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Living Green today for tomorrow

Beltane Hill, a view from the front.

When people think of Green Technology they usually start thinking about electric cars, large arrays of black solar panels, and towering windmills that harness the power of the wind. While these options are all valuable resources that cut down on carbon emissions by generating energy without the use of coal or fossil fuels, Beltane Hill has taken a few simple "common sense" approaches that have helped us not only cut down on energy costs, but allowed us to make much less of a negative impact on the environment.

Among these "common sense" approaches to living green, perhaps the simplest in concept is the orientation of the building. The entire building has been designed with numerous south-facing windows, allowing warming light in when we need it most, while to the north landscaped berms help insulate us from the worst of winter's chill.

Similar in thought to this, the windows within our Greenhouse have also been treated with a special glazing that helps reflect heat and light from direct overhead light, or high angle light, that is most common during the warmer months of the summer. This same glazing allows low-angle light in, which is common during the winter months, allowing light and heat to enter and warm the building when there is otherwise snow and ice on the ground. This window glazing works in conjunction with overhangs built into the roofing of our building, which are intended to shade from high angle light during the summer months and readily allow low angle light in during the winter.

The glazed windows of the pyramid

While we have not yet approached windmill or photovoltaic (solar panel) generated energy at Beltane Hill, we have taken steps to cut down on energy consumption. Throughout the entire building all of our lighting is connected to motion sensors. This ensures that lights stay on only when they are needed, even in the busy shipping and receiving warehouse. To further reduce energy consumption, we have also developed a geothermal heating and cooling system to become less dependent on more traditional heating and air conditioning methods.

The geothermal system at Beltane Hill is certainly our most complex method of living Green. Indeed, most of us here would be hard pressed to explain to you exactly how it works without getting lost in the complex physics and engineering methods used to create it. Simply put though, our geothermal heating and cooling system uses the natural warmth of the earth to help maintain a warmer temperature in our building during the winter, and uses the naturally lower temperatures of deeper depths to maintain a more comfortable temperature during the summer. As you might imagine, this drastically lowers the amount of energy required for heating and air conditioning.

All of these methods blend together with a network of ventilation ducts and radiant heating coils, all specifically designed to help create a natural flow within the building that keeps cooler air circulating for comfort during the warmer climates of the year and hot air circulating during the cold, helping us to work more efficiently with the natural resources that nature gives us.

Across the pond

In the future we hope to expand upon these basic principles, and develop wind generated and photovoltaic power systems to further reduce our dependence on coal and fossil fuels, while bringing into our community trash recycling facilities and compost waste recycling that can only benefit everyone.