Guest blogger series:
Crawling Toward Sustainability
This is the eighth in a series of guest blog posts in which Emma will track the progress of her office to become more sustainable.
Vancouver’s rain notwithstanding, the world is facing a shortage of fresh water. Everyone needs to do more to conserve water than simply turning off the faucet when brushing our teeth.
We have been trying to do our part at BCA, both in our initial renovation and in our ongoing plans.
We conserve water at the office the same way we do at work, but our journey towards sustainability hasn’t been blemish free. You may remember the DIY low-flow toilet I mentioned in my first post. I haven’t done this in our toilet because I’m not sure it could handle it—sorry but, for now, I'd rather waste the water than deal with a constantly overflowing toilet!—but it is an option if you have good water pressure.
And, unfortunately, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” is not exactly a popular concept at the office.
However, hot water tanks present a conservation opportunity for both water and electricity, especially if you install a tankless water heater. They are regarded as being the most sustainable option, particularly heralded for reducing the amount of energy needed to heat water.
Because of cost, Bruce ended up going with a traditional tank heater, but he did go small. Much smaller than a traditional tank, and thus using less energy to heat less water, our 10-gallon tank sits directly under the kitchen sink. It might not be as energy efficient as the tankless models, but it gives hot water instantly, reducing the need to run the tap. It’s not the greenest solution ever, but it’s not totally without merit either. Let’s call it a pastel-green solution, rather than a rich forest green.
In the future, we aim to get behind water conservation more solidly, particularly outside. While the roof is bare now, soon it will be a lush green roof, and rain water will be absorbed by the thirsty plants, cutting down on wasteful runoff. What water isn’t absorbed will collect in a large rain barrel. Rain barrels are a great tool to conserve and reuse freshwater. It will quickly fill up in during the rainy season, and we’ll use what collects to water our trees.
It’s easy to get a rain barrel through the City. But if you don’t fancy adding what looks decidedly like a garbage can to your yard, you can search out designer versions instead, like this living wall concept.
For our rain barrel, we’ve joked about getting an old school water tower, à la Petticoat Junction. I think it would look right at home on East Hastings, don’t you?
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.