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Aec Briefer Version Pdf Version


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A slide presentation showing the history of the Ramapo College Alternative Energy Center from its inception in 1974 through its demolition in 2001 and focusing on the sustainability lessons taught by the center. By Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D., Professor, Ramapo College of New Jersey .

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Aec Briefer Version Pdf Version

  1. 1. Defining Sustainability: A Virtual Tour • The Alternate Energy and Environment Center (AEEC) 1975 by students and faculty • Response to the energy crisis of the 1970's. • Demonstrate alternative methods of producing and using resources, particularly energy, food, and shelter, that were not heavily based on depleting and polluting sources of fossil fuels. • Create experiential and interdisciplinary learning experiences.
  2. 2. Creating a Sustainable Legacy • provide people with the necessities of life, food, shelter, heat, electricity and water • ecologically sustainable, able to be provided in the long-term without depleting the life-support systems such as pure air, water, soil, micro- organisms and bio- diversity of life essential for the well-being of future generations.
  3. 3. Public Education: Green Demonstrations Demonstrate technologies and ideas that could easily be incorporated into a visitor’s current household and lifestyle, including: • small-scale production of food • yard and organic waste composting • energy efficiency • minimizing use of all resources • reuse and recycling • maximizing the use of the sun to provide energy
  4. 4. Building Community Model social and community sustainability: • full participation • climate of equality • mutual and environmental respect • achieve personal self reliance and collective survival • demonstrate technological and social/community approaches
  5. 5. Building Community of Place
  6. 6. Experiential and Participatory Learning Many students experienced their first opportunity to create, understand design, and participate in shaping their setting to fit the environment.
  7. 7. CONVIVIAL SYSTEMS • relatively simple • easy to use • easy to understand • participatory • easy to maintain • use local resources such as soil, water, and the sun to provide for human needs • integrated technology and social processes • defining a new vernacular
  8. 8. The Center’s Integrated Systems • Green Shelter • Renewable Energy • Materials Cycling • Food Production • Water Conservation and Protection • The Lessons
  9. 9. Shelter: Off-Grid and Renewable Power The sun, wind, and biomass (wood) provided the solar schoolhouse with: • heating, • cooling, • electricity • hot and cold water • cooking
  10. 10. The pioneering passive solar greenhouse • Erected in 1974 in the midst of the first Energy Crisis to redirect people from a fossil fuel dependent world • Used discarded or donated materials • Off grid but never froze • The greenhouse was directly lit and heated by the sun • The building was oriented due south • Only the south wall was fenestrated • The rest was tightly built and insulated
  11. 11. Greenhouse as a Passive Solar Collector In passive solar mode: • Sunlight entered the structure; • its energy was stored and re- released automatically from thermal mass by natural processes without the use of fans or pumps run by electricity • The building is a solar collector that collects, stores and releases energy • temperature kept above 40 dgrs • Suitable for cool-loving plants • No fossil fuels used
  12. 12. Accessory Systems: Backup, Covering
  13. 13. Reflection in the Solar Greenhouse To assure adequate light for optimum plant growth, many surfaces in the greenhouse were painted white to reflect light from all sides, especially the north. Storage was black.
  14. 14. Illustrating the Primary Uses of a Passive Solar Greenhouse. Winter growing of cold and temperature swing tolerant vegetables Starting seedlings before putting them out to the garden Extending the season for certain crops: 1. summer crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers can be grown into late fall and 2. early winter and spring crops such as brassicas can be grown earlier.
  15. 15. THE SOLAR SCHOOLHOUSE: Design Principles
  16. 16. Passive Solar Design • The structure itself is the collector and heat storage system • South facing windows are a form of passive solar collector called a direct gain system– they collect solar heat. • Sunlight enters and is absorbed by surfaces, changing into heat. • Heat is transferred throughout the house without the use of fans or pumps. • Each square foot of south facing window typically saves you a gallon of heating oil over the winter heating season. • The building has no windows on the north or west sides, where heat loss, not gain, occurs.
  17. 17. Storing Heat for Cold Nights • To avoid overheating the building and store energy for nighttime use, thermal mass is required in the form of a concrete slab, masonry, tile, or water barrels. • These absorb the sun's energy, warms, and reemits the energy later when the house is cooling. • The slab under the Schoolhouse was insulated to prevent heat loss to the ground.
