In an era in which energy efficiency is the talk of the business world, I should not be surprised when I read about new or intriguing ways to reduce a building’s carbon footprint. However, the idea that Tom Broadbent has come up with is truly ingenious and certainly surprised me.

Broadbent, a student at De Montfort University-Leicester in the United Kingdom, has designed a new system that converts falling wastewater in high-rise buildings into usable electricity. That’s right, you can power your building with a flush.

The system is named HighDro Power and the inventive idea may earn this forward-thinking student recognition from the Institute of Engineering Designers and the Dyson Awards. Broadbent is also entering his concept into the Kevin McCloud Green Heroes contest, which may earn him a spot at the NEC Grand Designs Live show in October.

Broadbent describes the inspiration for his unique idea: “The inspiration for HighDro Power was literally a ‘Eureka!’ moment that came when I emptied a bath in a hotel and found that it cleared very quickly and with a large amount of force. It seemed logical that this energy should be harnessed in some way to create green electricity and help governments meet targets and it filled an obvious gap in the market.” Source: DMU

With an estimated savings of 926 British pounds per year (that's $1,443.52 U.S.) for a seven-story building, the energy savings won’t be astronomical. However, this is an untapped source for saving money and reducing the carbon footprint of a high-rise building. When added to more mainstream energy efficiency upgrades like efficient heating and cooling systems, room occupancy sensors, and efficient lighting, the impact of the HighDro system could definitely add up.

Photo: DMU

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Power your building with a flush
College student designs a system that converts falling wastewater in high-rise buildings into usable electricity.