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Apr 11, 2010

Mechanical design and its impact is crucial to sustainable design. Mechanical systems use resources. The size of the system is a determining factor in how much resources it will use. The larger system will use more resources than a smaller system. For example, a transportation system based on the single occupant vehicle system uses more resources than a mixed transportation system that includes trains, buses, bicycling, mopeds, and walking in compact neighborhoods. The mixed system can be as much as 1000 times more mechanically efficient.  Any sustainable society that uses a mechanical system must determine which system will accomplish a given result with the least possible use of resources. 

A sustainable system will meet this criteria:
1) Exerts the amount of effort required to accomplish the task without excess effort.
2) Uses the least amount of energy necessary to accomplish the task.
3) Sized to the task, neither too big nor too small.

There are various types of mechanical systems in today's world that can benefit by an upgrade to a more efficient design. These include:
1) Transportation
2) Factories and manufacturing
3) Farming
4) Shipping
5) Energy Production
6) Communications


Sustainable Design Now:

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Posted: Apr 11, 2010 12:21pm
Mar 19, 2010

Material use in a closed loop system remains relatively stable and minimizes ecological impact. This differs from an open loop system which requires a constant input of raw materials. This is a basic comparison:

In an open system that requires ten pounds(4.5 kg) of materials to produce a product or service every ten days to complete a lifecycle, then an entire year will result in 36.5 lifecycles which equals 365 lbs of materials(166.5 kg) per year.
The equation: Lifecycles multiplied by weight per lifecycle= weight per total lifecycles.

In a closed loop system that uses the same material per lifecycle to produce a product or service then the ten pounds(4.5 kg) will be reused for the entire year. Therefore, the amount for the entire year will be only ten pounds(4.5 kg). The closed loop system in this example uses less than 3% the amount of the open system. As the years pass, the closed system is an even better performer because it keeps reusing the same base material, whereas the open system needs an additional 365 lbs(166.5 kg) per year. In ten years the closed system is over 360 times more efficient.

An open system which is currently standard on a regional scale with a population of 3.5 million people who each produce 4 lbs(1.8 kg) per day (which is the U.S. average) calculates to over 5.1 billion pounds(2.29 billion kg) per year. The equation:
3.5 million people multiplied by 4 lbs(1.8 kg) per day multiplied by 365 days year = 5.1 Billion lbs(2,29 billion kg) per year. In ten years this same population will produce over 51 billion lbs(22.9 billion kg) of waste.

A Closed System can greatly reduce this amount.  In addition to the material savings many other indirect savings in water, energy and time can be realized. These include:
1) Saving via direct conservation by reducing daily waste.
2) Saving energy via recycling which typically uses less energy.
3) Saving by having less infrastructure to support.
4) Saving by having less transport involved in moving material in a closed loop system.
5) Saving water by using fewer processes.
6) Saving by reducing the need for landfills. 



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Posted: Mar 19, 2010 1:06pm
Mar 16, 2010

Factor Two of Formula of Sustainable Design: Energy Efficiency

Currently, the entire world uses 400 quads of energy. One quad is equivalent to 2.93 trillion kilowatt hours. The United States uses the greatest amount at 100 quads of energy, yet it only has 5% of the world's population. This is important to understand because if the current world population of 6 billion people used the U.S. Standard then it would equal 2,000 quads of energy. That total means that with our current fossil fuel use the pollution would be five times greater than it is now. When the population grows to 9 billion people then the U.S. standard would require 3,000 quads of energy. The amount of pollution would be 7.5 times greater than now. Currently, the U.S. is the most inefficient place on Earth, because with proper conservation methods and appropriate technology the US can have a higher standard of living with only 15 quads of energy. The entire world can have the same high standard with only 300 quads of energy. All the while, pollution can be almost eliminated. This is all possible with today's technology. Eventually, breakthrough technologies may reduce energy needs to 30 quads for the entire world. 

The true renewables energy sources are solar, wind and water. These renewable energy technologies are already advanced and sound economical investments. As for hydrogen, it is an energy carrier rather than an energy source, so both renewable and fossil fuels can be used for the energy source. However, if fossil fuels are used then it still is an ecologically degrading approach to energy. The true renewables are the best.

Ethanol and biomass fuels have been touted as a renewable energy source, but in reality, they are not sound choices for large scale infrastructure. In fact they waste space and interfere with ecological diversity. According to the Earth Policy Institute, 'The conversion of ethanol from corn is one ton of corn = 39.4 bushels(1379 liters) = 110 gallons (418 liters) of ethanol. The grain it takes to fill a 25 gallon tank (95 liters) with ethanol just once will feed one person for a whole year. Converting the entire U.S. grain harvest to ethanol would satisfy only 16% of U.S. auto fuel needs.'

A few points to consider before converting plants or plant wastes to ethanol:
1) How will it affect the natural process of returning plant waste to nature to feed the soil?
2) Is there a more efficient way to provide fuel?
3) Can conservation reduce fuel needs in the first place?
4) How much land and infrastructure is actually needed to grow and make ethanol?
5) How will it affect natural diversity in the local ecosystems?
6) Can the land, labor, and infrastructure be better devoted to growing food to feed hungry people?

