Innovative Green Solutions

Reply Thu 5 Sep, 2019 09:35 pm
High-tech public toilets proposed for San Francisco can recycle rainwater for reuse
08/29/2019 under Design, Green Roof, San Francisco, Urban design0Flip
by Lucy Wang

The San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) has crowned SmithGroup the winner of its design competition for public toilet proposals. The winning entry, called AmeniTREES, would offer not only washroom functionality but also space for a commercial kiosk and environmentally friendly benefits. Topped with a green roof, the sculptural, metal-clad pavilions would be integrated with digital technology for advertising or educational purposes along with a rainwater harvesting system.

small curved metal bathroom unit in a city

Developed as a kit of parts, the AmeniTREES are designed for easy transportation, assembly, customization and maintenance. Each curved, steel-framed pavilion will be clad in hot-formed metal panels and glass and then topped with a native green roof with a tree system add-on. To tap into cost-saving opportunities, the pavilions feature an integrated digital screen protected with a glass and metal skin that can be used for static or digital advertising.

small curved metal bathroom unit in a city

SmithGroup created four options for the AmeniTREES: a single unit pavilion, a double unit pavilion, a double pavilion with a bench add-on or a double pavilion with a rooftop tree add-on. “New structures are iconic in their design and adaptability — transforming to varied site needs,” the architects explained. “Developing these design alternatives, along with the incorporation of varied native grasses and trees, allow for a cohesive collection of pavilions that are as varied as San Francisco’s neighborhoods.”

small curved metal bathroom unit with digital advertisements on the side in a city

The rainwater harvesting system is engineered for minimal maintenance and enhanced durability. The collected water can be used to wash the units, water the vegetation or flush toilets to minimize reliance on the city’s potable water. Moreover, the green roof on each unit can enhance the city’s biodiversity and promote a cooling microclimate to combat the urban heat island effect.
Reply Thu 5 Sep, 2019 09:49 pm
Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US
08/19/2019 under Energy, energy efficiency, Environment, News0Flip
by Lucienne Cross

Tennessee’s fourth largest city, Chattanooga, became the first American airport to be 100 percent solar powered – and joins only a handful of airports who claim the same across the world. The $5 million dollar solar farm project has been seven years in the making with funding by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone,” said Terry Hart, the president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport. “This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region. While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport.”

While the Chattanooga airport is small and runs flights to just ten domestic cities, it has seen growth by over 500,000 additional passengers in the last year. The solar farm installation is reportedly the size of 16 football fields with capacity for 2.64 megawatts of energy and storage units that enable constant energy supply even during cloudy days and nighttime.

The investment will pay for itself in approximately 20 years, and the installation is expected to last between 30 and 40 years with regular maintenance. The rise in popularity of renewable energy is partially due to increasing concern about climate change as well as the rise in affordability of solar panels.

According to Forbes: “In 2009, for example, the average gross cost of installing a solar panel was $8.50 per watt. Now? Just shy of $2.98—a 65% decrease in 10 years.” This shift has made a broader range of large and small scale project possible.

Internationally, India, the Galapagos Islands and South Africa also have 100 percent solar powered airports. In the U.S., the Denver Airport has a larger solar installation, but because of their scale of operations, Chattanooga is the only American airport so far that can claim 100 percent renewable energy.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 5 Sep, 2019 10:43 pm

Lake Erie wind turbine project moves closer to reality after agreement with Ohio Siting Board staff
Once a permit is approved, construction of Icebreaker Wind could begin as soon as 2021
Author: WKYC Staff
Published: 8:08 PM EDT May 15, 2019
Updated: 8:26 PM EDT May 15, 2019

CLEVELAND — Turbines could soon be twirling as the proposed wind-powered, electric generation facility in Lake Erie has moved another step closer to becoming a done deal.

On Wednesday, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) announced it has reached an agreement with the staff of the Ohio Power Siting Board, laying the foundation to build its Icebreaker Wind energy project.

“While there is more work to be done before we can formally proceed, this is a significant milestone for us,” said LEEDCo President Dr. Lorry Wagner in a statement. “This new agreement details the extensive regulations that will govern this project and confirms the Ohio Department of Natural Resources important, ongoing oversight role. We appreciate the agency’s mission to protect wildlife and we look forward to winning approval of the final permit we need in order to construct Icebreaker and thus position Cleveland to becoming a leader in the booming clean energy economy.”

According to LEEDCo, Icebreaker Wind will create over 500 jobs in Northeast Ohio and is projected to have a $168 million local economic impact over the project’s 25 year life. The group also is touting the environmental benefit of wind power as a clean, abundant and renewable energy source.

