The Whole HOG: February 2012

         Water-centric Green Design News

“No more needing to figure out how best to hide a big ugly old water tank.”
– Mark Meyers, principal of designSTUDIOmodern, on the benefits of the Rainwater HOG modular tank

Bumba Busuma means creating grace. This month’s subjects know something about this, whether they’re creating out-of-the-box designs, releasing a compelling and thoroughly researched report of the benefits of rainwater harvesting, or simply helping those in need. Read on to find out more.

Inside our February 2012 edition:

February 2012: Dalton Water Wall – From Concept to Reality

                                               from concept                                                    to reality

We first showed the preliminary concept sketch for the Dalton School water wall in our August 2011 newsletter. Fast forward six months and the whimsical water wall is the subject of a Landscape Architecture Magazine feature on environmental education moving beyond the garden.

Landscape architect Liz Pulver, of Town and Gardens Ltd, designed the storm water feature of the remarkable rooftop science classroom for the Manhattan prep school. Two orange HOGs – chosen for their compact rectangular form, stackability, and eye-catching orange –  are installed horizontally to capture rainwater from an adjacent roof.

“For kids this age, it’s all about interactivity and exploration,” says Will Hopkins, chairman of the Dalton School’s science department.

The stormwater moves down the wall through a series of pipes, paddles and wheels and collects in removable buckets used to water plants. When it rains, the wheels and beams move on their own, even when the tank valves are shut off. Planters, a cold frame, a compost bin, and solar panels complete the 16-foot square rooftop “Green Lab.”

February 2012: designSTUDIOmodern

Mark Meyers, principal of the Texas-based designSTUDIOmodern and Rainwater HOG distributor recently had cause to reflect on rainwater harvesting systems. Late January storms have offered much welcomed relief from an extended, brutal Texas drought.

Here’s what he had to say about Rainwater HOG:

Our personal favorite system is the RainWater HOG. We…use the tanks in our own projects for most any situation where we need to hold water (potable water and waste water tanks for our various food trailer projects.) The best part of the Rainwater HOG system is that it is low-profile and modular, so it can be installed along the walls of your house, distributed around to various downspout locations, or built within the structure of a wooden deck.

©Aimee Wenske
A Rainwater HOG tank stores potable water at the shipping container coffee shop La Boite in Austin, Texas.


We spotlighted La Boite, one uniquely out-of-the-box food trailer project designed by designSTUDIOmodern, in April 2010. The coffee shop uses three HOGs to maintain an independent water supply for storage and disposal.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming feature on SushiBox – a sushi restaurant in a shipping container using five Rainwater HOGs.

February 2012: NRDC Releases New Report on Rooftop Rainwater Capture

The National Resources Defense Council
Capturing Rainwater from Rooftops

The National Resources Defense Council has released a 25-page report on Capturing Rainwater from Rooftops. The report finds, “Rooftop rainwater capture is a simple, cost-effective approach for supplying water that promotes sustainable water management.”

Benefits of rainwater harvesting include:

  • Inexpensive, on-site supply of water that can be used for outdoor non-potable uses with little, if any, treatment, or for a variety of additional uses including potable supply with appropriately higher levels of treatment
  • Reduced (or no) energy and economic costs associated with treating and delivering potable water to end users because capture systems often use low-volume, non-pressurized, gravity fed systems or require only the use of a low power pump for supply
  • Reduced strain on existing water supply sources
  • Reduced runoff that would otherwise contribute to stormwater flows, a leading cause of surface water pollution and urban flooding

Some statistics from the report:

  • 270 billion gallons of water are used each week—a significant portion of it potable—to water 23 million acres of lawn in the United States. This watering bill costs $40 billion annually.
  • One study shows that the total annual volume of rainwater falling on rooftops in eight U.S. cities, if captured in its entirety, would be enough to meet the water supply needs of between 21% and 75% of that city’s population each year.

February 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

Designing for Africa
Sally writes,”On the New Inventors program we saw plenty of well-meaning inventions aimed at relieving living conditions in Africa. Our guest judges with expertise “in the field” would often point out the problems with imposing our cultural tendencies on others. For example, one student design mounted a PVC bladder on a bamboo frame, ignorant of the fact that women carry the water and usually have an infant right where the frame would sit. The Hippo rolling water tank won design awards across the globe, yet its designer now considers it a cultural failure.  The Play Pump, a personal favorite, where children play on a roundabout that in the process of spinning will pump water from a well to a tower tank, has been plagued with maintenance and bad siting issues. More than a third of the installed pumps are currently out of action.

Give a Jumpstart

Which is why I love what my friend and neighbor Suzanne Joyal does as the Executive Director of Give a Jumpstart. The non-profit administers micro loans to women who are supporting families in rural villages in Zambia bordering the Congo.  Suzanne’s newest project Bumba Busumba Hand-Printed Textiles, for which she is currently fundraising, will help her Zambian friends create products to tell their stories and fund their futures.


Why is it beautiful? “We work with vulnerable women in a community devastated by HIV and poverty, “says Suzanne, “but the women of Kashikishi are also strong and joyful.” Bumba Busuma means creating grace. What could be more beautiful than empowering women to help themselves?

Why is it useful? There is a saying in Africa: “Invest in a man and you help an individual. Invest in a woman, and you help a village.” Give a Jumpstart recently launched WEEL (Women’s Economic Empowerment Loan) micro lending program in Zambia to help the most vulnerable women build sustainable business ventures to raise themselves out of poverty.

Why is it green? Put a woman in business and she will put her children in school. The micro-lending program has already reached 150 women in Kashikishi, helping them to create an income to support their families. Loanees are living on $1 per day or less, yet every one is able to pay back their loan on time. The women  are running sustainable businesses such as bakeries, co-op hair salons, and egg, farming, and sewing cooperatives.

Watch the Bumba Busuma Kickstarter video. Proceeds from sales of Bumba Busumba textiles will benefit Give a Jumpstart and WEEL.

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. Designs.