Archive for the ‘Water Efficiency’ category

Caroma Sydney Smart Point 8, high efficiency toilet, virtually clogless

December 4th, 2012

Caroma Sydney Smart 0.8 (elongated bowl)

I am a big fan of Caroma toilets, and, to be honest, it’s not the water saving feature I admire most — that’s a prerequisite for any toilet I look at. What really stands out about Caroma toilets is the lack of a need for a plunger. Because of the way these toilets work — using a method called the flush down system — trapways are almost double the size what what we usually see, allowing more waste through and therefore, rarely clogging. In fact I spoke to a Caroma rep. at Greenbuild in 2011, who told me the story of a large hotel chain that was initially resistant to put in any low flow toilet;  the hotel’s maintenance team already spent enough time fixing clogged toilets without the additional problems associated with most low flow toilets. Caroma finally convinced them to try one of their toilets in one room for a week. After the week, the hotel management asked how quickly they could install them — the Caroma toilet not only saved significant amounts of water, but it freed up precious maintenance time because people didn’t have to unclog toilets all the time.

Caroma’s toilets have always been designed to be a 6 liter/3 liter dual flush, but now they’ve introduced a new one on the scene: the Sydney Smart Point 8 which uses 3.8 liters and 2.7 liters for its dual flush, decreasing its water use even further.

To give you an idea about what kind of water savings you can count on, according to Caroma:

  • A standard 12 liter toilet uses about 58031 liters of water annually.
  • A 6 liter toilet uses about 26,528 liters annually
  • A Sydney Smart 8 toilet uses just 13, 265 liters annually.

The Sydney Smart Point 8 is available with either a round or elongated bowl and is easily cleanable.

MaP rating (maximum performance rating): 600 grams

Where to buy: To find a dealer near you, use this page on the Caroma website.

Cost: Suggested MSRP is $399 for the round basin, $499 for the elongated basin.



Highlights from the CaGBC National Conference — Expo

June 27th, 2012

When I was at the Canada Green Building Council national conference a few weeks ago, there was a small expo in addition to the green building seminars. Most of the exhibitors were businesses that work with other businesses — it was hard to find companies that dealt with residential building. That being said, there were a few interesting highlights that provide some solutions to a few of my non-residential environmental pet peeves.

Petpeeve #1Wasted rainwater: As cities become larger, and more land becomes paved or lost to development, storm water run-off becomes a big problem. In addition to overloading sewer systems, storm water carries all kinds of contaminates collected on roadways before going into the sewer. That storm water ends up in rivers and lakes, polluting them and damaging increasingly fragile ecosystems. On the other hand, using potable (drinkable) water to water decorative gardens, lawns, wash cars, and water down clay tennis courts is wasteful, energy intensive and unnecessary. Gray water and rainwater harvesting systems are becoming increasingly common, and now some municipalities are requiring them in new builds.

Solution: Reflo commercial-grade rainwater harvesting offers a turnkey system to capture, filter and treat rainwater and then to have it ready for watering gardens and lawns, washing vehicle fleets or watering clay tennis courts and lawn-bowling lawns. The system is designed for large rooftops of multi-unit housing, large commercial or institutional buildings. Rainwater from the roof is collected and led through a filter before ending up in a holding tank.


Petpeeve #2: retailers leaving doors to the street open in extreme weather including hot summer days or freezing winter days — talk about a waste of energy!

Solution: The Invisidor CA constant air velocity technology creates an air curtain that keeps the temperature inside the retail store constant regardless of the temperature outside while the door remains open. It is available in three different widths and can be attached to each other to form a wider unit. It can be fastened to a wall or recessed into the ceiling, and is available as a water unit (to attach to the main boiler), or with electric heating unit. Although the Invisidor CA uses energy to run, it is far more efficient than leaving doors open to the elements and letting heat escape.  It has been certified, UL, CSA, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001.

Biddle air curtain

Petpeeve #3: residential construction waste. Every time I see a dumpster outside a home I cringe thinking of all the material going straight to landfill because to separate and recycle material isn’t cost effective for most contractors.

Solution: Countrywide Recyclers. Countrywide opened its doors in April, 2011 in Hamilton, ON. It offers its clients full-service construction and demolition recycling, meaning, they will do the sorting and separating for you and give you back an itemized sheet of what has been recycled. This is important for LEED projects as minimizing waste is one of the key items of building a new or renovated building. Countrywide estimates that it is able to keep 65% of waste it receives out of landfill and they are always looking to increase that number. Located in Hamilton, ON, it accepts waste from clients in Toronto and other locations around Hamilton.

Petpeeve #4: carpeted basements. (This is a residential petpeeve.) While it’s completely understandable that people want to carpet the usual cold, and often humid, basement in order to try and alleviate some of the dampness, wall-to-wall carpeting in the basement is just asking for trouble. The basement is often the first place to get any water damage during heavy rains or sudden thaw-freeze cycles in the winter. Wall-to-wall carpet affected by floods usually has to be pulled up and thrown away — and most of us don’t have access to Aspera Recycling to avoid sending carpet to landfill. If you like carpet in the basement use an area rug. If it gets wet, it can usually be salvaged by a good carpet cleaning company.

