"Don't start to build if something you really don't comprehend." - Mr. Robert Skip Backus, CEO of Omega Centre for Sustainable Living, Rhinebeck.
In the visit of Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, I was so impressed to witness the whole-hearted passion and endless endurance of a leader and his team in order to create an authentic sustainable building serving for the local community and the natural environment. Starting from design visions to solving waste water treatment by natural means and showcasing sustainable building design, the building took 10 years to project completion. Every pieces of materials and accessories were salvaged or from sustainable resources.
"Don't start to build if something you really don't comprehend. The power of human intervention including architecture is able to regenerate the nature; otherwise, destroys" - Mr. Robert Skip Backus, CEO of Omega Centre for Sustainable Living. He told me that “you have to know clearly how your design performs and affects the community and the nature before you really take action to construct. If you are not sure what it is, you need to wait and rethink. Otherwise, there is no action to mitigate any wrong-doing in a responsible manner of sustainability.”
Omega Center for Sustainable Living serves as a wastewater treatment plant for the local community along the water stream of the nature reserves, and also an education centre. Unlike other wastewater treatment plants using chemicals to treat the water, it adopted biological technology – “Eco Machine” that mimiced the processes of the nature world, such as using a combination of micro-organisms, algae, plants, gravel and sand filtration to clean sewage water including all of the water from toilets, sinks and showers, and returned clean drinkable water back to the aquifer. It achieved NET ZERO WATER.
Moreover, this building was also the first zero carbon building in New York by using solar and geothermal renewable energy on site. It achieved LEED Platinum building and also the first “Living Building Challenge” certified building. “Living Building Challenge” is the most intense and stringent green building certification scheme around the world, which requires not just environmental excellence in terms of zero carbon, zero water, zero harm, but also social and cultural sustainability.
There was a research team continuously monitoring the performance of the wastewater treatment and the whole building and conducting scientific researches in the centre. It was my great honour to share with their breaking news that their research proven that the wastewater treatment system could filter drug chemicals from wastewater on the day of my visit. It was a great achievement to not only the Omega Centre but also the whole society on reducing chemical pollution to the ocean.