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community
1/05/21
community
1/05/21
Green Up

By Sophie Sadler

Until March last year, Pedro Glória was making a bang with his drum kit.
Now he looks set to make a lot of noise with an exciting new invention
that could revolutionise water usage in our home.




Green Up

By Sophie Sadler

Until March last year, Pedro Glória was making a bang with his drum kit. Now he looks set to make a lot of noise with an exciting new invention that could revolutionise water usage in our home.


Pedro has just won the Green Up award, launched by Turismo de Portugal to encourage sustainable tourism. While I am excited to learn more about his invention, it is the man himself – and his vision for the future – who really impresses me.

Pedro left school at 18 and became a professional musician, playing the drums in bands. To make ends meet, he worked for some years as a kitchen fitter, then an accountant, before becoming a music manager for other acts, including cover bands. As a musician, he was used to quiet periods in the winter with few gigs or bookings; instead of being idle, Pedro decided to educate himself in topics he was interested in.

“I like to learn different things,” he tells me. “The downtime in winter allowed me to think and investigate. Since I was a young kid, I loved documentaries, especially about the history of humanity.”

Pedro delved into subjects such as quantum physics, astrophysics and ecology. Initially, he searched online through videos and documentaries, then later enrolled for online courses. All the time he was learning more about ecology and hydrology, from universities as far afield as Australia and Brazil. The turning point when he put theory into practice came when he was invited by a friend to Tamera, a ´peace research and education centre´ near Odemira, which ignited his interest in permaculture.

During his studies, Pedro had come across Jacque Fresco, an American futurist and self-professed social engineer. Fresco wrote and lectured about sustainable cities, energy efficiency, natural resource management, cybernetic technology, automation, and the role of science in society.

“Fresco’s teachings taught me how to work with nature, not against it, in a homogenous way, using natural resources to move forward. I started to join the dots of all the different ‘ologies’ I had studied and to think and observe in order to make progress in society.”

Around this time, Pedro was observing the effects of water shortages in the Algarve and was concerned by the 2019 drought. He enrolled on two workshops on sustainable construction, being particularly inspired by the work of Michael Reynolds and his ‘earth ship’ analogy. The American architect is a proponent of ‘radically sustainable living’ and has long been a critic of the profession of architecture for its adherence to conventional theory and practice. Reynolds advocates 100% sustainable construction, which collects and reuses water.

After completing a workshop in ecosystem regeneration in Vale de Lama, the seeds were sown for what Pedro describes as "a project looking to make a technological upgrade to water consumption". He started on his first sketches.

When the pandemic hit the world and Pedro´s work as a musician came to an abrupt halt, he focused 100% on his project. His ingenious idea addresses the problem that clean water is used to flush toilets. “Around 30% of an average household’s water consumption is used for flushing the loo,” Pedro explains. “It breaks my heart that around one third of the world’s population does not have access to clean water and sanitation yet, here in the west, we literally flush drinkable water down the toilet. In Portugal alone, 200 million litres of water per day go straight down to the sewer.”




Pedro has designed a device that will use wastewater from the shower to flush a regular toilet. “It is a complex mechanism which requires many parts and works with hydraulics and electronics.” After developing the first sketches, he was unsure what to do next. Initially, he talked to the University of Faro but then discovered StartUp Portimão, a business incubator located at the Algarve Autódromo. “I liked the dynamics of the organisation, which offers workshops and technical support, so I applied.” He was accepted and StartUp Portimão provided mentoring to help Pedro’s idea evolve and become a reality. A first prototype has been built by a young company in Loulé, with the next stage of development taking place with a Lisbon-based partnership. Pedro has patented the idea and, as far as his research reveals, there is no other device like it on the market.

Then came Green Up, a national programme which aims to boost new and innovative tourist-based projects and encourage the national entrepreneurial ecosystem. The project is promoted by Territórios Criativos and Turismo de Portugal and sits within the FIT Program – Fostering Innovation in Tourism.

This second phase started in September 2020, with a nationwide roadshow and over 20 masterclasses in sustainable tourism. Over 120 applications were received, of which just 35 were selected.

Maria Nobre de Cavalho is the coordinator for the program and mentors startups through challenges and opportunities, enabling each person in the community to maximise their impact.

“All of these were tourism-based programs with sustainability at their core – businesses that are looking to challenge the ecosystem, implement a circular economy, and work towards reaching the SDG’s defined by the UN in the 2030 Agenda.”

The program included a bootcamp in December, with two days of intensive training in several areas (marketing, strategy, finances, business plans, etc), mentorship sessions with over 50 experts from across the country and two networking events (online). The finale, in January, was attended by Rita Marques, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism, several venture capitalists and a jury of renowned specialists. Of the 35 projects, seven were selected to present in the final and Pedro was awarded first place.

Maria tells me, “Pedro’s product is not only innovative, but also has a very emotional connection to the user. The idea of reusing shower water to flush the toilet seems so obvious and such a simple solution that given the chance, why wouldn’t anybody do it? In fact, every time he gives his 30-second pitch, people line up to ask him for his contact information.

“The truth is the process is not that simple – and there is much work to do with the prototype still – but offering a solution that anyone can install, requiring no renovation work and which saves up to 40% of water is a winning product regardless. I believe Pedro won this prize because he offers a simple water-saving solution which doesn’t require deep renovation and doesn’t affect the user experience. It could be the key for many hotels and businesses that are being forced, due to new legislation, to be more energy efficient and sustainable.”

“We need to use technology in our favour to move forward as humanity,” Pedro adds. To move the project forward and help Algarve tourism move towards a sustainable future, Pedro is looking for an initial investment of around €30,000. ”Maybe someone reading this will feel as passionate about this as I do.”

He has already approached several businesses that are interested in the new technology, including Turismo de Portugal, but he is looking for more people to get engaged with his vision.

So what is Pedro´s dream? Does he imagine his invention becoming so successful he can retire on a superyacht or buy an island in the Caribbean? Not one bit of it. “My only personal ambition is to buy a property for myself as I have always rented and to support my 16-year-old daughter. If I earn 1000€ a month, I will consider myself a rich man. The dream is to give what I earn back to projects in the developing world that take people off the street, educate them and give them clean water. I give what I can to Unicef and am interested in their projects, but we need more social investment. The world has enough resources for everyone, but what we have is not used efficiently or distributed evenly. We need more entrepreneurs who give something back to society.”

Musician, inventor and philanthropist … I am certain this is not the last time you will hear the name Pedro Glória.

swrs.systems@gmail.com
www.linkedin.com/in/pedroglória
www.linkedin.com/company/swrs




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This article is in
the May 2021 edition


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This article is in
the May 2021 edition


Click here to read






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