Calstone: The Rainwater Harvesting Pond Project

This describes a vision of an oasis between two industrial buildings that grew out of needing to showcase water and provide an outdoor space for employees and neighbours to enjoy. It was a mission and the end result is a peaceful strip of nature that takes rain run- off and diverts it from sewers and beautifies Scarborough.

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Calstone has many sustainability initiatives but the one that I would like to highlight for the Clean50 project nomination is our Rainwater Harvesting Pond project. This project has shown how Jim and the Calstone employees care about the environment. It is an example of how Jim Ecclestone, Owner and President of Calstone, wants to create a green company and a healthy ecosystem to hand down to his children who all work with him in the business.

Calstone is located in an industrial area of Scarborough. In between our building and our neighbor’s was an expanse of lawn that has never been used for anything. Calstone has taken that strip of unproductive lawn and turned it into an oasis with a series of ponds, parks and gardens. Calstone is harvesting 100% of their excess roof rainwater into a series of ponds. We have installed an innovative stormwater management infrastructure, including three stormwater infiltration ponds, infiltration trenches and a rainwater harvesting tank. Our objective is to capture all the roof rainwater, divert it slowly and minimally into the water table. Annually, this will divert approximately 1.8 million litres of rainwater from being directly discharged to the municipal storm sewer.

Also of note is that Calstone’s Rainwater Harvesting Pond project is lessening the burden on the nearby Highland Creek Watershed-a heightened area of concern as urbanization has affected the area’s water quality and has caused erosion from high storm flows resulting in the decline of natural greenspace.

Our Rainwater Harvesting Project is an oasis in an industrial area of Scarborough. The system includes two rainwater harvesting tanks, of which one overflows into three infiltration ponds. Two of the ponds provide temporary water storage and infiltration functions while the third functions as an attractive permanent water feature. We are now completing the beautification process around the infrastructure with the planting of an array of bushes, flowers and 40 trees, representing one for each employee who will use the green space as a place to relax during breaks and lunch. The trees are all indigenous to our area. We are planting raspberry bushes so the staff can pick them. There are benches to enjoy the space, tables to eat lunches and walking paths so that our staff and the neighbours’ can get out of their facilities to breathe fresh air and explore the ponds. Employees and visitors are able to walk along the edge of these ponds on a permeable walkway, which leads to an infiltration trench at the back end of the building.

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A gazebo faces the three active ponds, and a waterfall. The gazebo also serves as an information centre, with pictures of the project’s evolution and all partners who participated.

Our Rainwater Harvesting Pond project and the stormwater management systems will set Calstone apart from other medium-sized manufacturers in the area for having a distinct, enhanced green space for employees and showing dedication to exemplary water stewardship within the Highland Creek watershed. Since stormwater infrastructure servicing this area is aging, this showcase of Low Impact Development best management practices demonstrates to the community ways that the cost of retrofitting municipal infrastructure could be avoided. The understanding gained from analyzing the treatment and cost effectiveness of such systems can be used to inform decisions about future private-property retrofits across southern Ontario.

Calstone hosts tours so that other businesses can see that just using low hanging fruit can go a long way in reducing your footprint. Although Jim spent more money than he had originally intended on the Rainwater Harvesting Project he concluded that Calstone was going to set an example and that the project had to be functional and spectacular. Jim and everyone at Calstone knows that we are first and foremost a manufacturer of steel products but we are also trying to make a difference with our own footprint, trying to protect our environment and illustrate to other manufacturers that this can done.