The goal of this project is to produce a paradigm shift both in the first and third world with regard to housing. This structure is a prototype of a new type of house that will feed and house a family of four. Fruits and Vegetables are organically grown primarily with hydroponics which uses only 3% the water of outdoor soil culture. In the very front lowest level, soil culture is used for root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, onions, beets, and carrots. Aquaculture is used to raise fish which provide long chain fatty acids necessary for optimum human health as well as high quality protein.
The house is passively heated and cooled. Misters are used in the greenhouse area along with ventilation to cool the greenhouse which has a substantial amount of excess solar gain during sunny days even in winter. The rock storage area acts as a heat sink for cooling or a heat storage medium for heating during winter nights and cloudy winter days.
Sanitation is via a anaerobic methane generating septic system which in conjunction with a fuel cell, can convert some of the waste into usable electricity. Solar panels also provide additional electricity. Two way satellite communication allows high speed internet and communication even in remote isolated environments.
I will be constructing a full size prototype on my property and I will use the vegetables, fruits and fish I cultivate. I hope to have the greenhouse completed and producing crops by the end of 2003, however it will likely take two years to work our the bugs with the structure and the associated systems and learn the lessons only actual experience can teach. The results from the prototype structure will be made available to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, who's current focus is primarily on housing.
The living area will be quite small by western standards, only 768 square feet. Creative design and multi-use chameleon rooms that are offices by day, bedrooms by night make far more effective use of the space and give the house a feel which is much larger. The enclosed greenhouse has 768 square feet of hydroponic and root crop culture area . The aquaculture tanks are in the same area as the hydroponics and co-exist in the same space.
If the third world with its billions of people are brought into the 2,000's with the current housing paradigms, I fear the impact upon the planet will be catastrophic. One must consider the cost and impact of transportation of humans, transportation and storage of food and the subsequent refrigeration requirements to get an idea of how large a scale such a change in housing would go to reduce the negative impact of development on the environment.
Also, even in the first world, families have to pay for food and shelter with after tax dollars. They must earn $1.50 to $2.00 pre-tax dollars for every dollar they spend on food, energy costs and shelter. Growing their own produce removes them from Uncle Sam's tax system and allows a family to eat healthier and spend more time at home, possibly even working strictly from home further reducing transportation costs which are also paid for with after tax dollars. This would be sort of a return to the "family farm" lifestyle that existed not so very long ago. I feel it would help preserve the family unit and allow parents to spend more time with their children.
I am fortunate to have Raymond Bridwell as my primary consultant on the hydroponics. Raymond is one of the two foremost hydroponics experts in the US and was involved in the DisneyWorld Epcot Center Kraft "Land" This should be a fun project, and who knows, it may be just the house I build when I move to Hawaii in a few years.
Here to See Current Progress of the Actual Prototype GreenHouse
More Crop Pictures Problems and Lessons Page