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New Year Message and update from solaroofgarden
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Rick Nelson    Posted 01-06-2003 at 05:27:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]

New Year Greetings to the Country Living people.

I thought I would share with you my New Year message for the solaroofgarden web community and to the Yahoo/solaroof forum members. I believe that our communities share many interests in common and you may wish to join with us in our collaborative efforts to build solar greenhouses, homes and communities, if so please read on.

First I would like to thank Ross and Kat Elliot and express our appreciation for their example that is the inspiration for many other individuals to move ahead with their plans and projects. Your results at the Lively-Up Greenhouse near Ottawa, Canada (see are now very preliminary but they are still quite exciting. As I understand the greenhouse is holding at about 8C during minus 10C nights using the bubble insulation process (with daytime highs over 20C). That sounds very good, but you will get even greater results when you have the liquid solar energy capture operational for cooling and capturing the solar gain during the mid-day. It is much more effective than any other solar collector system but you still have not experienced the benefit of this important feature of the solaroof concept. Ross, we are all following your progress with your solar greenhouse and organic homesteading with great interest and I would like to say that the Yahoo/solaroof forum ( ) that you have founded and take time to moderate has been a really important development for our community during the past year.

The Tunnel-in-Tunnel greenhouse project in South Korea represents a further improvement of the tunnel design that Ross Elliot has pioneered and this new development takes into account how the endwalls can be worked into a bubble insulation system and provides a simple, effective positioning of the bubble generator(s) over the door passageway at the endwall(s). Another aspect of this project by the Batu Group is the use of a below-grade storage tank for the soap solution with the sidewall trough being just a drain back path rather than a reservoir for liquid storage. This will not always be a better option than the style where the sidewall footing incorporates a liquid reservoir. In fact I still like the idea of an on-grade, sidewall reservoir that requires little excavation and can use the weight of the liquid to pin the structure to the ground. This results in a more portable structure and a low construction cost. These are all design alternatives that will be presented in a book that Ross Elliot is writing for release this spring. Scott, in Wisconsin, is another individual who is serious about building a project. I am working with Scott on a lean-to greenhouse design that will be built along the south wall of a garage building at his homestead property. This greenhouse will use grey water from household sources and water collection from the roof areas.

Other activity is focused on the Far East where there are two plant sheltered shade structures under way. These are solaroofgarden structures for tropical shading & cooling. One is the Canteen Project at the Alom Group Manufacturing Plant in Kuching, Malaysia and the other is a residential conversion of a roof damaged by termites (a big problem in the tropics) in Indonesia. Alom is also working with me to deliver the liquid bubbles shade canopy for my competition garden (the “Radiant Garden”) at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show in London, England. This is a potential volume production product that could have a market in North America and many other markets. Our solaroofgarden Partners would have an opportunity to sell these products (there will be a product-line for individual and clustered canopies) and we will discuss that further as we make progress. One other plant sheltered solaroofgarden is under construction in St. Lucia and I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Thom, the owner, while he was visiting London last year. There are at least a dozen other projects that are under consideration.

During the past year there was considerable discussion among a number of our commercial greenhouse members including a couple of commercial growers in Ontario who have been studying how to convert or build new “gutter connected” large area greenhouses. Marc, one of our Yahoo/solaroof members is developing a fish farm project north of Montreal and a few growers in the US mid-west that have been planning similar projects that use organic source nutrients for growing greenhouse crops. Many members want to use fish and bio- digester source nutrients for a supply of organic nutrients in both soil-based and hydroponics growing systems. Kelly, from northern California, is planning a greenhouse project with both living and growing space to create jobs in a project to assist women with children to operate a self-help social enterprise. I have had some private exchanges with the developer, John Cruickshank of the system who is working on solar thermal storage in soil storage using warm, humid air from the greenhouse to provide thermal transfer. It appears that he is quite open to the advantages of the liquid solar approach and is considering trying it in an upcoming project.

