On-Site Water Treatment & Management Systems
As a project targeting Living Building Challenge (LBC) and LEED certifications, designing how the Brock Environmental Center utilizes and interacts with its surroundings are of the utmost importance. This is especially true for the use and treatment of one of our most important natural resources–water.
The LBC Water Petal requires that one hundred percent of a project’s water must be supplied by captured precipitation or other natural closed loop water systems. Therefore, it is imperative that a project has the ability to reuse and filter water in order to continue the cycle.
The Brock Environmental Center uses a mixture of low-tech, state-of-the-art technologies and practices to manage its use of water. Below are descriptions of how water is utilized and treated in various ways around the site.
The building will be utilizing composting toilets, self-contained units that transform human waste into usable compost. The only byproduct of the process is a leachate material that is held in an underground tank until it is drained and shipped to a struvite reactor that transforms the liquid into fertilizer used in agriculture.
Water generated by sinks and showers, also known as greywater, will be diverted to an underground storage tank where it will be pumped to an elevated infiltration garden. This garden, resembling an elevated flower and grass bed, is filled with multiple layers of stone and soils. As the water filters through, it’s cleaned to the point where it can re-enter the groundwater safely.
Stormwater Collected from the Building
Water that is collected from the building and not treated to be drinking water will be diverted to rain gardens. These areas are sunken gardens that are planted with natural vegetation that allow the water to re-charge the groundwater without runoff into unprotected areas.
Stormwater Collected on the Site
Hard surfaces on the site (i.e. roads) are constructed of permeable materials such as gravel or pervious pavers, which allow the water to infiltrate the ground without the use of traditional stormwater structures. Any runoff from these areas will be captured by vegetative swales, wide shallow ditches planted with perennial grasses, that hold the water until it can naturally filter back into the ground.
These systems all will help contribute to the Brock Environmental Center’s proposed qualification as a Living Building and LEED Platinum facility.