CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


Biofuels Mantria Bluffs Development

Published on June 9th, 2008 | by Michelle Bennett

13

New Carbon-Negative Community Loves Their Waste




Mantria Bluffs Development… for production of renewable energy and maybe carbon sequestration.

Carbon neutral is gaining popularity these days, but Mantria Corporation is taking it a step further.

“We pledge Mantria Place will be the first carbon negative community in the nation by 2011,” states Troy Wragg, Mantria Corporation Chairman and CEO. “Carbon neutral is simply not good enough given today’s environmental issues. At Mantria, we believe that we must go much further to truly help our planet. Our goal is to be carbon negative.”

Located in Sequatchie County, Tennessee,  Mantria Place will be Tennessee’s largest master planned community weighing it at 5,500 acres. Nearly half of that will be green space in addition to two championship golf courses. A big question looms: can new, luxurious development really be green? With luxuries like two golf courses, how can their carbon footprint make it below par? Mr. Troy Wragg was kind enough to speak with me to answer that very question.

Indian Trails DevelopmentThere is a conflict between sustainability and new development. On one hand, there’s the argument that our world is finite and expanding farther out from cities, into undeveloped lands, it not sustainable. Generally speaking, urban dwellers have a smaller footprint than suburbanites or rural residents. One the other hand, there’s the argument that if you’re going to develop, do it right with as little environmental impact as possible. That is exactly what Mantria does.

So how do you develop a carbon-negative community (PDF)? Begin by calculating carbon usage. Mantria seems to have covered their bases here. They’ve calculated everything from long-term water usage for the golf courses to the CO2 emissions of residents as they drive between local towns and cities. They even calculated paper usage in the community restaurants. Mantria will try to minimize their impact on the land itself by building with and around natural contours. Mantria fuels their bulldozers with biodiesel. They offset uprooted trees by planting new ones, acre for acre, through various non-profits. They use organic concrete and faux rock, and synthetic lumber to reduce reliance on non-renewable resources. More details are offered here.

Yet these measures alone do not subtract to carbon negativity. Mr. Wragg admitted to me that buying offsets are a large part of this claim. But even offsets can’t make a community carbon negative, so Mantria Place will generate all of its own electricity from a clean, renewable source: their own waste. We’re not just talking about garbage. They can use agricultural and landscaping waste, old tires; even their own sewage if they so desire. It will all go into an inconspicuous 1/4 acre lot and come out as clean, green electricity.

U. of Hawaii charcoal Fuel CellFlash Carbonization burns biomass under high pressure. The result is charcoal and the exhaust is mostly steam, which turns a turbine. With this system, Mr. Wragg expects to generate enough power for 3,000 homes with excess to sell to the grid. They receive this technology through a partnership with CarbonDiversion.com and the University of Hawaii. These devices are portable, scalable, and relatively inexpensive. They capture carbon and transform it into charcoal, which we can safely bury in the soil as a natural fertilizer AND carbon sequestration. It can also absorb other chemicals, including toxins and poisons. Traditionally charcoal was burning for fuel until the Industrial Revolution.

So this fancy development sounds expensive, right? Mantria Communities are not exclusively for the super-rich.  Rather, the corporation tries to keep the price low for retirees, and to prove that “going green” does not require spending green. Lots in many of their other communities tend to be small, ranging from less than an acre to five acres. Since Mantria Place is still being planned, information on lots (and by extension house sizes) are not yet available.

I’m eager to hear readers’ opinions on this one.

Related Articles:

The Future of Garbage another way to make energy from waste

Charcoal and Terra Preta

Plasma Gasification for ethanol from garbage

Images of Indian Trails Development and Mantria Bluffs Development courtesy of Mantria Corporation. Flash Carbonization charcoal fuel cell via the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.

Many thanks to Amber Kealy and Troy Wragg for their valuable time!

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , ,


About the Author

is an environmentalist who loves to write. She grew up across the southeastern USA and especially love the Appalachian mountains. She went to school in the northeast USA in part to witness different mindsets and lifestyles than those of my southern stomping grounds. She majored in English Lit. and Anthropology. She has worked as a whitewater rafting guide, which introduced her to a wilderness and the complex issues at play in the places where relatively few people go. She also taught English in South Korea for a year, which taught her to take nothing for granted.



