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 #1 — Wasted 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.
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.