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

Monday, August 2, 2010

Greywater Gets Mooned

The living building competition gets more interesting by the day, and surprisingly, the interesting news is from Oregon. Take, for example, this article in the Daily Journal of Commerce - The Business of Building describing what may be the first living building in Oregon instead of the Oregon Sustainability Center described in previous postings as one of the many Grand Greywater Schemes. According to the article "...Living Building certification is currently being sought for 70 projects in six countries. No project has been certified as a Living Building, but three projects - one each in British Columbia, Missouri and New York - are in the final stages".

Brothers Dustin and Garrett Moon are building a house in Portland, Oregon that "...is now in its second year of construction, and Dustin believes they are at least a year away from completing the project. Dustin and Garrett believe the project is on track to achieve nearly all of the Living Building Challenge requirements".  The house has become a learning process not just for the brothers, but for the entire world. The project has its own website, pdxlivingbuilding.com, with videos and blog posts about specific areas of the home’s design as well as a diagram of house with materials listed.

The connection to greywater? A complex one for certain!

"One major lesson the brothers are hoping to share is about on-site treatment of gray water. They hope to have all of the home’s gray water flow into a surge tank. From there the water will go through a slow-sand-filtration system, which the World Health Organization recognizes for treating surface water to become drinking water.

The water will be pumped from the filtration system up to the second floor into a room that acts as a greenhouse. The water will be filtered through the plants and then pumped up to the roof and filtered through a 10-foot-by-10-foot green space on the roof. At that point, any remaining water will flow into the 9,000-gallon cistern that collects rainwater. The home already has compostable toilets, which do not require water. 

The rainwater will be the home’s primary drinking water, which uses UV filtrations, but adding gray water to the drinking water is not something that meets health codes in Oregon.

“We‘d like to be the test case to prove it can be done,” Dustin said. “We’d like the house to be net zero on water."

Given what I know about how the graywater rules in Oregon are progressing, getting to net zero on water for this building, or the Oregon Sustainability Center for that matter, might take mooning the "system". The Rainbow Water Coalition salutes the Moon brothers with the Greywater Gadget of the Week award for such a great idea and bold approach to greywater reuse in the recycling capital of the world.

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