Solution: DRIcore subfloor (residential). Okay, so this is only a partial solution since flooded basements can occur through open basement drains, toilets, and through below-grade walls. DRIcore subfloor is an all-in-one subfloor that lets any dampness coming up through the concrete foundation evaporate instead of staying on the bottom of the subfloor where it can cause mold to form. It is a two-layer subfloor that creates an air gap between the concrete and the subfloor allowing water to evaporate. Easy to install as it come in 23 1/2″x 23 1/2″ panels that press-fit together quickly and easily. Good for carpet, tile, engineered hardwood and vinyl.

Available at Nadurra Wood Flooring Corporation and other flooring retailers.

Caroma: The Original Dual Flush Toilet

June 7th, 2012

Australians have been harvesting rainwater, using low flow water fixtures and dual flush toilets for years.  In fact, dual flush toilets were developed by Caroma, an Australian company in the 1990s. You may or may not have seen a dual flush toilet before, but they are becoming more common in public venues such as sports arenas, shopping mall washrooms, and office towers.  One side of  the flusher will have a symbol of one water droplet, meaning flushes using 3 litres of water, while the other side will have 2 droplets, meaning it uses 4.8 litres to flush; ie: 1 means #1, and 2 means #2. Pretty easy! As Caroma points out on its website, toilet use in residences accounts for the most significant portion of residential water use, and an average family of four could cuts its water use by up to 72% just by installing and using dual flush toilets (and using them properly of course).

One of the best features of Caroma’s toilet, however, seems to be the fabulously generous drainage hole — known as a trapway in toilet speak. Unlike North American low flow toilets, where the trapway  is typically 2 1/8″ in diameter, the Caroma dual flush toilet’s trapway is 4″. What does that mean exactly? Well, when I was at Greenbuild in October, the Caroma people were demonstrating what their toilet could do, and they were flushing whole oranges without any problem whatsoever. Caroma uses a different flush technology than the North American standard, which has given Caroma dual flush toilets the reputation for rarely clogging. Caroma explains their technology best on their website:

North American toilets most commonly utilize siphon jet technology. Most of the water in the tank is used to create a vacuum or siphon effect in the trapway of the toilet bowl, which then pulls the waste out after the water. In the past, several North American toilets have been subject to clogging due to the lower volumes of water used in ultra low flow toilets. The trapways of the bowls had to be reduced to allow the vacuum to be created.

Washdown toilets do not use this flushing mechanism. When flushed, the water is released very quickly from the tank and into the bowl through an open rim bowl design. The water very effectively and efficiently pushes the waste out of the bowl, which is then followed by the water. The flush is fast and allows for superior movement down the sewage drains, as the water is following the waste. Because washdown toilets do not rely on creating a siphon effect in the trapway, the size of the trapway does not have to be reduced. Caroma toilets feature a massive 4 inch trapway, virtually eliminating the possibility of clogging!

[source: see “What is a Washdown Toilet?“]

Caroma’s website is full of handy information about their toilets. If you want to see a visual demonstration of Caroma’s technology, they’ve created an animated video of how it works:

Caroma invisi series II cube

Design: One of the latest trends in toilets is the “invisible tank,” where the tank is hidden behind the wall. While this practice is common in commercial settings, it hasn’t been available to residential use due to building design. However, in recent years, strides have been made in design and invisible tank toilets are the latest thing. If you’re like me and you’re hesitant about how you’d access the tank in the event that anything back there broke, the flush mechanism is accessible through the dual flush toilet plate, and the tank itself is guaranteed to be leak proof. Installing the tank and toilet separately also gives you the advantage of adjusting the height of the toilet, or even moving the flush plate to an adjacent wall.

Two one-piece designs were recently launched on the North American market as well. One piece toilet and tank designs make cleaning easier.

Finally, the last toilet is the Somerton Smart 270, a two piece dual flush toilet and a fully skirted bowl.


One final note about low flow toilets, the California Urban Water Conservation Council in partnership with the Canadian Waste Water Association, has tested hundreds of low flow toilets for their maximum performance levels (MaP levels). In other words, how much stuff you can flush down the toilet, and Caroma has listed the results for each model right on its website.

Delta Faucets Offer Great Water Saving Features

May 31st, 2012

If there is one place you can justify not having a low-flow faucet, it’s the kitchen. That might seem counter-intuitive, but we have a low-flow kitchen faucet and trust me — I can practically bake a cake in the amount of time it takes to fill a stockpot with water! …Okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it does take a long time.

