Skip to content

Greenway

Greenway logo

There is a world in which humans integrate into the water-nutrient cycle. Welcome to Greenway, an achievable, sustainable vision from Earle Barnhart and Hilde Maingay.

Greenway is a vision of an ecological neighborhood, where basic needs – food, water, shelter, transport, communications – are provided in ecologically sustainable ways with renewable energy. It’s a network of homes, greenhouses, garden, and businesses, connected by sheltered corridors. Housing is integrated with agriculture. Biology is integrated with technology. People are integrated with the cycles of the Earth.

Greenway – then & now

New Alchemy Institute first explored the concept of bioshelters from 1970 to 1990, including design, research and testing of prototypes.

Among our major tasks is the creation of ecologically derived human support systems – renewable energy, agriculture, aquaculture, housing and landscapes.  The strategies we research emphasize a minimal reliance on fossil fuels and operate on a scale accessible to individuals, families, and small groups.

– Bulletin of the New Alchemists, Fall 1970

How do we get to Greenway?

The Greenway is a blueprint for a next-generation bioshelter. Its eco-architecture  includes housing, a close connection to outdoor agriculture, and recycling of food nutrients, designed at a community scale. It is a realizable vision of a sustainable habitat for humans on this planet.

  • Safe food is produced locally, efficiently, and organically in greenhouse gardens and fish ponds, as well as outdoor chicken coops and permaculture gardens, fields, and orchards.
  • Water for drinking and irrigation comes from capturing, storing and purifying rainwater.
  • Shelter is provided by apartments and homes connected by sheltered corridors.
  • Nutrient recovery and recycling is enabled by eco-toilets and composting centers.
  • Renewable energy provides power for electric vehicles, heating, cooling, and all equipment.
  • Communication is by conventional WiFi, Internet and GPS.

Read more about the Greenway vision in a downloadable PDF here.

We are all climate refugees

Environmental refugees will need to be housed in new, well-designed, low-energy inland villages or self-reliant settlements, minimizing transport and fossil fuel uses.

Bill Mollison, Permaculture, 1988
Eco-infrastructure provides essential food, water, shelter and utilities.

We are not apart from nature, but of it… This is a vision of the future that goes beyond just surviving or enduring climate change, beyond ‘mitigating’ and ‘adapting’ to it… It is a vision in which we collectively use the crisis to leap somewhere that seems, frankly, better than where we are right now.

– Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate, 2014

Greenway infrastructure is well-suited to provide housing and basic needs to people displaced by climate change, without adding emissions. The architecture is decentralized, but is also interconnected to facilitate travel and communication. It is modular, to allow for mass-production and rapid assembly.

By integrating housing with food production and community-scale utilities, this eco-infrastructure has the potential to 1) provide humane shelter and security for climate refugees and 2) replace the climate-destroying industrial infrastructure that supports our current society. 

Videos

The following videos were produced by The Green Center. Subscribe to the Greenway YouTube channel for updates as more videos are added!

Cape Cod Ark

A real life version of a Greenway, where Green Center founders Earle and Hilde live.

(Produced by Levi Baruch)

Follow the Water

(Animated by Lily Ericsson)

Follow the water through the Greenway to a more sustainable way of life. Rainwater from the roof is collected inside, where it passes through aquaponics ponds, is used to store solar heat, and then is used to irrigate indoor and outdoor gardens. Some rainwater water is purified for drinking and cooking. After multiple uses the water is evaporated back to the sky by plants or is released into the environment as unpolluted groundwater.

Water tubes

(Animated by Lily Ericsson)

These Greenway Passive Solar Heat Storage Tubes absorb and store excess heat from greenhouse air during the day and release the stored heat into the greenhouse at night. Water is the best material for heat storage, storing the most heat for its volume. Each tube, made from Teflon, is 100% transparent, letting sunlight pass on through to growing plants in the greenhouse. Heat is absorbed automatically from warm air, and is released automatically back into colder air. Water tubes are most efficient if hung high in a greenhouse where the air is warmest and above the soil and crops. Water tubes are : — automatic; the air and heat move naturally — silent; no fans, no power, no fuel, no burners — simple, no mechanical or digital controls — you can see them working; water condenses on the outside when it is actively storing heat — more attractive than ducts.

