Credit: Emma Carscadden

Save up for an unrainy day with an office grey water collector—they may not be pretty but they work beautifully


I’ve written before about a number of lovely options for rainwater collection—from bucolic rainforest creations on Haida Gwaii, to old-fashioned water towers, city-provided barrels and living walls. Still, after all that talk about how great rainwater collection is, we have been rainwater collection-less for a long time here at BCA.


But we’ve finally put our rainwater where our mouth is and rigged up a collection tank in the back yard. This tank... well, this tank has none of the romance of a water tower nor is it surrounded by hanging baskets full of flowers commonly accompany images of rain barrels. Instead, it sits in the corner of the yard, surrounded only by concrete and grey siding. A beautiful system it is not. But it does work!


Guest blogger series: Crawling Toward Sustainability

This is the 16th in a series of guest blog posts in which Emma tracks the progress of her office becoming more sustainable.

Repurposing a large industrial plastic tank as our barrel, we attached it to a tall wooden platform secured to the building. A small plank funnels water from the roof into the barrel, and an attached hose brings the water from its pedestal to us! In addition to more easily capturing water from the roof without installing piping, the height of the system creates pressure and allows for total drainage (isn’t gravity great?).


I think the biggest selling point of our giant plastic tube is its giant-ness. I have a rain barrel at home that is really an old plastic garbage bin. Placed under the drain pipe from the neighbouring condo (which so wonderfully drains directly into my yard), it fills completely in half a rainy day, and I’ve only really collected a little bit of water.


With our truly large barrel—which is currently about three quarters full—we’ll be able to store enough water to keep our garden watered for at least the first couple of weeks without rain (should it ever come). After that, it’ll be back to the hose until the rain starts again.


At a certain point in the winter, though, there will be plenty of rain to water our garden and fill our barrel, and I can only foresee the barrel overflowing. Without a need to water the plants, what else can we do with the rainwater? I’d love to hear suggestions from experienced rainwater-collecting readers!


The Bruce Carscadden Architect crew

bruce carscadden ARCHITECT inc is a boutique architecture and planning firm, based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside since 2000. Specializing in recreation, institutional and commercial projects for public and private clients, BCA is committed to producing beautiful and thoughtful buildings, and finding green and sustainable solutions within a client’s budget. Almost everyone rides a bike to work.

Emma Carscadden is the promotions and marketing assistant at BCA, and writes proposals, submissions and copy for the website. She’s also in charge of setting up the office’s worm composter.