Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Green Home NYC Forum: Sustainable Storm-Water Management

This Meetup took place on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 from 6:30-8:00 at the Toto showroom at 25 Mercer St. (btwn Canal and Grand) and was hosted by Green Home NYC.

You can view this page for more information on the speakers.

Jack Coogan - Building Scale Solutions: OCV Architects
Coogan is the RA and Principle at OCV Architects and spoke mainly about one specific project in the Bronx. The building consists of 18 units and his company reduced construction costs enough to install a rainwater collection tank. Calculating using NY's average annual rainfall of 49.7 inches, the roof's area of 2850 square feet, and a 95% capture rate (for a total capture of 80,000 gallons), they figured that each apartment could flush their toilet 9 1/3 times per day just on the grey water collected. After completing the project, however, they found that each unit actually flushes their toilet 25.5 times per day! So, the grey water mixes with fresh water to make up for the difference. With 1 cent per gallon water costs, and 1.3 gallons per flush, Coogan calculates an $800 per year savings (it is worth noting that the system cost $18,000 to install - 12 year pay back). 

Susannah C. Drake AIA, ASLA - Rising Currents: A New Urban Ground
Drake spoke of a project she worked on with Stephan Cassell and Adam Yarinsky on the infrastructure issues that will result from sea level rise (climate change) in NY Harbor. They were one of five teams to participate in the challenge to create a solution to projected sea level rise of 6 ft (plus 18 feet for a storm surge). Each team was assigned one spot on the NY Harbor, her team focusing on the 500 acres that comprise lower Manhattan.  Their calculations revealed that 21% of lower Manhattan will be covered in 100 years, with 68% susceptible to the storm serge.
We currently dump 500 million gallons of sewage water into the harbor each week! Their plan consists of permeable street beds with water proof vaults for cables and other lines. The tip of Manhattan would become an urban estuary (close to a swamp) and the east side would become a salt marsh with an urbanester and a sunken forest.
You can read more about the project and view photos at the dlandstudio website and on the MOMA page.

Tatiana More - Stormwater: Waste or Resource
More spoke about CSO, or Combined Sewage Overflow. She also shared a theme I have found particularly relevant in my recent blogging and exploration of the sustainability field - that there are "Silos of information, but no conduits." 
According to More, the MTA uses 2.6 Billion gallons of potable water per year! The water filtration system was built on a plot of land with a high water table which had to be subsequently drained and then refilled - a huge waste! These two examples show some the inefficient manor in which things are done in NYC.
Her program, the NYCSWCD, works in consort with the SWIM coalition and measures soil moisture saturation, evapotranspiration rates, and does pollution analysis of their water absorption projects to find the most efficient solution for a specific area. She gave some details on specific projects they have done recently.

Thomas O'Connor - Stormwater Solutions REsearch: EPA Office of Research and Development
O'Connor works in the water supply and water resources division of the Urban Watershed Management Branch of the EPA. He works on management of wet-weather flows and the aging water infrastructure. The New Jersey office of R&D is 20 acres on which models are tested for optimization.
He spoke specifically of two projects they have recently worked on - one for semipermeable parking lots, and the other for green spaces which are meant to absorb extra water.
Sustain is an online decision optimization engine used by his office. 

Questions for Consideration:
  1. How can we encourage CSR like that being practiced at Toto to come from all companies?
  2. How can we get people to understand the resources their using when they don't see where they come from and where their waste goes?
  3. Do we need to completely redevelop our infrastructure? 
  4. What can we do about diverting more of NYC's sewage from the ocean?
  5. How can we communicate the level of urgency to the people who just don't care?

About GreenHomeNYC:
"The Green Building Forum is held on the third Wednesday of each month (except December) at 6:30 PM and features presentations by green building practitioners followed by discussion. The events are always free and open to the general public."

About Toto:
"TOTO is the world’s largest plumbing products manufacturer. We offer a complete line of commercial and decorative plumbing fixtures and fittings, faucets, accessories, shower and flush valves, as well as lavatories, toilets, Air Baths and urinals. More than 1,500 TOTO engineers and their colleagues are committed to achieving the seamless integration of performance, conservation, technology, and innovation.
For over 90 years, we have been producing superbly designed, high performance lifestyle enhancing plumbing products for residential bathrooms and commercial restrooms. While we understand our customers want products that have great design, we concentrate on creating a more enjoyable bathroom experience through products that infuse sophisticated style with substance, optimize water conservation and provide consistent, exceptional performance.
For example, TOTO embraced water and energy conservation years before government mandates. Through our constantly evolving manufacturing practices and advanced technology, we consistently lead the way in plumbing fixture efficiency and sustainability. Advanced innovations such as our EcoPower® fittings and valves, and our highly active participation in and support of the United States Green Build Council (USGBC), have made TOTO a world leader in plumbing products that have helped to advance society and help protect its future at the same time.
Our state-of-the-art plant in Morrow, Georgia is a testament to conservation and quality control. For example, we recycle the water we use as well as thoroughly treating it before returning it to the county. From our molding process to the final changes, our products are constructed and fine-tuned with computer precision and relentless attention to detail. Our pursuit of excellence pushes us beyond industry standards and drives us to maintain our reputation as one of the most decorated plumbing manufacturers in the world.
After nearly a century of experience, we are committed to maintaining the perfect balance of form, function and design. TOTO is Luxury in Balance."

1 comment:

  1. We have to go green if we wish to keep our country liveable in the future. Instead of throwing waste water to the ocean, we can use water filtration methods to recycle them for other domestic use.