SDGBC 2014 Conference: Watershed Management/Green Infrastructure

Panelists: Ravi Bajaj (Mediator, SDGBC), Bob Salvatelli (Sustainable Water), Erin English (Biohabitats), Bill Worthern (Urban Fabrick, Inc.)

The Future of Designing (With) Water

Bill Worthern, FAIA, LEED BD+C, is a founding principal of Urban Fabrick, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in helping clients understand the relationship between policy and the built environment.

5% of our state's energy goes to moving water over the Grapevine to reach Southern California. As sprawl continues, we have to look at other options for managing water, one of our most important resources.

CalGREEN and WaterSense measures certainly help with improving the efficiency of our water uses. Simply specifying low-flow fixtures isn't enough, because if the fixture doesn't work, people aren't going to use it.

The key to saving water is to focus on creative solutions, and it begins with looking at the so-called "leftovers" - graywater and blackwater. The biggest obstacle to these technologies is dealing with the YUCK-factor.

Some examples of advanced water management systems:

  • Reciprocating Wetland
  • Tidal Flow Wetland
  • Membrane Bio-Reactor for Gray or Black Water
  • Sewer Mining (Aqua Cell)

Unfortunately, local laws and other requirements make gray water and black water recycling measures difficult, if not impossible. In San Fransisco, demand has prompted changes that allow new methods to proceed. Exemplar projects: SF PUC Building 525, Transbay Transit Terminal, and 181 Fremont.

A key to innovative building practices is encapsulated in the Integrative Design Process. At 181 Fremont, the project team utilized a Performance-based Design-Build project delivery method that encouraged early collaboration and resulted in fewer change orders. Another innovative tactic that Worthern mentioned was utilizing the Eco-district framework to solve problems on a neighborhood-wide scale.

Moving Toward Regenerative Stormwater Design

*Beyond the BMP: Strategies from watersheds to waterstreets

Erin English, PE, is a senior engineer at Biohabitats, Inc., a firm that specializes in conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design.

What is regenerative stormwater management?

Our understanding and approach to and stormwater management has evolved significantly since the 1950s. Ecosystem services that are integral to the regenerative process include:

  • Provisioning
  • Regulating
  • Supporting
  • Cultural

Stormwater is a design opportunity

One way of approaching regenerative stormwater management is through a living infrastructure, emphasizing processes that restore and rehabilitate. According to the ASCE, this living infrastructure approach is a "least-cost option." Natural systems are better for the environment, better for people, and better for our communities.

Water: The Lynchpin of Life

Bob Salvatelli is the director of sales for Sustainable Water LLC, a company that bills itself as a water developer. The company provides "insurance against service shortage or disruption."

Water Reclamation and Reuse has three important components:

  • Operational
  • Cost Savings
  • Environmental & Social

Risk Mitigation strategies:

  • Redundant water supply
  • Additional on-site storage
  • Flexibility and resilience
  • Independence
  • Availability

Collecting data is important to capital-intensive projects that are typically required for water reuse and reclamation projects. Economics, utilities and infrastructure all impact decisions on improving water use. Collaborating with stakeholders yields maximum project success.

Sustainable Water LLC worked on a system for the reclamation and reuse of water at San Diego State University.

According to Salvatelli, cultural education/information is an important component of many of the projects that they are involved in. He says that what will often begin as a utility project, often becomes a very public discussion of the issues involved.