Thursday, April 3, 2008

Greywater is Greenwater

Grey water, also spelled graywater, is wastewater generated from processes such as showering, bathing and laundry. Greywater gets its name from its cloudy appearance and from its status as being neither fresh (white water from groundwater or potable water), nor heavily polluted (blackwater). Greywater can be used for internal use for toilets and or for irrigation use. There are also programs for rainwater recycling.

As Greywater recycling is soon becoming a necessity and a mandatory requirement in many countries (see links below). Canada has been slow in developing and adopting a grey water standard. With the changes to the 2006 BC Building Code, local jurisdictions can make rulings to allow for grey water systems as an alternative solution. Kelowna is one municipality who has allowed the use of Brac Systems - Grey Water Recycling

When recently speaking with local BRAC representative Blair Gautschi, he stated that more people are becoming aware of the growing water problems facing us in the Okanagan (The Okanagan could double in population by the year 2020). However there has been much resistance in establishing a valley wide grey water program because of a lack of urgency due to our seemingly abundant fresh water supply, a resistance to change and the risk of liability if something goes wrong. The Canadian government has recently prepared a draft grey water recycling standard and hopefully more jurisdictions will take the initiative to introduce recycling programs in their areas.

For more information on BRAC or Grey Water recycling contact:

Blair Gautschi, Master Plumber
Excel Ventures, BRAC Systems Inc.
250 212 9750

Suggested Links to review

Australia -

Video on Middle East water crisis -

Grey water info -

Grey water codes -

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

FLYWHEEL Building Solutions - Alternative Building Practices - Rammed Earth

When thinking about an article on alternative building practices I instantly thought of Nicholas Hill and Grant Tweter of Solum Rammed Earth Homes. Rammed earth (RE), also known as pisé de terre or simply pisé, is a type of construction material. RE has been used for centuries to build dwellings and monuments in many parts of the world.

Many ancient buildings stand today as a testament to the durability of this natural and environmentally sustainable building material.It is an age-old building method that has seen a revival in recent years as people seek low-impact building materials and natural building methods.

Modern RE is much improved with technological advancements in the equipment used to test, mix, form and compact the material. Structural RE walls which are engineered to meet or exceed the regional climatic conditions and code requirements. Local soils that have been carefully tested for strength and appearance are mixed with a small amount (5-10%) of Portland cement and water. Layers are placed in special forms and mechanically compacted into stone-like walls. In colder climates a high R-value insulation is embedded within the core of the wall creating a warm, high-mass interior.

The result is a healthy, beautiful, natural looking structure that uses very little energy to heat or cool, will last an extremely long time, and will require much less maintenance than other buildings.Solum

Rammed Earth is a member of the Canadian Home Builders Association and provides full sub-contracting services for all applications of stabilized rammed earth (SRE) work throughout the Okanagan Valley. With over 5 years combined experience, Solum directors have experience spanning residential, commercial, civil, and landscape applications. Solum maintains a competitive advantage by owning all the necessary unique equipment to efficiently carry out SRE projects, including a custom earth blending machine. Nicholas calls it a green concrete process.Some of the many benefits to using Rammed Earth construction are:BUILD GREEN Reduce the embodied energy in building a home by using local material as the main structural component; you are doing your part to offset CO2 emissionsENERGY EFFICIENT Effective R24+ insulation value and high thermal mass maintains ambient temperature levels saving you money over timeAESTHETICS Stand out with a naturally unique home that blends into the Okanagan landscapeMARKETING Differentiate your business and attract clientele by using innovative-rammed earth walls that are unique in appearance and offer unparalleled design flexibilityDURABILITY & LOW MAINTENANCE Free your time and moneyGOOD INDOOR AIR QUALITY Breathe easier with little to no toxic off-gassingFIRE RESISTANT Sleep easy knowing your walls are completely fire resistantSOUND PROOFING Relax in comfort with reduced noise pollution