"Urban Ark" Seminar and Tour
Ecological Solutions for Economic & Environmental Security

Urban Ark Seminars are no longer being offered.

  • Solar Heating
  • Green House Living
  • Washwater Gardens
  • Sewage Avoidance
  • Energy & Water Conservation
What people are saying!

"Knowledgeable, informative, practical and witty, the Del Porto duet presentation filled our morning with a variety of information about sustainable ecologically responsible living in an urban setting. It is recommended for classes in ecology, design, architecture, environment and the like."

-- Professor Jack Spengler
Harvard University
School of Public Health

TheArk The "Urban Ark" seminar and tour is one of the Green Decade's most popular recurring events, it is held twice a year in February/March and October/November. A choice of two sessions is offered: Saturday morning from 10 am-12 noon or Sunday afternoon from 1-3 pm. The Urban Ark seminar and tour series is nearly as old as the Green Decade, also started in 1990. Upcoming "Urban Ark" seminar dates are on the Events Calendar.

This event is held at the private home of David and Elva Del Porto's solar-heated home in Newton, MA, which provides space heat, food production, air purification and wastewater treatment all within an attached two-story greenhouse of his design. The name "Urban Ark" was coined when Green Decade founder Louise Bruyn, noticed the Del Portos' poster of the old New Alchemy Institute, featuring their "Ark" greenhouse, and christened the Del Portos' home the "Urban Ark".

David Del Porto (bio) describes the key points of the "Urban Ark:"

Solar heating: "While the greenhouse only has a 500 sq. ft. foot print, it is two stories high! It has approximately 750 net square feet of glazing and heats the thermal mass on the inside of the house by a thermo-siphon loop. As the greenhouse gains heat, the volume of air in the space becomes lighter and increases in volume. It pours through the open windows on the second floor displacing the cooler and denser air inside the house, which falls back into the greenhouse through first floor vents and windows only to be reheated and cycled again and again until the sun goes down. We feel that one good sunny day will heat the house for three cloudy days (the average of cloudy days in Boston before the sun reappears). We estimate that on average our $8,000 investment has paid for itself many times over as the solar energy provides 80-90% of the space heating requirement of our approximately 5,000 sq. ft. home during an average winter."

Green House Living: "I like to say that we have increased our Quality of Life while lowering our Cost of Living during the past 23 years and expect to receive this bounty for years to come. This is especially important to the elderly who are on a fixed income."

Energy & Water Conservation: "We have replaced most of the incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, saving 50% of the lighting bill. Water conserving fixture and appliances also save more than 50% of our water and sewer bill. When our five children were residing with us we grew a significant amount of organic food both in the greenhouse and outside and learned a great deal about the benefits of pesticide-free system ecology as it applies to the house operation."

Upcoming Urban Ark Seminar & Tour Dates