Oct/Nov 2013: An Ingenious Array for a Green Roof in the Chicago Suburbs

GREENheart Buildings Inc. Designs a Water Capture System for a Residential Green Roof

What happens when homeowners want to feed a green-roof with harvested rainwater, but their downspouts and gutters head straight down to the ground? Well, the Alexander/Fuoss family called in Michael Ruehle of GREENheart Buildings Inc. to design an ingenious (and partially hidden) HOG system to capture rainwater and pump it back up to the rooftop garden. Take a photo tour with us!

alexander fuoss front

Eight HOG tanks have been installed at the Alexander/Fuoss residence in the suburbs of Chicago. The front of the house, though, shows no sign of the owners’ water-wise installation.

alexander fuoss backyard

It’s only at the back of the house, behind the garage, that we see the first array of four HOGs that will be used for soaker hose irrigation of the garden. The mounting bar has been extended should the family decide to add two more HOG tanks to this modular unit.

alexander fuoss detail

The backyard garden, with newly planted vegetation, holds secrets of its own. Four tanks are installed underneath the deck. Captured rainwater heads north with an assist from a gravity feed pump to water the green roof above.

alexander fuoss deck detail

The HOG tanks are under the deck and stairs. Concealed behind the green plant at right is a clear hose with a screen insert that allows the owner to see the water level in the HOGs.

alexander fuoss roof

GREENheart Buildings has made a complicated solution look simple. We’re especially impressed with the installation that feeds this rooftop garden. Water is captured from about 1/4 of the total roof area, fed to four concealed HOG tanks under the deck, and pumped back up to irrigate the three garden areas on the roof.

Highlights, for us, from the Alexander/Fuoss residential install include:

1)This ingenious install of HOG tanks includes two separate modular set-ups for one home. One system is installed horizontally, the other vertically – a nice display of what is one Rainwater HOG’s primary strengths in the rainwater tank market, a solid, elegant design that allows for multi-purpose, modular installs in tight space.

2) Basic common sense features for increased ease of use for the owners, like a manual timer pump and the screen insert for checking HOG water levels. It’s this kind of attention to detail that distinguishes a high-level installation.

For example, on his choice of pumps, Michael Ruehle explains, “A simple manual timer was chosen to allow the owner to set the pump to run for 5 to 10 minutes when the green roof actually needed irrigation, and then shut off. The owner checks the water level before running it. An automatic scheduled timer was ruled out because a) the plants might not need watering and b) it would be difficult to ensure that the pump wouldn’t run when the HOGs are dry.”

July 2012: Living Wall at the Toronto-Dominion Centre Launches the Green Portal

The Toronto-Dominion Centre (TDC) in Toronto, Canada is opening the door to all things green with the installation of a double-sided living wall by ELT Easy Green. The wall celebrates the launch of the Green Portal, an online environmental management tool for one of Canada’s largest commercial developments.

A living wall, installed by ELT Easy Green, marks the launch of the Green Portal for the six business towers of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. Check out more installation pictures by clicking on the image above.

The TDC is one of North America’s largest business communities with six buildings, 4 million square feet, and 21,000 office employees. Two of the towers have LEED© Canada Gold certification. The living wall installed in front of the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower features ELT Living Wall Panels, three Rainwater HOG tanks, and a TurboRain solar powered irrigation pump.

The HOGs were the best fit, according to Greg Garner of ELT EasyGreen who managed the installation, because “the shape of the HOGS allowed for them to be placed inside the wall and in the base while keeping the dimensions as small as possible.”

One tank, installed horizontally in the basin, receives the water from the other four tanks (installed vertically side by side) and sends it to the solar irrigation pump. The HOG tanks, which are filled manually to maintain a steady water supply, solved the problem of finding an underground water source. A staff person fills the HOGs for the automatic irrigation system to run every other day.

As for the Green Portal, “The principle that says ‘you manage what you measure’ is now being effectively applied when it comes to sustainability best practice at Canada’s largest office complex,” says TDC General Manager David Hoffman.

The Green Portal shows a real-time dashboard-style display of building energy use for tenants and management to track and compare energy use and consumption among the Centre’s six towers.

June 2012: Bondi Beach Restoration in 3-D

QuickDominguez Architects mid-century revitalization in Bondi Beach
Sydney, Australia

Street view of the Bondi Beach property.

Follow the transformation from mid-century brick to 21st century green roof resplendence with QuickDominguez Architects radical eco-update on this Sydney, Australia residence, pictured to the left.  We’re keeping you in the design loop from concept inspiration and initial models to the next phase: 3-D rendering.


Rendered in 3-D.







QuickDominguez Architects estimates the projected ground-breaking on 58 Mitchell Street for August of 2012.

The Whole HOG: March 2012

Water-centric Green Design News

Trending (by the numbers) for 2012

The fourth-largest advertising agency on the planet, J. Walter Thompson (JWT) recently released their alphabetized list of 100 things to watch in 2012. Rainwater harvesting comes in at #58, and rooftop farming at #61. Solar gets simpler (#73), and spiking food prices (#74) are also pieces of the trending global puzzle.

Rainwater HOG is on the road to addressing global concerns of 2012, at the intersection of rainwater harvesting and rooftop farming.  QuickDominguez Architects (a new venture for designer and architect Sally Dominguez) is on the scene in Australia with a twelve-HOG, multi-green roof sustainable renovation of a Bondi Beach residence.

Ecobuild, the world’s largest sustainable building conference, is being held in London this month. Find us there, alongside other innovators working to improve building materials and techniques, and to promote sustainable practice like garden-growing, solar energy, and rainwater harvesting (that’s #58, #61, and #73 on the list).

Inside the Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure report is a call to action. The report is a compelling look at the reality of expanding water scarcity (hello #74 – spiking food prices) and an urgent need to update the United States’ aging water infrastructure.

And finally, veer off-road and into the sand in our B.U.G. Design section, as we get ready to follow Sally on a nine-day road rally through Morocco! She and fellow Australian Samantha Stevens are team 168 in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.

March 2012: QuickDominguez Architects Multi-Green Roof Residence

A City-Side Look at Rainwater Harvesting, Rooftop Farming and Green Renovation

QuickDominguez Architects mid-century revitalization in Bondi Beach
Sydney, Australia

It’s been a while since we covered an Aussie HOG story, but we’ve got a green roof extravaganza of a story  – and in parts!  HOG designer Sally Dominguez is working with architect Sam Quick in a new venture, QuickDominguez Architects, to revitalize a corner of Bondi Beach more known for its urban concrete and grit – with barely a green leaf to be seen.

Model of the multi-green roof Bondi Beach residence seen from the northwest.

The QuickDominguez project involves refurbishing a mid-century brick apartment building into a multi-green roofed vivid green benchmark of sustainable residential design. Ten HOGs will store rainwater for flushing the toilets and irrigating the ground level gardens, and two HOGs will store shower greywater for reuse on the upper level green roof plantings. All up, the HOGs will reduce the use of city water by more than 80%, and all storm water will be absorbed or re-used on site.

A sneak peek, and a northeast facing view, of the concept model.

We will keep you updated as the scheme makes its way from the drawing board to its Bondi block.

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.”