Achieving Water Independence in Buildings

In this report, Central City Concern (a non-profit owner of affordable housing) and their development team – SERA, Interface Engineering and Gerding Edlen Development (a.k.a. the Water Team) – clarified the water systems and regulatory steps required to achieve a water-independent building in Oregon. The report illustrated the barriers to, and opportunities for water harvesting and reuse in commercial buildings, highlighting what is possible today and how any interested party might navigate future regulatory challenges. View the full report.

The Water Team’s work and approach contributed to a transformation of the regulatory environment in Oregon by pursuing changes statewide. Up until this transformation, commercial buildings in Oregon could expect to achieve 30% – 40% water savings by incorporating water efficient fixtures. As a result of the Water Team’s efforts, in collaboration with regulatory officials and other leaders in the industry, a building like CCC’s conceptual multi-family high-rise development can achieve an astounding 60% to 70% water savings by implementing rain and gray water harvesting together with efficient fixtures. Oregon residential and commercial buildings are now allowed to use rainwater for irrigation, toilet flushing and clothes washing, and treated gray water (from sinks, bathtubs, showers, and washing machines) to flush toilets and urinals.

Following the publication of this report, the State Plumbing board developed two alternate methods for gray water re-use within buildings, and then in the subsequent legislative session, HB 2080 was sponsored by then representative Jackie Dingfelder and then passed, making gray water a legal resource for re-use within buildings in Oregon.