23

I use PVGIS calculator to estimate photovoltaics energy gain to my satisfaction. It contains realistic Europe and Africa weather data. Although this would be only a far estimate, let's assume you face south and you're based in Rome, Italy (instead of Chicago, IL), and we get: a maximum of 1260 kWh a year with an optimal inclination of 34° and almost south ...


23

Starting a compost on your balcony seems to be feasible. You can buy or build your own box of suitable dimensions. Keeping it running is not difficult if it's shaded but not rained, you have to water it from time to time. And you just add the material and take (and use) the product. Regarding the smell, it depends mainly on the balance of the substances ...


21

I'd suggest vermicomposting. You can learn tons by searching the web and there are numerous products you can buy to help you along, but you can also DIY and keep it indoors with essentially no danger of foul odors. Some more information is linked at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality with a 10 page document on small scale vermicompost.


17

Although there is a definite allure to generating your own energy on-site, if you do not have good solar access then it is hard to get around that reality. Instead, there are other ways to have renewable energy captured on your behalf: If you have a choice of energy suppliers, buy 100% wind or solar generated energy. Look into group solar. Perhaps you ...


17

Composting can start in a plastic bucket on your counter, and be moved out to an outside place if your producing enough of it. For my indoor composting, I use Bokashi to mitigate the smell and speed up the breakdown. All you'll have to do here is throw a handfull or 2 on top of your compostables, very simple. If you need to expand outside, make sure to keep ...


13

A note of caution from "The Permaculture Handbook" (Peter Bane), p. 170: Greywater should not be exposed to human contact more than 12 hours after initial use. [...] greywater that is not being actively purified by plants, animals, and soil microbes will culture pathogenic microbes quickly, becoming black water In an apartment, you don't have a yard, ...


12

No. First, if you throw things in the river, especially waste, you'll likely be cited for dumping and/or littering. Second, there are definite environmental concerns to doing so. Dog waste is quite unhealthy; there are definitely bad bacteria and potentially bad parasites in there. Dogs don't poop in rivers naturally; do not put it in there. Also, ...


12

I'm not sure of the legality, but here is an article on raising chickens in NYC: Urban Agriculture: Raising Chickens in New York City I looked at the NYC Ordinances and it looks like it may be possible to get a permit to keep chickens, but then it also looked like permits will no longer be issued. Check out NYC Title 24: http://72-0-151-116.tvc-ip.com/nyc/...


11

If your main goal is keeping your compostable waste out of landfill (as opposed to producing compost for your own use), consider using a pickup service like New York Compost. Edit: It looks like New York Compost is not around anymore, but the city is piloting an ambitious compost pickup program: NYC Compost Project Food Scraps + Yard Waste (2 min video) ...


11

I'm assuming you already have insulation and a support panel in place on your roof's structural beams. Now, the function of the first layer you add is to make the roof water- and rootproof. Personally, I think the best sealing is simply one layer of EPDM which you can order in the larger DIY stores (at least you can here in the Netherlands). You simply ...


10

It IS legal to have chickens in NYC and there is even an organization that helps people get set up and understand what they are getting into called the City Chicken Project. http://www.justfood.org/city-farms/city-chicken-project This interview with Elizabeth Bee Ayer, who runs City Chicken Institute in Metro NY also stated that it is legal to have ...


10

The opther answers are all basically ok, but I want to add some details. The first issue is nutrients: By adding your leftovers to the river, you practically add fertilizer that can lead to algae blooms and, ultimately, eutrophication. Of course, fish also poop in the river, but they also eat from the river, so they don't add much nutrients. Soil ecosystems ...


10

Quick summary: The city and the country both have positives and negatives in pollution production... the data here suggests perhaps the urban core produces slightly less pollution (depending upon how you score follow-on effects)... But both areas fall far far short of the exurbs, where people combine the negatives of both the city and the country for ...


