EcoDistrict Cape Cod
A new town center development with mixed use residential (360 units) over commercial. Line Company successfully completed a master plan that was approved at Town Meeting allowing for increased density, height and hotel with indoor waterpark. The concept is integrated with smart growth technologies, sustainable design, and a waste water management system that incorporates new technologies to preserve the ecosystem and control the amount of nitrates released into the estuaries. Line Company Architects is the architect as well as a development partner.
An ecodistrict or eco-district is a neologism associating the terms “district” and “eco” as an abbreviation of ecological. It designates an urban planning aiming to integrate objectives of “sustainable development” and reduce the ecological footprint of the project.
The proposed village center is utilizing an integrated utility infrastructure approach based upon the planetary systems dynamic. The planetary systems ideally operate in a dynamic balance based upon the various interrelated biological systems. Up until now our approach to infrastructure has been done in isolation. This means we have pursued community infrastructure in a reactive manner, an environmental crisis brings forth a reaction to “solve the problem”. In most cased these solutions require ever more sophisticated mechanical devices to provide enhanced results. What the Village Center Group has done is to embrace to concept of the EcoDistrict to bring about an enhanced natural systems dynamic balance by viewing the community through a holistic systems, resource recovery approach to our community development plan. The most important component in this integrated sustainable utility infrastructure network is the sewer system being planned to bring about a near net zero EcoDistrict.
The AquaGen Infrastructure Systems revolutionary sustainable community resource package provides the host community with the opportunity to maximize the natural resource value in the community waste stream to create a multi-faceted renewable resource platform. This is done by capturing the photosynthetic engine of marine algae, one of Mother Nature’s most important resources, and naturally occurring bacteria to convert wastewater into community energy resources while recapturing the cleaned water for unlimited reuse.
The AquaGen system starts with the green collection technology of vacuum sewers. This technology utilizes differential air pressure to carry wastewater from the user to the treatment facility. The vacuum collection system is recognized by EPA as the least energy, environmental and capital intensive collection system available and is specifically called out in the Federal EPA green wastewater technology regulations. The process flows from the vacuum collection tank into a UASB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) which naturally converts the organic solids in the wastewater to biogas. This biogas is combined with biogas from algae biomass to fuel a community co-generation plant for community renewable energy generation. The UASB removes about 75% of the organic solids (or BOD pollution) from the waste flow before treatment. This will reduce the wastewater from a Biological Oxygen Demand of 250 to 63. In recent studies, contaminants of emerging concern seem to remain in the solids during wastewater treatment, in our case this means they are converted to biogas and burned. The reduction in waste strength then decreases the amount of oxygen required for treatment proportionately. This where the algae photosynthesis becomes a real game changer, the flow from the UASB then flows into a conventional attached growth bioreactor, which is ideal for the elimination of BOD and some nutrients by bioremediation which utilizes bacteria supplied with nutrients and oxygen to eliminate the remaining waste. Where normal wastewater treatment systems utilize atmospheric air containing 21% oxygen to supply the oxygen for this process, we utilize oxygen super saturated water produced during the photosynthetic process thereby eliminating the need for all of the mechanical blowers and their energy and maintenance needs. In todays world that represents a saving in capital cost of 15 to 30 percent and an energy footprint of near zero due to the fact that all of the waste stream resource value has been captured and turned to energy. Our water then flows into the algae systems for oxygen generation, carbon dioxide consumption and nutrient removal.
The District energy made available through the renewable biogas generation is utilized as fuel for the co-generation of electricity and thermal energy. The electricity will flow into the local distribution grid and the thermal energy will be supplied throughout the development in heating and cooling lines installed along with the sewer lines. By installing the energy distribution in concert with the sewer line and re-use water line installation we are able to reduce the per- foot installed cost by over 60% for each utility service. This represent a huge infrastructure savings in construction and labor. The cost of the utilities for the village users will be substantially less than nearby non-connected communities. The AquaGen based EcoDistrict will set a new standard in ecologically enlightened community development to bring about a more sustainable resilient society by bringing about the elimination of all the waste in their wastewater.