HOW WE TAKE SUSTAINABILITY ABOVE AND BEYOND
As a part of being passionate about protecting and nurturing the earth, we also want to provide the healthiest and safest living for ourselves. One of the things we learned right away about sustainability is that water is our most important resource. If you don't have water, you're in trouble. Moreover, clean water is of utmost importance for our health. We are not connected to any city water source, so we are completely dependent on the rain. This is not a new concept. People have been living on rainwater catchment systems for thousands of years. We've just taken some of the very best modern technology and applied it to the farm and house.
Rain catchment starts with the surface on which the rain falls. We installed a roof using catchment roofing material which is LEED certified, a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and to encourage sustainable design. The material is attractive and long-lasting.
Rainwater then passes through pipes underground and enters the water tanks from below ground level. This is important because it does not allow light to enter the tank like a pipe that fills from the top can do. No light means no growth of algae or other pollutants. In addition to the bottom fill, we installed a double layer of tarp covering to block all light. Notice, also, that we installed TWO tanks. Everything about our catchment system is doubled, so if anything should happen with one tank, we always have another. As we said, water is important.
Catchment systems can catch more than just rain, though. A lot of other things can land on a roof... leaves, bugs, and whatever birds might leave behind, for just a few examples. These are not things that we want in our bathing and drinking water! For that reason, we installed first catchment pipes. After the water is screened from the gutters, it goes into a first catch pipe. All of the water that first comes off the roof, the water more likely to have impurities, goes into the first catch pipe until that pipe is full, Then the clean water is diverted to a second pipe that directs the water into the catchment tanks. The first catch pipes are then easily drained in preparation for the next rainy day.
Just like we have two tanks, we also have redundancy in our pumps! There are two pumps and ways to direct water in many different configurations between tanks, pumps, and to the house and farm. The water is filtered through three filters (20 microns, 5 microns and 1 micron) before going to the house. Finally, the drinking water is sent through a reverse osmosis system for the absolutely purest rainwater to drink! Yay!
All of that power is stored in 4 new lithium batteries, installed 5/18. They should be good for 20 years and require no maintenance! (Solar power sure has come a long way!) The batteries are housed in a protective space created by cinder block and marine grade 1-inch plywood, built to last in the tropical environment of Huelo.
While the house at Maui Moon Farm is connected to MECO (so, yes, you can go ahead and use your blow dryer!), the energy required for running the farm systems all comes from our beloved sun. The roof of our permitted farm structure that houses our Learning Center/Systems Center consists of 22 solar panels. They can produce up to 6000 kilowatt hours! The system includes both 110 and 220 voltage.
If you're into solar power, this last picture will excite you. If not, just know that this system is also fully redundant, with two inverters and two controllers! That's so we'll always have the energy we need for the pond systems, and that's how 220 is possible. Sustainability doesn't have to mean sacrifice!