For swales to work properly, they must be planted with vegetation that can utilize the water that is being stored / infiltrated, or else the top mounds will become compacted and begin holding, rather than infiltrating water, …
In this video from The Permaculture Research Institute, Geoff Lawton explains the simple yet elegant concept that is the swale. Formally defined by Bill Mollison as “long, level excavations, which can vary greatly in width and …
Raised beds shaped on contour, also known as swales, sculpt your landscape in beautiful patterns that clearly define path and bed. Clearly defined raised beds and pathways help avoid soil compaction, allowing the soil to …
One more bit with very useful info if you are at all interested in swales.
Hi everyone. Just wanted to give you all an update on what’s happening with this site.
Been busy with making some changes to the sites layout and design. Ran into a few glitches, but have them figured out now. So we’re almost ready to really get this site off the ground. I am excited to finally get things going.
Website design, internet marketing, social media, and sustainability are passions of mine. To be in a position to be active in all of them, is a dream come true. I love this stuff. I’d like to be able to help others with this too. That is the reason for this site. Take what I’ve learned and help people involved in the sustainability movement, big and small, to spread our message about sustainability, and promote what YOU ALL are doing across America.
Once in awhile, I will also include news and information about other countries, but primarily it will involve only those people, places, businesses, organizations, groups, websites, and cities & towns that ARE DOING THE WORK TO BE sustainable.
I would love to feature activities, projects, plans, etc that you all are working on. You deserve attention! I want to help that happen. Some of what I will be offering, for those that “want more hands on help in their internet marketing, video marketing, and social media marketing, were I do it for you”, there will be paid services. Most of what will be available will be free. In the days ahead, I will explain all this in more detail. Starting with exactly what it is that I can do for you personally, your businesses, your websites, your organizations, and your groups, that will be free. So be watching for that.
For those who might be interested in the “Do It For Me” paid services, for now, use the contact form, and I’ll be in touch. Later on, I’ll have those types of services and fees list also.
Be sure to leave your comments and questions below. Tell your friends about our site, and let others know. Together we can really make a difference in America. Join with us in spreading the word about sustainability.
Besides ethanol for fuel, I believe that methane gas is a great alternative energy source TODAY! Unlike some technologies like solar panels, hydrogen, and fuel cells, that are out of the normal price range of homeowners, ethanol and methane gas are cheaper and easier to put to use at home.
Don’t get me wrong. Solar has many ‘other’ uses, for heating air and water, that are ready now also, but for electricity, it’s still a little pricey.
I came across some information today that I wanted to pass on. The Vermont Technical College is looking at building one. There is a pdf download there too, that you might be interested in getting called, “Food Scrapes”.
My goal is to produce burnable methane, in my backyard, with no fancy gizmos. Growing Power built a methane digester and theirs cost $750000. I am shooting for about $250 and that is only if I do my heat exchanger idea. …
Next, is encouraging news to me, in that here is another example of the changes in progress. What I mean, is that every day I am seeing more and more people all over this country, learning about and doing more work with methane. This story is about a conference held in Wisconsin, learning from farmers who are using methane digesters on their farms. It also has a link to a government site that has a database of farms with methane digesters, plus other information on methane. I’m excited to see it all happening.
And while many of the conference’s attendees had their eyes focused on energy production, none of the farms said that was why they built and continue to operate a methane digester. “We did it for public acceptance (of our large farm) …
Sustainable site development has the goal of preserving or restoring a site’s natural ecosystem. The most widely recognized definition of sustainable development is development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability Starts with the Soil
Soil is the soul of project
Soil is the soul of a project. Today, when a construction project begins, first the vegetation is removed. Clear-cutting the trees. Removing any obstructions so the construction equipment can freely traverse the site. If the timber cannot be sold off as lumber (and usually the timber cannot be sold as lumber) the wood is burned onsite or chipped into mulch.
After clearing out the construction traffic obstructions, the topsoil is scraped off. Removing most if not all the rich soil and micro organisms. The soil’s fertility, permeability, and ability to sustain life has been irrevocably transformed into a barren desert. The remaining hard-panned, encrusted soil resembles a track of land with the texture of a poorly compacted piece of asphalt.
When the construction project is complete, new topsoil has to be trucked in for any chance for plant survival. And forget about any wildlife. They have abandoned the site, gone for the hills, literally moved to higher, less inhabited, ground.
Protecting and preserving the soil through minimal site development practices is the starting point for sustainable site development. Restoring an existing site’s soil to a native, natural condition is imperative and the benefits are extraordinary.
Developing Water Resources
Water is the life-blood of the environment
Water is the life-blood in the environment. Water in the environment is the connecting force that ties the environment together. In a natural, forested environment, seventy to ninety percent of the rain fall stays on site. Less than one percent runs off the site.
In nature’s hydrologic (water) cycle, in a naturally, forested area, forty to fifty percent of the rain fall is returned to the atmosphere as water vapor by evaporation and transpiration. Twenty to thirty percent of the rain fall enters streams and waterways after being cleansed by the soil through the soil interflow. The soil interflow is the lateral movement of water through the upper levels of the soil. The remaining ten to forty percent of the water percolates down through the soil in the aquifer.
