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Sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.

Sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.
Appropedia is the site for collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction and international development through the use of sound principles and appropriate technology and the sharing of wisdom and project information. It is a wiki, a type of website which allows anyone to add, remove, or edit content. Registration is encouraged but not required for contributors.

Appropedia has been described as an "appropriate technology wiki," but it is much broader than that - it is a green wiki, and a wiki for all matters of international development and aid. But most importantly, Appropedia is an open site for stakeholders to come together to find, create and improve scalable and adaptable solutions.

Want to collaborate & share ideas for sustainability, poverty reduction and international development?
You're at the right place — see our Mission.

Contributors have made 362,071 edits and uploaded 28,958 files. — Browse our categories or all 57,145 pages.

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There are four basic Hexayurt sizes which cover a variety of needs.
What is it? The Hexayurt is a refugee shelter system based on work done at the Rocky Mountain Institute. It uses an approach based on "autonomous building" to provide not just a shelter, but a comprehensive family support unit which includes drinking water purification, composting toilets, fuel-efficient stoves and solar electric lighting. Other systems can be added in a modular fashion.

Is this for real? Yes. Both the American Red Cross and the US Department of Defense have examined the Hexayurt system in detail and found that it has considerable merit and utility. I hope that we will see it in use by international agencies within two years. The best place to get started is to read the slides from the presentation Vinay Gupta gave at the Pentagon in December 2006: Pentagon Presentation (pdf) - 20 pages, not much text, and the best summary of the system we currently have online.

Projected Costs: Shelter: $200 - $500+ per single family unit depending on size, climate and use duration Infrastructure Package: around $100 per unit.

Selected portal introductions
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.

Sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.
Appropedia is the site for collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction and international development through the use of sound principles and appropriate technology and the sharing of wisdom and project information. It is a wiki, a type of website which allows anyone to add, remove, or edit content. Registration is encouraged but not required for contributors.

Appropedia has been described as an "appropriate technology wiki," but it is much broader than that - it is a green wiki, and a wiki for all matters of international development and aid. But most importantly, Appropedia is an open site for stakeholders to come together to find, create and improve scalable and adaptable solutions. For more about our motivation, see Appropedia:Mission.

To create a new project page, first browse the project articles and subcategories below for examples and check for possible collaboration opportunities, such as articles similar to what you're considering writing. If you are looking for ideas for your own project, check out our suggested projects. It is highly encouraged to tag your projects with their status -- you can do this with a few templates. Be Bold!


You can have a green Christmas.
Green living (or sustainable living) is about practical choices, large and small, to preserve the earth and have a better quality of life. It is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources and his or her own resources.

In order to make sustainable choices, it is very helpful to have solid, reliable information that tells us which behaviors are sustainable and which are unsustainable. In quantitative terms, which actions will make the greatest difference, and should be prioritized. Green living can be high tech (buying a hybrid vehicle), low tech (green cleaning, or completely "back to nature." It can be smart grid or off the grid. Sustainable city living explains some of the areas of action for a city dweller.

Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption and diet. Proponents of sustainable living aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, in natural balance and respectful of humanity's symbiotic relationship with the Earth's natural ecology and cycles. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living is highly interrelated with the overall principles of sustainable development. Green Living is part of rainwater harvesting


Man working in a rice field.
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, and/or stimulate growth. Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture.

Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilization. In the developed world, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture has become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is growing support for sustainable agriculture (e.g. permaculture or organic agriculture).

Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term: satisfy human food and fiber needs; make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”

Related portal: Permaculture


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.


Aleiha's parabolic solar cooker
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems. Since work is defined as a force acting through a distance (a length of space), energy is always equivalent to the ability to exert pulls or pushes against the basic forces of nature, along a path of a certain length.

Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources are most often regarded as including all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy and power, wind power, wave power, geothermal energy and power, biomass fuel and energy, and tidal power. It usually also includes technologies that improve energy efficiency.

While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas, where energy is often crucial in human development. As of 2011, small solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provide electricity to a few million households, and micro-hydro configured into mini-grids serves many more. Over 44 million households use biogas made in household-scale digesters for lighting and/or cooking, and more than 166 million households rely on a new generation of more-efficient biomass cookstoves.


