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So here is the idea in some detail.

The overall objective is to design a greenhouse that can operate (generate food) in urban environments continuously throughout the year. In other words, the transition between summer and winter should only affect basic operation in minimal way. The design should utilize low cost materials, utilize renewable fuels and use minimal space. Some secondary objectives: Aesthetically pleasing, modular, provide a space for community cohesion, grow a wide range of produce. So I had set my mind n this idea while I was in Canada last year. I suppose a primary motivation was because I would have liked to live in Canada for an extended period, and I wanted to contribute a part of the Caribbean to the Canadian environment rather than take from it. I also noted that during winter, there was a need for community cohesiveness. People were far more insulated (pun intended) As such I also wanted to attempt an idea that contained wholistic elements of physical and mental wellbeing for Canadian environments that people seemed to travel to the Caribbean for in the first place. The application of which seemed even more necessary during the winter months. The overall design would be an octagonal building, which is as close to a circle as possible allowing space efficiency with (possibly truncated) cone shaped roof no greater than 40 degrees (allows for minimal build up of snow) The structure may or may not include glass panels for natural light. So the first principles of the design were: Objective 1: to provide a warm environment that plants and people could thrive. All but biogas were eliminated as being too energy intensive, expensive, complicated to produce or maintain, including bio diesel. Biogas can provide sufficient heat, by using simple wastes. Originally I thought of generating the biogas on site, by collecting food and animal wastes in the city (sustainability factor) and processing in or around the greenhouse. But I recently discovered the relative ease of bottling biogas. This would allow safe portability, without having to deal with health and safety issues of processing waste and biogas in a neighbourhood. I’ve worked out how much biogas would be needed to heat a 6 ft by 7 ft by 8 ft space. Extrapolation beyond that would be easy. Issues: Collecting waste, heat vents, CO2 vents Collecting waste in urban spaces faces more challenges than in the Caribbean. Lines between rural and living spaces are less restricted in the C’Bean. Because farms do not exist within or in proximity to cities like they do in the C’bean, I started thinking along the

lines of zoos. However, zoos would work during summer, but in the winter, many are closed and overall, may very well not have the types of animal life for suitable waste (certain species may not be able to adapt to temperature changes in Canada) Horse manure seems to be the best solution, due to their adaptability in winter. Stables do carry horses specifically bred for winter months and access to winter horse rides in the city minimise looking outside the city for this type of waste. Animal waste would just be the starter however, as it contains the bacteria necessary for anaerobic digestion, but the undigested food wastes from restaurants, readily available in Urbania, would supply the bulk of the energy. Animal wastes would also be in smaller quantities than food wastes. Assuming good insulation, excess heat could be a challenge. Heat vents of some kind might be necessary. Open vents during winter obviously won’t work, so this is something we could work on designing together. CO2 vents are also a critical component to figure out together. Plants will absorb some CO2 but it can’t be anticipated that they can utilize all CO2 generated from biogas use. The effluent from the biogas can be used as compost and nutrient tea for the plants. Objective 2: Low cost building materials. For urban environments, I also wanted to consider low-income environments as well. Affordability needed to be incorporated. As such, creating a mainly glass structure was eliminated. Risk of damage and maintenance costs, in the environment under consideration (urban), the fact that the glass needed to be of a thickness sufficient to withstand heavy snowfalls all made the option unrealistic. Metals allow too much heat transfer (from inside out) and concrete is also a poor insulator. Wood seems to be an option, but I have no expertise here. So this is another area for collaboration. My thoughts are: Inexpensive, but weatherproof external wooden side panels and a less expensive, non-weatherproof internal panel. Between the two panels are packed with recycled Styrofoam panels. Styrofoam does have its challenges as a fire hazard but if mixed or coated with a light concrete skin and the interior panel is also coated with a simple concrete mix fire hazards could be avoided. Wooden panels would have to make up the roof. I am starting to think about possibly having the side exterior panels made with windows that allow for the summer conversion. Double glass panels inserted, but sunk into the exterior panel. The exterior panel would have shutters that can seal off, trapping syrofoam insulation between the glass and the shutter. Indeed, on clear days during winter, the shutters can be opened to allow natural sunlight.

Another area of inadequate knowledge for me is available lumber in Canada for this type of construction. As mentioned before, it has to be low cost lumber. Objective 3: Lighting. Lighting should mainly come from a natural source. However, during winter, long days of clouded sky and the necessity of using less glass make alternative lighting a priority. In this design, I wanted to incorporate both sources. Natural lighting is highest priority. I have been working on some designs for solar tubes that allow sunlight to enter underground areas. This type of set up would have to be at the peak of the roof. As such, I designed the roof to be truncated. I haven’t come up with a solid design yet, and I would rather not have to look at buying one, even though they are available on the market. Again, trying to minimize the cost in constructing seemed a priority. Glass windows in the side panels are a better idea. As described before, the windows are sunk into the exterior panels. Shutters protect the glass and allow for further insulation. This glass can be the cheapest one available, as it would not have to take weight. Indeed it can be found from recycled sources. This type of set up also allows for transitioning the greenhouse for summer months. Artificial lighting during the winter is still going to be a necessity, due to the sun’s latitude in these months. Traditional lighting sources require too much energy and are expensive. Super bright LEDS use far less power, in some cases a single watt, and can be bought in a variety of wavelengths and colours that may be suitable for plant growth, as research is already showing. I plan to buy a few of these and experiment with various plants and varying wavelengths. Growing in this way will likely limit the types of plants that may be able to grow under these conditions. Reflective surfaces inside the greenhouse would definitely help Which brings me to Objective 4: Financial sustainability. What is grown should be sold. Ideally, the type of produce grown should be a mix of those that can incorporate a value added component, but also those that can provide food for low-income areas. A number of options are available here. I would rather avoid the idea of setting up a centralized system that distributes food to many areas, as we would run into problems of supply and demand. Decentralised, autonomous greenhouses, possibly supplying to niche markets and high priority areas could work.

But the central theme is to ensure that the greenhouse is financially viable. The houses can also be built in a cooperative system, each one growing a specific type of produce, to maximize the outputs of any one type of vegetable. Objective 5: Electrical supply. This is a challenge. Super bright LEDS do not require much power, but in the likelihood of LEDS not being completely adequate, more power may be required. I do not believe use of bio diesel is a solution here as it adds a complicated element to the project. (Producing safely, storing chemicals, getting rid of by products etc.) However, use of straight vegetable oil in a diesel generator is an interesting option. With the exception of modifying the generator with an extra tank for vege oil and a means to keep the oil from solidifying in the winter, it could be a sustainable option. The noise factor could be a problem for urban environments however. A slight variation to this is to use the generator to charge batteries and allow the batteries to supply electricity to lights. Other issues that can be seen as sub objectives are: Fire prevention. Biogas is flammable and a flame would be the means of releasing the heat. Kyrke’s cabin had a safe way of burning firewood in an enclosed house safely. I’m sure there are gas versions of this technology that can be adapted to biogas. Coating the panels and styrofoam with a thin skin of cement should allow for a fire retardant. Further ideas as to how this project impacts on food security in 1st world countries, 3rd world countries and climate change adaptability to come later.