Future Plans FOR EARTH SWEET HOME

When the Earth Sweet Home house was initially built, we wanted to test and monitor various aspects of the house. While some things have been tested by time, others merit testing in a more scientific manner. In addition, as we live in the house we encounter issues that we would like to resolve (e.g. the transportation dilemma). And finally, the longer that Earth Sweet Home operates, the more we find the need to expand our educational and informational components.

What follows is a list of areas we hope will obtain funding for further investigation and development.

Wetlands

When we originally built the wetland, we built it to State of Vermont specifications. Unfortunately, the state grossly overestimated the amount of water we would consume; our wetland is constructed for 400 gallons/day, while we only use about 75 gallons/day. As a result, a perfectly valid technology is failing not because it’s not viable, but because the rules governing its construction are faulty. Since we are not the only people in the state of Vermont who have had this problem, we would like to study what is happening and determine what could be done to fix it.

We have used our own funds to have the original engineers study the wetland and luckily due to new 2008 regulations may be able to use the wetland to process the wastes produced in our new building.  We hope to obtain assistance for more elaborate testing and for making the necessary modifications. The long-term goal is to help the state redesign its requirements so that this viable alternative technology can be properly implemented in the state of Vermont.

Electrical System

We would like to be able to more accurately assess what is going on with our electrical system. Exactly how much energy are we generating from our solar panels and from our wind turbine? To answer these questions, we would like to hook our new 2008 Outback  inverter up to a computer; this would allow us to thoroughly track input from the sun and wind, total energy output, and total energy consumption. Such data would give us a clearer picture of what happens in a hybrid system (right now we suspect that when there is less sun, there is more wind but have never verified this). This computer set-up would also allow us to track daily and monthly fluctuations in energy production and use.  Such information could also help us to be more energy-efficient; we could run energy-consuming devices like our washing machine, dishwasher and computers, during times of peak energy production, and could schedule energy-intensive projects for times of year when both sun and wind were abundant.

We would like to also assess how much non-renewable energy we are consuming via the generator. Currently we can only track total propane consumption for all appliances, including our clothes dryer, stove, hot water heater, and generator. We believe now is a good time to make an assessment of non-renewable energy consumption via the generator, because after 13 years of living here our habits are fixed and predictable. 

Once our new building is complete we would like to do a thorough energy audit.  With the long overdue interest in energy efficiency finally at the forefront of our national consciousness, examples like the 13 year old Earth Sweet Home house are very valuable.

Temporary Low-Cost Shelter

When we originally built our circular shed, we were experimenting with the possibilities for low-cost, less-finished, alternative buildings. Despite the problems we have encountered with the shed, we believe it to be a good spring board ( spring board is one word)for investigating just how far we can push the envelope with low-cost, temporary, eco-friendly shelter. Such shelter could eventually be an environmental alternative to trailers at fairs and for low-cost housing, and also for less-finished structures like barns, sheds and workshops.

One of the things we would like to investigate is how to construct a cheap, easy-to-build foundation for a straw structure, and how to maintain a viable living roof in our climate.  Our experiences in building the new building have made us more interested than ever in ways to avoid large amounts of concrete and foam insulation board.  And with our new “living roofs” ( explained earlier) we are looking forward to seeing what details, materials and plants are most effective. 

We are interested in obtaining grant money for further research on foundations and living roofs in a cold, northern climate, and for offering on-site building workshops in low-cost, alternative shelter.

Transportation

By choosing a more remote location, we were able to accomplish many of our sustainable-living objectives, like living off-the-grid and making good use of the land (e.g. recycling field stones, creating a wetlands from our waste-water, organic gardening, composting, etc.). A more remote site was also necessary to increase our distance from the high EMF power lines that abound in more developed locations. Unfortunately, our remoteness also means a greater dependence on fossil-fuels to run our cars -we are 10 miles from most stores and services and at the top of a very steep hill making bicycling a one way venture at best! While  we do have one diesel car converted so that it can run on waste cooking oil, and we frequently car pool, we are still very interesting in exploring alternative forms and systems of transportation.


The veggie oil car also uses BioDiesel.

Education and Information

Earth Sweet Home is currently seeking grant money to expand its educational component by creating a book about our home, and  developing a companion DVD showing the building process. We would also like to develop visual aids and audio-visual presentations that could be used in school settings and for those working in the environmental building profession.

Many people are very interested in visiting the Earth Sweet Home house. Currently, we are giving tours of the Earth Sweet Home house on our own time and on a limited basis. If we could obtain some funding for such tours, we could become more accessible. We would like to accommodate more visitors, since many find the Earth Sweet Home house to be an inspirational place to visit, and we believe the house serves as an excellent model for what is possible.


College students pay us a visit in 2004.

  PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DESIGN TECHNOLOGIES
  VERMONT, USA info (at) earthsweethome.com