Water usage has become everyone's concern over the past 50 years. Fresh, clean water is at a premium, and proper management of water use and water diversion were key elements of OWC's earning the necessary points to be awarded Platinum LEED certification in March, 2010.
Inside the building, water efficiency is key. Using the latest restroom plumbing fixtures that use small amounts of water and/or a combination of pressurized air to move water through the plumbing system is one of the innovations available today. Using waterless plumbing fixtures in restrooms is another way to save thousands of gallons of water, in addition to high efficiency faucets and fixtures that limit water run time and make water pressure an important element in the dispensing process, much like high efficiency shower heads do in the home. See below for 'green' products used in our building!
The moment you step outside the building, managing water becomes a concern, from landscaping water usage, to storm system runoff, to rooftop storm water diversion.
In the past, this water was typically forced into the city storm drains or into retention ponds, thereby becoming someone else's problem. At OWC, water from rainstorms and snow-melt will be carefully managed for several reasons: to conserve water in time of need; to better clean water before it starts its journey back to local aquifers; and to lessen the burden of excessive water runoff on municipal system drainage systems.
The parking lot of Other World Computing will use Bio-Aquifer Storm System technology to handle the load of both roofing rainwater and rainwater falling on landscaping. Instead of puddling or running to sewer drains, the parking area will consist of a system of interlocking, porous pavers resting on a multi-layer bed of crushed stones and gravel of different sizes. Water diffuses through the surface of the parking lot, slowing the rush of water into the ground and permitting the surrounding landscaping to absorb the water as it is diverted toward the bioswales, which surround the property.
Bioswales are gently sloped areas of the property that are designed to collect silt and other rainwater runoff - and slow down the speed with which water collects. The swales are shaped so that water is diverted, but not so sharply as to encourage erosion of the ground and soil.
Native vegetation is planted in the bioswale that optimizes characteristics for water absorption, lengthy root systems that prevent soil erosion as well as require a minimum of maintenance. They are hearty plants that can manage well during periods of dry, hot weather, yet manage to make use of and manage the flow of water from unexpected storms.
A combination of the parking lot's multi-layered bedding, which water percolates through, and filters the water, and the design of the bioswale, permits minimizing and/or eliminating retention ponds. In addition, the brick pavers themselves, which are not petroleum based - and therefore, do not leach oil during a rain, does not add to petrochemicals that are passing into the bioswale. Chemicals which do drip from automobiles are actually filtered by the mineral base the pavers rest upon, and the plant life within the bioswale is abundant, and serves as a user of carbon dioxide, in addition to filtering the water before releasing it back to the atmosphere as humidity.
The combination of nature and a well planned surface system make for an extremely efficient source of water management and filtering, in addition to an exquisite design and considerable "eye appeal" for everyone to enjoy when traversing the campus at OWC.