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AWE: Air, Water, Energy

As we anxiously end 2020 and look forward to a better new year where we can again get out and enjoy each other, we’d like to end on a positive note. A lot of good things happened at Build Equinox as we continue our relentless march toward a sustainable world. A world in which we elevate the quality of life for everyone. A world in which Mother Earth’s resources are efficiently used, recycled, and plentiful for all.

During 2020, we brought news of our ever expanding CERV2 capabilities and features including CERV-IR (CERV-Intelligent Relay; wireless control of mini-split heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, zone dampers, and anything else we can think of….and if we haven’t thought of it, send us a note about your needs), CERV-UV (CERV-Ultra Violet; our integrated UVGI technology we worked to develop more than two years ago), and CERV-RC (CERV-Remote Control; infrared control of ductless mini-split heat pumps, currently available for Mitsubishi units). And 2021 will continue to bring news of many more capabilities we have been developing in our solar powered laboratory.

The 2100 gallon tank arrives and Ty’s “pandemic beard” is growing.

The end of December brought the installation of our new 2100 gallon rainwater harvesting cistern at Build Equinox. Those of you who have attended one of our presentations have seen our mission statement to develop solutions for healthy, comfortable and sustainable lifestyles, or in the words of the wise and wonderful Aldo Leopold, “….learning to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.” Ben and Tys’ contributions to a 2014 ASHRAE Journal article “Shaping the Next….Future of Residential Construction” reflects our interest and activities beyond smart ventilation that most of you know us for.

A bit of digging and trenching (if you think of it as exercise, it’s not so bad), and the tank is in place. We set the tank about 2 feet below grade, about 1 foot above the frost line for our region, but deep enough that with a bit of insulation, the ground will keep water from freezing.
Two inch thick Styrofoam panels clad the tank. Three inches of foam insulation (3 one inch thick, alternating direction panels) form the 8ft by 8 ft roof.
Add some weather proof cladding on the sides and roof to protect the insulation and make the cistern look pretty.

As you read the ASHRAE article, note that Max Sherman’s discussion of what’s needed for healthy air quality is a description of our CERV2 technology. John Mix’s discussion of the importance of inverter drive technology in residential systems is something we recognized and incorporated into our first generation CERV from more than 10 years ago. Dave Yashar’s contribution describes the need for better information of home appliance and comfort system performances in actual use, as we provide with the CERV2’s online analytics and historical data that allows homeowners to view their home’s air quality, comfort conditions, filter life, and CERV2 energy use.

Evan Mills discusses the need for resilient communities, and we wholeheartedly agree. That is why ASHRAE’s 2014 President, William Bahnfleth, asked Ben and Ty to contribute to the article on residential energy performance and water. Ben’s describes that the most economical home, when properly designed, is a high performance, renewable energy powered home. And Ty contributes a section on the need to re-think our use and collection of water. Water is a critical resource that parallels the critical needs for food, energy and healthy environments.

Our new rainwater harvesting system is a research platform for studying rainwater in a heavily wooded environment, in contrast to Equinox House’s “prairie” rainwater harvesting system (installed in 2010, Equinox House is the first home in Illinois permitted to use rainwater indoors). Watch for future articles where we share the results of this important research.

Now, collect some rain. A 1 inch rainfall on the 2250square foot Build Equinox roof (half of our building’s roof drains to the rainwater harvesting system) is 1500 gallons!
It’s not ready to drink, yet! First rainwater sample shows plentiful bacterial coliforms (pink spots) and numerous e coli (dark spots). Two levels (belt and suspenders redundancy) of filtration and ultraviolet water sanitizing are being installed indoors, and months and months of research and data collection! As Ty describes in the ASHRAE article, rainwater is a wonderful gift, and once you wash clothes and shower with rain, you’ll never go back. No more water softening. No more deposits clogging your pipes and scaling your plumbing fixtures!

Finally, we want to stress the importance of education for developing a truly sustainable world that creates a promising future for our children and grandchildren. In today’s Zooming environment, the ability to provide an education to everyone everywhere now exists. We must learn how to do that effectively, but we will.

Thank you for joining us on this journey and for contributing your efforts to make this a better world!

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