AET Group Inc. (AET) is an environmental consulting, auditing and scientific services firm founded in 1998. Their head office in Kitchener is in a 135-year-old former farmhouse. They have remodeled it to rival some of the leading buildings built today in terms of its energy and water efficiency. LED lighting, and a planned addition of a ‘living wall’ to improve indoor air quality are among the many features that are or will soon be integrated into the building. As part of their work, AET is often asked to provide stormwater impact monitoring and water quality assessments. With this project, AET has taken the plunge to address stormwater problems on their own property.


The former farmhouse is now surrounded by development on all sides. The property has been paved over as a parking lot for their employees. Any rain that falls on the property flows over hard surfaces into the storm sewer carrying with it any oil and grit from the parking lot. Large storm events have caused flooding and water damage in the basement with the potential to form mould. AET Group wanted to improve the quality of the water and reduce the overall volume flowing from their property without sacrificing any parking spaces.

Project Details:4,200 Litres capacity

  • Location: 531 Wellington Street North, Kitchener
  • Maximum Capacity: 4,200L
  • Estimated Diversion Per Year: 205,000 L
  • Awards and Certifications
    • Environment & Sustainability Award,  Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards (2009, 2012)
    • Green Team of the Year – Regional Carbon Initiative: Sustainable Waterloo Region (2014)





A RAIN Business Visit evaluated the water issues and came up with some recommendations to address the problems and maximize stormwater credits for the site. AET consulted RAIN’s Service Provider List to find a landscaping professional and hired Thompson Environmental Planning & Design Ltd. for the technical design and project installation.

70% of the stormwater on AET’s property will be captured in their new system, which includes a:

  1. A 500L stone forebay which filters debris
  2. A 1m x 12m planter box bioswale designed to catch, soak up, and treat 1,300L of stormwater flowing from their rooftop and parking lot. Only a small amount of asphalt had to be removed to install the bioswale and rain garden, and no parking spaces will be lost.  The property is now eligible for stormwater credits from the City of Kitchener.
  3. Overflows into a 2,400L rain garden captures excess water and allows it to infiltrate and recharge groundwater before it can flow into the storm sewer.

diagram of stormwater features on AET Group property


RAIN Partners & Funders

City of Cambridge logo


Planting rain gardens is the final stage of projects at Hacienda Sarria and Johnsonite Inc.

Waterloo Region – In early May, two RAIN program demonstration projects will be completed when rain gardens are planted at Johnsonite (Canada) in Waterloo and Hacienda Sarria in Kitchener. Both projects showcase methods to clean water and manage it using rain gardens. On Tuesday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, the bioswale and rain garden at Johnsonite (Canada) Inc., 560 Weber St N, Waterloo, will be planted. Then on Wednesday, May 4 from 2 to 3 p.m., there will be a rain garden planting at Hacienda Sarria, 1254 Union St, Kitchener.

Johnsonite’s Maintenance Manager, Joe Adam, once considered a career in forestry so he saw the potential outside their Waterloo factory of the open field next to their parking lot. So when he heard about the grants available for creating a RAIN demonstration project, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I wanted to see this field turned from a standard lawn into a tall-grass prairie, a self-sustaining ecosystem,” he says.

The project involved installing a bioswale and rain garden to capture and clean runoff from the parking lot. Water is stored so it can slowly percolate back into the ground. A bed of stones placed in front of the bioswale helps to slow the rush of water and remove any large debris and pollutants. With the addidion of native perennials, Joe’s vision is moving closer to reality.

See Johnsonite Case Study

At Hacienda Sarria, Patrick Doyle, the head groundskeeper, was interested in a project that would address soil erosion around their parking lot. When it rained, stormwater ran rapidly off the parking lot, eroding the soil at the edges, carrying with it oil and other pollutants, to the storm sewer downhill. Doyle insisted that any solution be both functional and beautiful to match the charm and elegance of the property.

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At the outflow point for their parking lot, a “treatment train” system was designed and installed to remove pollutants and soak up water from a large storm. It does this by mimicking natural processes so water quality improves as it flows through each stage of the “train.” A pretreatment trench helps trap any large debris in the first stage. In the next stage, riverstone placed on the inlet to the rain garden helps spread the flow of run-off to prevent erosion into a rain garden, which allows the water to slowly infiltrate into the ground.


