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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 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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AEF greywater

Recreating a failing greywater marsh at the Arcata Educational Farm.

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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
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: RCEA: Two labs of the Spring 2010 semester of Engineering 215 worked with the Redwood Coast Energy Authority to build energy education boxes for classrooms in Humboldt County. These boxes are designed for different K-12 grade ranges and cover one of three topics: energy conservation, renewable energy or climate change.

Spring 2010 ENGR 215 Intro to Design Projects - RCEA
The Power of Wind
Educates students on the basics of wind power  
The Rad Triad
A Chutes and Ladders-like board game, a popup book and a sing-a-long song  
Weather Warnings
Teaches climate change through a movie, three stations, and a worksheet  
Modeling Renewable Energy
Educates students on many types of renewable energy  
Bust-A-Watt
Teaches energy conservation through activities, home assessments, and an art assignment  
Seas of Change
Educates students about the polar ice caps melting effects of climate change through a hands-on model  
Energy in a Cinch
Teaches about renewable energy through the use of a Windbelt  
CAN YOU WorKIT
Students assemble and operate a hand crank electrical generators  
Climate Crusaders
A Cap-and-Trade game and a model greenhouse gas experiment  
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