Problems & Solutions: Energy

Problems & Solutions

The Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology (CPAT) is a place that showcases how a balance among (1) healthy food choices, (2) stormwater management, (3) low-pollution transportation systems with supportive jobs, and (4) renewable energy sources can be embedded in the Near West Side community area. Teaching, learning, and job training programs are integral to all work at CPAT.

The activities at CPAT are designed to build on the local economy by providing a marketplace where exchanges happen in a closed, local loop. CPAT equips the neighborhood with the knowledge and resources needed to live resiliently and encourages a community-scaled, closed loop economy less impacted by regional and global fluctuations. Programs like Local Bucks (see Eau Claire and Greencastle) ensure dollars stay local, and Really, Really Free Markets (see Toronto and NYC) encourage product life-cycle awareness, interdependence with neighbors, and community interactions.

The site becomes a campus of learning and working, and is the antithesis to a massive building that could have been built within the constraints of the Living Building imperatives. Crisscrossing footpaths break up the large street grid to create a human-scaled site that offers intrigue, and improves human well-being through stress relief as shown in Landscape Psychology. Paths are also a direct Biomimicry technique to create Land Mosaics that increase habitat types and species variation to an urban area, therefore providing opportunities for nature access, education and economic development.

As a Living Building, CPAT is a restorative organism. At the center is an anaerobic digester, CPAT’s stomach. Its fuel is waste, and its product is education, food, and support for the local economy. The more waste the digester receives, the more energy it generates.

4. Energy

A majority of energy in the region is obtained from highly-polluting coal power plants and impossible-to-dispose-of-waste-producing nuclear power plants. ComEd reports the following supply sources of energy for the 12 months ending September 30, 2012:

  • Coal: 42%
  • Nuclear: 35%
  • Natural gas: 18%
  • Solar, wind, hydro, biomass: 0, 2, 1, 1% respectively

In accordance with the Living Building Challenge, the site will satisfy all of its energy needs through on-site supplies with a combination of solar thermal, solar electric and wind power, passive solar design and methane gas; energy needs will be reduced using geothermal energy. 1.4 hectares of habitat exchange will be created in the Millennium Reserve and managed by Openlands. Carbon credits that reduce deforestation and restore rainforests will be purchased to offset the carbon released in the construction of the site.

Read about the other focus areas:

FoodWaterTransportation – Energy

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