The Whole HOG: January 2013

Water-centric Green Design News

Rainwater HOG is looking back on a successful 2012. And, as we move into 2013, we’re looking outward for more, from a green building industry perspective on rainwater harvesting to the establishment of a National Green Building Standard in Hawaii.  This month, we have Apps to bring rainwater harvesting and global warming to your door; not to mention personal, national, and global perspectives on water on this transforming planet.

With global warming in mind, Chuck Henderson is taking tangible action by creating super- flexible, super-strong, and super-inexpensive conic shelters. Read about them in our B.U.G. Design section.

January 2013: Perspectives on Water

Global Warming 

2012 was the hottest year on record in the USA, further establishing the increasing effect of climate change on the planet. With global warming comes an increase of extreme weather events, such as what Australia has been experiencing – flooding fast on the heels of an unprecedented heat wave and bush fires.

The Whole HOG’s much referenced science guy, Robert Krulwich turned us on to what he calls “Miss Piggy’s version of global warming” wherein scientists (at the New Scientist website) published an interactive graph that answers the question, ‘What about me?’ Use the New Scientist App to click on a map of the world, anywhere in the world, and see how the temperature has changed in that location since 1950. A chilling – or should I say fever-inducing – illustration of climate change close to home.

As we enter 2013, we’re thinking about water (in light of global warming) from three different perspectives: personal, national (apologies to our international readers for our American-centric leanings), and global.

We’re taking the Miss Piggy approach direct to your roof with the rooftop rain harvest calculator. This app from Save the Rain lets you find and highlight any roof in the world visible from Google maps (preferably your roof) to figure out how much rainwater it could be collecting annually. A farm in Southwest Colorado, one close to this writer’s heart (it belongs to my mom), where the average annual rainfall is 11.81 inches could be collecting approximately 10,643 gallons a year. That’s 4,447 toilet flushes. How much could you collect?

(*Head’s up, this info is calculated in the metric system. Google provides an easy conversion method, For example, simply type in “300 mm = ?? inches” as your search term. 11.81 inches will come up as the answer.)

In the USA a water main breaks every 2 minutes, resulting in 1.7 billion gallons of water lost every year.  Accessible graphics, colorful stats, and up-to-date data distinguishes the 2012 Value of Water Index from recent reports. The study, put on by Xylem, presents findings from ‘a nationwide poll of American voters detailing what they think should be done about the country’s water crisis and who should pay for it.’

value of water index

©Xylem Value of Water Index

In 2010, 80% of Americans believed our water system needed reform. In 2012, that percentage has grown to 88%. Seventy-nine percent of the American public recognize that demand is growing and water is becoming scarce. But, the factors contributing to a water crisis remain hazy for many. Click on the graph, pictured left, for more.


Sierra Leone

A public latrine in Freetown’s Grey Bush slum where cholera struck. Public bathrooms are generally in poor order and costly to use. ©Mustafah Abdulaziz



Unsafe water sources and poor sanitation make the water crisis in developing countries more visceral. Often there is inadequate infrastructure to serve large urban populations, as in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone where a population of 2 million people live in a city with an infrastructure built for half that many.  Photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz focuses on the role of water as a carrier of epidemic and disease in a thought-provoking project, funded by the Pulitzer Center, called “Water is Gold”. In it, he documents the aftermath of the worst outbreak of cholera in Sierra Leone’s history.

January 2013: Green Building Industry Perspective

Hawaii’s National Green Building Standard

Hawaii NGBS home


We originally encountered this remodeled home (shown left), the first to be certified to Hawaii’s nascent National Green Building Standard, in November 2012, making note of their use of HOG tanks for garden irrigation.

“The biggest lesson we learned is that a certified green home can be built for the same price as a regular home,” explains Leanne Bossert. She is president and co-owner of Bossert Builders, the general contractors who rebuilt the home after it burnt in an electrical fire.  Read more about this green home’s rise from the ashes in the EcoHome article.

Contractor Magazine Taps into a Natural Resource

A recent article in Contractor Magazine showcases recent rainwater catchment system installations, mostly large-scale for toilet flush and irrigation, across the United States. From Washington state to Illinois, North Carolina, and Virginia, writer Candace Roulo makes the case for rainwater harvesting as a useful tool in the arsenal of plumbers, green builders, and mechanical contractors.

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: 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!

November 2012: HOGs Wow Maui Homeowners

Rainwater HOG tanks to be included in Maui Housing Development

HOGs have already made a name for themselves in Hawaii. And the word is spreading. Through their affordable housing developments (such as the LEED-H Gold certified Lai Opua residential community) Armstrong Builders are one of the primary messengers on the islands.

Each home in the 2010 Lai Opua development has one HOG tank (and room for more).

Each home in the 2010 Lai Opua development has one HOG tank (and room for more).