  • Everett M. Oglesby

    lol, what a difference a few months makes… the wheels have come off mof Mantria’s moneywagon… Troy should stick to taking out the trash. He’ll look GREAT in that federal jumpsuit.

  • Everett M. Oglesby

    lol, what a difference a few months makes… the wheels have come off mof Mantria’s moneywagon… Troy should stick to taking out the trash. He’ll look GREAT in that federal jumpsuit.

  • Ray Deis

    Considering the SEC lawsuit against the Mantria folks alleging a massive ponzi scheme targeting retirees to invest their 401Ks and home equity in this “carbon negative” community, “greenwashing horse puckey” is a good description. Check out the Speed of Wealth website for testimonials from some of these investors, really tragic, just sip the Kool-aid.

  • Ray Deis

    Considering the SEC lawsuit against the Mantria folks alleging a massive ponzi scheme targeting retirees to invest their 401Ks and home equity in this “carbon negative” community, “greenwashing horse puckey” is a good description. Check out the Speed of Wealth website for testimonials from some of these investors, really tragic, just sip the Kool-aid.

  • http://www.zerowasteinstitute.org Paul Palmer

    Sirs:

    Everyone of your articles is self-serving, greenwashing horse puckey.

    Garbage creation is an uncivilized remainder from a long vanished, primitive life spent in hunting and gathering. No civilized society can afford it. We should all be ashamed of ourselves that we still think we can use resources once and then discard them. It makes no difference if after discard we burn or recycle or dump those precious resources.

    Half of American garbage is organic matter which came from the soil. As a Zero Waste principle, that organic matter needs to return to the soil to maintain its viability. Burning it for electricity is an assault on our natural patrimony. We need to process every scrap of organic matter using composting or higher methods, then return it to soil to close the agricultural cycle. This includes paper, all wood and other cellulosic products as well as every scrap of food, stalks, manure, leaves, straw, etc.

    See my website at http://www.zerowasteinstitute.org for much more information.

    Paul Palmer

  • http://www.zerowasteinstitute.org Paul Palmer

    Sirs:

    Everyone of your articles is self-serving, greenwashing horse puckey.

    Garbage creation is an uncivilized remainder from a long vanished, primitive life spent in hunting and gathering. No civilized society can afford it. We should all be ashamed of ourselves that we still think we can use resources once and then discard them. It makes no difference if after discard we burn or recycle or dump those precious resources.

    Half of American garbage is organic matter which came from the soil. As a Zero Waste principle, that organic matter needs to return to the soil to maintain its viability. Burning it for electricity is an assault on our natural patrimony. We need to process every scrap of organic matter using composting or higher methods, then return it to soil to close the agricultural cycle. This includes paper, all wood and other cellulosic products as well as every scrap of food, stalks, manure, leaves, straw, etc.

    See my website at http://www.zerowasteinstitute.org for much more information.

    Paul Palmer

  • Pingback: Technology to Make Ethanol from Municipal Waste Still on Hold : CleanTechnica

  • Michael Angel
  • Michael Angel
  • http://livepaths.com livepaths

    Very interesting.

    If the economics don’t work, recycling efforts won’t either.

    Check http://LivePaths.com, a blog about innovative entrepreneurs that make money selling recycled items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources. These include some very cool Green online ventures, great new technologies, startups and investments opportunities.

  • http://livepaths.com livepaths

    Very interesting.

    If the economics don’t work, recycling efforts won’t either.

    Check http://LivePaths.com, a blog about innovative entrepreneurs that make money selling recycled items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources. These include some very cool Green online ventures, great new technologies, startups and investments opportunities.

  • http://ooyes.net web design company

    This is a super tough one for me… I am not a big fan of incineration of garbage (see http://www.trashingtheclimate.org) and the most eco-friendly community I know is Moonshadow, which is in Sequatchie County in Whitwell Tennessee (www.svionline.org).

  • http://ooyes.net web design company

    This is a super tough one for me… I am not a big fan of incineration of garbage (see http://www.trashingtheclimate.org) and the most eco-friendly community I know is Moonshadow, which is in Sequatchie County in Whitwell Tennessee (www.svionline.org).

Back to Top ↑