Thomas Henry Culhane
We are pleased to honor this sustainability innovator and groundbreaking thought-leader, Dr. Thomas Henry Culhane, (T.H.), who is bringing practical sustainable solutions to the world’s poorest urban areas.
A National Geographic Explorer, T.H. Culhane has traveled the world transforming lives and our planet.
Dr. Culhane has taken his skills of invention and ingenuity to bring sustainable energy projects, such as solar water heaters and biogas digesters, to the poorest of the poor in the Middle East, other developing countries, and to those right here at home, enabling them to repurpose natural resources and waste to power their basic needs.
Euphrates first encountered T.H. abroad in Israel/Palestine, where he was working with Bedouin communities to install biogas digesters to use their animal waste and food scraps to generate cooking fuel, and also presenting his work on solar projects to the renowned Arava Institute in Israel. He’s also worked in the favelas in Brazil, the jungles of Borneo and many other places! A featured speaker at the Euphrates Summit in 2011, T.H. wowed participants with his ingenuity and passion.
Working with residents of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods to install rooftop solar water heaters, his nongovernmental organization, Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S., tells National Geographic, “The water heaters generate 200 liters of hot water and 200 liters of cold water for each household every day. ‘And since the technology is completely CO2 free, it contributes nothing to global warming. If people don’t have access to enough water, it becomes a serious health issue. And when women spend all their time tending stoves to heat water, then how can they go to school or get ahead?”
Culhane stresses time and again that living sustainably is practical and possible in a world where sustainable solutions often seem relegated to those who can afford to care about the environment. “We’re not being idealistic; we’re out to provide solutions. Solar energy plays a principal role in our work because it makes practical, perfect sense.”
Culhane continues, ‘We realize the value of collective intelligence. These neighborhoods are filled with welders, plumbers, carpenters, and glassworkers. We bring capital and plans; they bring talent and creativity. We build these systems together from scratch.”
With the same spirit of collective directed intention, Culhane and Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S plans to design and gift a biogas digester for Principia College. One of his recent biodigester builds took place in Hartsdale NY alongside an international team of innoventors.
According to Tamera Village, a peace and research center in Portugal, “a basic biogas digester consists of a tank in which the organic material is digested, collected and stored–and where the by-product biogas is produced. The digesters can be quite simple, and the details vary depending on available materials and the needs of the community.”
USA Today quotes Culhane as saying, “‘We feel that biogas is appropriate for everybody on the planet. We’ve done systems in Alaska, we’ve done systems in Botswana, I have one on my porch in Germany. My wife and I cook every day on yesterday’s kitchen garbage.’”