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Latest revision as of 18:48, 2 December 2015

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Direct and diffuse solar radiation (Practical Action)
Solar thermal energy. The sun is the source of the vast majority of the energy we use on earth. Most of the energy we use has undergone various transformations before it is finally utilized, but it is also possible to tap this source of solar energy as it arrives on the earth’s surface.

There are many applications for the direct use of solar thermal energy, space heating and cooling, water heating, crop drying and solar cooking. It is a technology which is well understood and widely used in many countries throughout the world. Most solar thermal technologies have been in existence in one form or another for centuries and have a well-established manufacturing base in most sun-rich developed countries.

The most common use for solar thermal technology is for domestic water heating. Hundreds of thousands of domestic hot water systems are in use throughout the world, especially in areas such as the Mediterranean and Australia where there is high solar insolation (the total energy per unit area received from the sun). As world oil prices vary, it is a technology which is rapidly gaining acceptance as an energy saving measure in both domestic and commercial water heating applications. Presently, domestic water heaters are usually only found amongst wealthier sections of the community in developing countries.

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Ecological dry toilets at Pedregal

Ecological dry toilets at Pedregal, a Permaculture Demonstration Center in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Community action news / Hot topics

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Street Party Table.jpg
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Blog

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Dave barry
There are two kinds of solar-heat systems: 'passive' systems collect the sunlight that hits your home, and 'active' systems collect the sunlight that hits your neighbors' homes, too.

Dave BarryW
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 2012: Friends of the Dunes: The Spring 2012 semester of Engineering 215 worked with Friends of the Dunes to design and build projects that support the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center at 220 Stamps Lane, Manila, CA.

Spring 2012 ENGR 215 Intro to Design Projects - Humboldt Coastal Nature Center
Solar Powered Trail Lighting System
Solar trail lighting  
Carbon Footprint Wheel
Educational carbon footprint display  
Living Green Roof
Green roof educational model  
Acoustic Panels
Acoustic panels utilizing re-purposed materials  
Living Green Display
Interactive display promoting environmental consciousness  
Rapid Composter
Rapid composting system  
The Stretchbarrow
Hybrid stretcher/wheelbarrow  
The Sandy Cove
Amphitheater constructed of urbanite  
Pump Powered Dune Movement Simulator
Interactive sand dune model  
Beachgrass Baler
Tool to bale beach grass  
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Water
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