Article is taken from the Poughkeepsie Journal at

By Rasheed Oluwa • Poughkeepsie Journal • March 11, 2009

Most people would squirm after hearing news that a wetland sits in the middle of their multimillion-dollar project.


But that’s not the case for the Omega Center for Holistic Studies. In fact, the presence of a wetland means the organization is a step closer to fulfilling its goal of building one of the greenest, most environmentally friendly structures in the world – its Center for Sustainable Living.

“We’re about three quarters of the way done,” said Skip Backus, executive director of the Omega Institute. “We’re going to be opening sometime in mid-April.”

Omega is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to teaching holistic living. It is located just outside of Rhinebeck, in the Town of Clinton.

The Center for Sustainable Living, which Backus said is expected to cost about $3 million to build, is an ambitious project that will mesh together some of the most innovative approaches in wastewater recycling, clean energy and green architecture.

The centerpiece of this project is the building’s Eco Machine – a fabricated wetland device that will use plants, insects, fungi and bacteria to treat wastewater at the Omega Institute.

Construction for the center has also closely followed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Construction guidelines to ensure the project is as environmentally friendly as possible.

For example, Omega is recycling wood from the platform used during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. The wood will be used for roofing and interior framing.

“I think that worked very well in lowering the carbon footprint of the building,” Backus said