Urban Biofilter leverages waste to improve quality of life in inner-cities. A micro-industrial forestry project grown with waste water on brownfields, Urban Biofilter bioremediates water, soil and air while shielding residents from industry and transportation routes. By valuing ecosystem services the project enables a green economy that serves environmental justice. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

10^100

We submitted the bamboo biofiltration concept for this Google competition last month. We adapted the concept to address urban communities with the need for air/water filtration and building materials. This was the video we posted with the written text (below). We'll put the text and cleaned up video up soon. Cross your fingers, and if we make to the next round, vote for us!




HERES OUR PROPOSAL

10. What one sentence best describes your idea?

Urban Bamboo Biofilters:

Productive greenbelts, planted in the worst slums, absorbing wastewater, a rapid solution to air pollution and renewable low cost lumber garden.

# 11. Describe your idea in more depth.

We propose the mass cultivation of micro-industrial bamboo plantations as rapidly deployable, low-cost, green infrastructure in the worlds most environmentally degraded urban slums.

The bamboo biofiltration greenbelts, integrate a variety of eco-industrial functions including the decentralized purification of air and water, the creation of an urban green economy, through the cultivation and distribution of sustainable forestry products, and a supply of local sustainable building materials to construct urban dwellings for the poor.

The harnessing of earths ecosystem services is one of the most energy efficient approaches to waste treatment. It also provides an immediately attainable solution to air quality, since no new technological advancements or breakthroughs are needed. The system relies on, terrestrial vegetation, a 400 million year old technology. Do to the relatively low cost of implementation, the bamboo biofilter provides a solution for urban air and water remediation industry to reach a broad diversity of regions in the world. The extreme diversity of the species, allows for.
Bamboo plantations have been show to remediate degraded sites for use as agriculture or resotration.

1) Air Filtration:
Carcinetic, cardiovascular effects of PM...
Urban forests can remove SO2, NOx, CO, CO2, Ozone, PAH & other VOCs, as well as PMs and Metals from contaminated airsheds. Urban forests have been shown to capture 15 kilograms per day per square kilometer of PM10 particulate matter!

Our project differs from generalized urban forest development, in that it is strategically targeted as site specific mechanical filter. Rather than ofsetting regionalized airquality on a large metro-level , these greenbelts will be strategically planted along transportation routes and downwind of stationary pollution sources, on marginalized and contaminated urban lands. Rigorous demographic, geospatial and sensor analysis will be used to identify, model and monitor the communities most at risk of urban air pollution
will filter the life threatening pollution--particulate matter--which comes from trucking, shipping automobiles and industry.




Unlike trees, which take 25 years or longer to achieve maximum pollution filtration, Bamboo biofilters can reach maturity and effectively improve air quality in 1-2 years, giving millions of people the chance for a longer, healthier life.

2) water filtration: irrigated with urban wastewater, which in most parts of the world is being dumped in the form of nutrient rich effluent, causing problems for the local ecosystem. We will be recycling water and bamboo will bioremediate the water, absorbing nutrients.
3) quality of life: UBB will provide visual relief and mitigate sound from transportation ways.
4) carbon sink: bamboo will sequester CO2 more rapidly than an equivalent stand of trees.
5) green industry: Bamboo is a renewable resource, it can be harvested every year & will provide opportunities for sustainable products and materials for urban relief housing.

Our project differs from generalized urban forest development, in that it is strategically targeted as site specific mechanical filter. Rather than ofsetting regionalized airquality on a large metro-level , these greenbelts will be strategically planted along transportation routes and downwind of stationary pollution sources, on marginalized and contaminated urban lands. will filter the life threatening pollution--particulate matter--which comes from trucking, shipping automobiles and industry.

Bamboo is fast growing--up to 36” in a day--and is easily cultivated, not only does it provide air filtration, but also rapidly renewable materials. Potential end uses of bamboo green industry include: properly harvested and treated poles for framing construction, composite building materials, furniture, paper, fabric and biofuel.
Many people living in slums cannot afford the and therefore the tin and concrete: the materials often promoted by relief programs. The planet cannot afford it either.

Bamboo is being rediscovered as a modern building material and utilized in medium density housing and as structural elements in world class architecture. As energy prices skyrocket, bamboo is recognized as a cornerstone of contemporary sustainable architecture.


