The Gaia Institute

The Gaia Institute History The Gaia Hypothesis investigates the role of organisms in the regulation of local to planetary environmental conditions and in the transformation of the earth's surface. Put forward by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in 1972, the fundaments of the Gaia Hypothesis were first framed by Russian biogeochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945) around the turn of the century. Work The work of the Gaia Institute couples ecological engineering and restoration with the integration of human communities in natural systems. While much environmental engineering has the worthy aim of minimizing harm, the Gaia Institute explores, through research and development, design and construction, how human activities and waste products can be treated to increase ecological productivity, biodiversity, environmental quality, and economic well being. Purpose The purpose of the Gaia Institute is thus to test through demonstration the means by which the ecological components of backyards, communities, towns and cities, as well as watersheds and estuaries, can be enhanced through integrated wastes-into-resources technologies.

The Gaia Institute Organic Waste Composting/Urban Rooftop Greenhouse Project. A series of contracts with EPA and the Bureau of Recycling, Reuse, and Waste Prevention of the New York City Department of Sanitation has led to the development of an in vessel, on-site composting system which reduces food waste to half its weight and volume in part of a week. A patent is pending on this system, and steps have been taken utilize the system in composting a number of waste streams. This composting program is a component of the Urban Rooftop Greenhouse Project, a long-standing Gaia Institute project which developed a lightweight soil manufactured from the urban waste stream (composted food-waste and recycled expanded polystyrene). This soil is of sufficiently light weight to allow intensive agriculture and horticulture on existing urban rooftops, in most cases without extensive modification of the building structure.

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