WaterBuild: Blue is golden | U.S. Green Building Council
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Water is becoming more precious than gold. Join us at WaterBuild to discuss how we can conserve the resource we all need.

When we consider sustainability, some say that "blue is the new green." I say that blue can be golden as well.

It is rapidly becoming evident all across the world, including in my home state of Nevada, that water is fundamentally a more precious resource than gold. But you also know that, all too often, we don’t treat it that way. The golden resource that gives us life continues to become more important as it becomes more scarce, and it’s about time we straightened out our relationship with this foundational building block of life.

An initiative that I am excited about and invite you to participate in, WaterBuild, the new water summit at Greenbuild, is fast approaching and will be held in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 4. It’s a day where green building friends and students of sustainable business can convene in consideration and celebration of water.

Most important, it’s the kick-off of a three-year WaterBuild series, through which USGBC® commits to drive additional attention to water-related opportunities in technology, policy, infrastructure and beyond. This interactive forum offers an opportunity for us to broaden the conversation and to think even bigger about sustainable water solutions for a better world.

Like many in the green building community, I’ve been fortunate enough to play a part in the greening of some world-class buildings and infrastructure. Recent projects I’ve worked on in Asia, the Caribbean and here in North America have underscored the need for serious care and attention to our precious freshwater resources. In all three cases, the projects were fundamentally responding to water scarcity, but all addressed the issue in unique ways. Additionally, two of the three projects made a conscious effort to first address use reduction to minimize water waste as part of their culture, and also to reinforce conservation as a part of outreach educational materials.        

  • The first project was for an agency that incorporated water stewardship as part of its mission. This case presented two high-consumption water uses and two minor water consumption uses; the aim of the project was to devise a way to minimize potable water use. The solution we came up with repurposed process water to eliminate potable water use for irrigation, and saw the installation of flush valves that save 68 million gallons of water per year.
  • The second project presented a case study in water contamination, with aquifers polluted by poor waste treatment and water treatment practices. To address this, we developed a water capture and treatment primary solution that used local organic plants as part of the treatment process.
  • The third project mandated net zero water as part of its design. In this case, we created a water treatment plan for a building that treats captured rainwater without the use of any chemicals. The resulting water is of exceptional quality and excess is shared with neighbors.

As a member of the LEED® Water Technical Advisory Group, my colleagues and I work to leverage our collective knowledge to contribute to one of the world’s most amazing instruments for change. Our water future has not yet been written. Let’s write it together. I invite you to join us on our WaterBuild journey.

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