted to the terminology of Carolingian material culture, descriptions of all known Carolingian religious edifices, and an extensive bibliography on both the Plan itself and Carolingian monastic culture generally.

A key word search feature allows one to find linkages across the plan components and all of the other, related data bases. Finally, the web site will provide an interactive space where visitors and users can contribute to and interact with other scholars studying the Plan in the context of medieval architecture and monastic culture.

It is our hope that this complex resource will assist the continuing study of the St. Gall Monastic Plan and allow the international community of scholars to advance our understanding of this extraordinary object.


St. Gall Monastery Plan Guide

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Long Way Home ~ building with tires & bottles

One of the best videos I've seen on alternative building, in an area near us at Lake Atitlan! Can't wait to visit them at Comalapa, Guatemala in person SOON.

OnePlanetPictures | October 26, 2010

Mateo Paneitz went to Comalapa, Guatemala, in 2003 as a Peace Corps volunteer. Peneitz's desire to help this impoverished, predominantly Mayan community didn't end with his tour though. He sold his car in the USA to raise funds to found the non-profit Long Way Home to create better employment and education opportunities in Comalapa. A popular park has already been created, but the goal now is to create a mixed academic and vocational school.

The construction of the school is part of the solution - it.s built from recycled waste such as car tyres and bottles. With mountains of waste available for re-use, the project is already providing training and employment.

Nonprofits & Activism

* Sustainable development
* Business
* World Challenge
* BBC World News
* Guatemala
* Long Way Home


Ari Herzog: A Class Apart in Guatemala: Long Way Home
Oct 9, 2010 ... Competing in the BBC World Challenge with other projects in Denmark, Tanzania, Peru, Kenya, Zambia, India, the Philippines, Rwanda, ...

Long Way Home / Internships
Long Way Home is a non profit operating in Guatemala. They seek to provide an end to the cycle of poverty by empowering the community through youth programs ...
Show more results from

LONG WAY HOME. A verified US-registered nonprofit ... last year Long Way Home was able to raise over $10000 from gifts of $50 or less. LONG WAY HOME ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Long Way Home ~ building with bottle construction

Long Way Home / Welcome!

Long Way Home is a non profit operating in Guatemala. They seek to provide an end to the cycle of poverty by empowering the community through youth programs ...

alternative construction, building with recycled bottles, Guatemala, Long Way Home,, nonprofit

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Architect Ericka Temple ~ Long Way Home

Architect's drawing of the upper windows of the vocational classrooms being created with reused glass bottles. Visit Ericka's blog at for updates and installation coverage.

The solar shower is underway! Rain water from our tank is heated in black plastic tubing and attached to a standard shower head. The trash bottle and bamboo walls are complete and the earthen walls and floor are almost done. Pretty soon we’ll be bathing with hot water – yay!

And a small garden has been planted as well, with cilantro, rose mary, thai basil, onions and kale on the way. This garden will eventually be expanded and together with the tree nursery be a vital part of the school – students will learn how to grow food and trees, the veggies will provide snacks and lunches, and the excess harvest will be sold at market to keep admissions fees low.

... Work continues on the Phase I Building Manual, which will be used by LWH staff, volunteers and interns. The manual will thoroughly explain the process of the first vocational workshops and will help all people involved better understand LWH’s building practices. We are also making revisions to the site design and looking ahead to building the dry-composting latrine, completing the retaining walls and the Earthbag classrooms in 2011.

... more:

Also see: *Alternative Construction: Contemporary Natural Building Methods, edited by Lynne Elizabeth and Cassandra Adams. 2000 John Wiley&Sons, Inc.

Long Way Home, Guatemala

longwayhome100 | July 07, 2010 |

Enjoy our latest video of the construction at the Tecnico Maya Vocational School in Comalapa, Guatemala. Shown here are volunteers and staff packing rammed earth tires, pouring concrete floors and forming windows. Progress!

