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Sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.

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The First Rice Hull House
Rice Hulls in Construction. The rice hulls are unique within nature. They contain approximately 20% opaline silica in combination with a large amount of the phenyl propanoid structural polymer called lignin. This abundant agricultural waste has all of the properties one could ever expect of some of the best insulating materials. Recent ASTM testing conducted R&D Services of Cookville, Tennessee, reveals that rice hulls do not flame or smolder very easily, they are highly resistant to moisture penetration and fungal decomposition, they do not transfer heat very well, they do not smell or emit gases, and they are not corrosive with respect to aluminum, copper or steel. In their raw and unprocessed state, rice hulls constitute a Class A or Class I insulation material, and therefore, they can be used very economically to insulate the wall, floor and roof cavities of a super-insulated Rice Hull House. This paper also explains how the structure of such a house can be fashioned out of a variety of engineered lumber products derived from sugarcane rind.
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Solar Charged Lawnmower

Converting a very used gas power lawnmower into a solar charged, low emission, almost silent, lawn cutting machine.

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Community action news

Buttermere and Crummock Water.jpg
Oct 19 Environment quality UK: ClientEarth threatens UK with legal action as councils miss air pollution targets [1]

Oct 15 Environment quality: David Attenborough urges action on plastics after filming Blue Planet II [2]

Oct 14 Cambridgeshire: The city where children go to school in a plywood box [3]

Oct 14 The European cities leading the way in car-free living [4]

Oct 12 Climate action UK: UK climate change masterplan – the grownups have finally won [5]

Read More...


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Muhammad Yunus at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 25 January 2012
The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world — all we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them.

Muhammad YunusW
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Hot topics / In the news

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Blog

Kiva's straw bale greenhouse
An alternative or natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. Natural building tends to rely on human labor, more than technology. As Michael G. Smith observes, it depends on "local ecology, geology and climate; on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users."

The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health or aesthetics. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled materials. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. In addition to relying on natural building materials, the emphasis on the architectural design is heightened. The orientation of a building, the utilization of local climate and site conditions, the emphasis on natural ventilation through design, fundamentally lessen operational costs and positively impact the environmental. Building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.

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ENGR 215 Introduction to Design projects – Spring 2010: World Shelters: One lab of the Spring 2010 semester of Engineering 215 worked worked with World Shelters to design and improve upon structures by leveraging the resources of Haiti and World Shelters.

Spring 2010 ENGR 215 Intro to Design Projects - World Shelters
Simple Square
Reduces the amount of unique connecting pieces needed to construct World Shelter's JAS Shelter  
Rock Roots JAS
JAS Shelter retrofits to withstand a Class One hurricane  
Make it Complete with Papercrete
Inner wall system incorporates the use of papercrete, a weatherproof and fire resistant material  
Rubble to Resource
Rubble trench foundations utilize rubble to rebuild Haiti  
Bags of Shelter
Earthbag shelter designed for use as a transitional shelter  
Titanium Sun Shield
Primer and topcoat application over the polypropylene exterior of a WorldShelters temporary structure  
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