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Sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.

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in sustainability, appropriate technology, poverty reduction, and permaculture.

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The finished greenhouse!
Construction of an Affordable Greenhouse. The capstone project for Queen’s University 4th Year Mechanical Engineering Class,"Engineering for Sustainable Development", is to design and construct an Appropriate Technology with a quantifiable engineering result. This project is to construct a greenhouse, review the heat requirement on the system for the whole year; then, based on the materials and conditions selected, review costs associated with this and build a scaled model.

This project is the first step to easy community greenhouse development - the goal of the affordable greenhouse is to:

  1. Improve greenhose design and awareness for residential application.
  2. Demonstrate the feasibility (i.e costs) of a greenhouse in the winter months and determine the best time to install such a system for optimal crop yield.

Due to the materials selected and the cold Canadian Spring, it is not effective to construct until late April. But with better material selection and innovative greenhouse designs, it is hoped that constructing miniature greenhouses will become common practice.

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Rainwater catchment at Isla Urbana

A rainwater catchment system set up by Isla Urbana with the Huicholes in Mexico.

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Community action news

Panorámica de la Plaza Grande (Quito D.M.).jpg
Aug 7 Ecuador's "citizen revolution" [1]

Aug 7 California news: Check Out Toy Cycle, a New Platform for Families to Swap Toys [2]

Aug 3 Environment quality: 7 cities making polluted waterways into swimming hotspots [3]

Aug 2 Sharing news: The Embassy Network Fosters a Multifaceted Approach to Shared Living [4]

Aug 1 Egypt wheels out country's first bike-share program [5]

Read More...


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Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.

Graham Bell, The Permaculture Way
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A windmill is used to power a water pump which fills a swimming pool.
Appropriate technology (AT) is technology that is designed with special consideration to the context of its use - including environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, AT proponents claim their methods require fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and have less of an impact on the environment compared to techniques from mainstream technology, which they contend is wasteful and environmentally polluting.

The term is usually used to describe simple technologies proponents consider suitable for use in developing nations or less developed rural areas of industrialized nations. This form of "appropriate technology" usually prefers labor-intensive solutions over capital-intensive ones, although labor-saving devices are also used where this does not mean high capital or maintenance cost. In practice, appropriate technology is often something described as using the simplest level of technology that can effectively achieve the intended purpose in a particular location. In industrialized nations, the term appropriate technology takes a different meaning, often referring to engineering that takes special consideration of its social and environmental ramifications.

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ENGR 215 Introduction to Design projects – Fall 2011: Flock House: The Fall 2011 semester of ENGR215 Introduction to Design worked with the Flock House to research, design, and build sustainable and inspiring systems for two living systems that will be traveling through and interacting with various New York neighborhoods.

Fall 2011 ENGR 215 Intro to Design Projects - Flock House
Plastic Plumage and Bird Cage
Corrugated plastic shell and one gallon milk carton shingles  
Aluminum Awareness
Aluminum can shingles and 2-liter bottle windows  
Poly Pod
Doors, windows, and planters made from ironed plastic bags and bubble-wrap, with umbrella awnings  
Geared-Up From the Feet-Up
Bicycle powered generator capable of generating 100+ Watts  
Pump'n Power
A handcar styled, two person, human powered, energy generator  
Hyper Visible Power Meter
A post-apocalyptic, bomb-like, display for the state of the Flock House batteries  
Window Shopper and Back Me Up
Flock House solar dehydrator and backpack solar dehydrator  
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