Indonesia: Creative Couple Finds Ways to Apply Green Technologies in Their Homes

Some people might be familiar with biopores, rainwater harvesting or other types of green technologies, but architect couple Ruth E. Oppusunggu and Martin L. Katoppo are among the few who are dedicated enough to find creative, affordable ways to implement the technologies in their home.

Ruth and Martin built their house in a kampung in Bintaro, South Tangerang in 2009 and at first did not have biopores or a rainwater harvesting system. They did, however, design the house to be well ventilated to minimize the use of air conditioners and used recycled wood to construct their beams.

“This house is in a kampung, so there is no sewer or waste system,” Ruth said. The absence of those systems created problems for the family of four because their yards would flood when it rained and they had to ride motorcycles while carrying smelly garbage to reach the nearest dumpster.

Ruth said that she found a way to make biopores in her house so she could throw away organic waste immediately. “At that time, ITB [Bandung Institute of Technology] was intensively promoted biopores. So I browsed the Internet to learn how to make biopores,” she said.

In 2013, she said that she and Martin renovated their house and in doing so incorporated biopores and other green technologies. After reading biopori.com, she said that she and Martin modified the biopores’ design to simplify maintenance. To make a biopore, a person has to dig into the ground using a special drill to create a hole, insert a plastic pipe with small holes to attract maggots inside the pipes, and fill the pipe with organic waste. After a couple of months, the pipe should be dug out and the waste, which has already turned into compost, should be collected.

Ruth said that she modified that design by placing plastic pipe without holes so she “did not have to deal with rats and maggots” and installed the pipe permanently in the ground. Later, the couple found that collecting the compost could be difficult, so they designed a tool, shaped like a ladle, to make collecting the compost easier. After she installed biopores for organic waste, she said, life became easier because she could throw away organic waste on-site.

According to Ruth, the waste still decomposes even without holes for maggots, although it takes longer. As for non-organic waste, Ruth said, she collected it in a box and gave it away to a scavenger that passed her house everyday. The waste problem might be over, but flooding persisted with the absence of a sewage system.
To alleviate flooding, she said that she constructed biopores in her backyard specifically for rainwater.
“We installed pipes with small holes so the water could seep into the ground faster,” said Ruth.
Her idea did not stop there, especially when she felt that her new attic was too hot.

“Another Google search led me to BPPT’s [Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology] website on rainwater harvesting,” Ruth told The Jakarta Post.

Rainwater harvesting is a method of collecting rainwater from roof to water tanks and then to infiltration wells. But Ruth said she and Martin modified the system to cool her attic during hot summer days. “I collect the rainwater with two water tanks and then pump it to a pipe on the roof again to water my roof so the attic’s temperature decreases,” she said, adding that the artificial rain did manage to cool her house after one hour. Besides the roof, the rainwater was also connected to a vertical garden, which was constructed based on an image she found on the Internet, she said.

She said that implementing those green ideas were not easy because no construction worker had ever built them. “I had to find a good worker and accompanied him all the time to guide him step-by-step,” she said.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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