The United States is facing tough decisions due to an ever- decreasing supply of water. Water levels are dropping in the American West and Southwest where the country has experienced sustained periods of drought over the past 20 years. Great cities with huge populations were built in a desert region where water was scarce and had to be diverted from other areas of the country. Unfortunately, this current pattern of drought does not seem to be changing for the near future.
People are turning to water recycling methods to address these urgent concerns over drought and continued global warming. Recycled water can be used for irrigation and industrial purposes and it prevents pollution from entering sensitive bodies of water. More and more concerned corporate and commercial property owners are turning to the green building industry to help them attain water efficiency, an integral component of LEED building certification.
Water is categorized as whitewater (potable water), greywater (water from baths, showers, clothes washers), and blackwater (raw sewage). Greywater can be treated and used in commercial building cooling towers, irrigation, or toilet flushing. Greywater harvesting (GwH) is an important and sustainable way for buildings to reuse water rather than releasing these waters back into the sewer system.
LEED is the gold standard in rating green buildings? design, operations, and construction. Since water recycling offers one of the highest numbers of points (for a single operating system within the commercial building) towards meeting required LEED standards, more commercial property owners want to explore the best ways to recycle and reuse water. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, rising annual demand for these systems continues to grow by more than ten percent.
Thirty-four billion gallons of used waste water is treated every single day in the United States by treatment facilities and then released into local bodies of water. Significantly, an estimated twelve billion gallons of water goes untreated and returned to the oceans and rivers. As the world continues to deal with a growing population and global climate change, waste water recycling and reuse systems will be an integral part of every sustainable community.