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Using Rainwater Harvesting to Gain LEED points

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Green buildings are the pride of every architect and most offices and commercial buildings today are keen on being recognised for their efforts towards being more environmentally conscious. The first step towards this the Green building certification or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a rating system that was formulated by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). In its current version the LEED offers 7 categories under which the building can be given points. Compliance with each credit brings the building design closer to achieving the coveted certificate. The LEED rating system gives us a glimpse of these future construction regulations.

A rainwater harvesting system is an efficient, effective tool that can be used to help harvest an impressive one-third of points needed for LEED certification. The following are the credit categories under which Rainwater harvesting can gain you points in your LEED evaluation:

1. Stormwater Design – Quality Control of Sustainable Sites

Storm water run-off from the flat surface is one of the largest contributors to flooding. With rainwater harvesting if the building redirects this water to an underground sump then the amount of storm water being let out into the storm water drain is significantly reduced. Thus, reducing the damaging environmental and soci0-economic effects of stormwater run-off.

2. Water Efficiency Prerequisite: Water Use reduction

Water stored from rainwater harvesting is filtered and stored for use for non-drinking purposes. The recharge pits filter system first clears off the large sediment matter and another natural filter clears off the finer particles. The water that isn't collected in the rainwater harvesting sumps and that which is left over after percolation is emptied into the stormwater drains. The water that is let out is pollutant free and this factor levels up your credit score.

3. Water Efficient Landscaping: Water Efficiency Credit

The most common use of harvested rainwater is to irrigate the landscaping. By using rainwater, we limit the dependence on other water sources and thus reduce the burden on the city's water supply. If the demand for irrigation is completely met using rainwater, then it's a big credit point.

4. Reducing potable water demand

Rainwater can be used for cleaning, flushes in toilets, irrigation of landscape and other non-drinking uses. This point is the embodiment of water conservation and it also reduces the dependence on groundwater supply and city water resources.

5. Innovation in Design

LEED lists that 40% of water needs to be reused in order to maintain water usage efficiency on the property. Rainwater harvesting reduces the amount of water taken from the ground and city supply. The innovative design of using harvesting and using rainwater is also a great way to gain points.

6. Optimize Energy performance

Rainwater harvesting mostly used gravity as its main source of energy, thus making it one of the most energy efficient processes. The design of the plumbing and filtration systems also is given credit.

In all the above 6 credit categories, Rainwater harvesting is the single method to gain the greatest number of credit points.

There are many possible configurations of a rainwater reuse system- a complex system that collects and treats roof and pavement runoff down to potable water levels using an RO filtering system or you can choose a simple system that collects only roof runoff to be used for non-drinking only.

Research and Concept by A.R. Shivakumar
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