The Impact

Geothermal installs at half the cost

To: The Impact Readers

🏀 I’ve Been Thinking About…What if we put together a Sweet Startup 16 for giggles?

Could be fun, eh? Who’d you like to see compete for the hearts and allegiances of ye mighty climate warriors?

– Stephanie Zulman & Swarnav S Pujari

PS. It is hugely helpful if you forward this email to a friend and let them know where they can subscribe (hint:it’s here).

THE TL;DR 💨

🔋 An EV Fast Charging Service That Comes To The Consumer • SparkCharge

  • People living in disadvantaged communities are likely to be interested in driving a cleaner vehicle, but the lack of charging infrastructure is a significant barrier to adoption;
  • People living in multi-family housing or in buildings see the cost-prohibitive or simply prohibited to install an EV charging system where they park their car overnight;
  • SparkCharge has built an EV Charging as a Service (CaaS) platform thanks to a portable EV charging station that can be carried in the trunk of a car;
  • Based on the model of Uber, the app allows EV owners to charge their vehicle whenever and wherever they want


💰 NOVA • The Strategic Corporate VC of Saint-Gobain

  • NOVA is investing across many different verticals, including automation, robotics, pre-fab, in addition to new materials to improve energy efficiency, air quality, and more


🌎 You Don’t Have To Drill Deep To Build Geothermal Plants • Innovia GEO

  • Innovia GEO is focused on developing innovative geothermal heating and cooling technologies to efficiently and cost-effectively decarbonize the heating and cooling of our buildings and homes;
  • Innovia’s goal is to reduce the cost of installing a clean and efficient geothermal system in half so that the payback can be less than 5 years;
  • Innovia’s geothermal drilling method and heat pump technology enable them to provide a better-faster-cheaper, 100% renewable, and emission-free product


🌊 Decentralizing Wastewater Management • Epic Cleantec

  • Epic Cleantec’s fully customizable systems process wastewater onsite, creating treated (non-potable) water, captured heat, and high-quality soil amendments that can be used at the building;
  • The Epic approach can help a building reuse up to 95% of its water, saving building owners hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on their water and sewer bills while assisting the cities in reaching their lofty water reuse goals more quickly;
  • Epic Cleantec’s team has a collective experience that spans water and wastewater engineering, building design, project finance, public policy and operations

🚀 STARTUP REPORTS

An EV Fast Charging Service That Comes To The Consumer • SparkCharge

By Hugo Tranzer • is a French student in business with an international background - looking to build a network in the Climate tech space.

SparkCharge Impact Startup Report
(Image: SparkCharge)

The arrival of EVs in the US market comes with an increasing demand for EV charging systems.
The majority of existing and planned EV charging infrastructure installations leave underserved communities behind, but can we find an innovative solution to charge EVs for every community?

How to remove the barriers that prevent the adoption of EVs?

The IPCC reports are without appeal, and human activity is the cause of climate change. To mitigate its consequences, it is necessary to change the traditional modes of consumption. EVs require the installation of costly charging stations on the territory.

People living in disadvantaged communities are likely to be interested in driving a cleaner vehicle, but the lack of charging infrastructure in and around where they live, work, and play is a significant barrier to adoption. As popular as EVs are, most Americans still see their adoption as unrealistic, living in multi-family housing or in buildings that are cost-prohibitive or simply prohibited to install an EV charging system where they park their car overnight.

Enter SparkCharge:

SparkCharge (CleanTech Open, 2022 applications due April 17th) has built a mobile electric vehicle fast-charging network on a Charging as a Service (CaaS) system. Based on the model of Uber, the app allows EV owners to charge their vehicle whenever and wherever they want – at the parking lot, at work, in their driveways, or at the park. EV owners subscribe to the service, enter the details of their car and when they want to charge their vehicle just ask on the app and a technician comes with a fast-charging battery to charge the EV.