RELATED: Wind turbine project fuels new 'Battle of Lake Erie'

The six-turbine generation facility in Lake Erie would sit approximately 8 to 10 miles off the shore of Cleveland. The project would also include include an 11.8-mile long submerged electric line to transmit power to Cleveland Public Power's onshore Lake Road substation.

Photo: Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation


The turbines would barely be visible from shore. Close up, however, each turbine is imposing. A turbine is about 500 feet high with wing spans of 300 feet, the size of a football field.

The project has already earned approvals from 13 local, state and federal regulatory agencies on a host of environmental and other requirements. Several environmental groups including Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council are supporting Icebreaker Wind.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 6 Sep, 2019 09:15 pm
Being a sometimes pessimistic sort, I wonder how much plastic was used to manufacture those things.

By the way, the 3rd pic shows a violation of the ADA. There's no curb cut for wheelchair accessibility.
Reply Fri 6 Sep, 2019 11:17 pm
These aren't actually built yet, they're cgi.

You do realize there's words that go with the pretty pictures...
Reply Mon 9 Sep, 2019 10:55 am
Sarcasm is not your forte.

Yes, I knew that words were included. That however does not eliminate my concerns about materials which would be used for building these structures.
Jewels Vern
Reply Mon 9 Sep, 2019 03:28 pm
Yawn. San Francisco is already so far out that a person making 150 grand qualifies for welfare. And now they propose a futuristic stainless steel monstrosity when all they need is a public toilet in some discreet place.

It is no surprise that anybody with a brain is trying to escape. The only way you can rent a trailer to haul your stuff is to get one at your destination and tow it back to California.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 9 Sep, 2019 06:32 pm
Sturgis wrote:

That however does not eliminate my concerns about materials which would be used for building these structures.

I was thinking that when I read the articles.

Main concern, I think like your sturgis, is whether or not the materials, design, cost are the best use of resources. Not to make light of it, but you know, it's a restroom, not someplace to be hanging out.

If I needed to use a street toilet, my only concern would be that it was staffed with someone who cleaned it between uses, and was always there for security.
I wonder how the rainwater is purified to the extent so that it isn't going to leave unsanitary stains etc. How much water is used in a restroom like this monthly? Is there enough rain in the area to support the use? How are the rest room attendants going to clean it? How hot is it going to be in the summer.....a lot more questions like that. For most people I would think a street john is something to be used in the most dire of situations.

Re the windmills off shore, sure. Isn't that being done already? They just need to work on not letting birds/bats be hit by the blades.

0 Replies
Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 07:37 am
The purpose of the thread was to show positive examples in how we, as concerned individuals about climate issues, can set the bar on innovative products and solutions.

The public potty seems to be getting the most negative comments. It seems that America has a problem with discussing a basic bodily function. However, in France, they are a real thing:

Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 10:01 am
Sorry, I simply didn't think those were really good positive examples.

Why do you try to make everything an argument neptune? Just because other people express differing opinions and points of view, doesn't mean we are disagreeing with your primary purpose.

I think your starting this thread is a perfect jumping off place to discuss the pros and cons, the merits and drawbacks of designs proposed, their worth to the environment, and how green they actually are.

As far as public toilets, I don't, and I don't believe anyone else here have a problem with anyone's bodily function. I have a problem if they leave their bodily functions where others are going to try to use the toilet, or going into one having someone try to sell me drugs or being attacked by someone else hiding in there.

We need to start with looking at the primary purpose of a toilet, make sure all the requirements are fulfilled (safety, cleanliness, privacy), and Then start adding in the perks. Form follows function, not the other way around in this case.

That's why I said if there were going to be something available to the public, part of the cost needs to be monitored by an attendant.

Perhaps below is a better video that explains how a self cleaning public toilet works.

While it is good that after each use the unit seals off and is sprayed down, it is no substitute for a human checking the unit after use.

Real life example
Where I go to swim, they are 2 public toilet buildings. One toilet per building. The lifeguards are responsible for checking on them regularly, and cleaning. However, of course between doing their primary duty, and other assigned tasks, there can't be someone totally devoted to attending the restroom.
I'm friendly with many of the rotating lineup of guards, and they tell me a lot. It is an almost daily occurrence where they find a pile of feces, or feces smeared all over, along with urine, vomit and drug paraphernalia in the toilets and showers.

As an aside, when I first learned of this, I started a solo email campaign with the parks and rec department, asking why there couldn't be an attendant whose sole task was creating a presence around the restrooms. They did hire people who sit by the main gate, and greet people as they come in.
When I said that wasn't the point, that there needed to be someone who would look inside the rest rooms/showers. It would be quickly realized by the offenders (which are mainly a few habitual disgusting people) they have no way of not being discovered. So this problem would decrease dramatically all by itself.

