Let this wastewater treatment plant show you how to live.
This may sound crazy, but it is exactly why the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York constructed their Omega Center for Sustainable Living(OCSL), also known as the Eco Machine. We can learn some valuable lessons from this building.
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living may be the most beautiful wastewater treatment plant in the world. It is powered by solar and geothermal power, so it requires no additional power to operate. Unlike other wastewater treatment plants, the OCSL does not use chemicals to treat the water, but rather mimics the processes of the nature world, such as using a combination of microorganisms, algae, plants and gravel and sand filtration to clean sewage water and return clean drinkable water back to the aquifer.
In addition to doing all of this, the OCSL also functions as a classroom, to help educate and inspire people about the power of nature to provide solutions.
As the CEO of the Omega Institute, Skip Backus says, the OCSL purifies, beautifies and educates, all at the same time.
Currently, there are only four Living Building Challenge Certified buildings in the world and the OCSL is the first building in the United States to gain both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification.
How does it Work ?
To start, all of the water from toilets, sinks and showers on the Omega campus feeds into storage tanks that collect the human waste and the “gray water” from showering or sinks. Then this water is sent to the Eco Machine building, where it is fed to “microscopic algae, fungi, bacteria, plants, and snails.”
First Stage: Is two 5,000 gallon Anoxic tanks located underground, where inside naturally occurring microbial organisms use the wastewater as food. They digest “ammonia, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and many other substances in the water.”
Second Stage: The water flows to the four man-made wetlands behind the OCSL building.
Third Stage: After the water had flowed through the four wetlands, it is already remarkably clean. According to Omega, there is “a 75 percent increase in the water’s clarity and a 90 percent reduction in the water’s odor” just from having passed through the anoxic tanks and wetlands.
Fourth Stage: After the wetlands, the water is pumped inside to two aerated lagoons.
Fifth Stage: After the lagoons, the water moves back outdoors to a sand filter.
Final Stage: After the sand filtering, the water is returned to nature via two dispersal fields under Omega’s parking lot. In the dispersal fields, the reclaimed water is released back into the groundwater table, located below the surface. The reclaimed water is further purified by nature as it trickles down to the aquifer that sits 250-300 feet beneath campus.
With this final step in the Eco Machine process at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, Omega completes a closed hydrological loop in our water use. We draw water from deep wells that tap the aquifer; use the water in sinks, toilets, and showers; naturally reclaim the used water with the Eco Machine at OCSL; and release the purified water back to the aquifer, where the process can begin again.
Ever heard the words, you have got to fight for what you want; if you don’t stand up for your rights, then who will? In short, you have to take matters into your own hands instead of being passive and just wishing the problem away. And take matters into their own hands is exactly what a group of villagers did. They literally clung (chipko, loosely translated meaning hugged) on to their rights.
In 1974, in a small village named Reni located in the Himalayas, a group of female villagers stood their ground, embraced their beloved trees and saved their forest. They refused to let the contractor system of the State Forest Department decide their fate and rob them of their right to a better life. The trees do more than give aesthetic appeal to the village, they provide protection from landslides, they provide cleaner air, and they stop the erosion of land. The land that is important to the villagers for their and their live-stocks survival. Their protest paid off and their act of bravery inspired many similar acts on a grassroots level for forest protection. In the 1987, the Chipko Movement was awarded The Right Livelihood Award.
are you looking for a job..? – There you have it — 7 jobs that should survive and thrive in this economic slump.
While factory workers building cars are losing sleep these days, those lucky enough to be on a wind-turbine line are getting a solid eight hours of sleep a night. Wind power is the fastest-growing source of energy in America and all those turbines need to be built by someone. Modern turbines are highly engineered machines and require hundreds of hands to get from blueprints to installation. With wind power showing no signs of slowing down, building wind turbines is a great (and secure) way to pay the mortgage.
Energy auditors are on the front lines in the war against inefficiency. They’re responsible for evaluating the efficiency of heating and cooling systems as well as the insulation and weatherproofing of homes and businesses. They look for air leaks, missing or incomplete insulation, and make suggestions about the steps necessary to fix problems. Energy auditors often follow up by doing the actual weatherization work, fixing the problems they find in the audit. It’s a life of crawling around basements, caulking gaps between windows and running full-home air-leak tests.
Solar-panel installers spend a lot of time on roofs. They’re part carpenter, part electrician. They roll up to a jobsite for the few days it takes to properly install a solar system and angle and position the panels in the right place, connecting them into the building’s power lines. It’s hands-on work that’s good for anyone wanting a tan on the back of his or her neck. There’s been a lot of talk of upgrading our nation’s energy grid and generation system. It’s a good bet that solar installers will be one of the more stable jobs as we climb out of this economic hole.
