A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Alternate Compliance and Oregon Greywater

Inhabit blog just released the construction schedule for The Oregon Sustainability Center. Billed as the world's largest living building, the groundbreaking is scheduled for the end of 2010. The connection to greywater? "The grey-water from toilets will be recycled using a living machine system and then treated and discharged within the development’s footprint". Given that Oregon DEQ anticipated a two-year process to develop graywater rules for Oregon starting in late 2009, my guess is that as long as the greywater stays indoors, the project might be able to use greywater. Otherwise, the project will have to wait for the year-long process of writing the rules after the Graywater Advisory Committee finishes its work sometime later this year.

The schedule is very aggressive given the history of the Tyson Research Center, a small "living building" developed by Washington University in Missouri.  As described by project architect Daniel F. Hellmuth, AIA, in the Journal of Green Living (Volume 4, Number 4), "Following the project launch, designers encountered numerous challenges, including building code issues with St. Louis County and ongoing cost issues related to meeting Challenge requirements—particularly Net Zero Energy and Water components, as well as materials and distance restrictions...Ultimately, the county agreed to review the building using the 'Alternate Compliance' method". 
In my opinion, the size of the Oregon Sustainability Center will also test many city, county, and state codes, rules, and regulations. I suspect "Alternate Compliance" will become a common alternative to its many permit approvals. Graywater reuse will more than likely have to be one of them given the "heavy lifting" this resource plays in operating the building and the timing of Oregon's rulemaking process.

If they build it, the rules will come (later).  

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