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July 6, 2009 @ 10:32 am
Rhinebeck’s Supergreen Building
omega_small

Courtesy: Omega Institute

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) was conceived by the Omega Institute in 2005 as a living machine that could replace an aging septic system in Rhinebeck, NY. Opening this month, it was designed and built from scratch at a cost of $3.2 million to meet the highest sustainable architecture standards. OCSL will receive LEED Platinum certification and is expected to become the first U.S. building to receive the Living Building designation, meaning it has no negative environmental effects.

Since Omega’s primary mission is to offer holistic educational programs focused on wellness and personal growth, the building is not only a natural wastewater treatment system (the Eco Machine™) but also contains a laboratory and indoor and outdoor classrooms for eco-lectures. The Eco Machine™ is designed to treat over 5 million gallons of wastewater annually. The treatment process involves 5 steps:
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  1. Anaerobic Septic Tanks – wastewater enters two large tanks that enable naturally occurring microbes to digest the sludge at the bottom
  2. Constructed Wetlands – bulrush and cattail plants in 4 wetland areas attract and ingest particles and remove nitrates from the water
  3. Aerated Lagoons – wetland treated water is pumped from a tank into the greenhouse and lagoons of the Eco Machine where plants, fungi, algae, bacteria, snails, and other organisms feast on the remaining impurities
  4. Sand Filter – a recirculating sand filter contains yet more microorganisms that remove any remaining nitrogen, organic matter or particulates
  5. Dispersal – after the above process the water meets the highest standards for non-potable use and is expected to used for garden irrigation, toilet flushing and an outdoor water garden

If they stopped there, the system would already be a marvel of design and engineering, but the building also has enough rooftop solar panels to be grid-free, a green roof to collect and clean rainwater, solar tracking skylights to provide steady sunlight in the lagoons, recycled slabs of cypress around the foundation that prevent moisture buildup and provide insulation and a unique window design that encourages prevailing breezes to cool the building during summertime. Collaborating on the project were professionals from the following firms:

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One Response to “Rhinebeck’s Supergreen Building”

  1. GreenBldgBlog - Home Says:

    […] the popularity of my Supergreen Building post, I thought I would direct you to my featured article on Masdar City. Begin with the excerpt below, […]

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