Greenworks raising the bar for water

London restaurant banishes the bottled stuff in style

Could this be the beginning of the end for bottled water? For years now, aspirational consumers with scant regard for sustainability have been lapping up the wet stuff from ever more exotic sources like it’s going out of fashion. Happily, there are signs that it is. Ken Livingstone has joined Thames Water in a clarion call to London bar- and restaurant-goers to proudly order the perfectly potable output of the tap. Greenworks has developed an on-site restaurant water filtration system. And new green eatery Waterhouse Restaurant in Shoreditch has made the output a centrepiece of its offer, serving you your water filtered, chilled and even carbonated – all within the same four walls that you drink it – with a voluntary £1 cover charge.

In our “nation obsessed by the ‘premiumisation’ of products”, Greenworks' Matthew Cooper believes “it’s now up to restaurants to go the last mile in ‘polishing’ tap water”. But don’t go thinking that the venue (owned by charitable regeneration agency Shoreditch Trust) is a one-trick pony. Hot water for the kitchen comes courtesy of the solar panels on the roof – where solar PV panels also provide green electricity, and a rooftop garden grows fruit and herbs for the kitchen. The whole place is warmed or cooled by a water source heat pump system, which absorbs or rejects heat to a nearby canal, while ceiling-fitted ‘sails’ enhance the cooling effect and so reduce the need for energy-hungry ventilation.

There’s more – perhaps more than you want to know. Japanese style wash-water toilets give you the option to ‘go paperless’. And head chef Arthur Potts Dawson, whose menus are based around seasonal and organic ingredients (locally sourced where possible), is just as excited about the potential of his Japanese ‘bokashi’ composting system. “It’s only at the experimental stage, but we are hoping to turn cooking oil into compost too,” he enthuses.

Matt Radcliffe

Green Futures, 25th March 2008