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 Ekosea' designs and the legacy of Lee Porter Butler (1940-2005)

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 Lee Porter Butler

January 3, 1940 - November 22, 2005

Alpha Lee Rainbow Light Cloud Sun III

Environmental Architect, Inventor, Iconoclast, Author, Philosopher, King
by Jill Butler
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    In the early 1970s, while an architectural student at North Carolina State University, Lee Porter Butler played Buckminster Fuller’s World Game. Originally called the “great logistics game” and the “world peace game”, Fuller created this intellectual exercise to serve as a tool for contemplating a comprehensive, global approach to the social and ecological problems of the world. No matter how one plays the game, the result is the depletion of world resources. This incident propelled Lee into his life’s calling. Having been raised on his dentist father’s gentleman cotton farm in rural west Tennessee, 6’ 4” Lee, equipped with a messianic complex, a curious mind, a powerful intellect, a “can do anything” attitude, farmer practicality, and an innate understanding of abundance, went about trying to solve the impending crisis for the earth and humanity. 
    He moved his family to property his father had left him on Butler Lake, in Medon, Tennessee, where, with a carpenter friend, he built a 10,000 square foot passive solar dream house. It consisted of fourteen levels, an indoor swimming pool, a dark room, maids’ quarters and a forty-foot high greenhouse accessible from all rooms. Following a crippling ice storm that knocked out the power for weeks, Lee emerged from the master bedroom at the highest level and was greeted by a blast of hot air, although outside there were icicles everywhere. In a flash, Lee realized that if he could understand the principles governing that whoosh of hot air, it could be something profound for humanity. 
    Lee pondered this observation and experimented with it for two years. His company, which was building strip shopping malls all over the south for a big client, was facing a crisis. The client was going bankrupt and Lee, with no other clients to fall back on, still had mouths to feed. In utter frustration, Lee swallowed two hits of LSD, lay under a big pine tree on the property, folded his hands under his head and asked the tree, “How is it so easy for you—you just stand there with your arms outstretched and watch all your resources come to you? Look at mankind, how we struggle, running hither and thither to get resources, while you have it easily coming to you.” Lee describes the insight, similar in spirit to that moment at the apple tree two centuries earlier when Sir Isaac Newton uncovered the principles of gravity, as given to him by the tree: he now knew how that whoosh of hot air worked! He immediately drew his invention of “the gravity geo-thermal envelope.” It came to him as a diagram of a continuous loop, connected to the earth. 
    Soon after this revelation, Lee left Tennessee for points west where he figured out how to heat and cool buildings without burning fossil fuels, no matter where on earth he built them! Orientation to the sun, connection to the earth and mass insulation are the principles Lee outlined in his ground breaking Ekose’a Homes, self published through his San Francisco company of same name.
    There was an alternative energy movement developing worldwide and Lee found himself at the fulcrum. He had trendy offices for his company, Ekose’a Homes, on Market Street in San Francisco and he was teaching at the University of California Berkeley, Graduate School of Design and Planning. He was lecturing all over the country and was even asked to speak at The Royal College, where Sir Isaac Newton delivered his paper on the laws of gravity. During this period of his life, Lee’s company was building houses and providing house plans for thousands. His work was featured on the covers of Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens, and countless shelter publications.
    Harvard professors and the like were writing books about Lee’s work. Lee’s curious mind was charting territory as yet unexplored. Then, as quickly as his star rose, it fell. Lee recounts the date when the flow stopped. It was April 1981. The Reagan administration took away the tax credits for alternative energy, new home building interest rates were at an all time high and the public was hoodwinked into believing that alternative energy was far too expensive. Lee used to say that the alternative to alternative sources was far too expensive in the cost of human life and in the cost of the depleting resources of the earth.
    Lee continued to experiment and do research on disconnecting the building environment from the grid and, almost twenty years after Ekose’a Homes was published, the process of patenting Ekotecture began. Ekotecture is a means of living on the earth gently, without taking anything away from the earth, air or water; a way to live in harmony, safety, and luxury on and with the earth. It provides inhabitants with exquisite living environments that are completely self-sustaining, each structure taking care of its own electricity, gas, water, waste recycling, and food production; it even protects the inhabitants in the event of disasters, natural or man-made. These structures even float! 

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    This is the legacy that Lee has entrusted to mankind; let us pick up where he left off. In pursuit of this dream, we welcome all interested architects, builders, financial backers and anyone who is just plain interested. Thank you.