Open Eco Design

Open Eco Design is About Biomimicry

There is a very important and creative step that is now possible: it is to complete the synthesis of the ecological life support systems, called Open Eco Design with the Sola Roof structures. This will result in home and community designs that provide for self reliant living. There are many individuals with knowledge and experience of the various subsystems of this "holistic approach", such as the Living Machine methods for Bio Digestion?, various Aqua Culture? and Bio Ponic and Organic Growing? technologies. All these methods can be implemented within the Solar Controlled Environment of the living structures and the Sola Roof Garden and Phytotechnology Biomass Systems use the roof area - requiring no land at all. However, there will be some external land use - but not for mono crop production and Chemical Dependent Agriculture - rather, we will use much less land area for intensive Integrated Farming And Waste Managment Systems as well as Perma Culture?.

The benefit of the residential Open Eco Center projects would be to bring several of these systems together to fully express this new pattern. The experience developed from smaller residential projects will lead in to success with larger community projects. The key characteristic of Open Eco Design is the transparent building envelope. This permits the building to directly capture solar energy. While we are familiar with such structures as greenhouses and although "Crystal Palaces" were built and we have glass office towers and Eden Projects we must remember that "glazing systems" are a tremendous evolutionary step in building design. It is also necessary to step back and see that our building construction and engineering professionals have adapted in an adhoc way to the use of transparent construction methods over many decades. Only in the last half century has the large scale use of glass in greenhouse construction and other applications grown into a specialized industry. The technological progress of float glass production, tempering glass and the emergence of transparent plastic films, fiberglass and other recent developments of clear coated fabrics and laminates are very recent and form the basis of this revolution in design.

People have been growing plants inside these transparent structures for several generations; however our understanding of life science and ecological life support systems is at a very early stage. We have not understood the power of living plants to transform solar radiant energy - and engineers are generally ignorant of the phytomechanisms of plants. Climate control of these existing glazed spaces, including the greenhouse industry has been provided with mechanical methods and structural design – windows to open, forced ventilation and lately air-conditioning. Control and modulation of solar radiation entering through the glazing is absent, but there are various shutters, blinds and curtains. Existing glazing methods have little to no insulation properties. There are tremendous cooling and heating problems with existing commercial technologies. Performance of windows, even advanced double and triple glazing, is so poor that modern building codes severely restrict the window area which is permitted in residential and industrial/commercial applications. These problems have not been overcome on a small scale or a large scale and are the reason for the limited use of so called “passive solar” design.

But now there is the Blue Green solution that have been demonstrated - Blue for Water Working and Green for Living Plants?. The Sola Roof Liquid Solar methods circulate water based liquid to a transparent building envelope,which has double or triple layers with one or two cavity spaces formed between the layers. Each layer is a simple single glazing and can be applied to various structural systems. I have worked with deep, light aluminum joists to build a Wide Span structure and we are also developing a simplified Space Frame? technology. These framing systems are ideal for transparent roof systems and are very efficient and cost effective. They produce minimum structural shading and maximize the utilization of solar energy. The framing members provide effective structural attachment of Sola Fabric covering material, which are laminate scrims or coated fabrics that are very lightweight and can be selected with properties that are required for any building application.

These modular structures and transparent envelopes simplify the creation of the roof and wall cavity spaces where the liquid solar processes operate to conserve and capture thermal solar gain and to regulate the climate within the transparent envelope. Important developments in materials technology have been made recently using coated glass Sola Fabric sheet material that is UV stable, noncombustible, extremely strong and has a high transparency to the entire solar spectrum. These materials can even be laminated with thin amorphous film Photo Voltaic sheet material to make a transparent photovoltaic roof.

Ideally all of the energy spectrum will be utilized: the UV and blue is converted by photovoltaics to electricity; some blue and most of the red spectrum is converted by photosynthesis into plant growth; the cool, shaded daylight that enters the building through the roof level leaf canopy is used to reduce the need for artificial light; and the infrared and re-radiated long wave thermal radiation is absorbed by the liquid cooled building envelope and is rejected to water thermal mass or stored for space heating over cold nights. Most of the thermal energy is transferred to the liquid cooled inner glazing by the condensation of transpired vapor that is emitted by the leaf canopy. The low grade (low temperature) thermal storage can be efficiently used for space heating on cold nights by distribution of liquid thermal mass energy into the building envelope with the Liquid Bubble Tech? methods.

All of these thermal management processes in the building envelope are based on the use of the new Sola Roof Liquid Solar and the Liquid Bubble Tech? processes. These liquid solar energy systems are not well known and have not been extensively studied but have operated very effectively in several prototype and demonstration buildings from small to relatively large (12,000 sq.ft.) scale. A COP of 100 to 50 is possible, where the highest efficiencies are possible at sites where good aquifer cooling sinks can be accessed, including ocean (the Pacific Ocean coastline of the USA for example), lake and groundwater resources. These Cold Water Resources have been well proven by the Common Heritage Corporation of Hawaii who have implemented both ocean and lake based cooling projects (the campus of Cornell University for example).

When it comes to solar energy, the energy industry is primarily focused on Photo Voltaic technology but green plants are the most accessible, low cost and efficient means of converting solar energy to stored energy in the form of biomass. Photo Synthesis? is able not only to convert solar radiation but to store the energy from the biomass in the form of very clean burning Bio Fuels?. All such energy transformation takes CO 2 from the atmosphere, which no other energy cycle can achieve. When plants are grown in enriched CO 2 atmosphere spaces then they can convert solar radiation at very high rates (say 20 times better than the best agricultural crop and 50 times better than the fastest growing tree crops). Urban areas developed with the Sola Roof construction will not contribute to Global Warming or local Heat Island Effect? that is typical of cities, nor is there loss of "green space".

Simple aquatic plants such as duckweed, halophytes (saltwater greens) and algae can convert solar radiation into stored hydrocarbon energy at a rate as high (10 to 20%) as the best PV cells (which require costly storage batteries). What is more exciting is these conversion systems, PV (Photovoltaic) and PS (Photo Synthesis?), use different portions of the solar spectrum and we can get both results concurrently. By also capturing the invisible "heat energy" of the sun with our transparent (to the visible spectrum) envelope and the liquid (soap solution) solar cooling process (liquid is distributed as a thin film to cool the inner glazing layer) we assure that only 1 to 2 percent of the cooling or heating load is consumed as electrical power (to drive the circulation pumps and blowers for blowing the liquid bubbles).

If our homes and residences were universally built with the solar roof garden roof construction then a truly massive reduction in global warming would be possible. Using plants on roofs is not a new idea but we are implementing this concept in a completely new way. Our roofs are transparent and the leaf canopy is some ten times better than the best "cool roof" technology that is currently the state of the art. We can create modular Eco Home?, Eco Villa? and Eco Village building blocks for large scale Eco Community? projects such as would be appropriate for the Eco City? paradigm.

A workshop could hammer out the design approach and even build a module that would give hands on experience for all the participants. A small scale project could quickly become a living laboratory for a group of individuals or a family. Many individuals could come and integrate more components and systems or improve existing functions and performance and do this while living in the residential module. I am ready to do my part to build such a project and to work with your team on an ongoing basis to expand and develop the project. I would want to see the project as the hub of an Open Source collaboration that would give full disclosure and accessibility to a worldwide collaborative community. Thus we can expect a multitude of similar projects to spring up around the world. I say that it is about time that we mobilize our full resources and move as quickly as possible to address the urgent needs of people and the planet before it is too late.