YEAR: Lifespan – 1995 – 2001 SCALE: Neighborhood Scale
TYPE OF SYSTEM: The Living Machine WASTE TYPE: Domestic Waste water
CLIMATE: Zone : 4b to 5a, average extreme minimum temperatures are -15 to -25 degrees F
AREA: 7800 sq. ft.
CAPACITY: Treats 80,000 Gallons per day
Case Study Background
The Living Machine in South Burlington, Vermont was conceived by Dr. John Todd’s non profit organization Ocean Arks International. It is a waste water treatment technology that utilizes a series of tanks, which support vegetation and a variety of organisms which makes it different from other systems (see attached presentation for a further breakdown of the mechanics of the system). The Living Machine is aesthetically appealing and free of emitting foul odor, making it possible to place it in neighborhoods.
The South Burlington Living Machine (plan above) was built by Living Technologies Inc. and Dr. John Todd with Ocean Arks International with a grant from the US EPA to demonstrate year-round high performance ecological treatment, and was the largest living machine they funded. Its life span was from 1995 – 2001, and was discontinued due to lack of wastewater influx. It was the basis of the EPA’s acceptance of the living machine (in 2002 the EPA put out a Wastewater Technology fact sheet detailing this technology, found here: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/upload/2002_12_13_mtb_living_machine.pdf).
The systems treats 80, 000 gallons per day, with a HRT (hydraulic retention time) of 2.8 days. Its footprint is 7,800 square feet. The 80,000 GPD capacity treats the equivalent of about 1,200 people, and South Burlington’s population is 18,743 (2014). The average household size in South Burlington’s county, Chittenden, is 2.37 people (2010 Census http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/quick-facts/vermont/average-household-size#table) so given this number we can assume there are about 7,908 homes in South Burlington. The average home size in the US is 2,598 sq ft (2013, Census Bureau http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/04/real_estate/american-home-size/). We can project – given these very general numbers – that the residential square footage of South Burlington is 20,546,124 square feet. This means that the Living Machine processes 15% of South Burlington’s wastewater in roughly .00038% of the living space
Some of this system’s other benefits include the fact that it is an educational centre for local schools (resembling more of a local garden). It is used as a teaching tool for schools and universities, who take tours of the facility and use it to teach lessons on ecology, engineering