One of the idealizers of Piracanga, Gabriel Loomans, explains that the alternative building constructions make use of materials sourced from the area. One of these materials is the piaçava fibres coming from palms used to fabricate the roofs. Making these decisions has also given uniformity to the look of the community. Another aspect has been the utilization of adobe, a mixture of clay, sand and fibre used for the construction of walls.
Each dwelling has an independent system for electricity, fresh water, hot water and water treatment. With a bank of solar panels and 12volt battery set-ups, each home can choose to run 12volt electricity throughout the house or invert to 110/240volts. The water table is just eight metres below ground level, so once the home owner manually digs their well, they can then use an electric pump to take the water to a header tank above their house. From there the cold water is gravity fed into the house. A passive solar water heater feeds a separate tank of hot water beside the header tank.
Another essential component adopted by the eco-village has been the use of septic tanks or composting toilets in order to deal with brown water. The septic tanks are usually comprised of six or eight filtration tanks where the toilet waste passes through a treatment process to achieve purification. The contaminated water enters the first sealed tanks, getting cleaner from one tank to the next. The filter-tanks are filled with gravel, coconut shells and earth. Finally, the last open tanks have grasses, bamboos, succulents and banana palms planted in order to help absorb the clean water and to aid the process of filtering.
Grey water from the bathroom and kitchen is also treated and recycled in a living bio-filter banana ring. Built beside the house, a one metre deep sump filled with organic matter, broken branches and waste foliage, serves to filter this lightly contaminated water. Surrounding the sump is a
circle of banana palms that aids purification and reuses the surplus water. The central compost can also be used for kitchen scraps and then cycled periodically into another household compost for garden and agricultural use.
Besides recycling inorganic materials such as paper, glass and plastic, in any way possible, each house is responsible for recycling their own organic matter. All organic waste can be deposited in the banana ring. With the action of the water, the matter is transformed into compost, rich in nutrients, used as a natural fertilizer.
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