Designing Rainwater Harvesting Systems: Integrating Rainwater into Building Systems 1st Edition by Celeste Allen Novak, Van Giesen, Eddie, Kathy M. DeBusk.
1 The Importance of Rainwater Harvesting
2 System Planning and Policies
3 Water for Thirsty Buildings
4 System Elements
5 Maintenance and Safety
6 21st-Century Interviews
Preface by G. Edward (Eddie) Van Giesen:
After receiving my Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia in 1995, I worked as a self-employed design/build landscape and general contractor and homebuilder in Athens, Georgia. I always incorporated green building practices, and received local sustainable building awards, but I knew that I could do more.
In 2007, we were all on the edge of the deepest economic recession that any of us could remember. I had an eerie suspicion that the housing boom was resting on a foundation of loose sand. By the end of the summer, homebuilding, as I knew it, was over. The profession that I had enjoyed for ten-plus years was not there anymore. I was forty-six years old and suddenly out of business.
At the same time, along with the economic recession, Georgia and much of the Southeastern United States was in the grip of an extreme drought. Due to the State’s increasing population, the effects of this drought were significantly amplified. Either we were all going to have to find other sources of water for the region or we would be increasingly vulnerable to water scarcity.
I did a lot of soul-searching in those months. I reflected on a trip made to Northern California in 2001, and a workshop I attended on rainwater harvesting. I read a few books on the subject, but little did I know that in only six years I would embark on the greatest adventure of my life.
I discovered that rainwater harvesting could be an answer to our water woes. It was a no-brainer. Rain falls on the roof; it is collected and utilized. Simple, easy, and sensible. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA). Through ARCSA I came to know people who had experience and generously shared their knowledge. I did not need to reinvent the wheel.
I began to install systems on a small scale and eventually worked with a company in North Carolina. By 2010, that company was bought by Watts and I joined them as the public policy director. Later I became the National Sales Manager and through my travels, I have had the opportunity to see the bigger picture. There is an enormous potential yet to be realized. Two things became abundantly clear: (1) education is essential for all the parties involved in these systems, and (2) plumbing codes need to be developed so that the industry can have a foundation upon which to build.
The opportunity to educate the design community through this book resonated with me when I was approached to be a co-author.
It was a chance to establish and reinforce the fundamental principles of rainwater collection, as well as illuminate the connections between water policies, codes/regulations, and
new and existing technologies.
Everyone involved—architects, engineers, landscape architects, mechanical contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, policy makers, code officials, and others—needs to see the importance of their respective roles as part of the practice of wise use of rainwater. It is my sincere hope that this collaborative effort will contribute to an increase in awareness and implementation of successful rainwater harvesting systems.
It was during a canoe trip along the James River near Richmond, Virginia, that I discovered my true calling in life: stormwater management. While paddling past the heart of downtown Richmond one summer, my father and I were caught in a surprise thunderstorm. The short, yet intense, storm resulted in the discharge of urban runoff into the river just upstream of where we were floating. Not only did this water have a foul odor, but it was filled with a tremendous amount of trash and debris. Then and there, I decided that I wanted to become a part of the effort to decrease the impact of urban runoff on valuable water resources such as the James River.
It wasn’t until many years later, after a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering at Virginia Tech, that I was exposed to rainwater harvesting. One of my first design projects
as an Extension Associate at North Carolina State University was a rainwater harvesting system for an animal shelter in Craven County. It was love at first sight. I continued to design and research rainwater harvesting systems throughout my stay at NCSU, and even made rainwater harvesting the focus of my doctoral research.
Rainwater harvesting is a unique creature, unlike any other. From a water supply perspective, it challenges our country’s largely centralized approach to water supply and use. This brings about many uncertainties and unknowns, which leads to a widespread hesitancy regarding the implementation and use of these systems.
From a stormwater management perspective, rainwater harvesting systems are the only best management practices (BMPs) that serve an important supplementary goal—that of water supply. Moreover, rainwater harvesting systems contain more moving parts than any other stormwater BMP currently used. Together, these factors greatly increase the design complexity of these systems, the number of project stakeholders, and the necessary maintenance requirements, thus generating hesitancy within the stormwater industry to exploit the full potential of these systems. The result? Inconsistency, confusion, and a profound lack of knowledge regarding the potential benefits of these systems. Consequently, it seems predestined that someone would recognize the need for a compilation of current knowledge regarding these practices to serve as an all-inclusive source for any person dealing with rainwater harvesting. Celeste and Eddie recognized that need and had the courage and passion to embrace such a daunting task. My hat goes off to them, and I thank them for including me. I couldn’t be more honored and delighted to have been part of this effort, and I sincerely hope that the result is a valuable resource for design professionals. I learned countless lessons the hard way when designing, installing, and utilizing these systems, and if my experiences can help one person avoid the same mistakes, then it was worth every sleepless night.
Celeste Allen Novak
Water surrounds Michigan and our State motto Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice translates to “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you.” It is true; we are
surrounded by three of the five Great Lakes.
With at least one-quarter of the world’s freshwater supply, there are enough rivers, inland lakes, rain, and snow to fill our aquifers and water my garden. So, why am I, a native of Michigan, so concerned about water use and rainwater harvesting? It is the storage and treatment of waste and stormwater control that drives many of the systems described in this book, not necessarily the lack of freshwater. However, as an architect and advocate for the environment, I know that a growing population largely removed from natural cycles threatens water resources across the world. The notion that we can find new ways to live within the means of the world’s environmental envelope appeals to me as a common-sense solution to a growing problem.
I also know that there is a gap between policy and practice that restricts professionals from tapping into (pardon the pun) rainwater as a natural resource.
As one of my students asked after being given the simple calculations for schematic planning for rainwater harvesting: “If rainwater design is this easy, how come architects are not doing this on every project?” It’s a good question and one that will be addressed in this book on planning for rainwater harvesting in building systems. As also will be discussed, not every project in every community can include rainwater harvesting. Some solutions will require new policy and code changes, some will require new types of community or neighborhood water collection and treatment. Most solutions will require the construction and maintenance of a selfsufficient decentralized water system for part of a building water supply. In some countries, rainwater collection is a strategy that can provide water as part of a disaster assistance program. In the future, it may be possible to design schools, stores, and community centers to collect, store, and treat water in order to provide a resilient water resource in times of drought. It is my belief that future buildings will be designed to collect rainwater and designers will create a new hydrologic system that restores water as it flows through the environment.
⏩Edition: 1st Edition
⏩Authors: Celeste Allen Novak, G. Edward Van Giesen and Kathy M. Debusk
⏩Puplication Date: April 7, 2014
⏩Size: 12.6 MB
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