Being from BC, we had always thought of ourselves as being the true stewards of the environment. However, our neighbors due East are giving us a serious run for our money! Alberta has a number of environment initiatives that will be incorporated into the Alberta Building Code. One such initiative was illustrated in recent article in the Edmonton Journal:

EDMONTON — The Alberta government may be opening a window to more environmentally friendly building practices.

The province is working on new energy efficiency requirements for the Alberta Building Code and rules that would allow the use of reclaimed water.

Reclaimed water includes captured rainwater, stormwater and water that’s been used inside a building, for example.

An Alberta government working group is looking at potential uses for this water, including running it through dedicated pipes to flush toilets and urinals, or irrigating green spaces around buildings.

Rainwater is commonly reused but there are few examples in Alberta where rainwater is brought back into buildings for toilet flushing, said Alf Durnie, chief administrator/inspector of private sewage systems with Alberta Municipal Affairs.

The working group is looking at the use of rainwater in homes and larger apartment and office buildings.

Also, the current plumbing and building codes require all waste water to be directed to a public sewer or private sewage system. That would need to change, Durnie said.

Alberta Environment does allow waste water to be used for agricultural crop and golf course irrigation but there are strict requirements that rule out using that water for irrigation purposes around urban buildings, he added.

In a home, 25 per cent of water is used to flush toilets while in an office building, it’s 70 to 80 per cent.

Durnie said allowing reuse could make a big difference. Such a move would support Alberta’s Water for Life strategy, which aims to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of water use by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2015, he said. It could also reduce demands on water treatment plants for highly treated drinking water and it would reduce the amount of water we need to withdraw from rivers and groundwater aquifers.

Durnie some rainwater guidelines could be ready in the fall, while a draft of what the regulatory process might be like for other types of reclaimed water could come out in spring 2011… Read the full Edmonton Journal article here…