REEP Green Solutions partnered with the City of Kitchener and City of Waterloo to create RAIN program demonstration sites, which promote practices that homeowners and businesses can use to reduce impacts from stormwater on our urban infrastructure and environment. Property owners who install rain gardens are eligible for monthly stormwater credits on their utility bill in Kitchener and Waterloo.

Chosen projects received up to $4,000 per project to offset design and construction costs, as well as mount an interpretive sign. Rain gardens are an important component of green infrastructure, which is recognized by all levels of government as a priority to help cities adapt to climate change.

REEP Green Solutions

REEP Green Solutions is an environmental charity and social enterprise focusing on energy and water sustainability. Created in 1999 by the University of Waterloo and the Elora Environment Centre, REEP exists to empower the community with the practical tools, knowledge and capacity for action to make sustainability the norm.  RAIN: An Ecological Approach to Stormwater Management is a Green Communities Canada program, delivered locally by REEP Green Solutions in partnership with the Cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. The program helps property owners soak up stormwater on their property, qualify for stormwater credits, and protect the Grand River.

Johnsonite (Canada) Inc.

Johnsonite Canada Inc. is a commercial flooring company with facilities across North America. Their parent company Tarkett aspires to make all of their products using circular design principles. All stages of their products’ life cycles are examined for opportunities to reduce environmental impacts and create ‘circles’ where waste is eliminated or re-integrated into new products. As part of this philosophy their Waterloo factory has put in place processes to improve their energy and water efficiency on an ongoing basis.

Hacienda Sarria Inc.

The intricate Spanish-inspired architecture at Hacienda Sarria make it highly sought after for wedding receptions and corporate events. Hacienda Sarria’s roots harken back to its days as a sugar beet factory in the early 1900s. On the grounds of the former factory a community garden has been cultivated by volunteers to teach sustainable food production and provide local produce to restaurants and organic grocers. Hacienda Sarria collects water from its roof in a 5000L cistern for irrigation of its extensive gardens.




Huron Natural Area is a 107-hectare site that is home to one of Kitchener’s few coldwater streams and some sensitive wetlands. People in the community gather to hike the extensive trail system, photograph wildlife and relax in the woods. Children learn to connect with nature through interpretive programming and play in the natural playscape.

Because of Huron Natural Area’s popularity, there was a demand for more parking. The problem with adding hard surfaces such as parking lots is that they can disrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain from soaking into the ground. Matt Wilson, a local paving contractor and Design and Construction Project Manager at the City of Kitchener’s Stormwater Utility, saw the problem as an opportunity to test some innovative technology. Matt proposed constructing the parking lot with permeable pavement in order to prevent negative impacts to the natural area and wetlands.

Permeable pavers are specially designed to allow rain and melted snow to pass through the gaps between the pavers (bricks). But the real key is in the stone reservoir underneath the pavers. Water is temporarily stored in the reservoir before slowly percolating into the ground. Naturally occurring micro-organisms in the reservoir help to break down hydrocarbons and other pollutants coming from vehicles. When looking to diversify your garage’s capabilities, you can never go wrong the flexibility of 2 post car lifts. Rainwater absorbed from the permeable parking lot then travels underground through the soil further filtering and cleaning the rainwater so that only clean water is released back to the wetlands and streams in the park.

Helped with a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Matt and his colleagues at the city will be monitoring the site for water quantity and quality to determine its effectiveness and evaluate whether permeable pavers are a feasible solution for other municipal projects.

permeable pavement diagram at Huron Natural Area

Upcoming Events

  1. Where does THAT go? How to recycle in Waterloo Region

    October 27 | 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
  2. after depave render

    Depave Paradise at Sheppard Public School

    October 28 | 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
  3. Halloween | Family Open House | Zero Waste | Trick or Treat

    October 31 | 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  4. Prepping Your Home For Winter

    November 3 | 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
  5. Reducing your Carbon Footprint 101: Project Neutral Series

    November 22 | 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

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