Guatemalan vocational school built from tires and bottles part II

longwayhome100 | May 18, 2010

Long Way Home is a small grassroots 501(c)3 non-profit organization working the rural Guatemalan community of San Juan Comalapa. LWH has been working in Comalapa since 2005 doing development projects with partner organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, Chuwi Tinamit, and AIRES. LWH offers a safe place for interns and volunteers to experience Guatemala's rich Mayan culture, learn and develop methods of alternative construction and get involved in a variety of local community projects. Our current project is the Tecnico Maya Vocational School which is built using Rammed-Earth as well as recycled materials, such as tires and bottles. For more information visit us @

Category: Nonprofits & Activism


* alternative construction
* rammed earth tires
* earthship
* Guatemala
* Comalapa
* green building
* volunteer
* intern
* international
* nonprofit
* Long Way Home
* rammed
* earth
* tecnico
* maya
* dirt


Read article on the Huffington Post:

Build houses & schools with recycled bottles

Gmail Catherine S. Todd
Construir casas y escuelas con botellas recicladas / Build houses & schools with recycled bottles [Re: reciclaje.
1 message
Catherine S. Todd Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 11:35 PM
To: Keila Buch ,
Cc: Carlos Funk , Eddy Amilcar ,

Re: and

Dear Alicia,

I translated and read the article with Google Translate. It's not a perfect translation but I can understand enough. This is exactly what we want to do! I signed myself and you up for their newsletter. I don't know if it is in English or Spanish.

I am also emailing Matthew Paneitz for more information so we can start a program like this in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, where so many houses have been lost due to the recent hurricanes, mudslides and storms. We can start with the people who have lost their houses, and work with the schools in the area to rebuild them, too.

If you come with Martin to pick me up at the airport we might be able to stop in Chimaltenango and see the program for ourselves when I return at the end of October.


Matthew Paneitz
c/o Proyecto Chuwi Tinamit
San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango
Guatemala, 01009 C.A.

Ask for more information and we can start building the posada and the Arts & Crafts school on some of my lots. I sent the info to Amilcar, the architect, too.

In Spanish:

Other names in the newspaper article is Matthew Paneitz, Peace Corps volunteer. Chimiyá ecological park, Maya Technical School, San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala, Long Way Home:

This could be great. Thank you for sending this info! Catherine Todd

Google Traducción:

Querida Alicia,

Traduje y leer el artículo con Google Translate. No es una traducción perfecta, pero puedo comprender lo suficiente. Esto es exactamente lo que queremos hacer! Me firmó y para su boletín de noticias. No sé si está en Inglés o Español.

También estoy enviando un correo electrónico Mateo Paneitz para obtener más información para que podamos iniciar un programa como este en Panajachel, Lago de Atitlán, en tantas casas se han perdido debido a los recientes huracanes, deslizamientos de tierra, y las tormentas. Podemos empezar con las personas que han perdido sus casas, y trabajar con las escuelas en el área para la reconstrucción, también.

Si viene con Martin a recogerme en el aeropuerto que puede ser capaz de detener en Chimaltenango y ver el programa por nosotros mismos cuando regrese a finales de octubre.

Póngase en contacto con:

Mateo Paneitz
c / o Proyecto Chuwi Tinamit
San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango
Guatemala, 01 009 C.A.

Solicitar más información y podemos empezar a construir la posada y la escuela de Artes y manualidades en algunos de mis lotes. Envié la información a Amilcar, el arquitecto, también.

En español:

Otros nombres en el artículo del periódico es Paneitz Mateo, voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz. Chimiyá Parque Ecológico, Maya Escuela Técnica, San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala, Long Way Home:

Esto podría ser grande. Gracias por el envío de esta información! Catherine Todd


2. A Class Apart in Guatemala: Long Way Home‎ - 12 hours ago
Long Way Home, the Guatemalan nonprofit government organization that is constructing community buildings about of tires and other rubbish for the 40000 ...
Huffington Post (blog):

Long Way Home / Welcome!
Long Way Home is a non profit operating in Guatemala. They seek to provide an end to the cycle of poverty by empowering the community through youth programs ... - Cached - Similar
Long Way Home / Projects - Parque Chimiya
Long Way Home built its first project, Parque Chimiyá , as a service to the ...

This could be great.


On Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 10:55 PM, Catherine S. Todd wrote:

FANTASTIC! Let's get started on the lots right away! I will go now and read the article. Thank you! CT

= FANTÁSTICO! Vamos a empezar a trabajar en los lotes de inmediato! Voy a ir ahora y leer el artículo. ¡Gracias! CT

2010/10/9 Keila Buch

Hola Catherine:

Que Dios te bendiga.

Temandamos este link en donde aparece la construcción de una pared de llantas de carros, o camiones, y también se puede realizar con botellas.


Alicia Can.

= Hi Catherine:

May God bless you.

Temandamos this link where it appears the construction of a wall of tires of cars, or trucks, and can also be done with bottles.