The Sun photographed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA 304) of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available renewable energy on earth. Only a minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is used.

Often Solar powered electrical generation relies on heat engines and photovoltaics. Solar energy's uses are limited by human ingenuity, and the finite resourced to build the sys. A partial list of solar applications includes space heating and cooling through solar architecture, potable water via distillation and disinfection, daylighting, solar hot water, solar cooking, and high temperature process heat for industrial purposes.To harvest the solar energy, the most common way is to use solar panels.

Solar technologies are characterized as either passive solar or active solar, depending on the way the energy is captured, converted and distributed. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the suns seasonal orientation, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass, which will capture and radiate solar energy, light dispersing properties that will disperse light energy, or designing spaces that naturally circulate solar heated air.


The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487.
Those who have health have hope, and those who have hope have everything.
Arabian Proverb

With a sound understanding of principles it is often possible to have lasting impacts on the health and safety of people where the latest medicines and equipment may not be available. This portal suggests solutions in these situations in humane, economical, and ecological ways. Simple, cheap, effective means are possible for the restoration and maintenance of health in many chronic, non-traumatic situations.


The use of appropriate technologies is less common in healthcare than other fields such as construction or agriculture. In healthcare it is linked closely to public health field and the water and sanitation, where it has been in use for much longer. Appropriate technology is often used to develop mobility and rehabilitation equipment as well as tests used to diagnose diseases.


Bicycle wheel
Transport. According to the Appropriate transport manual, sustainable transportation is a strategy for the flow of people and goods across the Earth that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Transportation accounted for 32.6% of US green house gas emissions in 2005. In addition to the widely publicized environmental consequences of driving automobiles, it is also socially and economically costly:
  • Land use: Parking and roads use valuable land resources.
  • Transportation equity: Driving, with all of its expenses, costs the average U.S. household $7,000 per year per vehicle.
  • Economics: Most of the money spent on driving leaves a local economy, weakening it.
  • Community: Travelers outside of their cars interact more with their physical environment and each other.
  • Safety: The presence of pedestrians and cyclists make our neighborhoods safer from crime. Conversely, 42,000 Americans are killed in car accidents every year.
  • Health: Increasingly, Americans are suffering from weight-related illnesses. This is partly attributable to the decline in active transportation use and availability.

Building and encouraging alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle, or, for short "alternative transportation," is imperative. Some alternative transportation advocates have taken to using the term, sustainable transportation, instead of the previous, widely-used "alternative transportation" term to avoid sidelining their interest from the mainstream.

Many efficient, practical, and inexpensive sustainable transportation technologies already exist, meaning activism, policy work, and planning research is most often more crucial to developing sustainable transportation than technology development.

Estuaries and coastal waters are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth.
Water is vital for all known forms of life. Covering 71% of the Earth's surface, it is found mostly in oceans and other large water bodies. 1.6% of the total mass of the Earth's water is below ground in aquifers and 0.001% is in the air as vapor, clouds, and precipitation (rain, snow and sleet).

The Earth's water moves constantly through a cycle of evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration), precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over land - thus deforestation and other changes to land can have wide and long-lasting effects through their impact on the water cycle.

Some observers estimate that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be vulnerable to a lack of water. Appropriate water supply and water purification technologies can help.

Related portal: Greywater
Planted cattails at Millcreek greywater
Greywater, sometimes also spelled as graywater, grey water or gray water, is all of the effluent water from a household, such as water discharged from lavatories (bathroom sinks), bathtubs, showers, clothes washers, and laundry trays. Greywater is not wastewater from a sink used for food preparation, or water closet (toilet) wastewater.

The water leaving our homes carries nutrients and value. It may also contain pathogens, and/or harsh chemicals and care should be taken with it. However, it is not a great risk compared to blackwater (sewage).

Redirecting the water we use for tasks such as showering allows us to reclaim some of that value to grow plants and recharge the water table. It may be necessary to choose our soaps and detergents more carefully, if we use the greywater for watering and fertilizing plants.

Main portal: Water


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