Net-Zero Water Rete-Ciphra Aqua
Water is a necessity of life. Water, relative to vegetation, can save energy when approached sustainably, and in turn provide an environment that endures. Landscape architects are in a dynamic and influential position of balancing water supply, degradation and reuse on a particular site, coupled with providing an opportunity for reverence, education, and inspiration of such a valuable resource.
Conservation is one of the simplest ways to begin a dialogue with individuals on respecting water. Many day to day events can be adjusted to provide small benefits that really add up when compounded, such as turning off the water while brushing your teeth (ex: save 25 gal/month), defrost foods in the refrigerator in lieu of using running water, capture cold water while waiting for the hot water to flow and use it for plants, only use the dishwasher when completely full, sustainably irrigate lawns and sports turf, purchase energy efficient appliances and low-flow fixtures, minimize hotel towel & bedding usage while traveling, use pool covers to reduce evaporation, broom sweep debris in lieu of wet washing, and many others.
Water management for buildings and sites, especially in urban settings, needs to move from being careless and neglectful to a concept where we are appreciative and utilizing every drop. To efficiently use water we need to consider reusing it many times, for various functions, and maintaining it in a strategic closed loop system. The future applications of rain water collection, and waste water reuse need to significantly address and reduce potable water demands. Although the concept of moving toward a net-zero water use becomes more contemporary of a topic, it is the governing bodies that need to address the challenge of its regulation. Modeling and experimentation along with benchmarking and diagnosis are just a few of the efforts needed to develop a quality controlled system.
As landscape architects we should pioneer new ways toward net zero water use in our developments, and embrace new techniques in inspirational ways. Hopefully people will be encouraged to do the right thing, develop practices that become second nature to them, and optimistically thinking, reduce their water footprint.