Catherine Todd
3007 Bent Tree Dr. Oxford NC 27565
H 919.693.0853 U.S. cell 919.605.0727

"The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need do is set our sails."
"Los vientos del golpe de gracia todo el tiempo. Todo lo que necesitamos hacer es establecer nuestras velas."

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine

"Peace and justice are goals for man." - Martin Luther King


Guatemalan Arts & Crafts (GAC)
Panajachel, Lake Atitlan
Guatemala cell (dial 011 from the U.S.):
(502) 5013.6300

Build with recycled bottles, tires for walls & houses

Construir con botellas recicladas, los neumáticos de los muros y casas

On Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 10:55 PM, Catherine S. Todd wrote:

FANTASTIC! Let's get started on the lots right away! I will go now and read the article. Thank you! CT

= FANTÁSTICO! Vamos a empezar a trabajar en los lotes de inmediato! Voy a ir ahora y leer el artículo. ¡Gracias! CT

2010/10/9 Keila Buch

Hola Catherine:

Que Dios te bendiga.

Temandamos este link en donde aparece la construcción de una pared de llantas de carros, o camiones, y también se puede realizar con botellas.


Alicia Can.

= Hi Catherine:

May God bless you.

Temandamos this link where it appears the construction of a wall of tires of cars, or trucks, and can also be done with bottles.



Programa de reciclaje compite a nivel mundial
Un innovador proyecto de reciclaje que se desarrolla en San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, está nominado entre 12 finalistas de un concurso mundial de la BBC World News.

POR KAREN MUÑOZ Chimaltenango

El proyecto es impulsado por la asociación Long Way Home, y ha recibido el aplauso de ciudadanos que piden se replique en otros lugares del país.

Durante más de un mes, quienes deseen podrán sumar votos para el proyecto “Una clase aparte”, que promueve el reciclaje de botellas plásticas y llantas, a fin de que sean transformados en material para construir viviendas en la comunidad, donde ya se ha abierto un parque con ese modelo y se edificará una escuela.

La historia del proyecto se remonta al 2002, cuando Mateo Paneitz, voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz, llegó al mencionado municipio y se encontró con una experiencia desagradable, todos tiraban la basura al río, incluso él.

Ello sirvió de reflexión para que los voluntarios estadounidenses analizaran cómo cambiar las costumbres de los comunitarios.

En los comienzos, Paneitz se asoció con una organización local para abrir el parque ecológico Chimiyá, al cual se puede ingresar con solo llevar una botella plástica llena de basura.

Esa materia prima ha permitido erigir edificios con desechos reciclados. Ahora prevén ampliar la aplicación del reciclaje en la construcción de la Escuela Técnica Maya, en donde se impartirán los niveles de primaria y secundaria, además de talleres de artes y oficios, y podría estar terminada en el 2012.

La oportunidad para votar por este proyecto comenzó desde el 27 de septiembre último y concluirá el 12 de noviembre. Los ganadores del certamen internacional serán anunciados el 4 de diciembre.

Los proyectos finalistas serán presentados en la página de la BBC World News, en seis programas de 30 minutos. Además, se incluirán las historias en la revista estadounidense Newsweek.

Al conocer el proyecto que se realiza en San Juan Comalapa, los guatemaltecos felicitan a Long Way Home e instan a que esa acción se concrete “en otros departamentos, para limpiar nuestro país”.


14:00hs | 09.10.2010 |

vos rene castillo este es un diario en espanol vos y tu estupido ingles a la v@#$#

Votar Negativo Positivo


ronny pinzon

18:09hs | 09.10.2010 |

Que buena idea, siempre e pensado de que de las cosas malas, se sacan las buenas, tenemos tanta basura en nuestro pais, que a esta persona se le encendio el bombillo con una gran idea, felicitasiones eso es lo que necesita nuestro pais, cosas buenas, creo que si se puede, aunque no gane un premio a nivel mundial, ya gano con los guatemaltecos, usted sembro la semilla y mirara el fruto de su cosecha, estoy seguro que muchas personas lo imitaran.

Votar Negativo Positivo



20:35hs | 09.10.2010 |

este proyecto ya existía creo que solo lo estan copiando, :P


Google (rought) translation:


Recycling program competes globally
An innovative recycling project that takes place in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, is named among 12 finalists in a worldwide competition of the BBC World News.

BY KAREN MUÑOZ Chimaltenango

The project is promoted by the Association Long Way Home, and has received applause from citizens asking to be replicated elsewhere in the country.