# 12. What problem or issue does your idea address?

Air pollution causes 2.4 million human deaths per year, comparable to the number of people killed by malaria and AIDS. In many cities like Beijing, Mumbai and Baku emissions from automobiles and industrial activity create life threatening pollution. In Mexico City, ozone levels fail to meet WHO standards 300 days a year.
Carcinogenic, cardiovascular effects of PM...other specific health effects (bb fill)

While many industrialized nations have adopted strong standards for emissions, the impact won't be felt for 20-30 years, In countries without emission standards it will be far longer. Additionally, Car ownership is on the rise--globally a doubling of automobiles is expected in the next 15 years to >1.3 billion. While potentially significant for curbing climate change, these emissions reductions and alternative vehicles are a long-term solution. Bamboo provides a solution to meet the IMMEDIATE need for urban health and environment.

Urban forests can remove SO2, NOx, CO, CO2, Ozone, PAH & other VOCs, as well as PMs and Metals from contaminated airsheds. Urban forests have been shown to capture 15 kilograms per day per square kilometer of PM10 particulate matter!

Unlike trees, which take 25 years or longer to achieve maximum pollution filtration, Bamboo biofilters can reach maturity and effectively improve air quality in 1-2 years, giving millions of people the chance for a longer, healthier life.

# 13. If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how?

More than half the world’s population live in towns and cities. Within these cities geographical environmental injustice causes the poorest communities to suffer the most from air pollution as they are statistically located near highways, refineries, dumps, ports, and industrial activity. These marginalized “urban slums” are overcrowded, polluted, dangerous, and lack basic services such as clean water and sanitation. Currently, one in seven people live in these settlements. By 2020 it will be one in three. In LA, the most polluted US city, 70% of summer days are dangerous for children with asthma--more than 1/3 are dangerous for all children.


# 14. What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground?


Rigorous demographic, geospatial and sensor analysis would be combined in Google Earth to identify, model and monitor the communities most at risk of urban air pollution. The worst impacted communities with the highest feasibility for implementation would be identified. Then communities that had combined need for air filtration, water filtration and housing relief would be targeted. The number of bamboo greenbelts would be be based on funding available and would be easily replicable and expandable.

Then species would be chosen and cultivated that are most adapted to ecoregion of the impacted city. Then alliances would need to be formed with municipal utilities or or city planners in areas where sanitation is not centralized or there is a presence of semi-treated water. Regionally specific Greenbelts would be designed and engineered to deploy the lowest cost infrastructure to hold the bamboo bio-filters and route waste water to them.  Then venture capital and grassroots outreach would be used to identify local organizations, related industries, regional bamboo experts and other collaborators. Then this coalition would begin training an emergent green collar workforce to install, maintain & plant bamboo biofilters.

Bio-filters would be deployed on near highways to test other advantages such as mitigation of air and noise pollution.  Within months of planting cultivation would be handed over to communities.  Within the first year of planting, groves would reach full height and provide filtration screens. Monitored would continue throughout to test the mitigative effects. Within 3 years, adequate building materials would be available for construction, and a street-side lumber yard available to all the community that cleans both the air and the water and creates jobs.


# 15. Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it?



Thousands of urban bamboo groves transforming carcinogenic exhaust, nutrients from wastewater and CO2 into an income-generating, neighborhood-enhancing greenbelts. Urban slums communities empowered with green jobs harvesting local, inexpensive and marketable source of building materials and textiles. Not only are these outcomes feasible based on longstanding technology (plants!). Rapidly deployable, immediate, short term solution to urban air quality, where significant impacts can be expected within a very short timeframe owing to bamboo's rapid growth.  Within 2 years of initiating the project, significant impacts on air quality could be observed, and housing construction would begin.

To observe numerical improvements on air quality, a mesh network of air quality sensing motes, would be installed in each major project site. Pre-planting baseline data would be gathered and ongoing air quality monitoring would assess various local contaminants of concern, notably particulate matter (DPM, PM10, PM2.5), so that rate of change could be recorded.  Physical, social and economic factors for the site and surrounding community would also be surveyed before beginning and periodically afterwards, as would growth characteristics for the bamboo.  Indicators for success would include % reductions in particulates, number of houses constructed or improved using bamboo, and local economic empowerment through bamboo-based cottage industries.

1 comment:

blujay said...

Bravo, this is one of the best ideas that I've seen in quite some time. I'm looking forward to helping you guys on this project with the permaculture class from Merritt.

Here is an additional element that could easily be added to this plan...Mycoremediation. This is the addition of various species of fungi that act as powerful biofilters. Their benefit is threefold, they digest pathogenic microbes and petrochemicals, symbiotically assist in plant growth buy transporting nutrients and speeding the carbon and nitrogen cycles. While doing all of this they also produce a viable food source of culinary and medicinal mushrooms.

Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti has already show all of this to be effective. Check out his work and products here.
http://fungiperfecti.com/mycotech/index.html