Living lightly--Halley research station

In Madison, erosion from construction sites is responsible for 19% of the phosphorus in our lakes.  Construction is a major cause of Madison's poor air quality.

Nationwide, a recent study shows the industry causes $14.7 billion in economic damage a year.*  Those costs are paid by all of us.

So there's a need to find greener construction techniques--to build and live lightly on the land.

Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica is a striking example of what's possible.  The buildings were built from prefabricated modules, placed on legs above the ice.

The station had to be raised because otherwise, drifting snow would slowly bury and crush the station, as happened to the previous buildings at this location.  The streamlined shape helps to reduce drifting, while skis on the legs allow the station to be towed to a new location.  It's built on floating shelf ice, which periodically breaks off to form icebergs--so the station will have to relocated from time to time.

Similar buildings make sense for coastal locations, prone to storms or flooding.  Another application might be sensitive environments, such as camps for tourists, or visitor centers in national parks.

With construction occurring elsewhere, the building would have minimal impact on the local environment.  If negative impacts did occur, the building could be moved, allowing vegetation to recover.

Dutch floating homes are gaining international recognition--so the idea of no yard and no foundation--is an idea with a bright future.

If you have a beautiful setting for a home--why destroy it when you build the home?

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*  Dollars for year 2000.  These damages were just from the air pollution caused by the construction industry.  SourceMuller, Nicholas Z., Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus. 2011. "Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy." American Economic Review, 101(5): 1649-75.

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