Water Crises Listed as Top Societal Risk to the Global Economy

No Drop Left Behind Water Sustainability ConferenceIn the World Economic Forum 2015 Global Risk Report, “water crises” were listed as the top societal risk to the global economy. Events like the No Drop Left Behind: Smart & Sustainable Water Strategies, on Tuesday, December 5th, are increasingly vital to addressing water scarcity head on. For the fourth year in a row, Sustainable Silicon Valley converged water experts and leaders to share best practices, hear about exciting new projects, and assess the resilience of our local water supplies. Urban Fabrick’s own Piper Kujac and Allan Robles participated among more than 200 decision makers from city and county water agencies, water technology providers, NGOs, real estate developers, and tech giants at Microsoft’s headquarters in Mountain View.

During the action-packed day, Katie Ross, Microsoft’s Sustainability Program Manager, announced plans for their 643,000 square foot Mountain View campus to pursue the Net Zero Water certification of the Living Building Challenge Water Petal. The campus-wide revamp will provide 100% of the non-potable water demand from recycled groundwater, rain catchment and onsite recycled domestic water. The design integrates with the natural riparian landscape surrounding Stevens Creek and rehabilitates the site for more than 30 native species.

Also exciting from the public sector, Paula Kehoe of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) premiered the “Guidebook for Developing and Implementing Regulations for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems,” put together by the water focused National Blue Ribbon Commission. This unprecedented resource will assist city, county, and state policy-makers across the U.S. to deploy a consistent regulatory model within their own governing ordinances.

Looking to the future of water conservation, Paula also announced an important retrofit to the SFPUC headquarters Living Machine starting up in 2018 which will treat onsite wastewater for potable water use (aka drinking water!) This is a major step beyond the Living Machine’s current ability to provide non-potable water supply for toilet flushing and irrigation, and it will be the first wastewater-to-drinking-water system in San Francisco.

We are inspired by the next generation of innovative water conservation technologies coming online next year – no longer pipe dreams (pun intended) taking decades to come to fruition. From the conversion of biosolids to inert waste for use in agriculture to the recovery of waste heat for building heating and cooling – we are in the middle of a “water renaissance” which will ensure more resilient communities for the Bay Area and beyond!


Urban Fabrick is a building sustainability and communications consultancy with the mission to make sustainability accessible and engaging to all. We work with our clients to build better buildings and create more livable, walkable urban neighborhoods. We deliver sustainable, cost-effective building outcomes by synthesizing research, policies and technology, and guide the progress of green building certifications, net-zero energy design and climate positive development at any scale.

Our services bridge many of the professional knowledge gaps that exist between today’s business-as-usual design practices and those required to successfully realize high-performance outcomes. We help project teams to understand and navigate energy and green building codes and regulations and to design their buildings to meet or exceed applicable requirements. We apply our decades of experience in green building, design and resilience planning to help our clients make smarter decisions.