How it works

SparkCharge has developed a patented technology of modular fast charging systems. The charger comes in two parts, a battery module and a charger module. The 3.5 kWh capacity at a 20 kW power battery can charge the car up to 1 mile per min, which is 6 times faster than Level 2 chargers. Its dimensions of 9×13.7×23.6 inches for a weight of 73 pounds make it portable for a single technician and transportable in the trunk of a car.

The batteries can be stacked to deliver the amount of range required. The charging module has the same dimensions and a weight of 51 pounds, has CCS1 (Tesla Model 3 and Model Y) and CHAdeMO (most EVs on the market) compatibility. The technician is equipped with this portable EV charger in his car and comes when a customer needs to charge its EV.

The competition

The closest competitor on the portable EV charging market identified is Blink, a designer, manufacturer, owner and operator of EV charging stations that also investigates the portable EV charging market. However, for the moment the portable EV charging service operates on gasoline, requires a truck for delivery, and weighs 350 pounds.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G), work and home EV charging stations are other competitors for SparkCharge as they represent an alternative for charging an EV. However, SparkCharge targets people who are not well served by this alternative. The EV charging sector is skyrocketing and many competitors are entering the market to meet the demand since there are 78 EVs for every fast charger in the US. As of December 31, 2021, there are less than 22,000 EV fast chargers in the US. The demand is far from being met now, and SparkCharge benefits from a differentiation factor with its portable service that is likely to become a competitive advantage.

Why SparkCharge

SparkCharge is a company with a low entrance to market cost as compared to competitors since the company does not have to install a lot of infrastructures and benefits from a first-mover advantage on the market of portable charging stations. Not only SparkCharge has developed an innovative solution but the company is also representing a diversity that is lacking in the Climate Tech environment.

The founder and CEO Joshua Aviv, is a black certified data scientist with years of entrepreneurial experience and a deep connection to the underserved communities. The Director of Engineering Hilary Taylor is a Latina with an electrical engineering background. The Buffalo-based manufacturing team is led by veterans and made up of graduates of the local technology training centers the company supports. The delivery technicians are recruited from underserved communities and receive customer service and technical training on EV charger maintenance and repair. Their knowledge of the customers due to the proximity they have with those communities is a highly valuable asset for the company.

The market

The EV market is growing quickly, with a CAGR of 33% over the past five years and the market is accelerating. The Global Electric Vehicle Market report from the International Energy Agency expects between 2.9 and 8.1 million EVs to be sold yearly by 2030, with 2.3 to 3.7 million public fast chargers available. The market for EVs is also incentivized and driven by government policies. For example, the US Department of Transportation and Energy announced in February 2022 a $5B plan to build out a national electric vehicle charging network. Also, the [email protected] campaign setting a goal of 30% of EV sales by 2030 is being backed by the governments of Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the UK. In the US, President Biden is even more ambitious with a goal of 50% EV sales by 2030.

Outlook

EV charging stations offer an attractive and high-impact market opportunity. SparkCharge’s business model makes it attractive for investors, as the solution is more scalable than V2G charging stations. We should expect the operating cost to be higher at the same time as the company will need to have transportation expenses and to hire more employees than V2G charging stations. Yet, we can expect the company to charge a premium to the customer on the price of the power sold for the convenience of the service; you can charge your EV everywhere in the city and cover these extra costs. There are two points of attention for the company, the first is for the consumer, how much time does it take when a customer orders the service and how the company plans to manage peaks of demand when there is a football game, for instance. And the second one is for the environment. Is the company charging its batteries with renewable sources or with electricity produced from non-renewable sources?

Nevertheless, the service is currently available in three markets, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The company has completed over 2,000 EV charging deliveries and provided nearly 1,000,000 miles of range for their customers. The company is looking for funds to scale as the subscriptions exceed their capacity in the markets where SparkCharge operates and wants to enter new markets in the US and abroad quickly.

📚 EDUCATION // 💸 VC DEEP DIVE

NOVA • The Strategic Corporate VC of Saint-Gobain

By Daniel Kriozere • is a Principal at C3, Tech Scout at For ClimateTech, and Venture Scout at Prithvi - and has an extensive network within the broader climate investment and startup community.