Hydrogen fuel cells are thought by many experts to be the way we’ll power the cars of tomorrow. They’re an efficient way of storing energy and are clean to boot — the only emissions they produce are water. If tomorrow’s cars will be powered by fuel cells, we’re going to need a lot of engineers today to help us get there. If the past decade has been the domain of the financial engineer, the next 10 years will be the era of the green engineer. Graduates of engineering schools who come out with focuses in fuel-cell technology will find themselves recruited and swooped up by companies like first-round picks in the NBA draft.
WHY ORGANIC & HOW DOES IT MATTER ?
Organic means a commitment to sustainable farming techniques, an important step towards a higher level of environmental stewardship. This is something that we take a great deal of pride in, and we hope you will join us in supporting. Certified Organic means that the ingredients in spirits are devoid of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, not because to wash them out or scour them away with some other chemical, but because they were never applied to the grain in the first place. This commitment to purity extends to every detail of production, right down to the lowly solvents used to clean the stills
SQUARE ONE VODKA
Introducing Square One Organic Vodka, the world’s first certified organic rye vodka. Square One vodka is handcrafted from 100%-certified organically grown rye and produced with an unprecedented organic fermentation process. The resulting spirit is richer and smoother than any vodka on the market. Flavours: Square One Cucumber & Square One Botanical.
VEEV ACAI SPIRIT
VeeV is uniquely different. The 60-proof alcohol isn’t quite a vodka, but isn’t quite a liqueur, either. Rather, it’s a unique spirit made from wildly harvested Brazilian açai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) berries and organic winter wheat grain. Flavours: Organic Cosmopolitan, Organic Lemonade & Organic Margarita.
Founder: Carter Reum & Courtney Reum (Brothers)
PAPAGAYO WHITE RUM
Papagayo Rum has a unique history as the world’s first organic rum. The single-estate rum (meaning the sugarcane used to make it is grown on one plantation) continues to be produced in Paraguay. Flavours: White Organic Rum & Spiced Organic Rum
Founder: Eduardo Felippo
Koval believes that the best spirits must come from the best ingredients. We source all of our grains from organic Midwestern farms, supporting sustainable farming that is good for the environment as well as the local economy. We source our water – an essential ingredient in distillation – from Lake Michigan using a natural charcoal purification method. Flavours: Organic Rye Vodka & Organic Whiskey
Founder: Sonat and Robert Birnecker (Husband n’ Wife)
Vodka 14 is the only product distilled by Altitude Spirits, an independent spirits company in Boulder, Colo. The USDA-certified organic vodka is made from Rocky Mountain spring water and organic grain. The vodka’s continuous distillation process is unique. First, grain mash is heated until it becomes a vapor. Once the vapor rises to the top of a four-cylinder still, it condenses back to liquid and returns to the still’s bottom, where the distillation process begins anew. Green-o-Meter: When imbibing with Vodka 14, you can be confident that your bottle is entirely recyclable, too. The safety seal is made from PETG, an environmentally sound and recyclable plastic, along with recyclable cork. Plus, the bottle’s decorative elements are baked on and not made from plastic. Flavours: Organic Vodka
Founder: Altitude Spirits
360 Vodka was created to be the first eco friendly distilled spirit in the world. We have taken the leadership position in our industry by creating a one-of-a-kind, award-winning vodka and an innovative recycling program that helps to preserve our environment by reducing waste and resource consumption. Green-o-Meter: It boasts a distillation process that uses 200% less energy than the most common methods. Bottles are made from 85% recycled materials and shipped using 100% recycled materials. 360 Vodka also encourages recycling with a pre-paid envelope included with each bottle that can be used to return bottles for a $1 donation to a local environmental organization in the purchaser’s area. The company’s green initiatives on the corporate level, including on-site recycling for employees, use of renewable energy sources, and distribution of green supplies (CFL lightbulbs, recycled paper, organic cleaning products, etc.) to employees for office and home use. Flavours: Buttered Popcorn, Glazed Donut, Red Raspberry, Huckleberry, Double Chocolate, Cola, Grape, Mandarin Orange, Madagascar Vanilla, Georgia Peach, Sorrento Lemon, Bing Cherry
Founder: McCormick Distillery
USDA-certified organic Rain Vodka is made from 100 percent organic white corn farmed in Yale. Rain boasts of a 20-day production process, giving the vodka its smooth, crisp taste. Distilled seven times for unmatched smoothness, Rain Organics is the super-premium vodka that’s perfect for sharing with good friends. Flavours: Organic Vodka, Honey Mango Melon & Cucumber Lime, Red Grape Hibiscus, Lavender Lemonade
UK5 Organic Vodka’s ingredients are derived from a 30-year-old organic farm in Germany. The purer a vodka, the better it is. That is why UK5 Organic Vodka uses only the worlds purest water and the world’s finest organic grain which has a denser cell structure perfect for making premium vodka. Other organic vodkas boast only one filtration to heighten flavor. UK5 Vodka, on the other hand, remains unfiltered due to the quality of its organic ingredients and the pure water used during the distillation process. UK5 is the world’s only entirely unfiltered organic vodka.
