B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design: May 2013

                                                Mill Valley Green Home

“To me it’s the story of place, either real or desired, that inspires the architecture. The context of the site, the environment – natural or man made – is the origin of the design evolution,” explains architect Geoff Butler of his design process.

mill valley green homeWe’re revisiting his Mill Valley Green Home one year after it’s lush, photo-filled debut in San Francisco Magazine, with more gorgeous pictures from the synonymously named web site.

Why is it beautiful? Geoff Butler didn’t have to look far for inspiration when designing the Mill Valley Green Home, a showpiece of sustainability located in his hometown. The home incorporates staples of California living – skylights, outdoor showers, easy transitions between indoor and outdoor space – with energy efficient details like radiant heating, a solar ready system, and an electric car charging outlet in the garage.

Why is it useful? The Mill Valley Green Home is leading by example with a cutting edge, three-tiered home design that includes the latest in luxury green features in California’s Bay Area. LEED Platinum certification is pending. And although in a rarefied price range, this luxury home incorporates green solutions that can be introduced on a smaller scale to the mid-range market.

mill valley hogsWhy is it green? “Bottom line energy savings, water reuse and drought tolerant landscaping,” are three eco-friendly features that Geoff Butler readily identifies in the Mill Valley Green Home. Nineteen Rainwater HOG provide 1,000 gallons of rain and grey water storage for landscape irrigation and toilet flush. Even in the construction of the home – aimed to show that green does not have compromise in quality or cost – more than 50% of the wood used was recycled from the original home.

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

March/April 2013: Marin Home and Garden Expo


Simple Sustainable DIY Rainwater Harvesting with Sally Dominguez
Sunday, June 2nd at 1 pm, Marin Center Fairgrounds,  San Rafael, CA

Rainwater HOG’s own Sally Dominguez, multi award-winning sustainable designer and educator, will present Simple, Sustainable DIY Rainwater Harvesting at the 2013 Marin Home and Garden Expo. Marin GardenShe looks to all corners of the globe for ways to use rainwater on the garden and inside the home. From selecting BPA-free vessels and calculating rainwater storage potential to the effective filtration of roof water and even using rainwater to flush toilets and wash laundry, Sally draws on her experience designing for Australia and for the Bay Area to guide you to the best sustainable choices for rainwater re-use.

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


While we might not go so far as to call the Washit “my green shower pleasure” (something might have been lost in translation from the iF award panel to us…), we’re pleased to share with you this multi-tasking, water-saving new design that combines a shower with a washing machine. Washit is a closed system shower stall/washing machine concept from four Turkish university students.

The Washit re-mixes two domestic standards (the washing machine and shower stall) into one water-wise product that offers improved form and dual functionality.

Why is it beautiful? Winners of the water efficiency prize for the iF Concept Design Award 2012: Hansgrohe Special Award, the young designers were praised for “a clever solution” in a contest that favored intuitive, well-presented  designs. Notes from judge Andreas Haug highlight the Washit’s strengths, “identical components, resource-saving, aesthetic appeal, hygienic.”

Why is it useful? This is a sleek hybrid of two household standby’s that allows you to take a shower and wash your clothes simultaneously.  In the Washit, water used for showering is collected as grey water. Once filtered, the water is stored and ready to use again – for the shower or the washing machine. In case of water loss, water is supplemented from the water mains.

Why is it green? Washit offers a revolution in the wash cycle: from your body to your clothes, at home and in public. (A public use scenario Washit offers a privacy screen for a quick clean at airports, gyms, or music festivals.) Be green while you get clean with Washit.

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

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.

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

BISEM Inc.’s BiPV Curtain Wall

BISEM Inc., our neighboring exhibitor at Eco City, is an example of a cleantech company whose growth parallels that of the industry itself. For Eco City show-and-tell, they brought along a high-rise-sized photovoltaic ‘curtain wall’ – a structurally sound glass window that generates electricity from the sun.

