I read the book Design Revolution, 100 Products That Empower People by Emily Pilloton to see if any of the designs could apply to a New York green contractor.

The book is organized into eight sections:









There were plenty of great ideas that could be applied to a New York city home – cool solar panels/wind harvesters in the form of leaves, composting toilets that normal people would use, all sorts of bike ideas, and a food composter that looks like an espresso machine.

The most interesting thing for me was the Eco-Machine, designed by Todd Ecological, a company founded by John Todd. An Eco Machine, also known as a living machine, uses plants and microbes to filter waste water. This has direct applications for New York ecological landscaping and green construction.

A Brooklyn brownstone, instead of passing its sewer to, say, the Gowanus Canal it would pass it to a series of water gardens in the yard. These gardens would be beautifully designed to fit into the an environment used by children, adults, pets and Williamsburg hipsters.

The key is in the design of combining function and aesthetic, something a good eco-landscaper could do. The end result of the Brooklyn Brownstone living machine is a lush yard full of healthy plants and a NY sewer system that is not overloaded.

This is not unrealistic. It is very practical and possible. It is also illegal. Great ideas move faster than massive bureaucracies like the Department of Buildings and Department of Environmental Protection….

A living machine system in Florida

As an ecological landscaper who uses gray water and rain water runoff to feed the garden the idea of a living machine takes it a step further. Very exciting stuff and something I plan on implementing at an undisclosed brownstone near you.