Today, we rapidly collect the rain water and pipe it into our streams and waterways. This rapidly collected rain water carries debris and pollution from our roofs, parking lots, and roadways. Additionally, in many communities throughout the nation, storm water is combined with waste water and treated as waste water. When communities combine storm water systems with waste water systems the result often is the overflow of raw sewage into the local streams and waterways. Storm water is the single largest source of non-point source water pollution. There has to be a better way!
The result from a low impact site is a dramatic reduction in storm water runoff, resulting a dramatic reduction or elimination of non-point source pollution.
Local pollutants stay local. Stream sedimentation is almost completely avoided. The local aquifer is replenished.
Trees are the spirit in the woods
Simply, plant trees. Trees are the spirit in the world. The environmental benefits of trees are without limit and almost unappreciated. The lack of nature in our environment is creating a “nature deficit disorder.” Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods, says,”Unlike telivision, nature does not steal time, it amplifies it.” Powerful experience with nature can have a positive influence on attention deficit disorder, reduce depression, reduce stress, and improve creativity. The need to plant trees is largely unrecognized in our communities and the need has never been greater.
The EPA reports that tree planting sequesters carbon and enhance the quality of soil, water, air and wildlife. If every family planted just one tree, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by one billion pounds annually. One tree will absorb about ten pounds of air pollutants, including four pounds of ozone. Trees planted around a home can reduce air conditioning usage by 30%. Over a fifty-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water, and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.
On a larger scale, one acre of new forest will sequester about five thousand pounds of carbon annually. Each year a tree will assimilate thirteen pounds of CO2.
Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about ten years.
The benefits of trees go far beyond carbon sequestration and energy savings. Trees restore the natural balance of nature. People are more satisfied; communities are more productive; biodiversity increases.
Tools for Sustainable Site Development
Since the turn of the last century, little has been done to improve our gray infrastructure. In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) graded our drinking water and waste water infrastructures a “D” minus, the lowest grades in any infrastructure category. The next lowest grade is “F” failure. Technology has improved dramatically. Thinking has not. Though we might not always hear about it, sustainable development (and all the interrelated issues associated with it) is an urgent issue.
Green roofs, rainwater harvesting, condensate recovery, permeable paving, rain gardens, bioswales, and daylighting streams are effective tools for changing our world; enhancing our environment. Political will has been slow-paced at best. Much has been written about this. Little has been done.
For example, there are:
1.3 Billion people are without access to clean water (it only takes twenty liters of water per person per day to remedy this).
About half of humanity lacks access to adequate sanitation.
Half of humanity lives on less than two dollars a day.
Approximately 2 billion people are without access to electricity.
And this is in an age of immense wealth which is being concentrated in increasingly fewer hands. The inequality of consumption (and therefore, use of resources, which affects the environment) is terribly skewed: “20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%” according to the 1998 United Nations Human Development Report. (Source: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr_1998_en_overview.pdf)
Green water infrastructure is an approach to water management that protects or restores the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure means restoring floodplains, developing wetlands, planting trees and restoring nature, instead of building new water treatment plants and concentrating stormwater runoff.
Green water infrastructure incorporates both the natural environment and new technology to provide clean water, restore the ecosystem, and provide benefits to people and wildlife. Green water infrastructure boosts the economy, enhances communities’ health, and creates biodiversity.
Thinking for Sustainable Development
So far, most sustainable water resource development has occurred outside the United States. However, Green Water Infrastructure stands at the forefront of domestic sustainability development through projects that use green roofs, rainwater harvesting, condensate recovery, permeable paving, rain gardens, and bioswales.
 United Nations. 1987.”Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.” General Assembly Resolution 42/187, 11 December 1987.
 Colorado Tree Coalition. “Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas.” http://www.coloradotrees.org/benefits.htm#2
The more I learn about plants, trees, and their importance, the more amazed I am. This article, explained alot for me, especially about the importance of trees. If you also liked it, please share it with people you know, so others can benefit from it too.
One more thing. Plant some trees around your home, your community, and give some thought into which trees. Don’t just plant ornamentals. How about edible ones, or ones that will attract hummingbirds, other birds, bees, etc.
Green Water Infrastructure Founder to Speak at the Chicago Center for Green Technology
Tom Barrett, owner of Westfield, Indiana-based Green Water Infrastructure, is presenting “Rainwater Harvesting and Condensate Recovery – New Tools for Green Technology”, at the Chicago Center for Green Technology on Tuesday, April 20th from 6-8 p.m. Barrett will explain how the use of locally produced water helps develop a “natural approach” to efficient use of water and relieves storm water management issues. This is Mr. Barrett’s sixth presentation in a series on sustainable development for the Center for Green Technology.
“The Chicago Center for Green Technology is the perfect venue for this presentation as the Center has embraced many of the tools covered in the presentation including green roofs, rainwater harvesting, condensate recovery and rain gardens.,” said Barrett. “This presentation will inspire others to incorporate such practices into their environments.”
The Chicago Center for Green Technology is located at 445 N. Sacramento Blvd. (between Chicago Ave. and Lake St.) Chicago, Illinois. There is no cost to attend this presentation. Go to Green Water Infrastructure to register for this event.
