Could your future home be an Eco-Dome? Pollution free
buildings test earth-friendly products we could all use.
FOR RELEASE: January 8, 2002
Contact: Mark Sulzbach 651 296-7768
St. Paul, Minn. -- Two geodesic domes completed in 1998
near Brainerd are proof that pollution-free living actually
works. It's hard to believe, but the two "Eco-Domes"
totaling 10,000 square feet remain warm in winter, cool
in summer and have full electrical power without contributing
to global warming, air pollution, or water pollution.
By contrast, operating the average home of roughly 1,500
square feet in Minnesota, annually creates 32 tons of
the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide for heating, cooling
and overall electrical needs, according to scientist Peter
Ciborowski from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Geothermal energy heats the two Eco-Domes using a heat
exchanger to gather heat from the earth's core in winter,
so no fossil fuels are burned for heating or hot water.
In the summer the process is reversed and warm air from
inside the dome is replaced with air cooled from below
ground. The domes even have a concrete root cellar that
stays at a constant 38 degrees.
"It was 10 degrees below zero this morning and it
was nice to come inside the dome to a comfortable 71 degrees,"
said David Winkelman, who designed the two domes. "The
buildings are testing practical affordable ways we can
work and live in better harmony with nature."
All electrical energy for the buildings is created from
solar panels and wind generators which will pay for themselves
in 8-10 years -- proof that being earth friendly can also
be economical. The efficiency and reliability of solar
panels and wind generators have improved dramatically
during the last 25 years. These pollution-free renewable
energy sources save money and reduce pollution by decreasing
our need to burn fossil fuels for power generation.
Unfortunately, the rest of us pollute every time we flip
on a light or electrical appliance because coal, the dirtiest
fossil fuel, is used to create 75 percent of the electricity
Lighting the domes with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFBs)
instead of incandescent bulbs -- cuts 75 percent of the
electricity needed. CFBs are available at retail outlets,
hardware stores and building supply stores, so everyone
can take advantage of this energy saving product. Though
more expensive, CFBs last about10 times longer than incandescent
bulbs. The convenience of not having to replace bulbs
for five or six years may be as appealing as the money
According to the U. S. Department of Energy, based on
a 100-watt bulb used four hours per day, you can save
$20 over three years on just one CFB compared to incandescent
bulbs, including both electrical energy costs and the
price of the bulbs. When they finally do expire, CFBs
need to be recycled at a hazardous waste site because
they contain a small amount of mercury.
Winkelman made earth-friendly choices in every design
step for the two domes he calls the Living Arts Center.
This includes everything from waterless, composting toilets
to decks made from recycled plastic lumber (created from
plastic shopping bags and shrink-wrap mixed with waste
Composting toilets may be ideal for cabins. They cost
around $2,000 and require no sewer lines. And all wastewater
from the washing machine, sink and dishwasher is treated
organically and used to water indoor and outdoor plants.
Recycled plastic lumber is great for decks. It won't
splinter, crack or fade and it is becoming more available
at building supply stores.
The geodesic dome design itself requires no load-bearing
interior walls, - - saving 33 percent in building materials.
The insulation used is spray-on cellulose made from recycled
paper and mixed with borax that is both fire-retardant
and pest resistant. Even the ceiling tiles are made from
recycled polystyrene used in packaging materials and coffee
Winkelman plans to test more eco-products such as solar
panel shingles and solar thermal water heating systems
under sidewalks to melt snow.
The Eco-Domes also house the not-for-profit WATER Foundation
and The WATER Foundation Radio and Community Programs,
-- a for-profit organization. For information on the
foundations and energy saving products used in the Eco-Domes
go to www.bogfrog.com or call (218) 764-2321.