Delta faucets have some great options to help you save water in the kitchen. Delta faucet’s “Multi-Flow” technology has been designed into two different kitchen faucet styles and offers two different flow rates. It delivers water at 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute) as a default setting. This is perfect for rinsing hands, dishes or vegetables. However, when you need an additional boost for, say, filling that stockpot or kitchen sink, press a button and the flow rate becomes 2.0 gpm. Once you turn the faucet off it automatically resets to 1.5 gpm.

Delta faucets offer a few different styles of kitchen faucet with these technologies:


Addison Faucet

Addison Series


The Addison kitchen faucet includes both Touch2O and Multi-Flow technologies. It also includes a pull-down sprayer so you can easily wash fruits and vegetables. It’s available in three finishes: Chrome, Venetian Bronze and Stainless Steel.

The Linden series kitchen faucet also offers Multi-Flow technology, but not Touch2O technology.

Faucets with flow rates of 1.5 gpm are 32% more efficient than standard faucets with 2.2 gpm flow rates and can help you save money on your water bill.




There are 3 series that offer Touch2O technology: Addison, Pilar, and Trinsic.

Trinsic Series

Trinsic Series

Delta Faucets has a great website which allows you to select kitchen faucets with specific features. There are also several videos explaining how their different technologies work. For more information about Multi-Flow technology, watch this video:

For more information about Touch2O technology, watch this video:


Pilar Series

Pilar Series

To find a Delta distributor near you, visit the Delta Faucet website.

Tapmaster: One foot away from Water Efficiency

April 12th, 2012

A nifty product that helps keep your faucets clean while saving water at the same time, the Tapmaster line of products lets you turn water on and off using your knees or foot, leaving your hands free to do other things. Tapmaster is in Calgary, and developed its product initially for the dental industry, but the products found their place in other areas, and is particularly popular with gardeners. This is also a great gadget for cooks because it gives you that third hand you’re always looking for, when you need to turn on the faucet but your hands are either full or dirty. You don’t need to touch the faucet to turn it on — simply move the lever using your foot. The water stops when you pull your foot away. It helps keep faucet tap handles clean while washing your hands.

It’s apparently easy to install and has no need for batteries or electricity. The Tapmaster people told me that this is a DIY project (as long as you own a drill and screwdriver).  There are a variety of models available, each on suitable for different settings and uses.

Euro Foot Activator

Euro Foot Activator

The Euro Foot Activators are simple levers that are installed at the bottom of cabinets. Model 1770 operates solely when your foot touches the lever. The water stops only when you take your foot away. Water temperature is controlled using the faucet handle. (CDN $325)

Model 1775 has a continuous flow option where, if the lever is kicked all the way to a 90 degree angle, the water will stay on (CDN $345).

Temperature is controlled by the faucet.


Tapmaster Kickplate model

Kickplate models: Available in brushed stainless, black or white, one touch to turn on, and another to turn off. There are three models available:

1750: Two options for use: touching the vertical space will keep the water flowing until you release it. Pressing down on the top part will lock water flow in place. A light touch to the vertical part will unlock it and stop the water flow. This is a great product for the kitchen. ($345).

1751: A combination kickplate and cabinet door activated control. Either press the cabinet door to operate the tap, or touch the kickplate. (CDN $447).

1756: Allows complete control over water temperature from the kickplate itself. There are hot, warm and cold settings available. It is available in black, white or silver (CDN$550).

Cabinet door activator (hidden)

Cabinet door activator: Model 1720, installed inside a cabinet door, this model is ideal for bathrooms where only short bursts of water are needed for brushing teeth, washing hands or face. Once installed, it is activated when the cabinet door is pushed. Because it needs very little pressure to activate it, it is hardly noticeable when the doors are shut. It is also the most economical, at CDN$302. Note that this model is not suitable for bathrooms with pedestal sinks.



Infloor activator

In floor activator: 1780 is installed directly into the floor. The water is turned on and off with a quick tap to the floor plate (CDN $370). A new model, 1786 also allows for temperature control. This model would work well with pedestal sinks. I wondered whether it would be a suitable product with cats and dogs in the home, however, Lynne Pubbin, Operations Manager at Tapmaster explained:

We have built this product specifically so that cats and dogs cannot possibly turn these on.  We have actually tested this with large dogs (0ver 90 lbs) and had them walking on them and they cannot turn them on as it requires a specific force to activate the water.  It may not seem like much to most adults or children, but there is an actual purposeful force which needs to be applied.

Installation seems straightforward: For the kickplate and Euro models, drill a hole in the kickplate of the cupboard and the floor of the cupboard close to the faucet’s plumbing and feed the Tapmaster lines through it. Connect it to the water feeds to the sink faucet and that’s it. See the full video here for more information on installation. Note that there is no need for electricity for any of the units a  they work via pressure.

For more information on each of these models, as well as installation information and exactly how it works, please visit the Tapmaster website.

To purchase the Tapmaster, order online through the website or call 1-800-791-8117.



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