Integrated Design Creates Synergies
Rivendell's tight integration of mixed use settlement allows synergies that have not previously been
possible, providing ecological benefits which in some cases completely close the human ecology, and
also accrue economic and social benefits. For example:
- Clustering the housing shortens roads and service runs, reducing the amount of materials used, the cost,
and the transmission losses of reticulation infrastructure. So, for example, waste heat from the solar thermal
cogeneration plant's turbine can be piped to houses for domestic water and space heating, and to businesses
for use as process heat.
(In fact, Rivendell's solar thermal cogeneration plant is expected to generate more electricity and heat
than the residents consume, selling the excess to Rivendell's businesses. This will mean that Rivendell
may be the world's first residential development that is a net sink for greenhouse gas emissions!)
- Locating appropriate light industries on-site not only allows the utilisation of the solar powered turbine's
waste heat, if those industries are food processors they can value add to the farm's produce, increasing
the farm's economic viability (and providing local employment). It also allows the considerable organic
waste stream created by food processing, along with the village's domestic kitchen and restaurant scraps,
to be composted for reuse on the farm - which being located next door to the village can also receive and
grow food with all the water and nutrients recovered from the village's treated sewage - which will be sterilised
by flash pasteurisation using the turbine's waste heat. (Heat exchangers used in the pasteurisation process
recover over 90% of the heat, which can then be forwarded on to the above mentioned domestic and industrial
- Growing fresh produce on-site eliminates the need for refrigerated transport, saving money and greenhouse
gases. It also allows direct marketing, meaning cheaper, fresher produce for Rivendell's residents and higher
farm gate prices for Rivendell Organics (the farm).
- Most residents will work from home or in Rivendell's businesses - not commuting saves time, money and
Integration of residents' work, social, leisure and entertainment needs in a pedestrian friendly environment
facilitates social interaction.
Innovative Economics and Conservation of Resources
The use of 'in-house utilities' to provide Rivendell residents with their services like electricity,
gas, water and sewer means that conservation of these resources can be encouraged by charging on a steeply
rising sliding scale for usage that exceeds a reasonable per capita consumption rate. (This is the opposite
to the cost structures for many resources where prices don't reflect the true costs and, in fact, unit
charges become cheaper with increased usage, thus encouraging excess.)
Comparable Utility Bills
Though the unit prices for services like electricity, gas and water will, at times, be higher than those
charged by commercial utilities, the reduced consumption made possible (and, in fact, easy) by Rivendell's
energy and resource efficient house and business premises designs, will mean that the utility bills
Rivendell's residents and businesses pay for their environmentally sound service provision will be comparable
with those paid by the average Australian household or business.
Further, since residents will hold shares in the in-house utility company that provides their services,
they will receive end-of-year dividends to be off-set against their utility bills.
Shares in Rivendell Organics, the provider of much of their fresh food, will also be offered to residents.
An example of gaining economic benefits from environmental initiatives is Rivendell's Carbon Sequestration
Scheme: In this innovative first, all the CO2 embodied in the building materials used in the construction
of homes and commercial premises on Rivendell, as well as that released in their construction, will
be sequestered (offset) by investing a portion of the proceeds from their sale in August EcoForest's
environmentally sustainable commercial forestry project. On purchasing a property residents become shareholders
in EcoForest Ltd and will benefit financially from the investment.
Also, residents will have their vehicles' carbon emissions offset in a tree planting program administered
Information Technology Provides Ecological Benefits
As well as providing communication and computer services and savings for residents and businesses, the
integration of information technology also offers environmental benefits. For example, the real-time
data logging of services and a centralised computer system make possible the above-mentioned varying
of electricity and water prices, as well as instantaneous feedback to residents which will allow each
household to quickly adjust their usage patterns. The system will also detect and alert residents to
leaking taps and lights or appliances that have been left on or are malfunctioning.
Reconnecting with Nature
Adjusting the unit rates for resources like water and electricity on a daily basis will mean that, for
example, during the dry season when water storage levels are falling, the price of water will rise to
reflect this; and then fall again when the rains come. Likewise, during extended periods of overcast
weather when the solar cogeneration plant requires gas boosting to meet the village's needs, electricity
and hot water prices will rise, then fall again when the sun comes out.
In this way the services rating scheme will more accurately reflect our dependence on the resources
and ecological services provided by nature - something that we often ignore in leading lifestyles that
have so disconnected us from the natural world.