8

One option which may well become more popular in the future is photo-voltaic double glazing - a form of Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Although low cost thin film PV generally has a lower efficiency than crystalline silicon cells - since they are layered on top of transparent glass, any light not converted into electricity passes through the ...


6

Most urban areas have zoning regulations that forbid the composting of human waste. There are two places you need to go to find out. First is the authority, name differs from town to town, that issues building permits in your municipality. The second is the Water Resources Board, although this government body often has a different name as well there will ...


5

Both LED and flourescents can produce 'ideal' lighting conditions for plants. LED Lights are the most efficient measured in lumens per watt, and also in terms of material waste, since they last longer and are smaller. Their biggest current disadvantage is that they are significantly more expensive upfront. Depending on the model and how you figure the ...


5

Since you don't indicate in which country you're thinking of implementing this plan, I'm going to write from my perspective in the US, considering chain hotels (Marriot, Holiday Inn, Hilton,, etc) that make up the majority of hotels here. I can think of several ways in which a building constructed as a hotel would have greater environmental costs than a ...


5

The Challenges There are a number of challenges facing urban food production and these range from homeowners associations to zoning laws, to practical issues like time inputs. Finally the foods we normally prefer to eat are of questionable sustainability. Our culture sees home gardening as a hobby and something which provides at best a small supplement to ...


4

I've seen the technique that you describe used in hot desert climates, were it was used in rooms that were cooled by refrigerated air conditioning. Such air conditioning can dehumidify the air. Having a container with a larger surface area; a flat pan rather than a tall narrow glass will increase the potential for evaporation of the water. The ...


3

You ask a very open ended question. You could refine it somewhat by stating what you see as the pollutants and their problems. Decide on what your priorities are, and how you will make tradeoffs between them. Is global warming more important that local health? Is local health more important that a clean river? One way is to decide on the externalized ...


3

(This is not really an answer, more a mixed bag of additional background information, but it got a bit too much for a comment.) Previously, in Tokyo, we used to split waste into burnable and non-burnable, with the latter going into landfill; that was stopped a few years ago because it was "too expensive". So now it all gets burnt. (I.e. both categories got ...


3

In addition to what the other answers said I want to add some details about historical problems of organic waste and rivers, as well as issues here in Indonesia today. You have basically a number of problems that come with throwing waste into the river. These include downstream: Downstream effects on water quality current and downstream effects on water ...


3

You have to persuade people to do it and ensure the infrastructure is there. For the first, start an organisation of volunteers. Put up posters, organise lectures in schools, factories, social centres, do radio interviews... it takes time. Don't lose heart. For the second lobby your local and national politicians, make sure everybody has access to ...


3

The initial question is what your source of grey water can be. This will vary from apartment to apartment. Human ingenuity is a marvellous thing so I will not say it is impossible to practically re-use grey water but it sounds like a real challenge. Note that not all apartments are the same and water re-use may take unusual forms. In a conventional ...


3

Others have touched on this too, but if it's purely about economic or environmental concerns, then saving energy is better than creating new energy just to turn around and waste it. If you spend money (energy) on heating and/or cooling, double glazing your windows and add insulation to external walls floors and ceilings if you can. In an apartment it may be ...


3

It depends on your motivation for producing your own energy. If you simply like the engineering challenge then it doesn't look like you have many choices. If however it's because you want "to do your bit" and transition to using renewable energy as much as possible then I'd suggest a shift in mindset away from owning the means of producing energy. Half a ...


2

I have tried vermi-composting in an apartment, and despite the theoretical lack of fruit flies, I was never able to eliminate this problem in reality. Since you have a balcony, fruit flies may not be an issue for you. Instead, you will need to deal with the minimal level of maintenance for the worms, which need to be checked on occasionally, given bedding ...


2

Besides those mentioned in Fred's answer, there are more choices available that you could consider trying. You can find non-electric humidifiers in most major online shops as Amazon. These are spheres that absorb water and restore moisture to the room bit by bit. I haven't tried them myself but the reviews are positive in general (although some of them ...


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