WHEN TREES AND BUILDINGS BECOME FUNCTIONALLY INDISTINGUISHABLE
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
The idea of having waste is just not natural. There is nothing one can point out in nature and say that is of no purpose. The concept of throwing something away, only exist in our minds. In reality - everything transforms, but nothing goes away. In the natural world, there is no waste, everything is a nutrient that is recycled and reused infinitely. Every tree on this planet is designed to reuse its leaves over and over again. When leaves fall on the ground, a community of organisms helps transform them into energy so that trees can absorb it back through their roots. This process also helps develop healthy soil that is conducive to other life.
Nature does not rely on centralized waste management. Every ecosystem is designed to process their own “waste” locally. In the forest, the leaves are spread out equally on the ground by the wind and not piled up around one big tree. Waste becomes a big problem when it is piled up. It is time we fundamentally change our perspective regarding waste management. With decentralized & nature-based sewage solutions we can transform waste into energy for both our ecosystems and ourselves.
We cannot continue designing cities and buildings as if nothing has happened. Over 80% of the world’s wastewater is still released to the environment without any treatment. Sewage contamination has polluted ecosystems around the world and resulted in a massive loss of biodiversity. With simple biological solutions, wastewater can be reused for restoring ecosystems & for indoor food production.
"Only when trees and buildings are functionally indistinguishable, then we know we have reached sustainable development."
OVERVIEW OF A BIOLOGICAL SEWAGE SYSTEM
To reduce human pressure on water bodies and related ecosystems, our buildings are designed to produce their water & process the sewage onsite. The freshwater is harvested from rain & snowmelt and stored in underground water tanks. Inside the building, the water is cleaned with a simple filtration system that can produce both fresh & drinking water.
Once the water is consumed by humans for showering & washing, it is automatically reused for an indoor-food production system in a greenhouse zone. A 10 min shower can produce around 100 liters of water (26 gallons). This system is based on different biological processes that both clean the water & produce organic food. The excess water from this biological system is then recaptured and reused for a third time to flush the toilet. Today most buildings are designed to flush their toilet with clean and drinkable water.
The sewage from the toilet is then turned into liquid in a two-chambered septic tank where an anaerobic process takes place. Various groups of microorganisms work together in the first chamber to convert the solid waste to liquid. This liquid (blackwater) is then reused for the fourth time to help restore & build ecosystems outside.
The system is dimensioned for the indoor plants & the outdoor trees to consume all the sewage water so there is no waste at the end of the cycle. With this system, we can reduce the water consumption for each household by up to 75 % - and eliminate sewage pollutions from our buildings, communities & cities
Besides the environmental benefits, this methodology will also provide new job opportunities and promote social justice. 40% of the world lacks access to safe sanitation today. This is mainly due to under-investment into sanitation infrastructure in poor and vulnerable communities. With this methodology, we can provide safe sanitation to every corner of the world and restore and build ecosystems at the same time.