Sola Roof Guy Revolutions 06

This is a message for my theme during 2006, which is written very late in the year. This is partly due to the Eco Shelter project moving slowly and the need to refocus on the key issues for Human Habitat, not only for disaster but for transition to Sustainable Living. The vision is that we are all in need of a new communities and dwelling that are establshed on a new pattern. Those who have nothing should not be encouraged to duplicate the old patterns. Those rising up out of disaster and extreme poverty should have the advantage of getting established in a way of life and lifestyle that leads to self reliance and not get hooked on aid dependency in much the same way that unsustainable world is hooked on consumption and growth.

The theme therefore is to develop and gain experience with Ecological Habitat For Humanity?. Below is an introduction to the concept, which is much wider in scope than specialized projects like "solar greenhouses" and needs to draw in many holistic solutions for Eco Living.

Revolutions 06: Ecological Habitat For Humanity?

by Richard Nelson, July 2006

The landscape of an urban environment is a vast expanse of roof area, which together with roadways and other paved areas, are responsible for the “Heat Island Effect?” of cities. In high density communities there is little common space or open space that can be used as “green space”, since the economics of “land value” dictate in favour of dense human habitation including utilitarian and commercial use of all of the available space. Although mature trees in urban developments can be a great value they are difficult to establish and to closely integrate with existing urban patterns. It is common place to first “clear the land” of trees, removing even topsoil, as a first step in the building development process.

Urban planners seek to remedy this situation by imposing “green space” and “green belts” in and around the urban development. However, much of the rapid process of urbanization going on is not subject to control of planners and is happening in the poor communities and slums of the developing world. With land at a premium and no economic incentive to provide green space as a relief from the harsh reality of city streets, it means that millions will suffer from an absence of nature; its beauty, harmony and the environmental benefits and resources that plants can bring to our lives.

My observation is that the previous approaches to greening of the urban environment have been developed in the affluent west and are land based parklands and gardens. Also, they are ornamental in style and have little practical benefit to the human habitat into which they are “inserted”. This planning approach is a further expression that nature is thought to be external to the built environment; in the rural countryside. Cities have always imposed a large “footprint” on the rural lands to provide the needed water and agro resources for life support but now it is possible to foresee human habitat that would make cities themselves more self reliant and able to provide food, water and energy from within their boundaries and thereby reduce the carrying capacity burden on the surrounding countryside.

A “closed ecological life support system” (CELSS) for city and village development has the purpose that all communities, both urban and rural, will feed people, collect, purify and conserve water and produce an abundance of renewable energy through the powerful Phytomechanisms of plants. Such important breakthroughs will be obtained through the fusion of ecological systems and “living structures” that will bring plants into a central role the human habitat and result in an Ecological Habitat For Humanity?.

I have developed a specific approach to the delivery of such Ecological Habitat? for communities, urban as well as rural village development – this is a technology that has been known for some years now as the Sola Roof technology; Sola Roof has been applied successfully to greenhouse structures in Northern and Temperate climates (See attached PDF, “Sola Roof Concepts”). The goal is to pioneer a simplified version of the Sola Roof – adapted for the temperate & Mediterranean climates – this system is known as the Sola Roof Garden and is used where complete enclosure of the plant growing environment is not required. In all climates there can be a combination of full Sola Roof closed controlled environments and the open atmosphere Sola Roof Garden.

The objective of this proposal is to organise support for the development and demonstration of the use of the Sola Roof Garden in a low cost residential community development in temperate South Africa? that would clearly show the advantages of building on the Ecological Habitat? paradigm. A further objective is to adapt the Sola Roof Garden to the tropical site in The Gambia? where an Ecotourism development is planned. The low cost housing in South Africa and the Ecotourism development in The Gambia? are to be implemented immediately and serve as an avenue for rapid demonstration and diffusion of the new technology.

My company, Life Synthesis will supply the necessary expertise to implement these projects, which we see as a “transitional shelter system”. The transition that we are enabling is from a non-sustainable lifestyle to an Eco Living lifestyle, which is inclusive of several solutions for sustainable living. In combination these solutions result in a holistic synthesis of knowledge that is expressed in the form of technology, which healthy and restorative of the balance and harmony between the natural ecology and the man made human habitat.

The further goal is see that the Sola Roof & Sola Roof Garden methods of construction are able to find an appropriate use in the developing world where the effects of Global Warming are bound to increase an already fast expanding use of electrical power for cooling of buildings. The projects that are planned will demonstrate a much higher efficiency in cooling buildings by the using the shading of plant leaf canopies. Such shade has the advantage of the transpiration cooling mechanism of plants to reduce the solar overheating of roofs by an order of magnitude and while the water working principles of Sola Roof design can minimise the consumption of water for plant growth.

Thus food, feed and fibre is also a productive result of the Ecological Habitat? system and it is a UN goal to increase food security in communities and to establish the systems for “Cities feeding people”. Food quality is also assured and spoilage, waste and food miles are greatly reduced. Employment in the community is created and money circulates within the community economy.