Nova Saint Gobian VC Deep Dive
(Image: Nova By Saint-Gobian)

The building and construction industry is hungry for more innovation, but many parts of the industry are still operating the same way it did 100 years ago. NOVA, the venture arm of Saint-Gobain, seeks forward-thinking startups whose philosophies align with Saint-Gobain’s focus on well-being and sustainability toward supporting their purpose of Making the World a Better Home, and the vision of light and sustainable construction. Saint-Gobain is committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 by contributing to the global effort to fight climate change, protecting natural resources and providing comfortable and decent housing to all. NOVA is investing across many different verticals, including automation, robotics, pre-fab, in addition to new materials to improve energy efficiency, air quality, and more.

Fund Snapshot

  • Stage:  Seed to Series B
  • Check Size: $ 100k – $ 3.0M
  • Geography: global
  • Lead/Follow: flexible
  • Revenue/Valuation Thresholds: flexible

About The Fund

Why was the fund created?

Saint-Gobain launched NOVA in 2006 to serve as a bridge, working collaboratively with startups to provide them with access to Saint-Gobain’s internal resources and support to form long-term partnerships. They have venture managers based in Europe, the Americas, and Asia with the primary mission of expanding their understanding of new and potentially disruptive developments in our areas of strategic interest.

What type of portfolio support does NOVA provide?

NOVA has helped create triple-digit numbers of partnerships for transformative innovation with startups in various stages and forms, including co-development, licensing, commercial agreements, direct investments and joint ventures, and we currently maintain an active portfolio of about 30 companies. NOVA is also a limited partner in a number of global funds. As strategic investors, they are primarily focused on expanding their perspectives and learning from our startup partners versus investing strictly for generating a financial return.

Through engagement with business partners, they help portfolio companies validate the key assumptions in their business model to advance their development. They provide access to the competencies across the Saint-Gobain organization and actively help their portfolio companies scale their business and explore opportunities in other regions. NOVA also provides support from Saint-Gobain in terms of intellectual property expertise, development, scale-up and commercialization. As a large multinational company, Saint-Gobain can sometimes be complex to navigate so their venture team helps startups engage with the right partners within the global organization.

About Investments

What differentiates NOVA from other investors (why take NOVA's capital over another)?

NOVA is strategically driven and committed to establishing “win-win” partnerships with portfolio companies. NOVA will only consider investing in a startup when they believe they can make a meaningful contribution to helping the startup succeed. It’s important to know that NOVA is not primarily motivated by financial gain, but rather the endeavor to work collaboratively with portfolio companies and to learn right along with them.

In order to work with a strategic investor like NOVA, potential startups seeking investment from NOVA need to do their research! Explain why Saint-Gobain would be a good partner and how the startups’ technology and innovation would support their purpose of Making the World a Better Home.

What would make NOVA consider deviating from their typical criteria?

We would consider deviating from our typical criteria if the startup is a strong, strategic fit for our business and presents the opportunity for us to create a strong impact in our business now or in the future. The technology would also need to be innovative and allow us to differentiate from other players in the market. And, we would also want the team to be passionate about their concept.

How can startups receive investment from NOVA?

Startups can connect with NOVA in many ways.

First, startups can learn more about what the NOVA team looks for when making an investment by visiting its website at nova.saint-gobain.com.

NOVA also has strong partnerships with several incubators and accelerators who provide startups with the resources they need to scale their business and achieve their goals. As one of the early organizations that partnered with Greentown Labs to help early-stage startups begin their journey into entrepreneurship, NOVA’s team has worked with many Greentown Labs startups relevant to Saint-Gobain. In fact, five finalists were recently announced for the Healthy Buildings Challenge, their second accelerator program with Greentown Labs, in partnership with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Over the next six months, the Healthy Buildings Challenge will provide the five participating startups engagement opportunities with Saint-Gobain, opportunities to explore potential partnership outcomes, and unique visibility to the Saint-Gobain top leadership team.

