A developer in North Pickering is hoping its move to help homeowners reuse grey water will help inspire more sustainable plans when building homes.
In a partnership with a local company, Geranium Homes is installing a grey water conservation system in new builds that could help revolutionalize how homeowners use their water. The system is being installed by Greyter Water Systems, which specializes in home water conservation.
“If you really want to make an impact on conservation of water, you have to start reusing it,” says John Bell, co-founder of Greyter Water Systems.
Grey water is dirty water that comes from doing laundry or dishes, or what goes down the drain in your bathtub. Normally, it would be pumped out to a water filtration plant, then cleaned and reused. With his system, Bell says water can be filtered and reused in the home.
The idea is to reuse bath and shower water to flush your toilet. Bell, the chief commercial officer of the company, says with this technology, homeowners can save thousands of litres of water per year.
“The rule of thumb is two showers a day. That’s enough grey water to meet the daily demand of flushing a toilet for a family of four,” he says.
“It’s a big impact on the water savings on the in, but you’re also saving on the out.
“From an environmental perspective, this is the single greatest water conserver now within homes.”
Twenty-one homeowners will have the unit built into their homes in the North Pickering community. Geranium Homes, the award-winning developer behind the idea, says it is “the first builder in Canada to parcel this feature into the construction of an entire community.”
The company’s president Boaz Feiner has been installing rough-ins for the unit in homes for the past decade. He says when he heard of the idea, he knew he had to get behind it.
“This is something that is exciting because it is a new sector of the industry which is yet to be explored,” says Feiner.
The developer is no stranger to ensuring his projects are sustainable and has even been awarded a Community Sustainability Award by the City of Pickering.
“From a government perspective, from a municipal perspective, we are conserving water. This is decreasing down-sewer flows and therefore allowing for more capacity,” Feiner says.
“As a builder, we are building a better product, a more sustainable product and really completing the idea of future-proofing a house.”
Bell says having grey water conservation systems in place can help developers get approvals for new projects.
“When builders are buying land and trying to move the land and get approvals, water now will be a great leverage for them in discussions,” says Bell. “They have a sustainable checklist, and water is now in that discussion.”
Bell has been a sportscaster with Global News, along with being a host of the show World’s Greenest Homes on HGTV. He says he knew water was the way to go after seeing how other countries conserve their water.
“When I did the show, everyone was doing something with rainwater, everyone was recycling water. So it just kind of resonated with me,” says Bell.
The end result was the home-based unit, about the same size as your standard hot water heater. Bell says it’s a complex process, but in the end, you have near-potable water to use in your toilet.
“Grey water has a lot of contaminants in it; it’s got solids and hair and that can’t get back to the toilet,” says Bell. “It’s a very complicated process.”
Bell says reusing grey water “makes sense,” while “flushing toilets with drinking water makes no sense.”
A handful of people in the area and have already been using the system in their homes. Sidrah Chishti has been living with her parents in Pickering since April.
“It helps our home save water, which is excellent,” says Chishti. “It’s important for our community, it’s important for us as leaders for our children.”
She tells Global News when the family heard about the idea, they were excited to learn more.
The company claims the system could save the average family of four nearly 30,000 litres of water annually — enough to fill a 16-by-32-foot rectangular swimming pool.
Environmental biologist Andrea Kirkwood with Ontario Tech University says although we have an abundance of water, we should be taking water conservation seriously.
“I think we should never take for granted the water we have today,” says Kirkwood. “How we behave today impacts and creates a legacy of pollution and problems down the road for future generations.
“Even if water is always going to be relatively abundant, we have to think about what we are putting in the water.”
The system is being installed into new builds at this time, and Bell believes this is the future.
“It really gives builders and municipalities an opportunity to make a big impact on water, which is a precious resource, and really doing the right thing.”