About Tom Barrett:
Tom Barrett is an accomplished corporate growth and change agent with over thirty years of landscape industry experience. Tom’s leadership experience, holding executive level positions, drives corporate revenue growth through change and innovation for business start-ups, corporate expansions, and divisional turnarounds.
Tom Barrett has been delivering energetic, dynamic presentations and training for over twenty years. These presentations empower people to become masters of change rather than victims of circumstance by developing tools for transformational thinking.
“Tom’s been a leader with smart water technologies, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and other emerging technologies well before they became buzzwords at water conferences. It’s impressive to work with Tom because he knows his stuff from the ground up.” – Jeff Carowitz, Principal, Strategic Force, Inc.
About Green Water Infrastructure:
Green Water Infrastructure is a consulting company that integrates water resources for sustainable site development. Their goal is to utilize one hundred percent of the on-site water resources at a site. Green Water saves communities money by combining green infrastructure with gray infrastructure and new technology with existing technology to create sustainable growth — environmentally and socially.
About the Chicago Center for Green Technology: The Chicago Center for Green Technology is the first rehabilitated municipal building in the nation to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ™ (LEED) Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. Mayor Richard M. Daley dedicated the building in 2002 and it has since become a national model for sustainable design and technology. The Center serves as the most comprehensive green design and educational resource in the Midwest.
Their next speaking event is entitled, “Rain Gardens and Bioswales – New Tools for Sustainable Development”. This will also be at the Chicago Center for Green Technology on July 29th. More details on this will be coming soon.
This was a press release sent to us for this event. If you have an event coming up, send it in and we will help you get it promoted. The intent of this site is to help those who are trying to make a difference by working on renewable, sustainable projects, by helping to get the word out about it, so others can learn from it, and they in turn step up and try to change their local communities.
There’s nothing new about the idea of a rain barrel to store water for future use. People have been catching and storing rain water for centuries and in many countries rain still provides the majority of the water for irrigation, …
Hopefully, these will give you some ideas that could help you.
Not only are there serious questions about just how abundant natural gas from shale plays is, it now turns out that this “Cheap, Clean, Abundant, and Domestic” resource may turn out to only be domestic. …
In that story, they mentioned,
In a draft paper, Cornell researcher Robert Howarth calculates that, when methane leakage from hydraulic fracturing is included, along with secondary contributions from forest clearance and water transport are included, the carbon footprint of shale gas is slightly worse than coal’s.
(Reuters) – Natural gas obtained by the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing may contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and so should not be considered as a cleaner alternative to coal or oil, according to a Cornell University researcher.
Although natural gas, when burned, produces only about half of the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, that calculation omits greenhouse gas emissions from the well-drilling, water-trucking, pipeline-laying, and forest-felling that are part of the production of hydraulically fractured natural gas, Ecology Professor Robert Howarth argues in a new paper.
Combining the effects of combustion, production, distribution, and leaked methane from hydraulically fractured natural gas gives the fuel about the same greenhouse gas emissions as coal and about 30 percent more than diesel or gasoline, Howarth says in the draft paper published in mid-March.
“A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than other fossil fuels in terms of the consequences for global warming,” Howarth writes.
Energy companies are scrambling to develop vast reserves of natural gas from deep shale beds in many U.S. states including Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. Experts say shale gas could meet national demand for a century while helping to reduce carbon emissions and reducing petroleum imports.
“Government and industry should not be moving ahead on the basis of what is already misleading and incomplete information,” Howarth told Reuters. He urged a moratorium on further development in the multibillion-dollar industry until more is known about its greenhouse gas emissions.
There is one here in Washington state also doing it. I’m sure there are others. If you know one, tell us. Another group called, The Food Project, teaches youth and young adults, as well as provides organic food, raised in a sustainable manner.
Farm in Denver to teach, feed
The Park Hill site will eventually be developed in partnership with the neighborhood.
By Margaret Jackson The Denver Post
Feed Denver has partnered with the Urban Land Conservancy to create an urban agriculture demonstration farm in northeast Park Hill at East 33rd Avenue and Holly Street.
The conservancy, which recently purchased the property, will make long-term, permanent development plans for the site in partnership with the surrounding neighborhood. Permanent development will take a few years.
In the meantime, Feed Denver will work with Kenzie Davison and Adam Brock to create an urban ag demonstration as a viable farm for the neighborhood, as well as an education opportunity. The project will build a variety of plots to demonstrate the use of compost techniques for growing soil as well as permaculture techniques for growing food plants.
The first plot will go in this weekend in front of the Sanchez Taqueria. It will include plants for the restaurant’s use, as well as other food-producing plants that are suited to Denver’s climate.
Food, plants and soil produced will be made available to the community through sales at a market stand and donations to area food banks and organizations.
A garden-raising will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at Holly Street between 33rd and 34th avenues.
We need more of these. If you are inclined, please start your own. More the better.
When I relocate, I have dreams of doing this type of thing, as well as being energy self-sufficient, and teach by example those who care to learn. At some point I will be raising funds to build a demonstration farm model.