Monday, April 21, 2008

Permaculture Design - Zone 0 (The house itself)

The permaculture design is coming along.  I'll present the details here by Zone and Phase, starting from the cottage itself.  This is a draft, sorry not too many visual aids yet, but it might do for the on-campus discussion.  Within each phase the items are listed in order of priority (according to me.)

The elements listed for Zone 0 are mainly addressing the goals for the ARC building, namely that the building is self-heating, produces no sewage effluent, and facilitates growing your own food.  Due to lack of storage in the building I've added food storage and a few other in-house storage improvements.  I've also added elements in support of reducing the cottage's dependence on grid electricity, to where it at least has a "limp mode" that makes it livable with a modest battery backup solar electric system.

Phase 1 (by 30 June 2008)
  • Composting toilet hookup.  This is coming along nicely now (see photos below.)
  • Solar water heat hookup, for the existing panels (progress here too, photos below.)
  • Domestic hot and cold water tanks upstairs, with solar/hand pumping options.  This is towards my goal of spending one week off the grid by 4th of July.  The idea is to be able to take a hot shower or two without using electricity for either pumping or water heat.
  • Battery and inverter portion of a small solar electric (PV) system goes inside the house.
  • 110v well pump (existing pump is 220 vac).  This is also towards the off-grid goal.  It will be easier to get an inverter to do 110 than 220, I think.
  • Greenhouse edibles plant bed.  Plans are vague here but I do have some cilantro seed, and ideas of propagating perennials for the outside forest garden.
  • Greenhouse humidity sensor.  I have a dial gauge but we should get a sensor hooked up to the HUGnet datalogging.
  • Datalogging of house electricity use.
Phase 2 (by 1st frost (23 Sept 2008))
  • Improved air sealing.  The bottom sill, windows and clerestory are suspects, but I still recommend blower door testing before corrective action. I was picturing on doing it the way Energy Star professionals do, that is, they install a blower door which applies a certain amount of suction, and they measure the air flow rate as an indication of how leaky the house is overall. They also go around with a smoke stick to find out in detail where all the leaks are. After corrective action, the test can be repeated so that you know how much improvement was made.
  • Greywater system.  The plant beds for this will occupy much of the greenhouse.
  • Bathroom medicine cabinet.  Right now everything is in a sack hung on the doorknob, and I must poof my pompadour one-handed while holding a camp mirror.  
  • Small wood-gas cookstove, just a camp-sized thing.  This is to give another nonelectric nonfossil cooking option.
  • Greenhouse air circulation system (fan & valves).  
  • Temporary shelving, by E greenhouse wall.
  • Food pantry under staircase.
  • Clothing rack, N wall upstairs East.  
Phase 3 (by last frost (14 May 2009))
  • Counter/cupboards/sink, greenhouse E wall.
  • Built-in shelving, E&W walls upstairs.
  • Modify staircase to lessen the steepness, and free the upstairs south wall for bookshelves.

* * *

Here's the bin for the composting toilet going in.  It's nice to see Redbeard and Pigpen working so well together.

The bin has hand-crank tines, upper and lower, for aeration.

Progress on the solar water heat:  Here Montalban is building the insulated enclosure for the water tank, the white cylinder at his feet.

Redbeard whapped up a copper coil heat exchanger for the water tank.  In operation it will stand up vertical.  The wooden ledge holding up the tools on the right is actually an air plenum for the tubes which are to exchange heat with the ground under the floor.  There's another one on the left.  It took Montalban a solid week to build these.  They had to be done first before the compost toilet bin could go in.

The insulated closet for the water tank is partly done.

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