“Water is already a scarce resource, even more so on an island,” says Daniel Sandomire, Vice President of Armstrong Development, Ltd. “We anticipate changes in utility fees and building codes to encourage more harvesting of rainwater. HOGs are an important first step in that dialogue.”

In partnership with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Armstrong Builders is building a 26-home sustainable subdivision in Kula, Maui. Each home is installed with one Rainwater HOG tank near the carport, which homeowners can use for irrigating a garden or lawn or washing cars.

The inaugural residents of the 2012 Kula development inspect their Rainwater HOG tank.

The inaugural residents of the 2012 Kula development inspect their Rainwater HOG tank.


The first occupants moved into their new home this month on November 2, 2012.  Three to four new homes are being built each month. Other green features include solar photovoltaic panels, low flush toilets, EnergyStar appliances, and whole house fans to reduce the need for air conditioning.  Armstrong Builders expect the Kula development on Maui to be completed by July 2013.

“This house for me represents everything as a Hawaiian,” says Raenani, a Lai Opua homeowner, talking about the care and pride she saw in the construction of her home, and the partnership and support she received from Armstrong Builders. “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,” she finishes, with a nod.

November 2012: AIArchitect feature

AIArchitect features Rainwater HOG


HOG inventor, Sally Dominguez.

“The HOG’s greatest virtue is its flexibility,” writes Sara Fernandez-Cendon for AIArchitect’s online magazine. She charts Rainwater HOG’s quest to create a simple, affordable and discreet rainwater storage system for the urban, residential environment here.

And the blogosphere takes notice: check out what Earth Techling has to say about our modular rainwater harvesting solution.

October 2012: A Green Urban Home in the Philippines

Buensalido Architects take on Residential Modern in the Philippines

Jason Buensalido describes the Buensalido Architects home in Manila, Philippines as, “basically an honest house.” He’s fused modern materials – steel, concrete, and glass – with contemporary Filipino architectural values – natural ventilation, an open floor plan – to create a sleek and airy modern residence.  Urban Zone take you on a tour of the home with architect Jason Buensalido. Watch the video here. The HOG tanks are featured 5:57 minutes in.

Four Rainwater HOG tanks are installed in the Buensalido Architects designed home. Jason Buensalido calls the HOG tanks an “aesthetically pleasing” way to demonstrate the water-wise ethos of the home. The water they capture is used to irrigate the yard, and to flush the  toilets.

The four HOGs for Buensalido Architects were provided by ISA Greenpath Enterprises Inc., Rainwater HOG distributor for the Philippines.

The Whole HOG: September 2012

Water-centric Green Design News

“Water is fundamental to our economic vitality and overall quality of life, not to mention our very survival. And, at about a penny a gallon (far less than the cost a gallon of milk – or bottled water), this precious resource is also an exceptional value; especially considering how often we use it every day.”
– Randy A. Moore, President of Iowa American Water

This September, when it comes to water, we’re taking problem-solving seriously. Doctor HOG helps brainstorm solutions for Frank Katz’s two-HOG installation in New Mexico, and we get real-world perspectives on America’s water crisis from a clean energy economy advocate in California and from the president of Iowa’s largest investor-owned water utility.

We also feature an award-winning, student-designed hybrid. Read more about the water-saving Washit in our B.U.G. Design section. And speaking of student-powered solutions, registration is now open for the EPA sponsored Campus Rainworks Challenge!

August 2012: Go! Go! Ito Yogyo – HOGs in Japan

Rainwater HOG tanks have been making waves  in the Japanese marketplace since 2010, with help from our distributor in Japan Ito Yogyo Co., Ltd.

Two Rainwater HOG tanks were installed in May 2010 in front of Ito Yogyo Co.’s Osaka storefront.

The two HOG tanks at the Osaka storefront collect 6,868 gallons (26,000 liters) of water annually.

Space for housing is limited to “narrow plots of land” in Japan, explains Mr. Yoshihiro Hagihara of Ito Yogyo, which makes the slim-lined HOG tanks a perfect fit for residential installations.

In fact, Rainwater HOG won the Japanese Kids Design Award in July of 2011. HOG was chosen not only because the HOG tank is an easy way to teach kids about the benefits of re-using rainwater, but also because of its superior, multi-purpose design. The tanks can double as an emergency water supply source, are easy to install, and the slender, architecturally-designed profile allows the modular system to fit into a tight space.

A HOG tanks collects rainwater in city of Ikoma, in the Nara Prefecture.

Garden irrigation and car washing are the primary uses of harvested rainwater for the environmentally conscious Japanese homeowners who have installed HOGs. For example, a homeowner in the city of Ikoma waters the kitchen garden with rainwater collected from one HOG (pictured left). The tank, chosen for it’s narrow profile, was installed in September 2011; it collects 3,434 gallons (13,000 liters) of water annually.