Build a compost box in less than 2 minutes (and reduce your carbon footprint)

This Greenway Compost Box system is easy to make, easy to use, easy to move and will reduce your carbon footprint in multiple ways. Waste organic material is added at the top and slowly sinks down as it decomposes. Finished compost is removed from openings at the bottom. These compost boxes efficiently recycle waste organic materials, produce compost and at the same time prepare and improve soil underneath for future garden beds. Locust tree logs are the best material for these compost boxes because they last longer than any other hard wood.

Simplest, most adaptable siphon for aquaponic systems

This Greenway Siphon is easy to make, never leaks, doesn’t damage the integrity of the tanks and is very adaptable for moving water from pond-to-pond in aquaponics systems. When water is added to one pond, it flows through the siphon to the other pond. Siphons over the top are easily moved and two or more can be used to increase the flow from pond-to-pond. If a siphon gets air in it, the air can be removed simply through the small opening and tube at the top. The transparent plexiglass tube in the center can be made any length to adjust to the distance between two ponds.

More videos coming soon!

Green Center News

Green New Deal Superstudio Submission

July 16, 2021

We have submitted the Greenway idea and illustrations of it to the Green New Deal Superstudio, a national initiative by the Landscape Architecture Foundation to encourage designs to implement the goals of the Green New Deal.

Over the last 50 years, the New Alchemy Institute & the Green Center have designed, tested and demonstrated biological systems and eco-technologies for a solar age:

The Greenway is next-generation, community-scale bioshelter that serves as an ecologically ideal neighborhood.  It is a network of homes, greenhouses, gardens, farms, schools and businesses, connected by sheltered corridors. 

The Greenway  architecture and systems are modular to allow for mass-production and rapid assembly.  Once built, such communities would function without fossil fuel and with circular bio-economies.

  • Housing is integrated with agriculture. 
  • Ecology is integrated with technology.
  • All ‘wastes’ are managed as resources.
  • People are integrated with the cycles of the Earth.

The need for such nature-based, self-directed communities has never been greater.

Since we started our research 50 years ago, the rate of environmental destruction and global warming has increased, threatening our food and clean water supplies. Even more alarming, phosphorus, a non-renewable and essential agricultural fertilizer, is being depleted. Presently mismanaged and wasted, it is polluting our water.

There will be no social equality and stability without food and water security. There will be no food and water security without restoring natural ecosystems. To restore natural ecosystems, ALL resources have to be recycled. Our survival depends on it.

There is no time to waste.

Our submission to the Green New Deal Superstudio is in visual form below, or you can download a higher-res PDF here.


The First EcoDrum on Cape Cod!

June 7, 2019

Our neighbors at the Coonamessett Farm Foundation are having an open house party to introduce you to their awesome new composter!    

EcoDrum image

On June 6, 2019 from 5 -7 PM, visit them at 277 Hatchville Road in East Falmouth to find out why composting is not only good for the soil, it’s good for the community and the planet. Complimentary beer, wine and light appetizers will be served. RSVP here!    

After the party’s over, CFF will continue to research how rotational composting of small farm waste can close the food-nutrient cycle, and improve soil health and help mitigate climate change.    

The Green Center began investigating the EcoDrum in 2007 when it was first developed in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, we have been promoting it publicly to planning officials as an ideal method of recovering and recycling waste nutrients on Cape Cod. Read more about the EcoDrum here.

A brief history of the EcoDrum’s journey to Falmouth…

2010  first proposed to Falmouth as partial alternative to $600 million of sewers being planned.

