Water, Water Everywhere

By Amy Cornelius

Posted June 8, 2020

The Living Future Water Petal is a standard for achieving Net Positive Water by designing and constructing buildings to operate like nature’s flora - living with and supporting earth’s water cycle.

During the May 21st Water, Water Everywhere presentation, coordinated by the Living Future Community of Green Building United, we learned that water is part of every decision we make - from how we heat our homes, to how we make land development decisions, to how we build an equitable/resilient city. 

The theme throughout the discussion was building water resiliency through awareness, education, and leveraging existing resources and codes.

During the presentation we asked participants: 

What are you doing personally and/or professionally now and in the future to help build water resiliency in the Philadelphia region? Check out the top three personal and professional actions and a word cloud of all participant responses below!

Top Three Personal Actions

  • Planting trees to provide shade and manage stormwater
  • Depaving and installing porous surfaces to infiltrate stormwater and using rainwater capture systems – both RainCheck initiatives through a joint PWD, SBN, PHS program
  • Installing water efficient bathroom and kitchen fixtures to reduce water use and limit waste water

Top Three Professional Actions

  • Designing with the water cycle in mind to manage water where it lands
  • Helping students learn about their relationship with water
  • Developing sharable best practices to guide water resiliency efforts of commercial developers
water word cloud 01

We were thrilled to see the amount of work being done at work and home to address water resiliency. These efforts support Philadelphia’s goals of decreasing waste water and has a number of benefits including decreased city-level energy use, decreased water and energy bills at home, and reduced localized flood events. 

The Living Building Challenge's goal of using smaller, decentralized systems that could utilize solar aquatics to manage water treatment and nutrient cycling is a key to driving resilience. 

 

Presentation Highlights

  • Helena van Vliet grounded us in thinking about how critical water is to life - and not just for hydration (we are up to 75% water, after all) - but how water provides evolutionary cues about whether a place is habitable. 

 

  • Chris Mendel wants to see civic engagement increase around water engagement, including public education around the impact of residential salt use during winter storms, which unabated causes environmental harm downstream.

 

  • Paul Kohl brought us back to basics, explaining how much energy is required to treat “waste” water. “Waste” is really just an opportunity, and PWD is researching opportunities to capture the heat from waste water treatment to fuel operations. 

 

  • Josh Lippert discussed flood resiliency in the age of climate change. As Philadelphia examines the impact of flood events, it is clear that the cost of inaction will cost us all. 

 

Want to watch the full presentation? Access it now in our On Demand Webinar Library!

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