Take a Virtual Tour of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Take a Virtual Tour of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living
September 13, 2013

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) demonstrates and teaches what is possible for the future of environmental sustainability, green energy, and regenerative design. Take a virtual tour or come visit us in person.

 

  • The Omega Center for Sustainable Living is an environmental education center and natural water reclamation facility built to meet the highest standards available in sustainable architecture.

  • The OCSL is the first building in the United States to be awarded both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification.

  • Some 20 criteria comprise the Living Building Challenge 2.0 certification, covering everything from how the building is sited, water and energy use, aesthetics, materials sourcing, as well as the requirement to avoid a host of toxic materials often used in construction (listed above).

  • The OCSL was built to expand and upgrade Omega's wastewater facilities—and to do so in the most environmental sensitive way possible, by cleaning wastewater through natural processes.

  • The wastewater is processed by an Eco Machine, through a series of steps that gradually produce clean water. The Eco Machine includes four constructed wetlands—each three feet deep, lined with rubber, and filled with gravel—that use native plants to reduce biochemical oxygen demand, remove odorous gases, provide denitrification, and harvest nutrients. The wastewater is about two inches below the gravel surface in these wetlands.

  • The OCSL is a net zero energy building, which means it generates more electricity than is needed to operate the facility. The power is generated through solar panels installed both on the south side of the facility as well as on a portion of the roof.

  • Photo copyright © Assassi

    The roof of the outdoor classroom is covered with solar panels.

  • Photo copyright © Assassi

    The indoor classroom provides a location for visitors—from school children to politicians to architects—to learn about how to work with nature to solve our environmental problems.

  • Photo copyright © Assassi

    The wood siding of the OCSL is reclaimed cypress, salvaged from a mushroom farm in Pennsylvania. The recycled metal roof keeps the interior cooler than a conventional roof by reflecting the sun's heat.

  • Skylights with built-in reflectors direct additional sunlight into the interior aerated lagoons, where plants are flourishing as they clean the water.

  • The aerated lagoons, which receive water pumped into them from the exterior constructed wetlands, are divided into four cells, each 10 feet deep. At this stage the wastewater looks and smells clean, but is not yet safe to touch.

  • The plants, fungi, algae, snails, and microorganisms of the aerated lagoons convert nitrates and toxins into harmless base elements.

  • There is no soil in the aerated lagoons—the lush tropical plants thrive on metal racks, with their roots extending up to five feet into the water.

  • Photo copyright © Assassi

    At the entrance to the OCSL is a rain garden, built on top of a rainwater cistern. Water collected in the cistern is used to flush toilets and for other nonpottable uses across the Omega campus.

© Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

 

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