Third, industry events, such as Builtworlds Venture Days, CEMEX Venture Days and many others offer direct contact with startups and a way to build relationships where the team can potentially find a fit for investment.

Lastly, NOVA works directly through venture managers, who are always on the lookout for startups where they can develop a “win-win” partnership with one of their global business teams. NOVA works collaboratively with the start-ups to advance business objectives and, ultimately, see them reach tremendous success in their endeavors.

🚀 STARTUP REPORTS

You Don’t Have To Drill Deep To Build Geothermal Plants • Innovia GEO

By Stephanie Zulman • is a Procurement Associate at LanzaTech and specializes in carbon capture. She investigates the evolving markets opportunities and innovative solutions stemming from the carbon capture sector.

Innovia GEO Impact Startup Report
(Image: Innovia GEO)

The electrification and decarbonization of residential and commercial heating and cooling systems is an enormous challenge. In North America, nearly 70% of all the energy we use in our buildings and homes is just for heating, cooling, and hot water.

An array of conventional products supply our needs: boilers, furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners. The main drivers shifting the focus of the technology landscape onto renewable energy are climate change, evolving policy, and energy costs.

Enter Innovia GEO:

Innovia GEO (CleanTech Open, 2022 applications due April 17th) is focused on developing innovative geothermal heating and cooling technologies to efficiently and cost-effectively decarbonize the heating and cooling of our buildings and homes.

Innovia’s technological breakthroughs in geothermal began with the assembly of an amazing team of cross-functional experts in the various fields their innovation would intersect– stretching all the way from world-leading geothermal researchers to folks with more than 30 years of experience in the nitty and gritty of the construction sector.

Geothermal is a technology that reaches across traditional engineering and skilled trades disciplines, so a diverse team like the one they’ve assembled was mission-critical to successfully improve the technology from head to tail.

Geothermal systems are an extremely effective tool to propel buildings farther along the path to reaching their sustainability goals. For every unit of electricity used to run a geothermal HVAC system, about four units of useable heating or cooling energy is moved into a building. So, geothermal systems give 4x the bang for your buck when it comes to optimizing an edifice’s energy efficiency.

As the 2021 Cleantech Open Northeast Regional Winner and Winner of the People’s Choice Award, startup co-founders Andrew Lee (President) and Jim Ilkay (Director) have driven Innovia Geo’s success to exciting heights. With their academic collaborator Dr. Seth Dworkin, Professor of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at Ryerson University, the three years spent designing their shallow-drilling geothermal system has paid off gaining a lot of traction.

How Innovia harnesses all the heat beneath our feet

Innovia GEO is innovating how geothermal systems are installed by developing solutions for softer and shallower grounds. Their first product at the MVP stage is GEOPiles, which integrates the geothermal system directly into the steel foundation piles of a building, piggybacking off the infrastructure already going into the ground to dramatically reduce the cost of installing a geothermal system.

Their other products under development repurpose techniques used in the foundation construction industry to install geothermal systems at speeds 2x–5x faster than conventional methods. Innovia’s goal is to reduce the cost of installing a clean and efficient geothermal system in half so that the payback can be less than 5 years.

Conventional geothermal drilling has been unviable for widespread adoption because of the high cost of drilling up to 850 feet deep underground into bedrock. In contrast, the ground temperature of soft soil is stable all year round, so you can get the same geothermal heating and cooling resource at 30 feet deep as 500 feet deep. Innovia’s technologies work by enabling access to the same geothermal heating and cooling resource at only 50 feet to 100 feet deep.

For an average new residential unit in the US, Innovia’s geothermal technologies can save six MWh per year in energy and reduce annual GHG emissions by 800 kg CO2e. For an average new commercial unit in the US, their geothermal technologies can save 92 MWh per year in energy and reduce annual GHG emissions by 12,400 kg CO2e.

Here’s a look at Innovia’s three products designed to optimize their geothermal solution for both residential and commercial buildings.

