The Future of Designing (with) Water

San Diego Convention Center Expansion. The design team of Fentress Architects, Civitas Landscape Architects and Rana Creek is working collaboratively to solve a large-scale nuisance water problem.

San Diego Convention Center Expansion. The design team of Fentress Architects, Civitas Landscape Architects and Rana Creek is working collaboratively to solve a large-scale nuisance water problem.

As the global population continues to grow, so do the challenges of scaling our water systems. Our increase in the use of fresh water resources is quickly outstripping our ability to channel the amount of fresh water we need, where we need it, when we want it. Sound like a design problem? It is. (And it is not just about selecting low-flow water fixtures.) We need to start looking for leftovers that currently exist on pretty much every project and better understand water re-use design strategies.

Designing with water involves getting over the yuck factor when we use terms like gray or black water or recycled water. Every drop of water you have ever consumed, bathed with or purchased in a shiny plastic bottle at the grocery store has been recycled, many times before. Large-scale municipal and commercial water re-use systems have been in operation around the world for decades. We have the tools and technology to address the reality of water scarcity that many regions of our planet, including my own home in California, are beginning to appreciate why water truly is such a precious resource.

Wastewater contains valuable resources worthy of recovery.

Wastewater contains valuable resources worthy of recovery.

If you would like to learn more about what architects need to know about water use and reuse, download an article I published in the January 2014 issue of ARCHITECT magazine. If you read this article and take the 10-question quiz at Hanley Wood University, you can earn 1 hour of AIA LU/HSE Continuing Education Credit. This is a great time to start learning what you and your firm can do to begin to design with water in mind.

Download article: The Future of Designing (with) Water

Hanley Wood University 1 hour of AIA LU/HSE Continuing Education Credit:
http://reg.hanleywood.com/rf/4123676/64119524/s/ARmagJan/a/2238/

10 Comments
  1. “Every drop of water you have ever consumed, bathed with or purchased in a shiny plastic bottle at the grocery store has been recycled, many times before.”

    I don’t believe this is true for residents of Portland, where water is sourced directly from Bull Run watershed.

    • Thank you for your note! The water in Portland is indeed from a good water source but where do you think the water in Bull Run comes from? The total amount of water on our planet never changes in total quantity. Water constantly changes form and locations around the earth. Snow, Rain, Lakes, Oceans, Clouds, our water systems, channels, damns, reservoirs etc. only hold the same water molecules that have been on earth for millions of years on water’s endless and epic journey in and around the earth. My point being that the water in Bull Run was not created at Bull Run, it found its way there from somewhere else on the planet. Most of the water in Bull Run likely evaporated into clouds somewhere else on earth then and fell as rain on the Cascades.
      This is what we mean by “every drop of water…has been recycled” even the water at Bull Run.

  2. …of course it is a cycle! for years a few of us have wrestled with the fact that architects seem to be ecologically illiterate. we (architects) may want to fix our initial education foundation before we hug another tree. it may also be of interest that singapore, one on the wealthiest countries in the world drinks what they call”new water” a 100% sewage recycle. when we talk about sustainable water use, the recharge ultimately must occur at the same rate and time of its use though it can somewhat be resilient if the storages are huge.btw, the sustainable water supply discussion starts at the regional scale, at the building scale we should capture and store what the building users need.