CEO Nick Bagatelos explains his solar-powered electricity-generating modular windows in terms of peaches.  He says, “If you have a peach tree in your backyard, when the peaches are ripe, you go out and grab a few peaches. After a week or so of this, the low hanging fruit is gone. So, you go to the garage and grab a ladder to get the fruit at the top of the tree, right? The rooftop PV (photovoltaic solar panels) are the low hanging fruit, my BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics) Curtain Wall is the stuff on the top of the tree.”

Why is it beautiful?  The BiPV curtain wall is an elegant package – a glass wall that takes solar power from the roof and into the windows. As CEO Nick Bagatelas says, “Most glass walls let light in and keep water out. This wall also generates power.”

Why is it useful? The American-made BiPV Curtain Wall is a Net Zero Energy solution. A building must generate power on site in order to achieve Net Zero, but large multi-story buildings have limited rooftop area to add PV panels.  BISEM’s BIPV Curtain Wall provides an alternative location to harvest electricity at a cost effective price.

Why is it green?
The Curtain Wall, a structurally engineered glass wall that captures sunlight and turns it into electricity, can generate 20% of the energy required for a building to achieve Net Zero Energy.  It can also add as many as 7 LEED point to a building project, and it reduces carbon footprint.

Check out BISEM’s blog to keep up with this innovative cleantech company. See the real thing – a building clad in the curtain walls – at their headquarters in Sacramento. And in the future, find a curtain wall installation, scheduled for a 2013 install, in the San Francisco Airport, among other places.

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

March 2012: Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure Report

Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure Report

The nation’s water infrastructure is at a critical juncture, according to the recently released Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure report. Before you skip right on past that dry, curiosity-quencher of a title, be assured, the information inside is as compelling as the title is off-putting.

We lose over six billion gallons of expensive, treated water each day because of leaky, aging pipes. This represents 14 percent of the nation’s daily water use. This endemic water waste is underscored by the fact the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation’s water systems a D-, the lowest grade of any infrastructure including roads and bridges.

In order to achieve more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective freshwater systems, the report recommends bold new approaches for financing and operating public water systems, including:

• Local water solutions that can improve efficiencies, including green infrastructure, closed-loop systems and water recycling;

• Flexible water pricing and revenue structures that distinguish between drinking water and various other types of water, such as lawn water and toilet water;

• System-wide, full-cost accounting of water services and financing mechanisms; and

• Less reliance on state and federal funding and more reliance on private, market-based financing mechanisms that can support local, customer-supported solutions.

For an easy-to-understand overview of the report, check out David Mark’s press release at the American Rivers site.

How does the report relate to HOG and to you?
HOG tanks provide a modular rainwater storage system with future flexibility in mind.

The report recommends using water, in its different stages of treatment, for appropriate purposes. Save potable water for drinking. And collect water from the source! Harvested rainwater, stored in a HOG tank, can be used to water the garden, the lawn, and to flush the toilet.

An added bonus: reduced dependence on an energy-inefficient, centralized water system.

Recommended Reading: Cadillac Desert

A dose of narrative makes the facts go down smoothly. Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert offers the (riveting!) story you won’t find in the report. His 1986 book exposed the cutthroat politics and environmental implications of water consumption in the arid west.

25 years later, a group of scientists revisited Reisner’s predictions of water scarcity in the southwest, and confirmed the legitimacy and foresight of his research. Read about it in On Earth Magazine.

The Whole HOG: November 2011

                The Whole HOG
Water-centric Green Design News

“[We] love [the HOG’s] design and ease of use… They are a great fit because they can integrate into the whole pattern of the site, allowing us to educate about best practices.”
– Designer/Developer Chaden Halfhill on why he chose Rainwater HOG tanks for the Green and Main Pilot Project

Iowa. Singapore. Main Street. And your backyard. This November, we’ll be exploring the spread of water conservation solutions that begin in your backyard, head downtown, and travel overseas.

November 2011: Green & Main–Renovating History, Building Community

“We believe the completion of the first LEED Platinum building renovation in Iowa will encourage other building professionals to adopt these methods. We are also encouraged by the project’s focus on water conservation and storm water management.”
Marian Riggs Gelb, Executive Director, Iowa Environmental Council

Green and Main broke ground on its pilot project in Des Moines, Iowa in September of last year. The Iowa-based initiative is focused on the social and environmental transformation of existing buildings and neighborhoods into sustainable communities.

