Lets build the future while rebuilding the past

A campaign to build a sustainable home in the woods

The Solar Hydrogen Residential Project

This house will be a total of 2,500 square feet with two to three bedrooms. Its state of the art fiber optic daytime lighting system will allow the entire house to be naturally lit without the use of any lights during the daytime. Additionally, this prototype house will power either a hydrogen fuel cell car or an electric car, which will demonstrate the possibility of drawing the vast majority of one’s energy needs directly from the sun. We feel that this is a very important project because so many companies have made major breakthroughs, yet they have not translated into cleaner lifestyles. We are also going to make a documentary film about the entire process from the initial planning stages to the finished concept house.

Oil vs Hydrogen

H2O. Three quarters of our planet is water, which makes Hydrogen one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Corporate America would have us believe that it is cheaper to set up a oil rig, drill into the bottom of the sea, ship the oil to a refinery, and process it into gasoline than it is to separate Hydrogen from water.

"Planet earth now uses 15 Terra Watts of energy a year. By 2025, scientists estimate we'll need 30 Terra Watts." How are we going get there? Nocera says, "we could cut down all the plants in the world to make biofuels that would yield seven Terra Watts. We could build a new billion Watt nuclear plant every 1.6 days until 2050 that would yield eight Terra Watts. We could cover every inch of land with wind turbines that would give us two Terra Watts.” Or, he says “we could just use the sun, which beams 800 Terra Watts onto the earths every hour.”

Professor at M.I.T.

This ironic picture shows an oil rig sitting on a sea of potential hydrogen energy as far as the eye can see.

On the left is a picture of the Amazon Rainforest that was cleat cut and then planted with Monsanto GMO Corn for Bio-Fuel. They will only be able to plant two crops before the soul is totally exhausted. They will then move on to another section of the Rain Forest using a slash and burn technique. These forest will not grow back in our lifetime.

In one hour, the sun puts out enough energy to power every vehicle, factory, and device on the planet for an entire year.

Solar panels can harness that energy to generate electricity during the day and store the hydrogen for the night or cloudy days. “By adding cobalt and potassium to plain water it is possible to split water into hydrogen for just pennies." Nocera has come up with the first affordable way of producing clean energy which has enormous implications for the future prosperity of our children. We believe that the technology is now available to build a house that is totally powered by solar hydrogen. We have put together a team of both college students and industry professionals to pull all the different pieces of state of the art technology together to build a house that is totally off of the grid, has enough land around it to feed a family of our, and doesn't use any wood in the form of plywood two by fours or finishing veneers. The only plant products that will be used in the building of this house are either from bamboo or hemp plants. Both of these materials are renewable in a few years as opposed to hard woods and plywood, which take several decades to regrow. Last year, over 46 billions sheets of plywood were sold in the USA alone. So far on the team, we have a student of permaculture, a student of chemical engineering, an architectural designer and a real-estate attorney.

We will also be working with a Santa Barbara based architectural/engineering firm and a Santa Barbara based solar energy company. Since this is not a commercial project but rather a concept house, it is our hope that after building the first one we will be able to assess how much each future house will cost and streamline the production of simple, clean, affordable solar hydrogen houses. The first step, however, is to build a concept house to demonstrate that they truly work, and that shifting from an oil based energy source to a solar hydrogen energy source is not only viable but necessary for the survival of our children.

When we first came up with the concept of doing this project, it was based upon the work that was done in the late nineties by Ballard Fuel Systems in Vancouver BC and the development of the hydrogen fuel cell. The major breakthrough at that time had been the introduction of silicon solar panels, and because silicon comes from sand, this brought the price of solar energy way down. Since then, there have been many more major innovations yet still no major shift in getting us out of fossil fuels and into solar hydrogen.

I have done numerous man-on-the-street interviews in which I asked individuals, “would you rather live on a planet that draws its major energy source from the sun in the form of solar hydrogen, or that utilizes our current energy dependency on fossil fuels.” Without fail, every single person wanted to live on the solar, hydrogen planet. Not one out of hundreds opted for coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas, or any of the current toxic paradigms. The picture on the left shows our current energy paradigm dependency on fossil fuel

This picture depicts a futuristic city in which each building is covered in solar panels which converts the energy into hydrogen that can be shipped and stored much the same way that oil and gasoline currently are. Additionally, the car is powered by liquid hydrogen.