The next notion is converting trash to fuel. This is unsound because it violates the first rule of conservation. If you convert trash to fuel then you will always need a supply of raw resources to create new materials. Secondly, when converting trash to fuel, one unit of trash would have to produce at least one unit of energy equal to the amount of energy required to produce the original unit of material just to break even.

Fossil fuels degrade the environment in both extraction and use. Natural gas has been promoted lately as a sound source, but the facts weigh heavily against it. The U.S. has only an estimated 1532 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of reserves that are technically recoverable. The U.S. uses about 23.1 tcf per year. At that rate it will only last 66 years while it pollutes the environment. However, if the option of being dependent on it to replace foreign use of oil then the reserves will only last about 25 years. Likewise, oil shale, domestic oil, and coal all have serious environmental hazards. They are all limited in reserves because they are finite resources. None of the fossil fuels are sound energy sources given our current state of technology and knowledge. Nuclear energy has too many downfalls (toxic waste and storage, nuclear weapons, security and safety risks). It should rightly be called "Toxic Energy." Toxic energy is not green.


Nolan's Website:

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Posted: Mar 16, 2010 12:13pm
Mar 2, 2010

Factor One: True Resource Efficiency

The expansion of the human race as a technological society is tied to our contraction on all scales. This is a paradox. Here is how it works: True Resource Efficiency is an operational model that accomplishes more with less. This satisfies the paradox. By doing more with less, the model reduces burdens and enables a society to focus on advances in culture and technology. As a sustainable society emerges it becomes less wasteful.

The model contains nine core concepts:
1) Keep the supply line short and direct.
2) Keep production facilities close to resources and consuming market.
3) Use only renewable energy.
4) Use only recyclable and durable materials.
5) Reduce material use to a minimum.
6) Ensure all wastes are reused, recycled or biodegraded back to natural systems.
7) Ensure packaging is kept to a minimum.
8) Reduce all unnecessary mechanical tasks and human labor.
9) Reduce number of distribution channels a product must travel through from production to end use.

The aim of the model is to conserve energy, time, labor, and material resources while improving quality and standard of living. The model of True Resource Efficiency is a closed loop system.

The model seeks an accurate measure of operations. For example, some jobs that are labor intensive help conserve energy and resources, however, some labor intensive jobs actually use more energy and resources. In fact, some jobs can be more labor intensive than needed because of improper operational procedures. The object of the Model is to reduce both human labor inputs as well as energy and material inputs.




The Local/Regional Trade Model or relocalization is a perfect example of many of the concepts. Using concept one: Keep the supply line short and direct. This determines the average distance a product must travel from production to end use. For example, the average distance a food product in the U.S. travels is 1500 miles(2400 km) from farm to table. If you reduce it to 150 miles(240 km) then it is ten times more efficient. If you reduce it to 15 miles(24 km) then it is 100 times more efficient. If you reduce it to 1.5 miles(2.4 km) then it is 1000 times more efficient. This concept alone:
1) Uses less fuel for transport.
2) Uses less mechanical effort.
3) Uses less human labor.
4) Uses less energy for refrigeration.
5) Creates less pollution.

The Local/Regional Trade Model Measurements:

Local is defined as something produced and used within 25 miles(40 km).
Regional is produced and used within 100 miles(160 km).
Secondary Region is something produced and used within 250 miles (400 km).
Perimeter Region is something produced and used within 500 miles (800 km). Most things can be produced at the local and regional level, however, some products may need to come from the secondary or perimeter region. Anything beyond the perimeter region is not really sustainable and should only be reserved for emergency supplies or products that are not consumed very often.

The easiest way to determine your local to perimeter trade area is simply to measure the distance on a map using a compass and the map scale in miles or kilometers. Considerations must be made for topographical features.


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Posted: Mar 2, 2010 11:51am
Jan 17, 2010


I just released another ebook at

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Posted: Jan 17, 2010 10:17am
Jan 12, 2010

Come join the Artist and Collectors group at

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Posted: Jan 12, 2010 10:18am
Nov 6, 2009

Come check out my sustainable political journal:

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Posted: Nov 6, 2009 1:00pm
Nov 4, 2009

Come view my new entry: How to Promote Your Art at

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Posted: Nov 4, 2009 9:11am
Oct 25, 2009

I just released a mini ebook at

It is a sample of my work entitled "The Nature of Enterprises."

Have a nice day

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Posted: Oct 25, 2009 11:13am
Mar 9, 2009

This is a new group to help clarify what is green compared to what is not green. Many people are jumping on the band wagon of green consumerism, but many people honestly do not know the difference between what is truely green and what is something that appears green on the surface yet is really not green deep down. I hope you will join in this noble cause to raise awareness.

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Posted: Mar 9, 2009 11:56am


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Nolan Cary
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Winter Park, FL, USA
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