"LIVING ARTS CENTER"
The WATER Foundation opened it's doors to the public this summer to display it's showcase facilities for building methods and technologies which help conserve our natural resources. These environmentally responsible facilities were designed to be in harmony with natural laws, are spacious, and display the beauty of nature. Please come and visit us when you are in Minnesota. Were only ten minutes from the Brainerd-Crow Wing Co. Regional airport.
Our new headquarters consist of three adjoining domes built of natural materials, primarily wood and rock. The domes house almost 10,000 square feet of offices, meeting rooms, recording studio, a library, art gallery, and a learning center for environmental issues. We have numerous fountains, a swimming pond kept clean by water flowforms, a variety of gardens and a root cellar. The property is minimally landscaped with native flowers, berries, shrubs and trees. Our domes are at the trail head for over ten miles of hiking (and skiing) trails through hardwood and coniferous forests, two large lakes, a babbling brook and a peaceful river.
The buildings architecture utilizes high-tech and efficient geodesic dome construction, designed by futuristic architect R. Buckminister Fuller in the 1940s. The buildings skin, for example, shows efficiency in many ways, from the warm wood foundation to the twenty-one inch thick walls and the triple pane, low-E, gas-filled windows and doors. Recycled paper and recycled glass are the insulation materials. Because of proper cut specifications, wood waste was kept to a minimum.
In Minnesota, temperatures run from 50 degrees below zero in the winter up to 100 degrees in the summer. Even so, we will be able to heat, cool and power our domes using only the sun, the wind, and the earth.
Four closed-loop geothermal pipes utilize the thermal stability of the earth and our pond for heating and cooling. In summer, geothermal cooling is transferred to air conditioning ductwork and the heat goes to concrete slabs, creating warm floors with slowly radiating heat in winter.
Powered With Peace of Mind
Electricity will be generated on site in two ways - solar photovoltaics and a wind turbine - and stored in batteries with a two week reserve. With this reserve, our computers and studios will not succumb to power outages anymore!
Electrical consumption will be kept low through the use of many high-efficiency devices such as compact fluorescent lights, on-demand hot water heater, special appliances, pumps, motors and well-engineered wiring systems.
Natural Beauty Preserved With Technologies Help
Both beauty and energy efficiency were considered when decorating choices were made for the domes. The windows were placed specifically to maximize natural lighting and we selected only light colors for our paints, wood paneling and floor coverings. The inside decor is enhanced by many natural woods, including: red oak, white pine, poplar (white aspen), birch, basswood, ash, butternut and ironwood. Tree trunks and branches became support posts, stairway and balcony railing, and the native woods were milled locally into wainscoting, flooring, and trim.
Our bathrooms connect to a high-tech biological composter, thus eliminating sewage and providing excellent fertilizer for our grounds. Overall building humidity is maintained and controlled through complete building ventilation and by many plants. These beautiful, natural humidifiers are watered with the recycled greywater that would normally go into a sewer.
The outside decking is made from recycled plastic and wood fibers. The root cellar (a natural refrigerator) connected to our kitchen is made of rock, concrete and steel, which is buried under more than five feet of earth. Ground and roof water are controlled through a simple system of drain pipes and cisterns, which provide water for the pond and gardens. Native rocks adorn the gardens, pathways, pond, flowforms, parking area and driveway, creating natural terracing to guide flood waters gently around the buildings.
Certainly a project like this has required much forethought and planning, as well as the cooperation of many people and companies. There are many more building aspects that cannot be covered in a single article, so weve decided to feature at least one component of our showcase facility in each of the upcoming issues of CURRENT WAVES™.
Products and technologies used in the showcase will be promoted in many ways. They will be featured with on-site signage and we have produced a video and literature for others to use as reference for their energy efficient building projects. We will also be inviting people to a virtual walk-through of our new home on our website. Consequently our building sponsors and products will receive much attention.
For more pictures and information on the Eco-Domes™, check out the Eco-Domes at this website!