Toronto low-flow toilet startup saving money and changing lives one flush at a time
Building Up's new water-saving toilets cut the amount of water from six litres every flush to just three
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Marc Soberano wants people to stop flushing their money down the toilet.
The 25-year old Toronto entrepreneur is on an ambitious mission to retrofit Toronto’s restrooms and achieve social and environmental change at the same time.
His startup, Building Up, installs energy-efficient toilets, showers and sinks in low-income housing units across the city. His new toilet models are supplied by Water Metrics, and let users to cut their water consumption in half – from six litres of every flush to three.
“The price of water these days is so high that there’s a huge emphasis from building owners to cut and save,” said Soberano, a graduate of Western University’s School of Business.
“So we go in and change their toilets, and they flush less water and save money just like that.”
Soberano is so confident in his product that he allows clients to have new toilets installed for free and pay out of the savings they reap.
“The numbers are so good that I think every building is going to have these toilets very soon,” he said.
In just two years, Building Up has installed over 1,200 toilets across a dozen buildings in Toronto, saving over 80 million litres of water and about $300,000 in water bills.
Soberano’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. He recently received a $100,000 business grant from billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
In keeping with his socially conscious business model, Soberano is giving people with employment barriers – whether poverty or a history of criminal activity – a chance to start fresh. They’re given training in math, financial literacy and social skills, and they work installing toilets while the company sets them up with an apprenticeship.
“Most of these people would otherwise get caught up in a situation where they’re in and out of jail,” Soberano said. “But here they get the skills and the job and the money, eventually.”