2011   Falmouth ‘Eco-Toilet Summit’ –  EcoDrum proposed to Falmouth to safely recover and recycle waste human nutrients from eco-toilets, to eliminate need for sewers. 

2012   Green Center proposed the EcoDrum as a tool for nutrient recovery/recycling to the Cape Cod Commission as it developed a county-wide Wastewater Management Plan. We introduced the idea to officials from the MA Dept. of Environmental Protection, the EPA regional office, and all town governments on Cape Cod.

2013  Green Center established Cape Cod  Eco-toilet Center public information center.

2014  Developed proposal for Regional-Scale  Nutrient Recovery and Recycling  for Cape Cod as long-term solution to nutrient loading of groundwater, including a proposal for an “EcoDrum Composting Treatment Works” to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

2019   First Ecodrum on Cape Cod, at the Coonamessett Farm Foundation,  East Falmouth

2019  Washington State passes a law permitting EcoDrums  to be used for composting deceased humans as an ecological alternative to burial or cremation.

 


Green Classroom Curriculum

January 8, 2019

Green Classroom cover

Due to renewed interest in science-based learning for children, we’re making available a gardening curriculum published by the New Alchemy Institute in 1988. The Green Classroom is a tested, convenient way for teachers to provide garden-focused knowledge to today’s students, with practical benefits in a climate-challenged world.

Developed by Judith Salisbury, the lessons are organized by months from September – June, including classroom study, science experiments, and establishing an outdoor garden. Each month topics were investigated, including vegetables, seeds, plant biology, seasons, insects, soil life, composting, soil, pesticides, fertilizer, trees, geology, and more. The curriculum was used by every 4th grade class in Falmouth, and all the participating elementary schools had a garden at the school for hands-on experience, and experiments.

Download a PDF version of A Teacher’s Manual for the Green Classroom – A Garden-Based Science Curriculum


The Falmouth Wind Project Appeal

November 20, 2018

In June 2017, Judge Cornelius Moriary of the Barnstable Superior Court shut down Falmouth’s two 1.65 MW wind turbines. Since then, The Green Center —working with a small group of Falmouth residents— attempted to restore the turbines to operation by appealing the decision. The Town of Falmouth would in the normal course be the appellant but, anticipating continued opposition by the local Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board chose not to appeal, despite our requests. With the advice of two experienced lawyers, we entered the case and sought a “reconsideration” by the judge, who promptly denied it.

The denial was appealed to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, which held a hearing in Boston in early October 2018. Meanwhile, we urged the Town join in the appeal, confident that the Court would restore the turbine operation, with possible accommodation to those who could show harm from the turbines. The Town refused to join, having decided to move or dismantle the turbines (despite a town-wide vote in 2013 confirming a 2:1 interest in preserving them).

This decision on the part of the Board of Selectmen put them, strangely, in defense of the narrow, personal interests of less than ten citizens. The Green Center was then defending the public interest, defined by the 2013 plebiscite. The opportunity open to the Town’s Selectmen was clear. We urged them repeatedly to join. They refused.

The Appeals Court rejected the appeal on the grounds that we, The Green Center, did not have a sufficient personal financial interest vis-a-vis the $10-20 million turbines to have “standing” to enter the court. They did make it clear that the failure of the Town to join in the appeal was a further reason for rejection.

While we have not succeeded in restoring the turbines to operation, we did make it clear (1) that the turbines are not operating now because of the decision of the Select Board of the Town not to participate in the appeal, and (2) our research suggests that the Legislative Act of 2007, requested by the Town, which authorized the construction and operation of these turbines at the present location, obviates the objections of the Zoning Board of Appeals. If this Select Board were willing to rise to the challenge, accept its duty in defending the public interest, the Act authorizes the full operation of both turbines. Now.

