Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nature + 21st Century = We Have the Technology

Technology has been getting a bad rap these days. People are becoming disconnected from each other, kids are being raised on television and learning bad "IM-ing" grammar, and humans are creating pollution of all sorts at alarming rates. Oh yes, and we are running out of potable water. It seems that while a return to nature might be necessary to heal many of these woes, this solution by itself is not altogether practical. Instead, it is clear that it is time to look to the wisdom of nature and the innovation of technology for answers to pressing environmental problems.

The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York has done just that. The Institute broke ground earlier this month on the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. The Center, which will include a constructed wetland, classroom, greenhouse, water garden, and laboratory, will get all of its water from collected rain, employ a roof garden and geothermal technology to help regulate the temperature of the building, and generate electricity through the use of photovoltaic panels. According to Executive Director Skip Backus, "For thirty years Omega has been a leader in holistic, sustainable living. As an environmental steward, Omega is launching the center to address a growing concern – the lack of fresh, clean water.”

Everyone's Digging the New Center!
(Photo by, Andy Milford, courtesy of Omega Institute)

One of the most impressive features of the new building is the Eco Machine, a state-of-the-art water filtration/recycling system. It will have the capability to recycle 35,000-40,000 gallons of wastewater into clean water each day using plants, bacteria, algae, snails, and fungi. According to John Todd, the initial developer of the technology used to construct the Eco Machine, "The Omega Center for Sustainable Living will be the first education center of its kind in the United States to combine the latest in green building and wastewater treatment technologies under one roof. It will be built with the most cutting edge technology currently available and will demonstrate how we can live in harmony with nature rather than destroying it."

Sounds like a good plan to me.

For more information on how the Eco Machines work and for other innovative water planning ideas, visit John Todd Ecological Design.

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