Greenhouse Ecosystems

Greenhouse ecosystems (Fig. 11-2) are secondary sewage treatment systems that are constructed wetlands moved indoors. Marine biologist John Todd developed Living Machines at Ocean Arks International. They consist of a series of tanks, each with its own particular ecosystem. The first is a stream, and the second is an indoor marsh that provides a high degree of tertiary wastewater treatment. The system costs less to construct and about the same to maintain as a conventional sewage treatment system. It uses less energy, depending upon solar energy for photosynthesis and on gravity flow. There is no need for a final, environmentally harmful chlorine treatment. The system produces one-quarter of the sludge of other systems.

These greenhouse environments are pleasant to 3 look at and smell like commercial greenhouses. They are welcome in the neighborhoods they serve, and can save huge costs in sewer lines that would otherwise run to distant plants. Greenhouse ecosystems offer an opportunity to enrich the experience of an interior environment while solving a serious ecological problem.

Within the greenhouse ecosystems, aerobic bacteria eat suspended organic matter and convert ammonia to nitrates, producing nitrites. Algae and duckweed eat the sows*

Solar energy aerates tanks

Solar energy aerates tanks

Duckweed and algae eat nitrates

Snails and zooplankton eat

Fish eat snails and zooplankton

Bacteria eat organic matter, produce nitrates

Duckweed and algae eat nitrates

Snails and zooplankton eat

Fish eat snails and zooplankton

Figure 11-2 Greenhouse ecosystem.

Methane Gas

Wastewater

Figure 11-2 Greenhouse ecosystem.

products of the bacteria. Snails and zooplankton then eat the algae. The floating duckweed creates shade that discourages algae growth in the later stages of production. Finally, fish eat the zooplankton and snails. The systems support water hyacinth and papyrus, canna lilies, bald cypress, willows, and eucalyptus, which remove phosphorus and heavy metals during the lives of the plants, returning them to the earth when the plants die. Small fish (shiners) are sold as bait, and dead plants and fish are composted.

On-site wastewater treatment has a significant impact on the design of the building's site. Interiors are also affected, as the system may use special types of plumbing fixtures and may include indoor greenhouse filtration systems.

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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