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Part Four – We Built This Green City

Surrounding and interlaced with New Green City are the ‘hubs’ of new residential communities. From hubs for people that favor futuristic domes and modernistic abodes with geometric flare, to folks who prefer the quaint country comfort of historically inspired homes.

Herbert K. Lau

Herbert K. Lau

Each hub supports ‘wheels’ of up to 16 homes, allowing each home a large backyard and that cul-de-sac feel. Each wheel has 4 avenues to enter and exit, one to the ‘Hub Heart’, one to a major thoroughfare outside the hub, and two for connecting to the wheels on either side.

Image Credit: Tom Curtis

Image Credit: Tom Curtis

Strategically located between each wheel are raingardens, artificial depressions in the landscape that collects and stores storm water runoff preventing flooding and erosion. Raingardens slow run-off and allows the water to soak into the ground, where the water filters through soil layers before entering the groundwater system. Planted with native vegetation that is hardy and attractive and gives color to the landscape at all times of the year. The plants are a selection of wetland edge vegetation, such as wildflowers, sedges (any of numerous grass-like plants), rushes, ferns, shrubs and small trees, all taking up excess water flowing into the raingarden. Root systems enhance infiltration, moisture redistribution, and diverse microbial populations involved in biofiltration. The raingardens provide an urban habitat for many animals including native butterflies, birds, and beneficial insects. The water will infiltrate the ground within a day or two, an advantage in not allowing mosquitoes to breed.

At the very center of each wheel is the location of a greenhouse dome , community property for the residents of that wheel. A clear, rigid translucent geodesic haven allowing access to fresh healthy food grown and tended by neighbors. Solar powered actuators open the upper and lower vents at a preset temperature. Hot air escapes from the top of the dome, creating a “chimney” effect, drawing in cool air through the lower vents, which prevents overheating. The reflective insulation on the north wall helps keep the dome cozy during the long winter nights, reflects light evenly onto the plants for maximum growth, and provides shade in the summer. Located next to the north wall is a large water tank, because the water mass keeps the dome warm in the winter and cool in the summer creating an optimum environment for year-round growth. Most wheel residents have transformed their water tanks into beautiful water features with aquatic plants, and growing fish. Truly a space that creates a harmony among people while putting them in touch with the seasons and the environment in which they live.

Builders are mandated to design and construct their hub’s houses to USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) LEED for Home certifiable – Silver, Gold, or Platinum standards. As well as business and government builds must obtain USGBC LEED for Commercial certifiable – Silver, Gold, or Platinum standards.

Builders utilized numerous innovative green products and processes to achieve the desired representation of their hubs. For instance, staying true to the century old aesthetics of ‘The Victorian Green’ hub, the builder integrated Powerhouse Solar Shingles with ordinary roof shingles and/or Thermeleon color changing roof tiles. The Solar Shingles come in interconnected strings of 5 solar cell shingles, making a 50 string shingled roof generate 3.5 kilowatts of power. And the Thermeleon roof tiles changes color based on the temperature. Developed by a team from MIT, the tiles become white when it’s hot, allowing them to reflect away about 80% of the sun’s heat, saving as much as 20% of cooling costs. When it’s cold they turn black and reflect only about 30%, absorbing the rest of the sun’s heat just when it’s needed. The solar shingles cost 30% – 40% less than other solar-embedded building materials and 10% less than the combined costs of conventional roofing materials and rack-mounted solar panels. Also, the builder used a modular housing building process which is inherently green with an average of only 2% of materials wasted (whereas 30-40% of materials used to construct stick-built homes ends up in landfills). These homes were designed with ‘Optimal Value Engineering’ which reduces lumber usage by 15-20%, and better than 90% of all lumber is sourced from sustainably harvested forests.

At the Astro Homes hub all the homes are unique customized domes. These dome homes use about 50% less energy for heating and cooling than a same-size, conventionally constructed building. They are cost-efficient, earth-friendly, extremely durable and easily maintained. Because the shape provides no wind resistance, strong winds and tornadoes slide right over domed structures. They meet FEMA standards for providing near-absolute protection and have a proven ability to survive tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, most man-made disasters, fire, snow, termites and rot. Because of these qualities the builder was contracted by New Green City to build all the Emergency Response Centers (ERC) strategically placed throughout the city and one at each Hub Heart, where retail shopping, schools, community activity, and hub operations takes place. The ERC’s were built with three domes in a row, in a design that eliminates the need for the huge, oft broken doors. Ideally designed for daily use and in case of disaster, each ERC is manned 24/7 and is an all-encompassing complex that includes specific areas for fire engines, rescue vehicles/ambulances, 911 and police communication centers, and a disaster shelter.

As with all the other hub, commercial, and government contracted builders, this builder followed the city’s requirement to use air-purifying concrete and basalt composite rebar for all load bearing concrete structures. Because steel rebar is very susceptible to oxidation (rust) and requires periodic maintenance, where as basalt rock reinforcing rebar is stronger than steel rebar and not prone to corrosion. Basalt composite rebars are manufactured from continuous basalt filaments, epoxy and polyester resins, it is 11 times lighter in weight and is 3 times stronger in tension strength than steel rebar. Basalt is igneous rock and one of the most common rock types in the world. Formed when molten lava from deep in the earth’s crust rises up and solidifies. It is similar to carbon fiber and fiberglass, but having better physical and mechanical properties than fiberglass (not to mention safer and greener), and significantly cheaper than carbon fiber. It is a low-cost, high-strength, and corrosion-resistant alternative to steel for concrete reinforcement. Giving New Green City citizens the peace of mind knowing the frightening concern of highway infrastructure overpass and bridge corrosion failures that result in death and destruction, are now a thing of the past.

Now, you need a break, so go rest your eyes but stay tuned for Part 5 …

New Green City …. as the green future unfolds.

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3 Responses to “Part Four – We Built This Green City”

  1. Snidley Says:

    OMG! Loving this series and loving this possible future! And loving the futuristic genre. Kinda like finding a lost Jules or H.G. story – so thanks!

  2. Toby Aletha@Replica watches Says:

    Amazing stuff…I read all the 4 parts and was impressed! Great list, great photos. I think there’s one very important item that was alluded to a little, but deserves to be called out: Building codes. Codes are an opportunity for city governments and residents to work with developers and property owners to conserve a great deal of energy and water, while creating business opportunities, promoting public health, and increasing the value of the city’s overall building inventory.

  3. Ben Michaels Says:

    I know I’m “late to the party,” but I wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying this series. I stopped here on the fourth entry because there is one thing here that I am familiar with and have seen sprouting up quite a bit. While a lot of the tech you talk about hasn’t made it out of the lab, the greenhouse dome is not mainstream yet, but becoming very affordable, doable and is being seen in many parts of the US where the growing season is naturally short. We want to be able to expand that season and some people have been able to go year round. Nothing as fancy as you talk about here, but it reinforces the idea that this is all realistically in our futures.

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