The Whole HOG: December 2012

Water-centric Green Design News

We’d like to begin with a gift for you this New Year’s Eve. It doesn’t directly relate to rainwater harvesting, but it is a conduit to things that sustain us, such as creativity, inspiration, and LEGO metaphors! Here’s what Maria Poporova has to say about her web site, Brain Pickings,

“In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.

Brain Pickings is your LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces…that enrich your mental pool of resources and empower you to combine them into original concepts that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful.”

Check out her musical side project Literary Jukebox, too! As for water-centric green news, read on for an affordable housing development in New York City leading the green way, and a stormwater public education campaign in Pittsburgh promoting water conservation. Don’t miss our comparison/contrast between two prefab homes with radically different notions of how to collect rainwater. In our B.U.G Design section, we share a bit of Christmas whimsy discovered via Krulwich Wonders.

December 2012: The Face of Rainwater Harvesting at Via Verde

Affordable Housing Development in New York City Installs Five HOG Tanks

New York City is leading the green way with affordable housing that emphasizes healthy living and sustainable, beautiful architecture. Rainwater HOG is delighted to be included as the face of rainwater harvesting for the residents of Via Verde.

Giovanni Diaz, project manager from Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture, calls the five Rainwater HOG tanks installed on the fifth floor of the much-lauded Via Verde, a new affordable housing development in the South Bronx, alternately a “showcase” or a “celebration” of rainwater collection – one of the green tenets for the building.

“Via Verde’s dual emphasis on resident health and architectural sustainability expands the concept of “green” building,” writes Karen Kubey in a thorough and informative piece for Domus.

Her report encapsulates high profile praise for Via Verde:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the South Bronx project “one the most environmentally advanced affordable housing developments in the nation,” while architectural critic Michael Kimmelman made Via Verde the subject of his front-page, New York Times debut last September, writing that the development “makes as good an argument as any new building in the city for the cultural and civic value of architecture.”

Installed on the fifth floor roof, our modular water catchment system provides a visible, accessible water collection point for building residents who will use the rainwater to grow their community garden plots, located on the same level.

Via Verde HOGs

“We wanted an accessible water source that was sustainable – which means rainwater,” explains Diaz.

HOGs provide the visible component to a larger concrete water collection system housed underground that holds enough water to fully irrigate the 20 floors, 10 rooftops, and the courtyard level of the Via Verde building.

“Rising south-to-north from three-story townhouses to a 20-story tower, Via Verde wraps around the edges of its narrow, triangular site, forming an intimate courtyard and maximizing sun exposure,” writes Kubey. The name Via Verde, or the green way, references the distinctive forty thousand square feet of terraced green roof that incorporates, among other features, an orchard, a fitness area, and a community garden.

December 2012: Rainwater Catchment Options for the Urban Prefab Home

Greenbuild 2012 Showcases 5,000 Gallon Water Tank

Image via Inhabitat

“I was curious to see the show house at Greenbuild 2012 demonstrating a large, above-ground, steel riveted water tank,” writes HOG inventor, Sally Dominguez.  “In a seismic high risk area like San Francisco riveted steel tanks are not recommended – in fact most manufacturers will not supply them to parts of California – because in a moderate seismic event a small amount of movement is enough to twist the structure and pop the rivets – and any movement could send tons of water rolling! Did I mention that HOG tanks can’t roll?!”

Inhabitat writer Charley Cameron reports, “The water management for the Paradigm house has several levels; rainwater is diverted from the home’s roof to a 5,000 gallon free-standing outdoor tank, from which water is filtered for domestic use. Greywater is then collected for irrigation and fed directly to two small outdoor greenhouses where produce can be grown. The home’s compost toilet could potentially provide fertilizer for this on-site veggie patch.”

Sally responds, “What I find curious about an otherwise really tight, economical design is the size of the tank.  A 700 sq ft roof can only yield 436 gallons for every inch of rain, so for six months of the year in San Francisco the tank sits nearly empty; in March, our statistically highest rainfall month, it’s just under half full. A tank significantly smaller would still fulfill the water needs of a single bedroom house, especially one with a composting toilet.  It seems to be a case of seeking the largest storage without actually reckoning for local climate and household use.”

Simpatico Homes features Modular HOG System

Simpatico Homes rooftop

Image via Simpatico Homes

This month’s issue of Dwell magazine asks the the question, “Why prefab?” Simpatico Homes, a modular home company based in Emeryville, California, helps answer the question.  Although both homes have net zero energy as their goal, Simpatico Homes has a very different approach to rainwater harvesting than Method Homes’ Paradigm house. In a profile of the Simpatico Prototype House which founder Seth Krubiner now calls home, Joanne Furio reports, “Instead of taxing the taps, the home’s drought-tolerant garden can be watered with runoff from the roof. Krubiner’s technology of choice: Rainwater HOG, an off-the-shelf, expandable system of rainwater collection tanks that stores water for irrigation. Because the HOGs are slim, they can be positioned directly under a downspout without blocking the walkway – a necessity on a tight city lot like this. “The nice thing is that you can easily link them together,” says Krubiner… [who has] two sets of five 50-gallon HOGs…for the property.”

For more on the HOG tank’s unique design that prizes a small footprint and flexible, modular installation options for urban rainwater storage, check out the Rainwater HOG profile in AIArchitect’s online magazine.

December 2012: StormWorks in Pittsburgh

StormWorks is a Model of Community Engagement in Pittsburgh

“In Pittsburgh, as with most urban areas, a lot of the houses are very close together with small lots for draining stormwater,” explains Luke Stamper of StormWorks, a division of Nine Mile Run WaterShed Association. StormWorks provides simple solutions for Pittsburgh area property owners – such as rain tanks, rain gardens, permeable pavement, and tree planting – to reduce stormwater damage to the water supply.

Two tanks are coupled at each downspout in a narrow alleyway; the harvested rainwater will be used on the homeowner’s lawn and garden.

Recently, StormWorks installed four HOG tanks, which will collect almost 15,000 gallons of water annually,  in a walkway between two houses in urban Pittsburgh. The HOG’s low profile made them the best catchment system for the residential install. In other words, Rainwater HOG tanks fit where rain barrels would not.
A USA Today study documenting the rising cost of water across 100 municipalities shows that water rates doubled in more than a quarter of the locations (such as Philadelphia and Baltimore) and tripled in others (such as Atlanta and San Francisco). The study provides compelling reason for increased awareness and implementation of water conservation practices across cities nationwide.

Public education campaigns can help raise awareness about water management techniques and tools.  StormWorks’  innovative Rain Barrels on Parade program – with rain barrels painted by local artists and displayed throughout Pittsburgh for three months – is a case in point. By sharing ways for homeowners to control their stormwater footprint (and save money on water use), StormWorks empowers Pittsburgh to make positive, measurable changes neighborhood by neighborhood.

Two thumbs up to StormWorks for effective community engagement, and for choosing the most nimble tank on the market for those narrow urban spaces!