Jordan Smith is an ordinary freshman who enjoys karate, engineering, and humor. But unlike most first-year students, Smith has spent years designing a plan to bring his passion for environmental sustainability to fruition. The project, dubbed The Green Spire, is a combination of various engineering theories in the form of sustainable infrastructure to be used as disaster relief.
Smith came up with the idea for The Green Spire in high school, when he was discussing the disadvantages of the United States’ foreign aid with a friend. They believed simply sending food and medical supplies to nations recovering from disasters was only a temporary fix, often creating a harmful dependency on the benefactor. The next step was to develop a more permanent form of aid. Hence The Green Spire, an ultra-sustainable infrastructure design that is intended to provide life’s necessities. Essentially, this ambitious project supplies both temporary aid as well as a model for long-term sustainable development. It combines advanced agriculture, food, and solar power to create a nearly self-sustaining ecosystem. The solar power then provides water purification, cooking, heating, and refrigeration.
The Spire is customizable to the location it is placed, especially important when it comes to the need for water. At coastal regions, The Spire uses an easy form of desalination to create drinking water. In dry, hot regions, water is obtained from underground reservoirs.
What makes The Green Spire unique from infrastructure is that it will implement underused technology, such as light frequency optimization for agriculture and a graphene cable power system. Light frequency optimization involves limiting harsh sunlight to help plants grow. A graphene cable power system is a more efficient way of delivering solar power, which would be helpful in allowing recovering communities to re-attain electricity as well as expand an external solar power grid from The Green Spire
“Most of the technology needed for The Green Spire to function has been developed and tested, but it has not been optimized into a cohesive system,” Smith explained. Basically, the project combines solar technology, aquaponics, and other forms of advanced agriculture to create a sustainable ecosystem.
There are several benefits to implementing a more permanent form of foreign aid. Sending building materials as opposed to money helps prevent government corruption, something that has been a large issue in past disasters. Additionally, by providing a model using open technology, communities will have the blueprints for future sustainable structures as well as a basis for rebooting their economy. This leads to communities having the knowledge and resources to get their lives back on track, as opposed to simply receiving temporary assistance.
Smith realizes this project requires a lifetime of work before becoming a reality. He is currently working on research and optimization, as well as focusing on his life as a college student. When he spoke to Dr. Matt Gordan from the DU engineering department, he was encouraged to use The Green Spire as a senior engineering project. That way, he has the support of the University of Denver engineering program, as well as access to Denver resources. Although this project is extremely ambitious, Jordan Smith has a dream to help create a more sustainable world, and The Green Spire will help achieve it.