The New Alchemy Institute spent about 30 years studying how living systems can be designed in order to help preserve the environment. They studied agriculture, aquaculture, and built bioshelters, called arks, that integrated greenhouses and living spaces. A hallmark of the NAI approach was to use and trap energy produced by nature, rather than building greenhouses that required electricity, hence, compost heated greenhouses. Here's an article from 1978 about the NAI at the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and one from a 1989 Whole Earth Review. In 1981 John Todd, one of the principles in NAI, founded Ocean Arks International in order to explore the issue of ecological water treatment. His concept of water treatment, a constructed wetland, or living machine, developed directly from work on the arks at NAI. Here is more on John Todd and NAI, and here is an interview with his wife, Nancy Jack Todd, and him. Here's a link to a recent CS Monitor review of the new Nancy Jack Todd book. Post inspired by my love of NAI and my current reading of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy.