Jon Reed

Journalist in Birmingham, Ala.

Tag: environment

Video: Rosa

by Jon Reed


Rosa from Documenting Justice on Vimeo.

Rosa is a short documentary I produced with Hillary Moore for a course at the University of Alabama called Documenting Justice. For the first semester of the yearlong course, we learned the basics of documentary production. In the second semester, we produced a documentary. This film tells the story of a small Alabama town’s fight to stop a new coal company from mining in an area that had a bad history with mining.

Energy-efficient living comes down to earth at state fair

by Jon Reed

Scientists have yet to discover a way to transform rides down the Giant Slide into electricity, but that doesn’t mean the Ohio State Fair can’t promote energy efficiency and green technology.

During this year’s fair, GreenTech of Ohio will present a building constructed from compressed earth blocks. The blocks were made from soil found just across the parking lot from the building, GreenTech President Paul Bukky said.

The structure is located north of 17th Avenue, near the “OHIO” entrance to the fairgrounds. It will open to the public Tuesday, July 27 – the day before the fair starts.

“The building will look just like a stucco house,” said John Churchill, a GreenTech senior partner. “It’s amazing.”

GreenTech hopes the building will be used as a meeting place for local organizations. While the building looks like a house on the outside, the inside is open for group functions.

The 21-inch-thick walls will keep heat inside the building during the winter and outside during the summer, reducing the cost of climate control.

“It takes very little to heat it and very little to cool it,” Bukky said. “It’s like living in a cave above ground.”

The structure is powered by a 4,000-watt array of solar panels on the roof.

Commonly confused for adobe, compressed earth is produced in a different way. It consists of clay, sand and silt mixed with lime, pressed into blocks and set out to cure. Unlike adobe, it does not include straw and it does not dry in the sun.

Compressed earth block is popular in the Southwest. It cuts down the cost of transporting materials because the materials often can be manufactured on-site using a press.

GreenTech’s blocks were tested as being three times as strong as minimum building codes require, Bukky said. The walls could withstand winds of more than 200 mph, he said.

“This thing’s going nowhere,” he said. “It’ll be there 1,000 years from now.”

Bukky said the oldest buildings on Earth are made from compressed earth in some form, from Pueblo structures in the Southwest to buildings in Egypt.

Not only are the blocks holding the structure up all-natural, the walls are lined with clay to prevent allergic reactions. The parts of the roof that are not covered in solar panels are metal, which is more durable. Water runoff from the roof will be channeled into a cistern to be saved. Other water runoff near the house will go through a rain garden to filter pollutants.

The structure is the third of its kind, Bukky said. GreenTech has constructed two other buildings – a house and a garage – in Delphos.

The 157th Ohio State Fair will be held Wednesday, July 28, through Aug. 8 at the Ohio Expo Center, 17th Avenue and Interstate 71.

Gates are open from 9 a.m. To 10 p.m. Every day except Aug. 8, when they close at 8 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 5-12 and seniors 60 and older. Children under 5 years old are admitted free.

Other exhibits will showcase Ohio’s natural resources, from farmers markets to pig races and a playground for goats.

Midway rides will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

Ride tickets cost $1 each; all-day wristbands are $22.

Other entertainment includes concerts from nationally known acts such as Rascal Flats, Heart, Devo, Darius Rucker, Jeremy Camp, Weezer, Selena Gomez and more.

Concerts at the AEP Ohio Concert Series in the WCOL Celeste Center require tickets, with prices ranging from $12 to $38.

Rascal Flatts will perform with Kellie Pickler and Chris Young Aug. 9 in Crew Stadium. Tickets range from $35 to $75.


This article was originally published on July 22, 2010, in Suburban News Publications newspapers.