Innovia GEO Tech
(Image: Innovia GEO)

How Innovia GEO’s value differentiates them from the competition

Innovia’s geothermal drilling method and heat pump technology enable them to provide a better-faster-cheaper, 100% renewable, and emission-free product.

There is an enormous need for accessible, cost-effective HVAC systems. Geothermal systems are an extremely effective tool to propel buildings farther along the path to reaching their sustainability goals. For every unit of electricity used to run a geothermal HVAC system, about four units of useable heating or cooling energy is moved into a building. So, a geothermal system gives 4x the bang for your buck when it comes to optimizing a building’s energy efficiency.

The heating and cooling market is highly fragmented and populated with both isolated and integrated systems to treat commercial, industrial, and household air and water.

HVAC systems are designed to meet all heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needs. While their overall environmental harm has plummeted since the transition away from CFCs in the 1990s, underlying issues the energy source of all established technologies still aggravates the industry. Dependence on hydrocarbon-derived electricity is a familiar pain point with an omnipresent prickle felt across all industries.

Space and water heating are currently dominated by typical fossil fuel-fired boilers and furnaces, while space cooling is dominated by air-based cooling systems like air-conditioners. These systems are low in cost to install but are less efficient compared to heat pumps, which are the primary combustion-free alternative available.

Air-source heat pumps operate by moving heat to the outside air or ground to efficiently heat and cool a building. The key difference between air-source and geothermal is that geothermal heat pumps move heat using the stable temperature of the ground rather than the fluctuating outside air, making geothermal systems the most energy-efficient HVAC system available.

However, geothermal systems have a high upfront cost because they involve drilling and installing plastic pipes 250 to 850 feet deep underground, where a fluid is circulated to move heat resulting in typical paybacks of more than 10 years. In the past, where high nonrenewable energy costs and sustainability concerns were not strong factors in defining value, these considerations were a huge barrier to geothermal growth in the HVAC market.

The HVAC market

The US New Building HVAC market is worth approximately $26 billion per year. Market drivers include:

  1. The implementation of more rigorous regulations for emissions.
  2. Growing public and private sector investments toward geothermal renewable energy–including the oil and gas industry.
  3. General realignment of public opinion and motivation to reduce dependency on fossil fuels
  4. Ever-growing energy demands

 

Innovia’s initial target market is new low-rise and mid-rise buildings and homes, including new single-family home subdivisions.

In the building sector, there’s been a definite shift in the market over the last year where energy and emission targets are really starting to drive openness amongst the building development industry to look at alternative HVAC systems. Innovia’s thoughts on this are: “We think the future looks very promising for geothermal systems since they are another local source of renewable energy to compliment wind and solar that can help a building get toward net-zero.”

Currently, municipal and state-level energy and emissions targets are driving the change toward more energy-efficient buildings. Many of the jurisdictions adopting formal energy and emissions targets have set 2030 as a target for new buildings to be net-zero. With existing buildings, there’s less consistency for target dates to reduce all of their emissions, but most have set a target of 2050 at the latest.

The enactment of similar sustainability targets by large corporations enacting is also leading to an expansion in the market. Innovia’s hope is that future targets will only be more aggressive to help accelerate the decarbonization of heating and cooling in the building sector.

Outlook

In the near future, Innovia’s aim is to have all three of their products, GeoPiles, GeoWicks, and GeoColumns fully available to the North American market to help developers get their buildings to net-zero. In 10 years’ time, they want the default HVAC choice of any building to be geothermal.

Just half a decade ago, geothermal energy was presented as simply another type of renewable energy option that existed, but that presented little opportunity for further commercialization in the US. Innovia presents the HVAC market with a highly intelligent, efficient geothermal system with an undeniable wealth of opportunity for scale.

Innovia’s innovative geothermal solutions make the investment into crucial renewable energy infrastructure less intimidating than previous models. With dramatically reduced unit cost and clean technology, their heat pumps are a highly attractive option from a payback and emissions standpoint.

In Innovia’s eyes, success will only be achieved when every building, new and old, is net-zero.

