Back in 1979, Winooski, Vermont, a town that often experiences -20 degree weather in January, proposed building a giant dome over their city to help reduce energy costs and keep warm throughout the winter. Thirty years ago, we were experiencing an energy crisis with rising oil prices, and people were looking for solutions to reduce their costs. Nowadays, while we’re also looking to reduce our carbon footprint in addition to costs, the concept is still applicable. By doming off the small city of 7,000, Winooski could stay warm all year round, reduce energy costs and emissions, grow food all year, and ban cars inside the dome. Environmentally, it seems like it has potential.

What do you think?

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A study back in 1979 determined the Winooski Dome could save residents 90% on their heating bills, and for a town that spends most of its year in freezing climes shoveling snow, that is a huge boon. The proposedtransparent dome would rise 250 feet in the center, more than enough room for the town’s tallest building, which was at the time eleven stories. Internal combustion automobiles would be banned inside the dome and instead electric cars or an electric public transportation system would be used. Fresh air would be pumped into the town via large fans and could be heated or cooled as necessary. Most of the residents were fully in favor of the plan, and even Buckminster Fuller openly supported the concept.

Economically, the study determined that such a structure would become feasible if oil rose above $1.25 a gallon (in 1979 dollars). Costs for snowplowing would be almost non-existent, food could be grown locally year-round, and automobile emissions inside the dome would stop too. Of course the study didn’t calculate the reduction in carbon emissions, but as you can imagine, they would be significant. All in all, it seems like a win-win situation – better air quality, decreased emissions, locally grown food, decreased energy costs and warmer living.

Winooski’s dome is an interesting example of geoengineering, and a concept that should at least be considered. Geoengineering is a pretty hot topic right now, what with new proposals for wacky ideas coming out all the time to reduce carbon emissions. A group of scientists debated it last week in Washington DC, and even the author of Super Freakonomics thinks it’s an economical way to fix our problem.

Via H+ Magazine