I was told that they wouldn't do that because "People would be offended if there was someone sitting outside the bathroom and looking inside as they were leaving, to check they didn't leave a mess."

So now we have a person being paid to sit inside the gate saying hello to everyone entering, but patrons continue to be disgusted and offended by bodily functions piled and smeared inside the toilet, which the poor lifeguards have to clean up. No self cleaning toilet could get rid of that, unless it was like the inside of a car wash.

I never use the bathrooms there. I would have nightmares.

I looked it up, and the cost per square foot of a PR is $300/sq foot. So a 50 square foot unit, Without all the self cleaning gizmos would be $15K. I don't know how much adding all the technology to provide self cleaning would cost, but I bet it's not cheap.

I'm suggesting maintaining existing PR's 12 hours a day with a human presence. $15,000 divided by 1040 hours is about $14.40 an hour. Decent enough pay.

If these street restroom where used every 10 minutes, for 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the charge was 25 cents a pop, that's about $6500 a year for maintenance. Advertising on the outside would bring in extra revenue. If I owned a business, I would be much more likely to pay for advertising for a unit that is constantly monitored, rather than just sitting their with no guarantee my ad wasn't being defaced.

How long would one of these proposed units last before it had to be replaced? A couple of years? Don't know.

I'm not sure if spending a lot of money with the benefit that it used rainwater to clean it, and has some bushes growing on the top of it. In many areas of the country, there are many areas that absolutley don't get enough rainfall to make this work. Where I live included.

Rather than have to reinvent the wheel for the environment each of these units are going to be, why not revamp what already exists, or be innovative in some other way than other than what looks like making a fashion statement?

Honestly. I would love to be blown away by some hard evidence, facts, statistics on how these things would perform in the real world.

Whoops, gotta go to work, and then appointments the rest of the afternoon...

Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 05:18 pm
neptuneblue wrote:

The purpose of the thread was to show positive examples in how we, as concerned individuals about climate issues, can set the bar on innovative products and solutions.

I just read this over.

Not seeing where the 2 examples you've presented are something that concerned individuals are supposed to accomplish.

No one person could create all the plans and parts for windmills, public toilets and other. It looks like something that would need to be handled on at least a municipal level, more than likely with tons of red tape at a state and federal level. Also, I'm not clear on what you mean by "set the bar", or if indeed innovation for individuals is the way to go.

If by "set the bar", you mean "lead by example", it definately doesn't take any innovation.

The most impactful thing a human can do is have few children. Having one less child, assuming 20 years between generations would result in at least 255 less people over 140 years, and in only 200 years, over 2000 less humans over those years fighting over limited resources.
For someone who decides to have no children, at the current rate of 1.9 children per family in the U.S., in the same 200 years there would be just shy of 3900 less people.

Instead of collecting rainwater that would then have to be treated somehow to simple make it appropriate to clean a toilet, how about collecting the available rainwater in one place in cisterns to water already existing plants and animals?
Animals where I live suffer terribly in the summer. I fill the bird bath every day, and spray down a bit of water on the trees and bushes so much smaller creatures can survive. All I need is a hose.

You know those mist sprayers outdoor restaurants use? Maybe taking those and lining the walls of buildings with them, and having them turned on by timer for a few minutes every once in a while.
Or even better, having a spigot that turns on automatically a few times a day, and empties into a narrow but long trough so birds, squirells and other urban wildlife can get a drink. What would that be, 10 gallons a day per building?

What about all the chemicals we buy to "clean" our homes, which comes in plastic containers, and are used up quickly.

All most cleaning needs is either vinegar or liquid castille soap, mixed with water.
A cloth rag I've had for years is dipped into a water vinegar solution, and I walk around the room or house waving it over my head. I don't think any innovation is needed for that.
Believe me, I'm far from an Earth Mother, but I intuit that's healthier than spraying chemicals around in my house.

Perhaps one path to take, including worthwhile innovation, is for people, as individuals, re-examine what is truly necessary as a solution.

I don't know if we need space age toilets. Maybe just inexpensive concrete ones with self flushing toilets and sinks, a human monitor for cleanliness and safety, and a solar powered exaust fan.

The power to save a lot of gas is in our right foot. It seems that many do not realize that if that foot is taken off the gas, the vehicle will not come to an immediate standstill. Don't get me started on huge crossovers and trucks.

My personal opinion is too many people look to social media for "solutions" they can use that they could have found for nothing on their own.

