INTERVIEW: Sustainability Advisor Lonny Grafman on the Waterpod

by , 01/28/14

waterpod, nyc water, Lonny Grafman Interview, inhabitat interview, lonny grafman, sustainablikity advisors, green building, water issues, grey water treatment wind power, mary mattingly, new york city environmental issues, nyc sustainability and water

Inhabitat: What have been some of the challenges in building the structure?

Lonny: We literally have challenges every day because we’re trying to balance reuse and appropriateness and demonstration and aesthetics and livability and regulations and cash. Balancing those criteria is difficult. We had all this donated plexiglass for gardens, but it proved too challenging to mount it. We ended up having to go with plywood, which isn’t a very sustainable choice, but it was donated. It’s hard to balance those things. Do we go with something easy, free, and donated that’s probably getting wet and rotting without us, or do we use some recycled plastic product? In the end, we went with the plywood.

Inhabitat: What are some of the more unique materials used on the Waterpod?

Lonny: Our chicken coop and composting toilet are both built from shipping crates. Our greywater tanks are made with plastic molasses and high-fructose corn syrup containers used by breweries.

Inhabitat: Are most of your materials donated?

Lonny: Some things we buy, some things are donated. We have well over $100,000 worth of in-kind donations. We’ve had two kilowatts of solar donated to us, a beautiful composter from Arcata, CA, and a partial donation for the world’s most energy-efficient electric fridge.

Will new technologies continue to be installed as the Waterpod moves from port to port?

Lonny: Absolutely. The technology will grow and adapt and change, but the people and exhibitions will also change. For example, we’re planning on installing wind power, but now that we have two kilowatts of solar power installed, we can wait on the wind power. We’re also looking at using glycerine from biodiesel, mixed with sawdust and coffee grinds as a fuel source, but we don’t have that figured out yet. We’ll have different people living on the barge at different times, including visiting artists from Germany, Mexico, and Canada. The Waterpod will always be adapting.

+ Waterpod

Lead image by Piotr Redlinski for the New York Times

Waterpod rendering by James Halverson of Lux Visual Effects

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  1. Crosby September 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    At the moment I discovered the web for exactly this sort of information. Be grateful for to your posting that seek needs to end now. You wrote the posting in a clear way. With this, I added your websites as one of my personal favorites! Cheers!

  2. Lonny June 24, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Wow Sacred,

    Thanks for the kind comment. This project is a very community project. The artistic visionary Mary Mattingly and everyone involved has empowered others to help co-create the Waterpod… and that process is still going on!


  3. sacred June 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Projects like these give us hope and models for sustainability – which we need more now than ever-new ways of doing and being .

    Lonny is awesome:- he is a visionary with the brains, heart and brawn to lead the way to a bright future.

    Lonny-you rock!!

  4. nicolette June 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I remember a while back, there was a theory that in a few decades, human beings start living in self sustaining pods so that we can adopt a larger population. The waterpod looks like the beginning of this new wave of modern living.

    The interview seems to suggest that it will be built as ships, or part of a ship, that moves from port to port. So is this hinting that it could soon be integrated into even cruise ships?

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