-New Report Identifies Options for Achieving Advanced Water Conservation in Buildings
A new report prepared by Cascadia Green Building Council and City of Seattle identifies pathways for Net Zero Water projects and Living Buildings in the Puget Sound Region. Advanced green building projects are making the case for self-sufficient, closed loop water systems at the building and neighborhood scale. These net-zero water systems contribute to both the health of waterways and the resiliency of water supplies.
The first certified Living Building Challenge projects have demonstrated that net-zero water can be part of an integrated design that supports ecological restoration. Each of these projects has had to navigate through regulatory barriers at city, county and state levels in order to seek approvals.
“As more Seattle-area projects pursue the Living Building Challenge, there is a growing need to clarify codes and regulations around on-site water management systems,” says Cascadia CEO Jason F. McLennan. “This collection of research and recommendations creates a pathway for removing these regulatory barriers, while respecting and preserving the public health safeguards we rely on. We’ve been thrilled to partner with the City of Seattle on this project, and we hope that other cities embark on similar journeys.”
Regulatory Pathways to Net-Zero Water: Guidance for Innovative Water Projects in Seattle outlines the existing codes relating to onsite water supply, reuse and wastewater treatment systems for Seattle-area projects. The report identifies the barriers that net-zero water projects may encounter from a regulatory standpoint and offers opportunities for building owners and public agencies to seek mutually beneficial solutions. While the report has a specific focus on the Seattle municipal area, it is intended to be a model for other jurisdictions statewide.
The report captures the collaborative process that Cascadia Green Building Council and the City of Seattle developed to help chart the water system codes and to identify regulatory pathways for Seattle-area projects pursuing net-zero water strategies. Key to this process was a series of workshops that incorporated regulatory agencies, water and wastewater utilities, design teams and NGOs. This process allowed all parties to engage in core issues and to think holistically about how to build net-zero water projects in the Seattle area. The work sessions fostered working relationships and sparked conversations have continued between participants about the future of water systems.
The workshops grew out of the City’s commitment to learn from pioneering Living Building Challenge projects. Originally, the Seattle City Council’s 2009 “Living Building Pilot Program Ordinance” gave authority to DPD to give flexibility to developers complying with at least 60% of the Living Building Challenge’s criteria in terms of how they meet Land Use Code requirements. However, the first Living Building Pilot projects discovered that the Challenge’s net-zero water requirements raised the most significant regulatory challenges. This was the case with the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction and the Bertschi School’s Living Science Wing, the first projects to seek permits from the city to capture their own drinking water and to treat their own wastewater onsite.
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has implemented a comprehensive conservation program over the past 30 years which has led to an overall reduction in Seattle’s water use while population has increased. “We see the need to continue to be proactive around water use technologies, and development of net zero water projects helps push market transformation around sustainable building practices” says Ray Hoffman, SPU. “Living Building pilot projects further our understanding of the technical, regulatory and operational issues associated with these approaches so we can understand how they may further inform conservation goals going forward.”
“The City of Seattle and DPD have long been advocates for innovative, sustainable building projects,” notes Diane Sugimura, Director of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development. “We continue to review our regulations and processes to see how we can eliminate barriers and create incentives! Examples are our Priority Green permitting and the Living Building Pilot Program. We are pleased to support collaborative efforts such as Regulatory Pathways to Net Zero Water, which will help to make green building mainstream in our community.”
Cascadia Green Building Council, the City of Seattle, King County and several other organizations will continue this collaboration when they host a Water Workshop on June 6, 2011 to continue the discussion around developing resilient water systems. Delegates from regulatory agencies, utilities, water advocacy organizations, and the design and construction industry have been invited to participate in the workshop: “Come Rain/ Shine – Advancing the Resiliency of our Communities’ Water Systems for Times of Abundance and Scarcity.”
Cascadia: Katie Spataro, Cascadia Green Building Council, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-223-2028
City of Seattle: Joel Banslaben, Seattle Public Utilities, email@example.com, 206-684-3936
The Cascadia Green Building Council is a 501(c) (3) non-profit in the US and is incorporated as a nonprofit in British Columbia. Cascadia’s mission is to lead a transformation toward a built environment that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. Cascadia is one of three original chapters of the US Green Building Council and, as a chapter of the Canada Green Building Council as well, is the only international chapter in North America. It is the originator of the Living Building Challenge, authored by Jason F. McLennan, and it is the creator of the International Living Building Institute. www.cascadiagbc.org
About Seattle Public Utilities
In addition to providing a reliable water supply to more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the city’s infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region’s environmental resources. Learn more about SPU at: www.seattle.gov/util.
About City Green Building
City Green Building is making green building standard practice in Seattle through sustainable design and planning, education, outreach, code and policy development. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/dpd/greenbuilding