I have continued to extol the merits of the liquid solar process for solar thermal storage and the liquid cooled solaroof for both solar energy capture and climate control in the building (whatever the building use) as a system that is far superior to the state-of-art passive solar design concepts. The use of bubble insulation for dynamic heating of a building during cold winter nights provides an effective and extremely efficient mechanism to put the low-grade (low temperature) solar gain to work whereas the release of energy from the know types of thermal mass is very ineffective. I am looking for more demonstrations of our active liquid thermal mass + liquid solar process in architectural buildings and I would like to call upon the hundreds of “green” architect and builder members to apply our BlueGreen methods to their next eco-architecture projects. I would like to see a breakthrough in our understanding of the design concepts of solar architecture in the coming year. It is so important that we learn to BUILD a sustainable future – it is said that more buildings will be built in the next 20 years than have ever existed in human history – NOW is the time to build a BlueGreen millennium! I am also looking for student projects and home owners to take up this challenge; find receptive teachers and builders and go forward with innovative projects – but please share your experience with solaroofgarden.

The past year has seen much discussion of our OPENSOURCE approach to technology and the dedication of the solaroofgarden website to accessible, affordable and adaptable technology that is appropriate for all climates and cultures and can be integrated with many styles of construction. We encourage the local fabrication and supply of the solaroof building components and materials and their integration with local materials and low impact construction methods. We are networking with many eco-village projects and partnering in a world wide movement for eco-village and urban gardening movements. The eco-community section of our website (too long “under construction”) will be greatly developed and extended during the coming year. I am looking for a lot help in this area. During the past year I did my best to get out the message about the importance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development that was held in South Africa and I believe that in the process we have made some valuable friends and contacts that will work with us to implement our DIY approach to sustainable living for all.

Peter Sullivan (greenroofs) remains very active and has introduced solaroofgarden to innumerable people and organizations and has listed several great websites and resources at the Yahoo/solaroof forum. With him we have continued to explore the business context of our opensource community and how we can create an environment in which eco-businesses and social enterprises can be encouraged to grow and interact with our membership. I have had some discussion with Burton among others about getting help to do much more to build solaroofgarden into an interactive web community that provides the mechanisms for interaction among our members and is a host to more member sites. I would like to provide Lively-Up Greenhouse and other members with a greater level of service and capabilities that members can manage the content of their own sub-domain (and use your own domain names) and create pages and content as you like. Our member websites would have features like this great site that Peter introduced us to: so that we can share our experience and build a robust and deep knowledge base. I would like to see a more comprehensive approach to developing multiple discussion forums so that we can mobilize the collaboration of the various sub-groups in our community and give a better focus on their particular area of interest. I would like to see many more businesses and professionals teaming up with solaroofgarden as registered Partners.

All of this must remain open, accessible and transparent so that it is clear that we are a GrassRoots community that serves our membership and gives us a collective power to change the world and make it better – more safe, secure, and prosperous – by shifting our lifestyles onto a sustainable track. I hope to see some actual sustainable development assistance projects happen this coming year. In this regard I recommend that our membership to co-operate (in collaboration with ) in the support of some GrassRoots projects proposed by any of our members who are disadvantaged in some way. This will be a visible demonstration of the power of our PayItForward policy to mobilize individuals and families to help other families and groups to move from a dead-end road to poverty and hunger to a path of sustainable living in solaroofgarden buildings. If we act together, sharing our knowledge, working to implement sustainable living methods in our homes, backyards and communities then we will be able to put a stop to our damaging impacts on the local environment, abate the harmful impacts of our present lifestyle, and ultimately restore the Global Ecology to its natural equilibrium.

One of the encouraging New Year messages that I received a couple days ago was from a Director of Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines who has invited me to discuss how solaroofgarden concepts could be adapted to their work on affordable homes. If only I could see some organizations in the USA (and other regions of the so called developed world) step forward to show leadership. How I wish that we could vie with each other to be leaders and pioneers who will break the path to sustainability that is now so narrow and little known. We need to build a broad road that will bring millions of us to the goal of sustainable living and then we will see, all over the world, people following our example. Is this the year that we will break the trail to a sustainable future?

As always I would ask you to spread the word about solaroofgarden and recommend us to your friends, neighbours and colleagues. I wish you all the best in 2003. Care for each other and be kind to the earth. And thank you for your efforts to BUILD a sustainable future.

Yours truly, Richard Nelson Webmaster, inventor, innovator and founder of solaroofgarden

Rick Nelson    Posted 01-06-2003 at 05:49:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Picture this: a bubble insulated greenhouse that has an R-30 insulation value during cold winter nights and then reverts to a double layer film cover with the removal of the liquid bubbles during the day. In this image you see a solaroof greenhouse with one side wall/roof filled with the bubbles and the other side shows an empty (air filled)cavity space.

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