Using “waste” in better ways

by | Oct 17, 2011 | Uncategorized |

What would happen if we were responsible for the reuse of the waste we create? What would we do differently? How would we live and go about creating our products differently? In a previous post, I wrote about the Cradle to Cradle movement, which is mostly around manufacturing and how it can help us ask a different set of questions and also to challenge ourselves in different ways. In essence, Cradle to Cradle is about creating a product with its next use in mind. So what happens when we take a moment to think about how the “waste” we create could be used in positive ways?

In the recent UK version of the Wired magazine, there is a great little snippet about this. The servers that keep the internet up and running create a significant amount of heat and often are put in temperature controlled rooms (read air-conditioned!) which eat significant amounts of energy in the process of maintaining a set temperature.

In the Netherlands, there is the idea to rethink this process and put the servers in the basements or crypts of old churches. The crypts are usually quite cool themselves and the churches are a huge challenge to heat given their cathedral ceilings, so for the majority of the year, the buildings are quite cool and virtually impossible to heat. The idea is to put servers in the crypts and use the heat generated from them to heat (or perhaps warm is a more realistic term) the great buildings. The cool air from the churches can be pumped back to the servers to cool them – like a cold air return in a house furnace setup. The “waste” from the servers (heat) becomes useable rather than waste as does the cool air in the cathedrals.

Sounds quite simple doesn’t it? Indeed, so how could you do something similar in your house? Community?

The Wired article is in the 11:11 edition of the magazine and is called “Holy warming and data cooling”.


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