For more than a month, those who wish can add votes to the project "a separate class, which promotes recycling of plastic bottles and tires to be transformed into material for building homes in the community, which has already been opened a park with that model and build a school.

The project history dates back to 2002, when Matthew Paneitz, Peace Corps volunteer, arrived in that municipality and found an unpleasant experience, all the garbage thrown into the river, including him.

This served as a reflection to analyze American volunteers changing the customs of the community.

In the beginning, Paneitz was associated with a local organization to open the Chimiyá ecological park, which you can enter with just carry a plastic bottle full of garbage.

This raw material has to erect buildings with recycled waste. Now plan to expand the implementation of recycling in the construction of the Maya Technical School, where he taught the primary and secondary levels, as well as arts and crafts workshops, and could be completed in 2012.

The opportunity to vote for this project started from 27 last September and end on 12 November. The international competition winners will be announced on 4 December.

The finalists will be presented on the website of the BBC World News, in six 30 minute programs. In addition, the stories included in Newsweek magazine.

Knowing the project that took place in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemalans congratulate Long Way Home and urge that concrete action "in other departments to clean up our country."


14:00 pm | 09.10.2010 |

rene castle you this is a diary in Spanish you and your stupid English to v @ # $ #

Positive Negative Vote


ronny pinzon

18:09 pm | 09.10.2010 |

What a great idea, and always thought that the bad things, they take the good, we have so much trash in our country, that a person is lit the bulb with a great idea, felicitasiones that is what our country needs things Well, I think if you can, but not win a global prize, and won with the Guatemalans, you planted the seed and looked at the fruit of their harvest, I'm sure many people will follow suit.

Positive Negative Vote



20:35 pm | 09.10.2010 |

this project and I think there are just copying what: P

Friday, September 17, 2010

Solar-Powered Camera Strap ~

Don’t Miss a Shot With This Solar-Powered Camera Strap
by Cameron Scott, 06/29/10,
filed under: Greener Gadgets, Solar Power, green technology

weng jie, solar power, greener gadgets, solar camera strap, digital photography, solar powered electronics

Digital cameras have made photography much more sustainable, and rechargeable batteries are a great eco-advantage too. But photography is the art of light, so what better way to run your camera than on the power of the sun? This new solar strap from designer Weng Jie lets you do just that.

weng jie, solar power, greener gadgets, solar camera strap, digital photography, solar powered electronics

The Solar Camera Strap makes stopping to change batteries as “last year” as putting in a new roll of film. The only trouble, as Wired’s gadget lab notes, is that the straps feed directly into the battery port, making it impossible to have a battery in place as a back-up power supply. But as long as the sun’s out, you can keep firing with your camera securely around your neck, and it looks pretty nifty too.

Via Yanko Design

Read more: Don't Miss a Shot With This Solar-Powered Camera Strap! | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World


Note: Maybe we can make the camera straps and Yanko Design can make the solar cells... it's worth a try.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution

The New York Times

September 13, 2010
3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution

SAN FRANCISCO — Businesses in the South Park district of San Francisco generally sell either Web technology or sandwiches and burritos. Bespoke Innovations plans to sell designer body parts.

The company is using advances in a technology known as 3-D printing to create prosthetic limb casings wrapped in embroidered leather, shimmering metal or whatever else someone might want.

Scott Summit, a co-founder of Bespoke, and his partner, an orthopedic surgeon, are set to open a studio this fall where they will sell the limb coverings and experiment with printing entire customized limbs that could cost a tenth of comparable artificial limbs made using traditional methods. And they will be dishwasher-safe, too.

“I wanted to create a leg that had a level of humanity,” Mr. Summit said. “It’s unfortunate that people have had a product that’s such a major part of their lives that was so underdesigned.”

A 3-D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material — typically plastic or metal — on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.

The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes.

These days it is giving rise to a string of never-before-possible businesses that are selling iPhone cases, lamps, doorknobs, jewelry, handbags, perfume bottles, clothing and architectural models. And while some wonder how successfully the technology will make the transition from manufacturing applications to producing consumer goods, its use is exploding.

A California start-up is even working on building houses. Its printer, which would fit on a tractor-trailer, would use patterns delivered by computer, squirt out layers of special concrete and build entire walls that could be connected to form the basis of a house.

It is manufacturing with a mouse click instead of hammers, nails and, well, workers. Advocates of the technology say that by doing away with manual labor, 3-D printing could revamp the economics of manufacturing and revive American industry as creativity and ingenuity replace labor costs as the main concern around a variety of goods.

