Lemoine Mindy February 27, 2007

I posted recently about a Philadelphia University student competition to design alternatives to traditional rainbarrels. While there were many great ideas, the winner took the traditional rainbarrel and turned it on its side as a bench. Instead of asking people to do something for the environment, they would be buying lawn furniture, or sidewalk furniture, something they might already plan to do. They are particularly well suited to dense urban areas where a water source on the front of a house might be useful. Some of the other design features included:
- a foot pump to strengthen the flow so water could be used for car-washing or sprinkling kids.
- a small tool to cut the drainpipe enclosed with every unit.
- optional self-watering planters attached to the bench.
Another approach to storing water in lawn furniture was having a water storing bladder inside a bench that requires assembly. This would allow a flat-pak, Ikea-style-- not shipping bulky plastic containers full of air. The university is seeking funding and partners to produce the rainbench. One rainbarrel manufacturer estimated that it would take $30,000 to bring the design to production. We were amused to learn about the HGTV show "Living with Ed," in which the main character (rabid environmentalist) installed a rainbarrel and his wife (not quite so committed) removed it because it was ugly. We contacted the producer, who promised to put the rainbench on the show if we get it to production. Here's the website. http://www.livingwithed.net/eguide.asp?CID=2&xepisode=Season%20I

Mindy Lemoine

Environmental Innovation Branch (3EA40)
Environmental Protection Agency
1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Voice: (215) 814-2736,
Fax: (215) 814-2783