🚀 STARTUP REPORTS

Decentralizing Wastewater Management • Epic Cleantec

By Swarnav S Pujari • is the Head of Growth at Gaiascope and Appointed Chairman of the Yorktown Climate Smart Communities Task Force - and has extensive growth, product and policy experience across the climate sector.

Epic Cleantec Impact Startup Report
(Image: Epic CleanTec)

70 percent of the world’s population is predicted to be living in urban areas by 2050. This means we need to rethink how our cities are designed as the status quo simply won’t keep up. The rate at which society is adding new building stock to the global supply is the equivalent of adding a new Manhattan every month for the next three decades.

Epic Cleantec is helping to rethink how to manage water resources by pioneering new reuse technologies and attempting to transform the conversation through work with business leaders, regulators, and policymakers. The combination of aging infrastructure, growing populations, and an increasingly unpredictable climate make sustainable urban water and wastewater management a defining global challenge of the 21st century.

In the US, we rely on water and wastewater infrastructure built 30 to 100 years ago, much of which needs maintenance or replacement. Since the late 1800s, the usual approach to designing these systems—centralized networks of subterranean pipes connecting to a single treatment plant–has remained unchanged. Water and sewer rates are rising 5–10% annually in metro areas across the country to support necessary repairs and upgrades.

Enter Epic Cleantec:

Epic Cleantec’s fully customizable systems process wastewater onsite, creating treated (non-potable) water, captured heat, and high-quality soil amendments that can be used at the building. They offer real estate developers and building owners simple, turnkey solutions that significantly reduce utility costs and increase resilience and sustainability.

The conventional approach to wastewater consists of a building connecting to the municipal sewer network and sending all used water from toilets, showers, sinks, laundry, etc. directly into the city’s municipal collection network.

Instead, they are placing an Epic system in the basement of the building and treating that water right onsite. By capturing and processing a building’s wastewater—either black or gray—the system produces three outputs:

  1. recycled water for non-potable applications, such as toilet flushing, cooling tower makeup, irrigation, and laundry
  2. recovered waste heat energy
  3. repurposed organic solids for use as a natural, carbon-rich soil amendment

 

The Epic approach can help a building reuse up to 95% of its water, saving building owners hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on their water and sewer bills while assisting the cities in reaching their lofty water reuse goals more quickly.

How it works

Epic’s technology platform is optimized for resource recovery. Their systems can capture and processes the entirety of a building’s wastewater—both black and gray.

In doing so, Epic’s approach produces three outputs:

  1. highly purified recycled water
  2. recovered wastewater heat energy
  3. natural carbon-rich soil amendments

 

As a first step in the treatment process, untreated water is fed through a microscreen to collect wastewater solids which are held in a specially designed bin for off-site solids handling. Once the water has passed through the microscreen, it is treated via advanced technologies to produce a highly purified water effluent.

They employ several proven wastewater treatment technologies in their approach, including membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology, which is a combination of biological and physical filtration. The MBR process produces highly purified water that is further treated via disinfection and purification steps like UV, chlorination, and even reverse osmosis as necessary. In addition to water reuse, their systems can extract wastewater heat and convert wastewater solids into high-quality soil amendments.

Furthermore, their systems can recover up to 25 kW per 1,000 gallons treated and utilize this energy for other processes in the building, such as preheating domestic hot water. Wastewater solids are used to produce soil that can be integrated into the local landscape program, providing plants a locally sourced, carbon-rich soil amendment. These features can reduce energy consumption and help offset the carbon footprint of a reuse system.

Their primary customers, real estate developers and owners, are seeing escalating pre-development costs and monthly water and sewer rates. The Epic system may reduce water consumption by up to 95%, saving owners hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly.

The market

Advanced wastewater treatment and reuse have been around for decades, but it has been focused almost exclusively on the centralized, municipal scale. The next decade of water and wastewater will be defined by aging infrastructure, rising operational costs, stringent regulatory requirements, insufficient capital sources, and the accelerated adoption of new technologies and approaches.

