North American Rainwater Harvesting Conference, 2007

The planning for the ARCSA 2007 National Rainwater Harvesting Conference is now underway, which will be held at the Kilauea Military Camp, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The conference runs from August 15-17. Looks like they picked a very interesting place for the conference for 2007:

The entire 50-acre campus of Kilauea Military Camp is on rainwater catchment, making the conference venue a self-contained “tour stop” for persons interested in rainwater harvesting. In addition, tours to communities entirely dependent upon rainwater harvesting are planned. In addition, a preconference hands-on workshop in the planning stages.

The event is hosted by ARCSA (The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association), whose goals are:

1. To promote rainwater catchment systems through meetings and seminars,
2. To provide networking between people with experience in rainwater catchment systems and those who might need technical or professional assistance in developing or building such systems,
3. To provide a forum for discussion of new methods, techniques, and materials pertaining to rainwater catchment systems,
4. To develop informal publications to assist in the design and use of rainwater catchment systems, and
5. To establish acceptable treatment methods for harvested rainwater.

Workshop: Designing and Building Natural Homes

Just got this tip from the Green Trust Blog about an interesting workshop on green building that’s coming up. The green building workshop, entitled Designing & Building Natural Homes, will take place at Camp Epworth in High Falls, New York from Monday August 7th until Friday August 11th. The event is hosted by Solar Energy International (SEI). Learn more and sign up here

EarthShips Are Us

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Taos, New Mexico is the unofficial (or perhaps official? How do they determine these things?) home of the “Earthship” movement. Earthships are ecologically friendly homes that are heavy on solar energy and use lots of recycled products in their construction. Some earthships even use recycled stuff like tires, cans, etc. A lot of them are actually partially built into the ground.

The company Earthship Biotecture takes the concept of an earthship to a new level. They define their construction technique in the following manner:

Earthship n. 1. passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials 2. thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization. 3. renewable energy & integrated water systems make the Earthship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

They seem to use some concepts in permaculture in their design ideas, so these homes are theoretically very self-sustainable. They’ve got some very cool designs on their website.

My only complaint about earthships? The price tag. Reports from some people I know in Taos say that earthships in general (not just from this company) are not what you’d call affordable housing. They’re more like housing for the very elite. Let’s hope that one day the earthship movement can open their doors to middle and low income folks as well!

Earth Day Tips

In honor of Earth Day, Vancouver’s “24 Hours” recently published a list of 10 things you can do to be kinder to Mother Earth. Their tips include: converting to compact fluorescent bulbs, properly disposing of pontentially toxic garbage, composting, and collecting excess water from your shower or sink to water your plants. These ideas are basic, easy to do, and can have a big impact on the health of the environment.

International Water Issues Discussed in Mexico City

The 4th Annual International Forum on Water is now under way in Mexico City. This fourm is being held In a city (and country) where water is one of the most critical issues being discussed these days. You can check out the conference live via internet (that is, you can listen to it live) from their main website. The conference ends the 22nd of March.

San Francisco Offers Compost Educator Program

The City of San Francisco has a great Gardening and Composting Educator Training Program GFE. They are currently accepting applications through Saturday the 11th of February for their next training that will take place Feb. 25-May 17. Classes are held at: Garden for the Environment, Seventh Ave. at Lawton St., S.F. (415) 731-5627. Read more about gardening activities in the San Francisco area here.

Worms Attack San Francisco

Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program has begun to offer classes on ecologically sound gardening, and are including classes on worm composting, or vermiculture. Red wiggler worms are a great ally to the home composter. The addition of worms to your compost can really make a difference in compost quality. A quality worm composting bin is a great investment and is an important first step in getting started working with worms.

Read the full article here.

The State of Water

The November 2005 issue of Water World has some pretty shocking news to report about the future of water. Here’s a sample:

“The National Urban Water Resources Survey contacted 414 cities. It found that nearly 40% of them did not expect to have adequate water supplies in 20 years.”

The US Conference of Mayors, held in 2005, revealed that the major concerns of their citizens were: Aging Water Infrastructure, Water Infrastructure Security, Water Supply Availability, Unfunded Federal Mandates, Water Quality of Rivers, Flooding, Emergency Planning, Drought Management, Regional Conflicts over Water, and Water Rights. This was before the major hurricanes of the past year. Politicians and world leaders, take note…

Buy Nothing Day: Hey, What Did You Buy?

The Friday after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day, in which many Americans (and others throughout the world) mount a sort of protest to the rampant consumerism of the X-mas season by refusing to buy useless crap. While this is a great idea, I’d like to propose an alternative.

If you’re just burning to go out and buy something after Thanksgiving, why not celebrate “Buy Local Day,” “Buy Natural Day” or “Buy Organic Day.” Hell, let?s face it, Americans love to shop, but instead of not spending your money this day or giving your money to some chain store, why not stimulate your local economy or encourage environmentally friendly businesses by buying some of their products. If you’re just itching to spend your money, consider supporting a local artist or artisan, or buying from a small local business, or shopping at your local co-operative supermarket, or at your local farmer’s market.

There are lots of good ways to spend your money without supporting the corporations that run our daily lives.

Info on Buy Nothing Day has also appeared in the following blogs:

Treehugger, and The Gristmill.

Candle Night: Romantic Dinner or Energy Conservation?

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Having worked in third world countries where power outages are the norm, I took advantage of these temporary blackouts to light up some candles, read a book, and go to bed early. I actually began to enjoy these nights of peace, quiet and soft light, but never considered that a few hours by candlelight is also a form of energy-conservation. However, some folks in Japan are doing just that. “Candle Night” is celebrated throughout Japan by businesses and homeowners interested in conserving energy.

Over 6000 businesses and buildings participated in June of last year with two hours of candlelight. More are on the list for next year. Why not participate yourself? You can even invite someone special over to share the moment. Call it environmentally friendly romance! We’ll just have to see what effect all this romantic candlelight has on the birthrate next year! Stay posted!

Click here for the Candle Night Website. Information on this event also appeared at the TreeHugger website.