Aec briefer version part 3 of 3


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The final piece of D. Michael Edelstein's 3 part presentation on Ramapo College's pioneer Alternative Energy Center. Dedicated to Bill Makofske, who guided the 25 year development of the site and to the thousands of students who worked and learned there. And to achieving what we all worked for.

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Aec briefer version part 3 of 3

  1. 1. Defining Sustainability: A Virtual Tour <ul><li>Part three: </li></ul><ul><li>by </li></ul><ul><li>Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Professor of Environmental Studies and Sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>Ramapo College of NJ </li></ul><ul><li>1974-continuing </li></ul>
  2. 2. Materials Cycling: The Recycling Center <ul><li>A 1976 “ramada” structure designed as a model community recycling center </li></ul><ul><li>Processed entire household waste stream even waste car oil. </li></ul><ul><li>1986 NJ Recycling Law transferred recycling to Mahwah </li></ul>
  3. 3. Modeling the 3-R’s <ul><li>3 R ’ s of waste management: </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce avoid waste creation </li></ul><ul><li>Reuse longer use life </li></ul><ul><li>Recycle recapture resource values </li></ul><ul><li>90%+ of the 6+ lbs. of waste we each generate daily </li></ul>
  4. 4. Food Production: Four Season Gardening <ul><li>An integrated food system combined: </li></ul><ul><li>a three-season intensive organic garden and </li></ul><ul><li>a passive solar greenhouse </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Garden <ul><li>The High Cost of Modern industrial large-scale agriculture: </li></ul><ul><li>20% of all our energy (farming, processing, transport, storage and preparation) </li></ul><ul><li>artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (resources and pollution) </li></ul><ul><li>land degradation from erosion and salinization </li></ul><ul><li>water use for irrigation </li></ul><ul><li>natural ecosystems (grasslands and forests) are being destroyed </li></ul><ul><li>Yet very large amounts of food can be produced on a small scale without these negative effects. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Becoming a Food Producer: Eating Fresh Local Foods <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>The AEEC gardens empowered students to grow their own food with most ecological and sustainable approaches. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Intensive Small Pot Gardening <ul><li>intensive spacing of plants on raised beds </li></ul><ul><li>mulching </li></ul><ul><li>enriching soil with natural organic fertilizers and nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>extended three-season planting and growing techniques </li></ul><ul><li>natural pest control (for insects, plant diseases and animals) through cultural methods, mechanical and biological controls, and safe use of natural chemicals </li></ul>
  8. 8. Soil: The Crucial Resource <ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  9. 9. Key Principles: Diversity, Succession, Natural Methods (Intercropping and Companion Planting)
  10. 10. Year-Round Growing in This Climate
  11. 11. Permaculture <ul><li>Permaculture : </li></ul><ul><li>perennial and self-seeding food plants </li></ul><ul><li>require little care </li></ul><ul><li>supply an edible landscape, productive ecosystems, and good land management. </li></ul><ul><li>The AEEC featured a small orchard, extensive plantings of edible perennials and a small tree nursery to support campus planting. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Water Pumping Wind System and Water Storage <ul><li>DO you know where your water comes from and goes to? </li></ul><ul><li>We must consider both water quantity and of water quality. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Water as Renewable Resource <ul><li>Need: the garden, greenhouse and solar school house </li></ul><ul><li>Source: drilled 100’ well to aquifer </li></ul><ul><li>Delivery: An encased pump powered by a windmill and later a solar panel. </li></ul><ul><li>Water was pumped into a raised cask for storage. </li></ul><ul><li>Gravity was used to move the water to its point of use. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Conservation as Renewal <ul><li>Water conservation Steps: Plants require 1 inch of water per week: </li></ul><ul><li>Drip irrigation to plant roots to avoid evaporative losses </li></ul><ul><li>Hose and hand watering were done early in the morning </li></ul><ul><li>Mulch was used to keep garden beds moist and prevent evaporative losses. </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Composting Privy: Coming out of the Water Closet <ul><li>waterless toilet served to challenge visitors to think about their assumptions. </li></ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul>
  16. 16. Ecological Literacy <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  17. 17. The Law of Conservation of Matter <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Law of Conservation of Energy <ul><li>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? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Second Law of Thermodynamics (or Entropy Law) <ul><li>As we convert energy from one form to another, energy quality is always degraded. </li></ul><ul><li>Concentrated or high quality energy is useful and can do many things. Dispersed energy is low-quality and not very useful. </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, energy once degraded cannot be recycled to do useful tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>Low quality energy = pollution. </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersed pollutants are practically impossible to remove from the environment. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Renewable Means Sustainable The only energy source that is truly sustainable in the long-term is from the sun.
  21. 21. Laws of Ecology <ul><li>The laws of ecology tell us that: </li></ul><ul><li>humans are interconnected and interdependent with everything else on earth </li></ul><ul><li>Everything is interconnected: we cannot do just one thing </li></ul><ul><li>Nature knows best: </li></ul><ul><li>we must not interfere with earth's natural biogeochemical cycles in ways that destroy our life-support systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Everything goes somewhere: there is no &quot;away&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Unassimilated Waste = pollution </li></ul>
  22. 22. Nature as the Ultimate Teacher <ul><li>Participant learning followed Barry Commoner’s ecological rule that &quot;nature knows best.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Students created, built and experimented with nature as a guide--- the ultimate teacher . </li></ul><ul><li>They witnessed the cyclical relationships of nature---how compost fuels plants that are eventually composted. </li></ul><ul><li>They came to see nature as a learning process, where response to feedback builds highly variable and adaptive systems. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Collective Problems and Promise <ul><li>It may seem at first that one person can have little effect. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that each positive thing we do has a multiplier effect. </li></ul><ul><li>Saving water saves energy and also reduces pollution. </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling an aluminum can reduces the need to mine more ore, process it, transport it, and produce the can. </li></ul><ul><li>All along the chain, energy and pollution is reduced. </li></ul><ul><li>As the world climbs toward 9 billion people, the cumulative ripple effect we each create is significant indeed. </li></ul><ul><li>But the solution is not merely individual. We must act together to address our collective impacts. A sustainable future requires our participation and leadership. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Working Together We Can Achieve a Sustainable Future
  25. 25. Remember the Lessons of the AEEC’s 25 Years 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. Spring 2000 Just before the bulldozer came
  26. 26. Beginning Again in 2010: Sharp SEC with Greenhouse