Below Ground at the Green Leaf Inn
Underground rainwater storage, electric, gas, geothermal wells, thermal water storage insulated to R-80, domestic water well, just like the veins and arteries and nervous system for the entire campus to function in a holistic energy system. Each part of the system is designed to do more than just one thing. Typically the well guy does his thing and the rainwater capture guy does their thing and the geothermal guy does their thing and the aerobic on site waste water system does their thing but in a Holistic Energy System design, the geothermal is integrated to use the domestic water being pumped out the ground and the heat exchanger opens up the 20,000 gallons of underground water storage and the aerobic waste water treatment ties into the geothermal system as it pumps and treats water from tank to tank before returning it to the earth. And the highly insulated thermal storage tank allows us to shift heating and cooling capacity from off peak times to support and enhance on weak energy usage time of day.
More on Holistic Energy Systems but they can be applied to communities and cities to use resources they are already have spent capital and energy on to reduce their load and carbon foot print.
Our soils are bad for filtration with the heavy clay makeup. Although we need to treat our storm water before it leaves our property, our runoff is minimized already by the rainwater capture and reuse we will be doing on the property. But the main issue is the farmer field runoff that goes right through our property into the Delavan Lake watershed. I wonder if there are some state or county programs to help cover that cost or if the farm can do filtration before it heads into our property. Farm runoff is a big problem in the lake areas.
Our soil will not naturally do the filtration so we have to dig a pond, line it with clay to keep the storm water out of the groundwater, and build a new soil base and plantings within the pond to hold the water while the plants do their job pulling out the bad stuff before the water heads to the lake. We don’t have the full storm water engineering report yet but that will be interesting to see the details.- and how much that is going to cost.
It seems like any development, commercial or not, should look at rainwater capture and use instead of just maximizing the runoff from parking lots and roofs without an effort to slow that process down and let nature do its job and reduce the load on waste water treatment.
Our site had many issues to deal with and soil type was a major one. While heavy clay content can be great for conductivity for a geothermal system and good compressive strength for wind turbine foundations, it is terrible for onsite waste water treatment. City sewer is many years off so off to the engineering specialists for a solution. In fact, at the town planning commission one resident questioned how we could even do a septic and a farmer asked where are we going to get the water for all the hot tubs. Town meetings bring up questions you just can’t make up on your own.
A typical WI mound system is an anaerobic system that treats the effluent in a septic tank to partially break down the waste and then the water with some suspended solids go out to the mound for final treatment and returning the water to the aquifer. An aerobic system treats the effluent in an oxygen enriched chamber with much more aggressive bacteria that when the fluid is ready to go out to be filtered in the mound system, it is basically already clean water. With some additions we could have go to a toilet to tap system. Aerobic systems cost more to build and more to operate but they are much better for the environment. In fact, aerobic treatment can be used to save a failing anaerobic septic field.
With water becoming an important resource all over the world, managing storm water and waste water is a very important planning issue. We will be doing rainwater capture and reuse for landscape watering and for toilets. When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to pump clean treated water only to flush it down the toilet. The rainwater still has some treatment but it saves water and energy (3% of all energy used in the US is for pumping water and waste water treatment. Dual flush toilets, living roof on the conference meeting center and rain gardens.