Dear Chris,

I am a Canadian inventor and I have developed low-cost solutions for shelter systems that provide low-energy heating and cooling that would be ideal for transitional shelters which would enable disaster victims to rebuild communities. What is so unique about our Open Source Sola Roof technology is its capacity to sustain comfortable controlled environment that is concurrently very effective for production of fresh food, pure water and clean energy.

The current commercial application for the Sola Roof technology is the adaptation of greenhouse structures to the Sola Roof technology. However, this industry is very conservative and while I have been expending much time and money on this commercial development, I have been aware that my innovative "Eco Dynamic" system, which uses a low tech solution for heating and cooling - Liquid Bubble Insulation - used on winter nights for heating and on hot days for shading & cooling. For transitional dwellings and community Eco Shelter projects, which are similar in principle to greenhouses but provide energy efficient processes for abundant plant growth and algae production. Plants also treat, clean and completely purify water resources, while at the same time utilizing the organic nutrients. Organic wastes are recycled through Bio Digester processes to create Bio Gas for clean fuel, liquid digestate for organic food crops, and organic solids that go to soil conditioning. The concurrent production of algae biomass with food crops provides abundant organic nutrients and energy without need of costly synthetic fertilizer inputs.

Our technology is so simple, efficient and low tech that it is very disruptive to the very industries that could benefit most from our know-how. Therefore the commercial sectors of producers and manufacturers have actually been resistant to the take up of the Sola Roof technology.

Therefore I would like to explore the use of Sola Roof for emergency relief and for transitional shelters that enable community rebuilding on a sustainable basis. The Sola Roof shelter system puts to work living plants because plants are very effective at conversion of solar energy by two principle phytomechanisms: 1) photosynthesis, which converts most of the visible solar spectrum to carbohydrates, and 2) transpiration, which converts thermal energy to hidden heat of vapor.

The Sola Roof process of "Controlled Environment" condenses and collects the water transpired by the plants. This water is equivalent to distilled water in its purity. Additionally, the root zone of plants and aquatic plants will take up nutrients from treated water and destroy pollutants like harmful bacteria. After liquid and solid wastes are treated in the Bio Digester, the nutrient rich liquid digestate is supplied to the algae production and the output of this system is fed to aquatic and floatation growing systems for both feed and food production. Thus, our natural and highly nitrified food growing is, at the same time, an integrated system for the recycling and use of human and animal excrement and organic waste. All green waste (non-edible plant material, spoiled food etc) can also feed into the Bio Digester system, which also increases the supply of Bio Gas. The energy output, in the form of the Bio Gas and vegetable oil (from algae and other crops), will exceed the energy demand for systems operation by a large factor.

The shelters currently provided for disaster relief and ongoing climate crisis is very primitive and modern materials technology and bio-science can push the envelope of what is possible in the context of a community that has been wiped-out. In such circumstance we can highly recommend an approach that is based on Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (like the NASA programs) because such systems are by definition self-regenerating, which means that communities gain a know-how that generates self-reliance. Sustainable communities could thus emerge out of such crisis. Dependency on long term aid will be reduced and recovery of confidence and dignity would be within reach. Communities that go through such a transformation will be able to offer skills and training to other victims of disaster and also to communities struggling with poverty and climate change.

Our Sola Roof technology is Open Source (under our Creative Commons Public License framework) and freely available for DIY use and I hope to see the same DIY kits supplied to humanitarian projects in devastated communities using a social enterprise model, where the profit of these operations are dedicated to a "Pay It Forward", a non-profit scheme of project replication. This is a pro-active approach to poverty elimination by the poor themselves who are helped by our DIY global community and donors to get the kits and the know-how. And down the road those who have been helped are able to help others to do the same.

I propose a few exemplar projects - for example, I am convinced that we can implement such a project in Haiti, and when the benefits are demonstrated I am certain that replication will expand rapidly. I live in Montreal where we have one of the largest populations of expatriate Haitians and additionally the Federal and Quebec governments are making substantial contributions to relief and to the long term rebuilding of Haiti.

However, when I propose such technologically advanced response to such critical situations, there is a general feeling that this is an effort to use the urgency of the situation to promote an activity that is remote from the "victims" and will not actually bring relief and benefit to the "people on the ground". This is far from the truth and I do promise that in terms of my Sola Roof technology we can go direct to project implementation, and any "development costs" that might exist will be covered by corporate partners. Nor is the exemplar project too "experimental" - we actually can make reliable and substantial improvements in food nutrition and water and energy supply that will continue as a self-reliant capability, without the constant resupply by importation of basic life support resources.

I came to know about your Fritz Institute through an article in the May issue of Wired. The benefit of your high-tech software was highlighted and in the same issue was an article about the culture and status of the Hacker community (Geek Power). I invite the high-tech community to step up and apply the Hacker values and organize action to fix what is clearly broken and failing technology in relation to access to clean water, nutritious food, clean energy and affordable shelter for the marginalized poor and homeless.

We have an urgent need to call an O'Reilly Foo Camp style project, supported by people like Paul Graham who Wired quotes as saying the search is for "world hackers", people "who understand not only how to mess with computers but how to mess with everything". Can Geek Power now focus on "the actual stuff - taking the same tear-it-down-and-build-it-anew" attitude to the challenges that now face the world. In fact the same article continues with a prediction that biotech is the next big thing and I suggest that our new Eco Dynamic design paradigm is a key area for breakthroughs.

Sola Roof can enable the Eco Dynamic breakthroughs that can save lives of millions and restore community self-reliance and dignity to those rebuilding from disaster, for those who have "nothing". Because in our paradigm, even the poorest have access to sunlight and the knowledge to work with water and plants/algae to produce needed life support resources. A one time investment in the right tool - Sola Roof Controlled Environment structures - will contribute to build sustainable and prosperous communities even in difficult circumstances and these people can Pay It Forward in a global Open Eco Community that is not profit motivated but rather seeking to rescue and restore communities (you and me) from natural and man-made disaster that may engulf everyone. We should do this because we can - not because the rich and powerful people's interests will be served because they won't (they will get messed up but let them deal with it).

In conclusion, as one of those who are applying Geek Power to real world problems, I am asking for your feedback, your participation and support for action.

Thank you for looking at this proposal, Richard