“There is nothing to be gained by going overseas except for higher shipping charges,” Mr. Summit said.

A wealth of design software programs, from free applications to the more sophisticated offerings of companies including Alibre and Autodesk, allows a person to concoct a product at home, then send the design to a company like Shapeways, which will print it and mail it back.

“We are enabling a class of ordinary people to take their ideas and turn those into physical, real products,” said J. Paul Grayson, Alibre’s chief executive. Mr. Grayson said his customers had designed parts for antique cars, yo-yos and even pieces for DNA analysis machines.

“We have a lot of individuals going from personal to commercial,” Mr. Grayson said.

Manufacturers and designers have used 3-D printing technology for years, experimenting on the spot rather than sending off designs to be built elsewhere, usually in Asia, and then waiting for a model to return. Boeing, for example, might use the technique to make and test air-duct shapes before committing to a final design.

Depending on the type of job at hand, a typical 3-D printer can cost from $10,000 to more than $100,000. Stratasys and 3D Systems are among the industry leaders. And MakerBot Industries sells a hobbyist kit for under $1,000.

Moving the technology beyond manufacturing does pose challenges. Customized products, for example, may be more expensive than mass-produced ones, and take longer to make. And the concept may seem out of place in a world trained to appreciate the merits of mass consumption.

But as 3-D printing machines have improved and fallen in cost along with the materials used to make products, new businesses have cropped up.

Freedom of Creation, based in Amsterdam, designs and prints exotic furniture and other fixtures for hotels and restaurants. It also makes iPhone cases for Apple, eye cream bottles for L’Oreal and jewelry and handbags for sale on its Web site.

Various designers have turned to the company for clothing that interlaces plastic to create form-hugging blouses, while others have requested spiky coverings for lights that look as if they could be the offspring of a sea urchin and a lamp shade.

“The aim was always to bring this to consumers instead of keeping it a secret at NASA and big manufacturers,” said Janne Kyttanen, 36, who founded Freedom of Creation about 10 years ago. “Everyone thought I was a lunatic when we started.”

His company can take risks with “out there” designs since it doesn’t need to print an object until it is ordered, Mr. Kyttanen said. Ikea can worry about mass appeal.

LGM, based in Minturn, Colo., uses a 3-D printing machine to create models of buildings and resorts for architectural firms.

“We used to take two months to build $100,000 models,” said Charles Overy, the founder of LGM. “Well, that type of work is gone because developers aren’t putting up that type of money anymore.”

Now, he said, he is building $2,000 models using an architect’s design and homegrown software for a 3-D printer. He can turn around a model in one night.

Next, the company plans to design and print doorknobs and other fixtures for buildings, creating unique items. “We are moving from handcraft to digital craft,” Mr. Overy said.

But Contour Crafting, based in Los Angeles, has pushed 3-D printing technology to its limits.

Based on research done by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California, Contour Crafting has created a giant 3-D printing device for building houses. The start-up company is seeking money to commercialize a machine capable of building an entire house in one go using a machine that fits on the back of a tractor-trailer.

The 3-D printing wave has caught the attention of some of the world’s biggest technology companies. Hewlett-Packard, the largest paper-printer maker, has started reselling 3-D printing machines made by Stratasys. And Google uses the CADspan software from LGM to help people using its SketchUp design software turn their creations into 3-D printable objects.

At Bespoke, Mr. Summit has built a scanning contraption to examine limbs using a camera. After the scan, a detailed image is transmitted to a computer, and Mr. Summit can begin sculpting his limb art.

He uses a 3-D printer to create plastic shells that fit around the prosthetic limbs, and then wraps the shells in any flexible material the customer desires, be it an old bomber jacket or a trusty boot.

“We can do a midcentury modern or a Harley aesthetic if that’s what someone wants,” Mr. Summit said. “If we can get to flexible wood, I am totally going to cut my own leg off.”

Mr. Summit and his partner, Kenneth B. Trauner, the orthopedic surgeon, have built some test models of full legs that have sophisticated features like body symmetry, locking knees and flexing ankles. One artistic design is metal-plated in some areas and leather-wrapped in others.

“It costs $5,000 to $6,000 to print one of these legs, and it has features that aren’t even found in legs that cost $60,000 today,” Mr. Summit said.

“We want the people to have input and pick out their options,” he added. “It’s about going from the Model T to something like a Mini that has 10 million permutations.”

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