  18. 18. The Trombe or Vertical Mass Wall • Indirect solar heat gain, passive solar collector • No fans or pumps involved in the system • Located at the far left front of the building • Glazing looked onto concrete blocks painted black • Openings at the top and bottom allowed warm air to circulate • The concrete block wall is superior storage
  19. 19. Energy Efficient Construction Proper insulation of the walls and roof: R-25 to R-30 for walls and R-40 for roofs. Windows R-3 or higher Houses with large amounts of insulation are sometimes called superinsulated houses. Air infiltration is stopped by tight house construction Very tight construction may require use of an air-to-air heat exchanger
  20. 20. Comfortable Functionality • The recycled post and beam construction allowed for a large open room without support partitions • Perfect gathering place for classes, tour groups, or social events • Allowed heat to circulate freely
  21. 21. Solar Electricity from Photovoltaic Cells and Wind: Resilience from Off Grid vs Grid Options Two photovoltaic cells sat in maximum direct sunshine (30+ year life) 50 kW-hr a month for lighting and some appliance use (1/10th use of typical U.S. home) A Windcharger wind mill produced 100 watts of power (14 volts at 7 amps DC) when the wind exceeded 20 mph, beginning at 8-10 mph. OFF GRID: Electricity charged 12 volt rechargeable batteries DC-AC inverter brought the voltage up to 120 volts AC NET MTERING: synchronous inverter connects to utility power. Excess electricity is sold to the utility. At night, electricity bought from utility. Meter runs backwards and forwards
  22. 22. Solar Hot Water A passive batch solar water heater was made from a 30 gallon metal water heater painted black set in an insulated box with a transparent cover. Reflective foil on the sides and back of the tank directed all the incoming sun's rays to the blackened tank. This was a warm weather system. As cold water was pumped from the ground, its temperature was raised from 50 degrees F to around 110 degrees F Stored for night time use.
  23. 23. The Wind Generator Our first wind generator experience at the AEEC places the grid/off-grid issue in historical perspective. This was a Jacobs Generator from the late 1920s or early 1930s (see wind/20th.html).
  24. 24. The Jacobs’ Generator 1920's Jacobs brothers built wind energy system to electrify their remote Montana ranch. Mid-1920's, Jacobs Wind Electric Company Moved to Minneapolis in the early 1930's. Manufactured thousands of wind electric plants which provided power to isolated farms and ranches. (http:// .htm)
  25. 25. People Power It was an unforgettable moment in the mid-1970s when, the tall wind tower having been assembled by fifty Ramapo College students on the ground, they heaved together on long ropes to pull the tower upright. After the tower was secured, the Jacobs Generator was moved into position by a crane. Two faculty then climbed the tower and prepared the generator for operation.
  26. 26. The Modern Windmill After two decades of service, the Jacobs was replaced by a modern lightweight Whisper generator. The new machine could generate 1 kilowatt despite its much smaller size and it began generating at 7 mph breezes, unlike its heavy predecessor, giving it wider utility ( m/world_power_technologies.htm).
  27. 27. A Monument to Renewability While the Whisper will be re-erected at the new RCSEC, the Jacobs will be a centerpiece sculpture in one of the gardens. Thus, the Jacobs will continue to tell its story about the grid and the history of alternative energy to future generations of learners as it has for the past thirty years.
  28. 28. Materials Cycling: The Recycling Center A 1976 “ramada” structure designed as a model community recycling center Processed entire household waste stream even waste car oil. 1986 NJ Recycling Law transferred recycling to Mahwah
  29. 29. Modeling the 3-R’s 3 R’s of waste management: • Reduce avoid waste creation • Reuse longer use life • Recycle recapture resource values 90%+ of the 6+ lbs. of waste we each generate daily
  30. 30. Food Production: Four Season Gardening An integrated food system combined: • a three-season intensive organic garden and • a passive solar greenhouse
  31. 31. The Garden The High Cost of Modern industrial large-scale agriculture: • 20% of all our energy (farming, processing, transport, storage and preparation) • artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (resources and pollution) • land degradation from erosion and salinization • water use for irrigation • natural ecosystems (grasslands and forests) are being destroyed Yet very large amounts of food can be produced on a small scale without these negative effects.
  32. 32. Becoming a Food Producer: Eating Fresh Local Foods With some knowledge and a relatively small effort, we can grow a lot of our fruit and vegetables for consumption in a small space in our backyards. The AEEC gardens empowered students to grow their own food with most ecological and sustainable approaches.
