Thursday, February 24, 2011

'Wormi-Culture'

If you are reading this you might be wondering if the title of this blog entry is a 'typo'. Just so you don't feel sorry for me (and if you do I thank you graciously) but even with my inadequate spelling skills let me reassure you a typo it is not. 'Wormi-Culture' is a take on vermi-culture or vermi-composting and the culture that surrounds this method of composting. Since my post on Bernard Shaw's writing hut garnered a bit of interest I thought I would follow with another shed. In this case, one I was involved in designing. This post highlights a project we (Michael Waechter, Charlie Friedlander, Peter Bowman and myself) worked on at Waechter Architects a year or so ago. We developed a concept shed which is designed to produce heat through it's floor by the process of vermi-composting. The shed also makes use of the usual suspects of green architecture i.e. solar harvesting for heat and energy and water harvesting. We plan to build this shed sometime in the future (if someone would give us a grant) to see if the idea has real benefits in real world use.

The idea of heating through composting is not new. It has been a topic of discourse and some study since 1987. Here is a link to a great website where you can find useful information : http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/compostheatedgh.html This information is based on manure composting and not vermi-composting which is much better suited to mainstream use for obvious reasons.


After discovering that vermi-composting created heat we joked a bit about what the benefits might be to having a vermi-composting (insulation) first floor in a single family residence. The joke soon turned into a serious discussion on how this idea can in fact be viable and beneficial. We naturally thought that there might be some major drawbacks - like smell, but the more research we did the more we discovered that the method of vermi-composting did not produce offensive odors. If done correctly vermi-composting will produce an earthy scent but nothing that you would find unpleasant in the great outdoors. So was born the idea of the 'Vermi-Floor'. Maintaining a 'Vermi-Floor' might be more labor intensive than just throwing waste in a composting bin but the benefits greatly outweigh the labor involved.

 I won't get into any great detail in this post but I will follow this post with more ideas on the 'Vermi-Floor' and how it can be implemented in a typical single family home. For now, I'm just posting our study for a 'Green Shed' designed to be plugged into a park potentially and used along side a community garden. The Park was the perfect location for this prototype shed. The Park can supply a great amount of natural material perfect for traditional composting as well as worm composting. Grass clippings, leaves and natural food waste is easily acquired in a park. Instead of dumping it in a land-fill the waste can be used for a community garden.


More about the evolution of the 'Vermi-Floor' 2.0 in the next post.