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Rainwater Harvesting

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.

Rainwater Harvesting

[STRATEGY]

1 Image from Earth Times: http://www.earthtimes.org/going-green/roof-rainwater-runoff-collection-urged-experts/1542/

BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Many U.S. Army and Department of Defense (DoD) installations are located in water-stressed
locations. Rainwater harvesting is an excellent means of supplementing water for use on site if the
process is permitted by state and/or local laws. Using rainwater, where appropriate, conserves
potable water consumption.

Rainwater harvesting describes processes in which precipitation that falls on a site is diverted,
captured, and stored for use on-site, as opposed to allowing it to run off, evaporate, or infiltrate
into the soil. Depending on its intended use, the captured precipitation may require treatment. In
a broad sense, rainwater harvesting can also include capture from surface water runoff; however,
in the U.S., runoff is subject to surface water regulations. This document will confine discussion of
rainwater harvesting to roof-top capture.

Figure 1. Picture of a rainwater rooftop collection system with an outdoor, aboveground storage tank. Notice that the gutter

drainage includes a first flush diverter (the portion of pipe bypassing the storage tank.1

Applications Rainwater harvesting can be useful for installations with the following
issues:

 Installations in areas with water stress due to drought and arid
environments.

 Installations with on-site ground water wells that may require
significant energy to use such as deep wells and challenging treatment.

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[STRATEGY]

This could include groundwater, which has high solids or natural
contaminants (arsenic and fluoride are common issues).

 Installations striving to increase water resilience by implementing net
zero water goals.

 Areas with regulatory requirements to reduce peak flows, lessening the
erosive forces of storm water runoff due to sensitive environmental
receptors, such as the Chesapeake Bay area.

 Situations in which ponded surface water contributes to insect or algae
problems. Capturing rainwater will reduce surface water available for
ponding.

Rainwater can be harvested for a number of uses:

 Non-potable uses, such as toilet flushing, irrigation, dust control, and
vehicle washing. Some of these applications may require specialized
plumbing.

 Potable water uses including drinking water, food preparation,
showering, and washing. These applications would likely require
treatment to ensure that the water meets state and federal
requirements for potable uses.

Design Notes

Rainwater Harvesting Components:

 Rooftop collection systems are common, taking advantage of drainage
and gutter systems. Metal roofs are ideal for rainwater collection.
They are easy to keep clean and maintain a high level of rainwater
quality. Some roof materials, such as asphalt, may limit water uses to
non-potable ones.

 Conveyance systems via gutters, channels, and pipe systems are used
to carry collected water to storage and areas of use.

 Storage systems keep collected rainwater for later use. These are
typically tanks, either on the surface or below ground. Open ponds
may also be used, particularly for decorative effect.

 Treatment will be required for most potable uses and possibly for
some non-potable uses. Treatment typically includes filtration to
remove particulate matter in the collection and conveyance of the
rainwater. Simple disinfection (chlorination, ultraviolet – UV, solar)
may be required to control microbial growth in various systems,
including storage systems.

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[STRATEGY]

2 Gould, J.E. and H.J. McPherson 1987. Bacteriological Quality of Rainwater in Roof and Groundwater Catchment Systems

in Botswana, Water International, 12:135-138.

 Distribution of water stored to its intended use may require a system
of pumps, pipes, and controls.

Figure 2. Elements of a rainwater harvesting system, as outlined in the section above. This system shows

both rooftop collection, along with subsurface storage tank and a pump to a treatment system.

Water quality, first flush diverters:

 Rainwater is usually considered to be of high water quality, but it can
contain contaminants.

 During precipitation, rain can dissolve airborne contaminants. This
effect is most prominent during the early stages of rainfall.

 Roofs will accumulate sediment, plant material, animal droppings and
materials, and other contaminants. The initial rainfall will have the
highest concentrations of these contaminants, but as rainfall continues,
these contaminants will be washed off.2

Gutter

Subsurface storage tank

Treatment system

To use or elevated storage

Rooftop Collection

Pump

Pitched rooftop

Conveyance piping

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[STRATEGY]

3 U.S. Army. 2013. Army Low Impact Development. Technical User Guide. Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for

Installation Management. Available on-line at:

http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/Sustainability/Hydrology_LID/Army_LID_Technical_User_Guide_January2013.

pdf

4 Scholze, R.J. 2010. Rainwater Harvesting for Army Installations. Public Works Technical Bulletin. PWTB 200-1-75. U.S.

Army Corps of Engineers. Washington DC. Available on-line at: www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

 Systems are typically designed to reject the initial runoff, which will
improve the water collected and stored.3

 Overall, rooftop catchment provides much less contamination, and
therefore, much higher water quality than ground surface catchment.

Water capture/sizing storage tanks:

 Storage is based on rainfall and expected usage.

 Several methods can be used, but a rule of thumb is to provide for three
months of anticipated use.4

 A volume of 0.62 gal can be collected per square foot of collection
surface (roof or impervious surface) per inch of rainfall.

 Collected Volume (gal) = 0.62 Area (ft2) x Design Rainfall event
(precipitation in inches calculated from intensity for design event from
hydrology intensity-duration-frequency curves. (See reference 2, Army
LID Technical User Guide, for more information).

 Efficiency will vary. Rooftops are generally the best surfaces. A custom-
designed metal roof can achieve close to 100% water capture, provided
gutters are working efficiently. Retrofitted roofs are somewhat less
efficient: 80 to 90%. Surface collection is generally less effective still.
Storage vessels can become affected by algae or insect larvae. A simple
solution regarding algae is to use storage vessels impervious to light.
Seals and screens can limit insect access to tanks. Chemical treatments
(such as low concentrations of bleach) can also be used to remove and
destroy algae and insects.

