Green Builders Make Clean Water a Priority
By David H. Martin
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) celebrated its 25th anniversary at the annual Greenbuild Show held at Chicago’s McCormick Place last November. (USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] is the most widely used and recognized green building program, helping buildings and homes everywhere use less water and energy, providing a healthier environment for occupants and saving money.) In Chicago, USGBC launched LEED x4 in an effort to continue making improvements to its ever-expanding certified building rating system that today boasts more than seven billion square feet of LEED-certified space on our planet. Its community of 200,000 LEED professionals (builders and architects) has transformed the green building market into a trillion-dollar global industry.
WC&P attended the one-day WaterBuild Summit that preceded the opening of the Greenbuild convention and trade show. Green builders recognize that access to safe drinking water in adequate quantities is a fundamental human right. While water quantity, availability and efficiency are usually top-of-mind for influencers in the green building and sustainability realms, quality is an equally important consideration in the continued maintenance of today’s water infrastructure and critical to building the communities and cities of tomorrow. Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, demonstrated her expertise on innovative solutions to municipal water reuse and stewardship. She also offered insight on how new public health research findings will improve access and water quality for all through better regulations and coordination with the development community. In a session on water supply, infrastructure and conservation, Kohler Corporation discussed how new technology and innovation in plumbing products address water conservation and quality without sacrificing performance and how alternative plumbing systems might be the future.
Greenbuild exhibitors offer solutions
Watts showed its RainCycle rainwater harvesting system that was launched a year ago at Greenbuild in Boston, according to Chad Fournier. “It’s a modular system that takes you through collection, pumping, storage and treatment for non-potable applications including toilets, laundry, irrigation and cooling towers. With a compact footprint and easy servicing, RainCycle is ideal for green roof applications,” said Fournier. Watts makes its own valves and UV to integrate with RainCycle systems. Other components are sourced in China and are susceptible to the 10-percent US import tariff.
Water Harvesting Solutions showed its Wahasco packaged rainwater harvesting system that treats up to 20 gpm (75/L/m). Stuart Bailin said the company sells nationally and in Canada from its plant in Crystal Lake, IL. “The China tariff is affecting us on some steel housings made from Chinese steel. Fortunately, the water recycling market is growing as the cost of water increases and the availability decreases,” said Bailin. “States including California and Arizona are now legislating requirements for water recycling systems.”
In an interview with David Crawford, President of Rainwater Management Solutions (RMS), he told how their rainwater harvesting business was growing in Great Lakes cities such as Minneapolis, where RMS recently installed a major recycling plant in that city’s major-league baseball stadium in response to stormwater pollution. Crawford said the company’s product pricing is reflecting the US tariffs on Chinese components, including steel and pumps. “Also, our fiberglass cost has risen.”
Aquacell and Phoenix Process Equipment Co. have partnered to execute water recycling projects worldwide. Aquacell pioneered cost-effective, pre-engineered water recycling technology in Australia in 2001. Phoenix, based in Louisville, KY, is a global leader in water recycling, making products used by some of the world’s largest companies and municipalities in the management of residuals and effluent from their production and wastewater facilities. Technologies include combinations of bioreactor and membrane treatment, UV and filtration. San Francisco, CA’s new 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower will feature the largest high-rise recycling project that combines wastewater from sources such as rainwater collection, cooling towers, showers, toilets and urinals, treated in a centralized treatment center and recirculated through a separate pipe system to serve non-potable uses.
Southerlin, Oregon-based Orenco Systems Inc. is an onsite wastewater equipment manufacturer. Its AdvanTex treatment systems use a muti-pass bioreactor, packed-bed technology, said to be ideal for handling highly variable flows. “When you don’t have a sewer, we can come up with a solution to treat your wastewater,” said company spokesman Jeff Pringle.“Advantex systems can treat both blackwater and greywater.”
Biomicrobics, Lenexa, Kansas, markets its integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS) bioreactor process to provide chemical-free wastewater treatment for new construction and retrofit installations. Biomicrobics serves the growing decentralized wastewater treatment market. Superior Manufacturing Corp., Ft. Wayne, IN, showed its magnetic water treatment products used in both residential and commercial/industrial settings. Owner Chuck Sanderson said residential sales are rising.
Natural Choice Corp. of Loves Park, IL, showed its handsome, appliance-style, ION countertop pure water dispensing system that delivers an eight-ounce glass of chilled water every three seconds. Instant hot is just as fast. And the unit makes sparkling water, too. The electric-powered unit features a quick-change FiberTek filter that’s good for the equivalent of 12,000 16-ounce bottles of pure water.
And residential water savers…
Niagara Conservation Inc. showed a line of water-efficient shower heads. Neoperl Inc. featured its water flow restrictors and Evolve Technologies showed its line of ShowerStart thermostatic shut-off valves that save water and energy while waiting for the shower to become warm.
Planning ahead protects the trust that people have in their community to protect their lives from future and often repetitive natural events. Today, green builders and developers are preparing for the realities of chronic water shortages and other natural disasters caused by climate change.
About the author
David H. Martin is President of Lenzi Martin Marketing, Oak Park, IL, a firm specializing in water improvement and environmental marketing that integrates old and new media. He can be reached at (708) 848-8404 or by email at email@example.com