Renewable energy is indeed needed now to prevent climate catastrophe. The turbines should not be dismantled. The intrusion they make on lives of the closest neighbors is of the level of other intrusions usually found acceptable. These are common appliances such as air conditioners, oil burners and refrigerators, and external intrusions such as vehicles on highways, wind in trees, aircraft and lawnmowers. The intrusions from climatic changes, however, are unacceptable to life as we know it and devastating to all.

We urge The Town of Falmouth to take the advice of the recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment Report and join in the surge of electrification with renewables that must occur rapidly as we end the fossil fueled age. We should be leaders in a wealthy town with five scientific laboratories that have dealt with details of the energy crisis for decades. Time to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and avoid life altering disasters is rapidly running out.

Our activities under the aegis of The Green Center were financed by generous donations from participants and friends who joined along the away. Expenses were court costs and the resources of two law offices, Richard Ayres of Washington, DC and George Boerger of Duxbury, MA, both of whom worked extensively and at minimal costs on research and preparation of court documents. We extend our appreciation to both lawyers and their associates for steadfast attention, availability and advice. We extend thanks as well to both The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for their interest and support.

A Climate of Facts & Opinions

[The following was submitted as a letter-to-the-editor to The Falmouth Enterprise in October 2018, but was not accepted for publication. We believe this information should be made available to the voters of Falmouth.]

After reading recent articles and letters to the editor regarding the turbines, we have become concerned that facts are being replaced by opinions and opinions accepted as facts. Researching the matter, here are some facts we found regarding the turbine issue.

  • Property values near the turbines did not decline.
  • The 2005 feasibility study by KEMA (a Dutch based international company that gives electro-technical advice, inspection and certification) recommended turbines for Falmouth between 1.5 and 2.5 MW. Falmouth installed 1.65 MW turbines.
  • Legislative Act (2007)-Chapter 200 authorizes the town of Falmouth to install, finance and operate wind energy facilities at the wastewater treatment facility, notwithstanding any general or special law in the contrary. So, no special permit was required.
  • Turbines were installed on largest parcel of public-use zoned property owned by the town, the 300+ acre wastewater facility.
  • The location of the turbines conformed to the State (DOER) model bylaw for setbacks from residences.
  • Numerous notices and two surveys were sent to the abutting residents and numerous public meetings held, including 7 town meetings over 9 years.
  • Two bus trips were organized to the town of Hull, in 2004 to see Hull Wind 1 (660KW) next to the Hull high school and in 2007 to see Hull Wind 2 (1.8 MW), situated as close as 600 feet from residences. Mr. Andersen’s house is 1,300ft (1/4 mile) from Falmouth Wind 1 (1.65 MW). Mr. Andersen and other neighbors participated in these trips, so the size and proximity of the Falmouth Wind 1 when it went up could not have been a surprise. Both of Hull’s turbines spin 24/7 without controversy.  In Gardner MA, two Vestas turbines, identical to Falmouth’s, operate 24/7.  Gardner District Court is within 590 feet of both turbines.
  • In DEP testing in early 2012 there was a slight exceedance (within margins of error) at one house. DEP’s published data showed the loudest sounds occurred when both turbines were OFF. The noise exceedance was eliminated (at huge costs to the taxpayers) in early 2012, by turning turbines off at night. In seven years of operation, the “noise problem” was never recorded.
  • Infrasound: The January 2012 report from MA DEP/DPH Independent Expert Science Panel concluded that there is no association between noise, including infrasound, from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems. Anecdotes of health effects are met with skepticism by physicians and public health officials. Five local physicians co-signed a letter supporting turbine operation, and the Falmouth Board of Health wrote a letter (10/19/15) citing a massive study which found “no association” between health impacts and proximity to huge wind farms.

Let’s stick to the facts.

Let’s stick to the Falmouth 2013 citizens vote, when all nine precincts, including West Falmouth, voted against funding the removal of the turbines.

Let’s operate the turbines again, reduce Falmouth’s carbon footprint, and save $10-14 million tax payers money at the same time.

Selectmen should join The Green Center’s ongoing appeal.