But that's not as sexy as having your product advertised by a celebrity, or touted as a green solution, all for only $20K to $100K or something.

0 Replies
Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 07:02 pm
chai2 wrote:
Rather than have to reinvent the wheel for the environment each of these units are going to be, why not revamp what already exists, or be innovative in some other way than other than what looks like making a fashion statement?

San Francisco has a 'Poop Patrol' to deal with its feces problem, and workers make more than $184,000 a year in salary and benefits
Aria Bendix Aug. 24, 2018, 10:52 AM

San Francisco Pit Stop
An attendant outside a Pit Stop in San Francisco's Mission District. Eric Risberg/AP

Employees of San Francisco's "Poop Patrol" are set to earn $71,760 a year, plus an additional $112,918 in benefits, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The city has set aside $830,977 for the cleanup program, which aims to eliminate troubling amounts of feces on the streets.

San Francisco's waste problem is a result of a mounting homelessness crisis, driven by a lack of affordable housing.
In San Francisco, you can earn more than $184,000 a year in salary and benefits for cleaning up feces.

As members of the city's "Poop Patrol," workers are entitled to $71,760 a year, plus an additional $112,918 in benefits, such as healthcare and retirement savings, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In August, the city announced that five staffers from the San Francisco Department of Public Works would soon roam the Tenderloin neighborhood — where nearly half of the city's homeless population is — in search of waste. The staffers will begin their efforts each afternoon equipped with a steam cleaner for sanitizing the streets.

The full budget for the initiative, $830,977, signifies a concerted effort to address the city's mounting feces problem, which has resulted in more than 14,500 calls to 311, the city's non-emergency-services line, since the beginning of the year, the Chronicle previously reported.

The issue isn't just a matter of dog owners failing to pick up after their pets. As San Francisco faces a shortage of affordable housing, it has struggled to accommodate its more than 7,400 homeless residents.

Though the city's overall homeless population is declining, the share of chronically homeless people in San Francisco is still exceedingly high compared with most other cities. This pattern is starkly contrasted with the city's excess wealth: On average, a San Francisco resident earns about $96,677 a year, nearly double the median household income in the US.

The city's feces problem is a visible reminder of the gap between its rich and poor. Since taking office in June, Mayor London Breed, who campaigned on street-cleanup efforts, has signaled her concern by walking through the city unannounced in search of waste. In July, she told NBC Bay Area she was encountering more feces on the city streets than ever before.

While the Tenderloin remains the epicenter of the city's homelessness crisis, many residents outside the city center have begun to complain about excess feces in their neighborhoods due to the increased displacement of homeless populations.

As part of its cleanup mission, the city has channeled additional funds into its existing programs.

The new budget allots more than $1 million for updates to Pit Stop, a program offering mobile toilets and dog-waste stations in various neighborhoods, including five additional toilets and expanded hours of operation at five locations, the Chronicle reported. Now, only 12 of the city's 22 units are open daily, closing at 8 p.m. at the latest. That leaves a considerable amount of time during which those toilets are unavailable to homeless people.

To complement Pit Stop, San Francisco has set aside nearly $3 million for a "hot spots" crew in charge of cleaning the areas near homeless encampments, according to the Chronicle. But the city has struggled to stay ahead of the situation, with several areas being compared to the world's poorest slums.

While the high salaries of sanitation workers may incentivize further cleanup, the city will ultimately have to contend with its affordability crisis if it hopes to eliminate the problem. That would mean addressing restrictive zoning laws that make it both difficult and expensive to add affordable developments, as well as grappling with the steady influx of tech workers, who have concentrated in downtown areas partly because of the city's limited public transportation.

Though Breed has promised to clean the streets within three months of taking office, the real challenge will take many years to address.
Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 07:37 pm

Not really sure what point you're making to what I said, but the article was interesting and informative.

Was it that these workers make 72K a year, plus benefits?
Where I live, Austin, that would equal about 35K. New York, Manhatten 86K, Albuquerque 34K.

Or was it that these workers are working hard? It looks like they are doing a good job cleaning up the streets with heavy duty equipment, and over a wide geography. This is good work.
It's different though obviously, than being an attendent in charge of one public rest room to make sure it stays clean, and is safe for people to use. I see by the sign of the door there is a monitor, but that's not the same as the people doing power cleaning.

Or was it something else, or you just wanted to quote me before you showed an article?

Thanks for the interesting read.
Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 07:53 pm
You asked for:

"Honestly. I would love to be blown away by some hard evidence, facts, statistics on how these things would perform in the real world."

I provide it, now you're making it seem I'm acting like a jerk.