This is a grass roots project. It should be coming from the government and from major corporations, but the sad truth is that there are no real profits in solar hydrogen when compared with the profits realized from oil. Thus, if any real steps are going to be taken it is going to have to come from everyday people on a grass roots level.

We tried to build a fully solar hydrogen community in 2008, but we got enmeshed in the real-estate collapse and suffered major setbacks. Now that the recession is mostly over, we are ready to dig in again. However, this time, instead of attempting to create an entire community we are just going to build one concept house and let it grow from there. Here is a 3D computer generated model of the concept house. We want to build the first house somewhere in the sun belt, which implies that it will located either in Southern California or Hawaii. Because solar panels can be aesthetically unattractive, the roofs of the house will be flat in order to put the panels out of sight. This house will have several solar passive features which will facilitate temperature conditions throughout the day. For example, by elevating the home off of the ground we can decrease heat build-up and thus decrease the use of energy on AC. Furthermore, all of the wood paneling will be made from bamboo. By working closely with new paradigms in permaculture, we will be able to plant not only beautiful, but edible gardens, groves of fruit and nut trees, and herb gardens.

The Solar Hydrogen House

The following are some further features which this house will have.

There will be an infinity pool, as well as a salt water ozone swimming pool. These features will be worked seamlessly into a harmonious aesthetically designed garden. In current construction practices, many toxic materials are used which translates into off-gases being leached into your living environment over decades. Many of these chemicals have been found to cause cancer in lab rats. There are no toxic materials used in the construction of our houses, and all of the materials are inert. There is no wood in the form of plywood which emits off-gases and there are no wooden beams which have been treated with chemicals to make them termite resistant. Furthermore, there are no toxic paints used in the construction of these houses. All of the colors are clay-based earth pigments.

The only plant products used are bamboo and hemp, both of which are totally renewable and capable of bringing the warm glow that only wood can bring without having to compromise forests that will not grow back in our lifetime.

This house is designed to be a cathedral of natural light. Using a leading edge system of fiber optics, it is possible to bring natural daylight into every part of this house so that no lights have to be turned on in the daytime. Natural light vibrates on the same frequency as our eyes while most electric light falls short, with neon lighting being the worst.

This house is also equipped with hydrogen flame lighting which gives off a bright natural flame that is beautiful and restful to the eyes like candle light, yet it is slightly brighter and never burns down. However, electric lights are available and optional throughout the house.

Landscape Permacultural Design

Of course, The Solar Hydrogen House’s ability to meet its own energy demands is not the only way in which its residents will be living “off the grid.” Our project aims to go even further by entirely calling into question the current supermarket-paradigm of where we get our food. By applying an ecologically integrated food production system referred to as permacultural design to the land surrounding the home, its residents with be provided with highly varied and nutritious foods year-round.

While conventional ornamental flowers and gardens are certainly nice to look at, an array of local and exotic vegetables, fruit and nut groves and herb gardens has the potential to provide aesthetic beauty while offering some of the most fresh and nutritious foods one could obtain. This is possible partly because the project site boasts a year-round mild Mediterranean climate, but also because the principles of permaculture entail sustainable agricultural practices. That is, our food system will be treated as an interconnected part of its ecosystem rather than one that is strictly controlled by man.

Soil conditions and nutrient cycling will improve rather than degrade with each seasonal crop rotation, and energy use, waste and external outputs will be minimized. By harnessing such a traditional farm-to-plate mode of food consumption, residents will gain a transparency about where they’re food is coming from which is essentially impossible to attain within today’s highly problematic industrial agri-food systems. Students and faculty at The University of California Santa Barbara (including one of our team members) have recently conducted research on the land area needed to produce the nutritional components of a healthy diet according to USDA standards. This has not only offered insight to the feasibility of the permaculture aspect of our project, but has also verified that the property size of the Solar Hydrogen House is more than adequate. This is not about organics or any of the often elitist marketing schemes which are shamelessly geared towards those concerned with eating a healthy diet.

What we envision is exactly what humans have been doing for over 12,000 years, and that is producing the food that weconsume. It’s that simple.

The actual Hydrogen Producing System including the storage tanks can fit into the corner of a two car garage. And with a battery of solar panels arrayed on a flat roof you will never have to pay an electric or gasoline bill again. We are currently seeking funding to build the prototype. We are also open to building a custom solar hydrogen house for an interested party. I think you will find that with all of the incentives, a totally green solar hydrogen house is very cost effective.