For the pilot project, the historic Sherman Hill neighborhood in Des Moines will see the renovation of a mixed-use commercial building originally constructed in 1931. Designer/developer Chaden Halfhill speaks of making an impact on the ‘Main Street level.’ He sees the rehabilitation of existing buildings to exceed current environmental and energy standard as a way to foster community and revitalize Main Street.

An 8-HOG Rainwater Harvesting System provides an on-site reserve of water for the Green & Main Pilot Project. Workers install a bioswale in the foreground.

“Storm water management and water conservation are two critical areas that we have emphasized for this project,” explains Halfhill. An eight HOG system will assist in the transformation of 800 19th Street by providing a reserve of harvested rainwater on site. “We were able to adjust the location of their placement due to a shift in design strategy,” says Halfhill, highlighting the versatility of the tanks. Eight tanks, vertically installed, will capture water from the carport and the smaller roofs over the entries. The rainwater will be used to establish native plants, and to clean the parking lot and patio area. A green roof helps to manage stormwater, and to direct excess water through a bioswale to a garden.

With this renovation, Green and Main is leading the way in Iowa as the first Pilot Project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

For its LEED certification, Green & Main is assessed on its water and energy use, construction and materials waste, materials used, indoor building quality and the site itself. Strategies include increasing the building’s energy efficiency by 75%, and using photovoltaic panels to generate up to 25% of the building’s electricity. Additionally, recycled and repurposed materials are used for construction. For an in-depth view of the construction practices and green technologies Green & Main is using in its bid to achieve the highest environmental rating (LEED Platinum), click here.

The former corner grocery will host Healing Passages, a midwifery owned and operated holistic health and birth center. The second story will provide residential living space. The building will also be a site for ongoing education about green historic rehabilitation.

To find out more information, visit greenandmain.org.

November 2011: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

Every Little Drop Hose Meter

Every Little Drop
is a company with a goal. That goal is to develop practical water-saving products for household use, from their soon-to-debut shower meter and multi-irrigation program meter, to the now available hose meter. Their ethos is water conservation, their method is simple: offer devices that meter water usage to promote awareness of how much is used in the home. The Every Little Drop Hose Meter starts with the garden.

Why is it beautiful? This new water-saving device, with robust plastic parts and intuitive technology, attaches directly to the hose to help monitor water usage. The hose meter displays the current volume of water used, the total volume used (up to 99,000 gallons or liters), and daily water consumption. This user-friendly, durable and water-wise tool sounds mighty fine to us.

Why is it useful? The hose meter takes the guesswork out of watering the lawn. No more keeping the hose on for 20 minutes and hoping the plants get enough water. By tracking water usage by volume, the battery-operated device shows when the lawn or garden has reached saturation point.

Why is it green?
Every drop counts. Research shows that when people see how much water they are using, they use less. Tools like the hose meter combine accessible technology and common sense to promote water conservation in the garden and at the household level.

To find out more about the Every Little Drop Hose Meter, click here.

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


November 2011: Green Plumber of the Year

2.4 million gallons. That’s how much water Jamie Rogers of Rogers Remodel Inc. calculates he has helped save in the Bay Area this year.  Jamie, a California-based green plumber and Rainwater HOG distributor, was awarded the 2011 Green Plumber of the Year Award for the Western Region.

                                                                                                  Jamie Rogers, on right, receives the 2011 Green Plumber of the Year Award.

Green Plumbers USA awards the prize based on community involvement, innovative projects and effective branding. Winners were announced at the October 2011 WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas.

Jamie has worked with Rainwater HOG and other community partners in two local schools to install water catchment systems for watering gardens and flushing toilets. Watch his install at Hall Middle School in Larkspur, California here. And see him in action at McKinley Elementary School in San Francisco here. He has also promoted water conservation by serving on local job-building boards and green employment councils.

Rainwater HOG would like to congratulate Jamie on winning this prestigious award!