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Solar hot water system for a hotel in Parras de la Fuente, Mexico
Hotel Perote solar pool heating system. Parras de la Fuente is a desert oasis town of about 44,000 residents located in the south of the Mexican state of Coahuila. Along with textile manufacturing, tourism is one of the main industries in Parras. Tourism has become increasingly emphasized after Parras's designation as the "primer pueblo mágico del Norte de México." Parras is warm in the summer, and cooler in the winter, but temperatures rarely fall below freezing, snow falls once every several years.

Antiqua Hacienda de Perote is a hotel, restaurant, nuez (pecan) ranch, vineyard, and winery. It sits on about 500 acres on the western-most edge of Parras. According to Igancio (Nacho) Chacon, Perote's owner, Perote's hotel business has been growing rapidly, and in 2006, the hotel was constructing rooms to meet demand.

Parras Program students Heather Kuoppamaki and Rowan Steele built a rooftop solar hot water system for Hotel Perote in the summer of 2005. Intended as prototype for a larger system to heat a spring-fed swimming pool (alberca), then being constructed, the system was sized to provide heated water for a single hotel bathroom. The 2005 system is no longer located at Perote, and has been moved to the residence of someone afiliated with the local city government. Igancio has requested a system to keep the pool at 28° centigrade from October to March. The design problem revolves on this performance parameter and several state variables.

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Micro filter dams at Pedregal

Micro filter dams at Pedregal, a Permaculture Demonstration Center in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
My friend, all theory is gray, and the Golden tree of life is green.

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheW
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 – Fall 2010: HBCSL Somoa Hostel: The Fall 2010 semester of Engineering 215 worked with Humboldt Bay Center for Sustainable Living to design and build projects that support a proposed eco-hostel in Humboldt County.

Fall 2010 ENGR 215 Intro to Design Projects - HBCSL
Thermosyphon Solar Shower System
An outdoor shower that utilizes solar energy to heat the water  
Samoa Hostel Truth Tank
Provides greywater treatment system for a satellite solar shower  
Samoa Hostel Wattimus Prime
A metering scheme that monitors the amount of energy used by the visitors  
Can You Feel The Heatloss?
An education display about convection and heat loss  
Samoa Hostel Natural Paints
A natural paint display to educate visitors of the Samoa Hostel  
Pain in the Axle
A bicycle-powered electrical generator that powers a television and DVD player  
Samoa Hostel Windbelt
An array of wind belts that can charge a cell phone  
The Mechanical Munchy-Maker
A mechanical bicycle that generates energy to power a kitchen appliance  
Samoa Hostel Insulation Station
Educates visitors about the effectiveness insulation types and their relative costs  
Samoa Hostel greywater island
Models, designs, and educates guests and implementers of hostel size greywater treatment  
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