Sunday, August 19, 2007

Part II of Green Building in the Arava

Our green building pilgrimage continued through the Arava, and we visited several other sites. Worthy of mention is Kibbutz Ketura, the site of the Arava Institute. The institute recently renovated a duck? turkey? coop and made it somewhat green, in order to house their offices. The kibbutz also houses a new aquaculture program, which we did not hear about. Some of the housing features shading above the houses, which helps keep them cool during the summer.

But we spent more time at Kibbutz Lotan, site of the green apprenticeship program (worth a visit if you are interested in learning how to make your own green home or community). Our first stop was the "happiest bus stop in Israel." Like many of the buildings we were to see, it was made of mud-encrusted used tires. Our guide proudly explained to us that the kibbutz is a net importer of used tires. In the top picture you can see their transition from trash to building materials.

We walked over to their recycling center, and then on to their small community of geodesic domes (modified) used for housing in the green apprenticeship program, and currently under construction by green apprentices. The little houses were comfortable in the heat of the day (we were there at around 4 p.m.). I especially liked the little touches--the bottles that gave illumination in the communal kitchen, the recycled glass placed to make whimsical mosaics a la Gaudi, meandering designs for benches. Again here I enjoyed the details that people cared enough to create. The toilets in the area were composting.

We walked around to see the water recycling area, where they have planted wetlands to purify wastewater. Much of the new building they do is designed to take advantage of passive cooling and heating techniques. Our guide had put water to boil in a solar heater when we began the tour, and it was ready in time for us to have tea before leaving. I declined the tea, as our walk included plenty of time in the sun, and I tend to doubt that drinking hot beverages really cools you down. I will have to see documented scientific proof...