As large-scale water and wastewater capital projects remain underfunded, Epic sees an opportunity to supplement the broader industry with a more distributed model, beginning in our cities. Rather than a sole focus on the rehabilitation and expansion of expensive centralized networks, a more distributed model will help save utilities money on their necessary capital expenditures and ongoing operational costs.

In many respects, distributed water reuse is where rooftop solar was 10-15 years ago.

For example, they have one use case planned for a 55-story mixed-use building in San Francisco. By implementing Epic’s onsite water reuse system, the project will save an estimated 48% on annual water/sewer bills in addition to $300,000 in savings on one-time water and sewer connection fees. This equates to over $12M in savings over 10 years, with the potential to reuse over 24,500,000 gallons of water annually. That’s enough to fill 41 Olympic swimming pools.

Their primary customers, real estate developers and owners, are seeing escalating pre-development costs and monthly water and sewer rates. The Epic system may reduce water consumption by up to 95%, saving owners hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly.

The impact

The climate impact of having an Epic system installed at a commercial building includes:

  • Saving water, diversifying municipal water supply portfolios
  • Reducing water and sewer bills –  saving owners hundreds of thousands of dollars annually
  • Reducing project’s overall carbon footprint when heat recovery is leveraged
  • Diverting organics from landfills, lowering greenhouse gas emissions
  • Producing natural soil amendments, increasing carbon sequestration efforts
  • Alleviating the strain on aging utility infrastructure and operations, reducing combined sewer overflows and municipal costs
  • Setting standards for modern, sustainable development, strengthening resilience in a changing climate

The broader industry trends

The need for large-scale adoption of decentralized water recycling solutions is more significant than ever due to climate change and water scarcity issues, aging infrastructure, and urban population growth.

According to The Working Group II 2022 IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, even under a scenario where urban water gets the highest priority, more than 440.5 million people in cities globally are projected to face a water deficit by 2050. More cities and states are beginning to adopt regulatory requirements that mandate onsite water reuse to help address these issues – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin are just a few of the major U.S. cities now requiring or incentivizing onsite water reuse for new development projects.

As such, there are many exciting trends to be watching in the water sector.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, here are a few of the significant trends to be watching:

  1. the expansion of distributed water and wastewater infrastructure;
  2. accelerated adoption of water reuse as part of the shift towards a more circular economy;
  3. the digital transformation of the sector with the implementation of IoT and AI technologies;
  4. focus on the treatment of contaminants of emerging concern including PFAS.

Policy movements

In 2014, Los Angeles mandated that cooling towers in all new buildings over 25 stories must use at least 50 percent reused, nonpotable water, including treated blackwater. In 2015, San Francisco made onsite water reuse systems mandatory for all new construction of more than 250,000 square feet of gross floor area, and on January 1, 2022, that requirement was lowered to 100,000 square feet.

The California State Legislature has ordered the State Water Board to create water reuse standards to support cities in creating local water reuse programs, notably planning to update Title-22 standards with SB 966.

Outside of California, in 2020, Austin, Texas instituted a program stipulating that onsite water reuse systems which replace 1,000,000 gallons or more of potable water per year are eligible for program funding up to $250,000; systems that replace 3,000,000 gallons or more of potable water per year are eligible for program funding up to $500,000. As more cities and states grapple with the long-term challenges of how they will provide reliable water and sewer service to their homes and business, we see distributed water and wastewater infrastructure continuing to be a key strategy in urban sustainability and resilience.

Outlook

Epic Cleantec’s team has a collective experience that spans water and wastewater engineering, building design, project finance, public policy and operations. This multidisciplinary approach has allowed them to create a one-stop-shop approach, simplifying their clients’ entire water reuse process. Given the massive policy push and incentives coming from the government to improve wastewater management infrastructure, it is easy to see why onsite water reuse will be employed in cities throughout the world.

It is plausible that these systems by Epic will ultimately become as common as any other large mechanical or plumbing system.

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Editors: Stephanie Zulman, Swarnav S Pujari Writers: Daniel Kriozere, Hugo Tranzer

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