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It is easy to forget that ecology a word derived from the Greek okologie, means the study of homes and refers to the surroundings in which organism live. in an age of long distance transport mass media and uniformly buildings whether they be homes barns or utility sheds have often become disconnected with the local and diverse biological and physical conditions amongst which humans live. The symptoms of industrial agriculture - uniformity and high-energy - creep into the farm system when local building materials are not taken advantage of and when construction methods do not accommodate the forces of sun wind end wafer.
The Brace Research Institute, the Environmental Construction Network, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation are all organizations that can help make farm building projects consistent with an ecological approach to farming.
The Brace Research Institute of McGill University was founded in 1959 to develop buildings equipment and techniques for making dry lands available and economically useful for agricultural purposes. The Institute, concentrating on the problems affecting individuals and small communities in rural areas, has been a leader in developing drying systems for agricultural produce and water desalination technologies for human animal and agricultural use. They have a large resource library that includes information on renewable energy agricultural applications solar distillation solar drying greenhouses and sterilization water pumping and wind energy.
Solar Energy for Quebec Farms, How to Construct a Cheap Wind Machine for Pumping Water and Roof Integrated Solar Collectors in Animal Shelters are examples of research articles that are part of the institute's free list of publications.
The Environmental Construction Network (ECN) is an international information exchange for people interested in the environmentally responsible design construction and operation of built space and the extended services associated with it . The Network deals with an environmental aspects of construction in a cross disciplinary manner and emphasis is placed on environmentally friendly non-allergenic and toxic components as well as construction with minimal environmental impact. The ECN publishes an impressive resource list that will answer almost any question about specific building techniques or materials.
The Research Division of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been a leader in research on sustainable housing. The Research Division of CMHC is currently sponsoring a Healthy Housing Design Competition where competitors are inched to develop healthy housing designs - healthy both for the occupants and the global environment. Submissions will be judged for their success in areas such as reduced operating energy maximum use of renewable energy and reduced construction waste water consumption and waste water production.
Just as it is important for microorganisms to have a healthy home in the sold where they can interact with the sold flora and fauna It is important that humans have a healthy working and living environment where they can interact with local surroundings. Organic and biodynamic farmers have understood clearly the importance of using local and renewable resources for the health and wealth of their farm. The same is true for buildings.
Terry Robinson a senior researcher at CMHC believes that ha systems approach is required to address energy and environmental concerns in a manner which considers the inter-relationship of the house component . Most farmers while usually too busy to experiment with alternative building techniques are well aware and experienced in a systems approach mentality through their understanding of the interrelationship between biological systems.
The Brace institute, the Environmental Construction Network, and the Research Division of CMHC all provide a forum where a sharing of ideas between farmers architects and scientists wlli lead to an improved understanding of home and human's place in ecology.
Brace Research Institute Faculty of Engineering P.O. Box 900 Macdonald Campus of McGill University Ste. Anne de Bellevue Quebec Canada H9X 1 C0 (514) 457-6477 (514) 398-7767 (fax)
The Environmental Construction Network c/o Ed Lowans R.R. #1 Camdon East Ont. Canada LON 1 ED (519) 941-6499
CMHC s Healthy Design Competition Research Division 682 Montreal Road Ottawa Ontario K1A 0P7 (613) 748-2319 / 745-1741
Copyright © 1991 REAP Canada.
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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