Cities in America are taking innovative and distinct approaches to "green solutions." These highlight just a fraction of what is being done, or even can be done.

Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 09:01 pm
I don't understand you neptune.

You now say you were showing me evidence that would blow me away, but you quoted something else I said. Sorry that I didn't make the connection. If you wanted me to connect it to the blown away comment I made, perhaps that's the quote you should have made. I can't read minds.

And somehow, by my telling you I enjoyed your article, and found it interesting and informative, I'm calling you a jerk.

Ok, I take your point and agree that cities are taking different approaches to green solutions. Although I don't particularly see sending out a crew to clean up feces as innovative (meaning new and/or unique) or distinct. Isn't that what someone would do if they didn't want it in the streets? Clean it up?

Where are you seeing me insulting you? Why do you look for an argument over everything that anyone says?

I'm agreeing with you neptune.

Let's move on

Reply Tue 10 Sep, 2019 09:13 pm
Years ago, when someone was telling me about the hole in the ozone layer, I looked up exactly what ozone was.

It's just o3 (as opposed to o2), and can be created pretty easily.

Anyway, I wondered aloud why they didn't put a device that made ozone in a light weight solar powered self flying plane, and let it fly around putting ozone back in the air.

That person laughed at me, but it wasn't as if he knew much about it. Any more than me.

I still think it's something that could be considered.

Reply Wed 11 Sep, 2019 12:54 pm
I think that hole in the ozone layer has been closed due to changing propellants in compressed spray cans. Not sure but I think I have read an article that says so. If I knew how I would post it.
Reply Wed 11 Sep, 2019 03:36 pm
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0 Replies
Reply Wed 11 Sep, 2019 04:46 pm
RABEL222 wrote:

I think that hole in the ozone layer has been closed due to changing propellants in compressed spray cans. Not sure but I think I have read an article that says so. If I knew how I would post it.

Not closed, but improving.

According to the video below, it was at it's worst in the year 2000.
Watch from 1:00 to the end for the pictures.

The hole has decreased by 20% from 2005 to 2016, and it's estimated it will have recoved by the middle of the 21st century.

Don't get complacent though, other sources say it's not recovering.

As far as I'm concerned, all this is stories spread around until something really spectacular can be devised to wipe us all out within a few days.

0 Replies
Reply Wed 11 Sep, 2019 05:47 pm
chai2 wrote:

We need to start with looking at the primary purpose of a toilet, make sure all the requirements are fulfilled (safety, cleanliness, privacy), and Then start adding in the perks. Form follows function, not the other way around in this case.

The primary purpose of public toilets, for the sake of sustainability, should be to facilitate and encourage walking and other non-motorized forms of transportation. To be sustainable, humans ultimately need to minimize if not eliminate as much energy use as possible.

Even renewable energy sources are problematic to the extent they feed into the public fantasy that the levels of energy-use normalized through the rise of industrialism are sustainable as long as the energy comes from renewable sources and not non-renewable ones.

Think of the planet as a large machine, which is also a thermodynamic system. There is energy input and output, and there are patterns of energy transfer and storage throughout the different systems of the planet, including the oceans, plate tectonics, fossil-fuel deposits, land and ocean biomass, permafrost, wind patterns, water cycle, and so forth.

The natural energy circuitry of the planet is very complex, but when you keep re-purposing land and resources to feed industrial processes, you have to consider how that is affecting the natural processes that have sustained the planet throughout its history.

So in general industrial processes, production, and products (even those developed to pursue sustainability) have to be analyzed for their scalability, sustainability-at-full-scale-deployment, and how they influence/facilitate more sustainable lifestyle and geographical land-use patterns of human life.

It is very complex, but in general we should be restoring land to soil so that pre-human levels of carbon-energy sequestration are re-established as part of human evolution. This is an incredible challenge considering how human aesthetics have adapted to energy-intense industrial processes and the materials they render.

Some industrial processes and materials are more energy efficient than others, so for example, it could waste more land/energy to build public bathrooms out of wood than metal; or there could be ways of using wood that would use less energy and if the wood was harvested sustainably and in the proper quantities, it would not result in unsustainable forestry practices.

The problem is that people are notorious for lying to justify business practices that are lucrative, so you can't just trust anyone when they say their production processes and products are sustainable. There have to be competent, independent analysts evaluating technologies and business practices for sustainability, and then those people can't feign independence and/or green interest in order to subtly and/or covertly promote products and practices that could actually be replaced with better ones. That is very difficult when it might be the case that a more sustainable product/practice actually makes less money than another one that claims to be sustainable, so there is an economic interest in promoting the pseudo-sustainable product/practice over its actually-sustainable alternative.

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