  33. 33. Intensive Small Pot Gardening • intensive spacing of plants on raised beds • mulching • enriching soil with natural organic fertilizers and nutrients • extended three-season planting and growing techniques • natural pest control (for insects, plant diseases and animals) through cultural methods, mechanical and biological controls, and safe use of natural chemicals
  34. 34. Soil: The Crucial Resource The goal of an organic gardener is to continually increase the fertility of the soil, leading to better plant growth using intensive spacing and less problems with disease and insects (healthy plants will usually outgrow the problems
  35. 35. Key Principles: Diversity, Succession, Natural Methods (Intercropping and Companion Planting)
  36. 36. Year-Round Growing in This Climate
  37. 37. Permaculture Permaculture: • perennial and self-seeding food plants • require little care • supply an edible landscape, productive ecosystems, and good land management. • The AEEC featured a small orchard, extensive plantings of edible perennials and a small tree nursery to support campus planting.
  38. 38. Water Pumping Wind System and Water Storage DO you know where your water comes from and goes to? We must consider both water quantity and of water quality. The AEEC demonstrated both water conserving lifestyles, buildings and landscapes and efforts to protect aquifers from contamination. Water must be treated as a renewable resource.
  39. 39. Water as Renewable Resource Need: the garden, greenhouse and solar school house Source: drilled 100’ well to aquifer Delivery: An encased pump powered by a windmill and later a solar panel. Water was pumped into a raised cask for storage. Gravity was used to move the water to its point of use.
  40. 40. Conservation as Renewal Water conservation Steps: Plants require 1 inch of water per week: Drip irrigation to plant roots to avoid evaporative losses Hose and hand watering were done early in the morning Mulch was used to keep garden beds moist and prevent evaporative losses.
  41. 41. The Composting Privy: Coming out of the Water Closet waterless toilet served to challenge visitors to think about their assumptions. the waterless toilet not only avoids substantial water use but it also allows for recovery of human waste as composted soil. Although not suitable for food crops, this soil is a great nutrient source for ornamental plants. (See Sim Van Der Ryn and Stuart Cowan’s chapter “the Compost Privy Story” in their Ecological Design, Island Press, 1996).
  42. 42. Ecological Literacy Those who toured the former Alternative Energy Center learned to understand how their observations reflected the very fundamental laws of science. The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, The Law of Conservation of Matter and the Laws of Ecology. In sum, they gained an ecological Literacy, the knowledge and wisdom of how to live on our earth.
  43. 43. The Law of Conservation of Matter The first principle is that we can neither create nor destroy matter; we can only change it from one form to another. There is really no such thing as waste in nature since the wastes of one species is food for another. We thus try to reuse and recycle all matter within our local system. Everything that we think we have thrown away is with us in some form or another; there is no away.
  44. 44. The Law of Conservation of Energy The second principle involves energy flow. We cannot create or destroy energy; we can only change it from one form to another. But at what efficiency do operate?
  45. 45. Second Law of Thermodynamics (or Entropy Law) As we convert energy from one form to another, energy quality is always degraded. Concentrated or high quality energy is useful and can do many things. Dispersed energy is low- quality and not very useful. In other words, energy once degraded cannot be recycled to do useful tasks. Low quality energy = pollution. Dispersed pollutants are practically impossible to remove from the environment.
  46. 46. Renewable Means Sustainable The only energy source that is truly sustainable in the long-term is from the sun.
  47. 47. Laws of Ecology The laws of ecology tell us that: humans are interconnected and interdependent with everything else on earth Everything is interconnected: we cannot do just one thing Nature knows best: we must not interfere with earth's natural biogeochemical cycles in ways that destroy our life-support systems. Everything goes somewhere: there is no "away" Unassimilated Waste = pollution
  48. 48. Nature as the Ultimate Teacher Participant learning followed Barry Commoner’s ecological rule that "nature knows best." Students created, built and experimented with nature as a guide---the ultimate teacher. They witnessed the cyclical relationships of nature---how compost fuels plants that are eventually composted. They came to see nature as a learning process, where response to feedback builds highly variable and adaptive systems.
  49. 49. Collective Problems and Promise It may seem at first that one person can have little effect. Remember that each positive thing we do has a multiplier effect. • Saving water saves energy and also reduces pollution. • Recycling an aluminum can reduces the need to mine more ore, process it, transport it, and produce the can. • All along the chain, energy and pollution is reduced. As the world climbs toward 9 billion people, the cumulative ripple effect we each create is significant indeed. But the solution is not merely individual. We must act together to address our collective impacts. A sustainable future requires our participation and leadership.
  50. 50. Working Together We Can Achieve a Sustainable Future
  51. 51. Remember the Lessons of the AEEC The concepts that we see in this tour ---the AEEC’s Legacy---can play a major part in helping to achieve long-term stability or sustainability.