Founder: The Organic Spirits Co.
Crop Harvest Earth Vodkas are USDA certified organic, artisanal vodkas produced from grain grown on America’s plains. Crop organic grain is harvested from fertile, healthy soil free of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals, and Crop Vodkas are distilled so efficiently that no carbon treatment or charcoal filtering is required. Green-o-Meter: Crop’s carbon footprint is smaller because it is distilled so efficiently that no carbon treatment or charcoal filtering is required – thereby saving resources and energy. Crop uses only USDA certified organic grain. Crop Vodka help support a healthier environment by protecting our streams and lakes from run-off of toxic pesticides and chemicals and helping to maintain soil integrity and productivity. Flavours: Crop Organic Artisanal Vodka has a refreshingly crisp, clean, pure taste. Our Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka captures the essence of freshly sliced cucumbers while our Crop Organic Tomato Vodka perfectly conveys the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato. Our Crop Organic Meyer Lemon Vodka strikes a delicate balance between the sweet and tart flavors of this unique fruit.
HIGHLAND HARVEST WHISKEY
Organic alcohol is hard enough to find — and organic whiskey seems next-to-impossible. Highland Harvest is one of the world’s first organic Scotch whiskeys, blended in Scotland with three organic malts and organic grain and matured in oak barrels for four years. Highland Harvest is made from pure, natural, unaltered malted barley and pure Scottish Highland water. It’s a homage to the distilling traditions of old, adorned with both the USDA Organic Seal and the Royal Warrant of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Flavours: Blended Scotch Organic Whiskey
JUNIPER GREEN ORGANIC GIN
Take a sip of Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin and you are tasting history, this is the world’s first, and only, organic gin. The Soil Association, the premier authority responsible for certifying all things organic in the UK, has certified that Juniper Green is 100% organic. It contains absolutely nothing but the world’s finest organic grain, the purest water and a combination of 100% organic botanical herbs sourced from around the world. Organic grain creates fine alcohol naturally because it has a better biological cell structure than grain grown with chemical fertilisers. No chemical fungicides are used to assist in the storage of Organic Grain resulting in natural microorganisms which aid full and deep fermentation. As a result Juniper Green has a smooth clean spirit which is the perfect foundation for the world’s first Organic Gin. Flavours: Organic Juniper Berries, Organic Coriander, Organic Angelica Root, Organic Savory
Founder: The Organic Spirits Co.
PRAIRIE ORGANIC VODKA
Prairie Organic Vodka is certified kosher and organic by the USDA. Prairie requires that the entire process, from the field all the way to the shelf, be free of synthetic chemicals, pesticides and genetically modified seeds and enzymes. Crafted in Benson, Minnesota, Prairie Organic is micro-distilled from organic, yellow corn. The leftover corn cobs are gasified to provide energy for the stills.
Founder: Ed Phillips and Sons
Open burning of leaves, which has for ages been pretty much the norm for getting rid of fallen leaves in winter, has come under the scanner of pollution watchdogs for releasing huge amounts of soot, harmful particles and toxic gases aggravating air pollution. Sweepers and gardeners in public parks have been found burning leaves in large heaps. They have been doing this for years as a habit. Notices are served to civic bodies and other agencies too.
Traditionally, burning of leaves in the winter has been an integral part of the maintenance of parks in the city, in order to prevent the huge heaps of dry leaves from adding to the municipal solid waste stream.
But what makes this a huge problem is that there around 3,700 ornamental parks, almost 10,000 ordinary/neighbourhood parks and about 80 children’s parks across Delhi. “So the amount of leaves that burn in winter is just enormous. They are usually burnt in the mornings, mostly filling the area with smoke and soot,” he said.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in its soon-to-be published Source Apportionment Study, which pinpoints the sources and the amount of each air pollution component, has mentioned burning of leaves as a source of winter pollution in Delhi and elsewhere.
That apart, burning of leaves and woods also release the cancer-causing organic compound called benzene and toxic gas carbon monoxide in large amounts, said Dr T.K. Joshi of Centre for Environment and Occupational Health at Maulana Azad Medical College. “Small children are at graver risk. Joggers and all who inhale more air in the morning are also greatly exposed to it,” he said.
A UN report had recently called Delhi one of the most polluted Asian metropolises.
Burning leaves also adds to the formation of thick smog in winters.