Water treatment:

 The extent of treatment depends on the water’s intended use. Potable
use requires more intensive treatment; alternatively, use for toilet
flushing may require treatment only to limit color and sediment. In

http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/Sustainability/Hydrology_LID/Army_LID_Technical_User_Guide_January2013

http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/Sustainability/Hydrology_LID/Army_LID_Technical_User_Guide_January2013

http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[STRATEGY]

References/Useful Resources:
[1] Scholze, R.J. 2010. Rainwater Harvesting for Army Installations. Public Works Technical Bulletin. PWTB 200-1-75. U.S.

Army Corps of Engineers. Washington DC. Available on-line at: www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

[2] U.S. Army. 2013. Army Low Impact Development. Technical User Guide. Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for

Installation Management. Available on-line at:
http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/Sustainability/Hydrology_LID/Army_LID_Technical_User_Guide_January2013.
pdf

contrast, water used for irrigation purposes may require simple sediment
removal — perhaps even no treatment would be necessary.

 Typical systems consist of three components:
1. Sediment removal – Settling tanks/ponds, sand filters, cyclone filters,

canister filters, or cartridge filters.
2. Organic treatment – Activated carbon filters/canisters, if needed.
3. Disinfection – Ultraviolet or chlorination, if needed.

Regional issues:

 Rainwater harvesting can be applied to a wide range of climates.

 For hot, dry climates, the focus is on efficient collection from large,
occasional events. These may use large, underground storage units to
provide water between events and to reduce evaporative losses. The
focus should be on maintenance of collection surface, to allow minimal
waste during actual rain events.

 Wet, temperate environments may rely on first flush for cleaning
collection surface. Some losses over time may be acceptable, so storage
can be smaller and use outdoor storage units, which are easier to inspect
and maintain, and are more common.

 Environments with frequent freezing may use underground storage.

Related
Technologies

Purple Pipe, Low Impact Development

http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/Sustainability/Hydrology_LID/Army_LID_Technical_User_Guide_January2013

http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/Sustainability/Hydrology_LID/Army_LID_Technical_User_Guide_January2013

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting

[ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT]

5 Liaw, C-H., and Y-C. Chaing. 2014. Framework for Assessing the Rainwater Harvesting Potential of Residential Building at

a National Level as an Alternative Water Resource for Domestic Water Supply in Taiwan. Water. 6:3224-3246.

Energy Savings Collection and use of rainwater:

 Rainwater collection systems are typically designed to be gravity fed.

 Storage areas are typically lower elevation, so a pumping system is
generally required for intended reuse.

 Since collected rainwater is generally used close to its capture, the
energy needed to convey the water tends to be minimal.

 Compared to conveyance from other supplied sources of water
(groundwater, conveyed surface water, shipped water), rainwater
harvesting would likely have lower energy costs.

Maintenance:

 Systems are simple and tend to be robust. Monitoring and
maintenance require additional effort. This includes maintenance of
roofs used as collection areas, cleaning of gutters, maintenance of
storage tanks and vaults, pumps and maintenance of water treatment
systems (when installed).

Water Savings How much can rainwater harvesting provide?

 A reasonable goal for an aggressive rooftop collection for a custom
building could be to reduce domestic water supply by 40 to 50% for that
building; this would then allow the building to meet LEED goals for
sewage reduction (see reference [1]). A lower level may be expected for
a retrofitted system.

 An installation could be thought of as a small city. Liaw and Chaing5
estimated a maximized rooftop collection approach could supply about
32% of needs. However, they also estimated a 10% goal would be
reasonable from an economic standpoint.

Environmental
Impacts

Army Directive 2014-02 Net Zero Installations Policy

A net zero water installation recharges as much water back into a local water
supply (aquifer) as it withdraws. Rainwater harvesting projects contribute to

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT]

this goal by utilizing reclaimed water for reuse, shifting from the use of
potable water as much as possible.

Reduce overall water use regardless of source; increasing use of technology
that uses water more efficiently; recycling and reusing water, shifting from the
use of potable water to non-potable water sources as much as possible; and
minimizing interbasin transfers of any type of water, potable or non-potable.

DOD Sustainable Buildings Policy 2013

This policy applies to existing and future installations, providing minimum
standards following UFC 1‐200‐02, High Performance and Sustainable Building
Requirements dated November 2014. This UFC references the requirements
under ASHRAE 189.1‐2011 Section 6.4.1 of limiting landscaped water usage to
33% of baseline. It also references Section 6.5.1 of the same standard limiting
potable water demand for site irrigation to 35% of baseline.

Rainwater collection has mostly positive impacts:

 Simple treatments use little to no chemicals and resources as
compared to large-scale potable water systems.

 Rainwater harvesting generally has a minimal impact on the overall
water balance, but larger operations may impact downstream surface
water or groundwater resources where water is limited. Regulations in
those environments will identify this as an issue early in the process.

 Reduce environmental impact due to decreased demand for fossil
fuels needed to handle and treat potable water at central water
treatment plants as well as energy needed to distribute water.

Guiding
Principles Protect and Conserve Water

Rain water harvesting can assist in several strategies used to achieve the high

performance sustainable building guiding principles.

Minimize indoor water use: Rainwater reclaimed water can be used for flushing

toilets which reduces a significant amount of potable water use in buildings.

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT]

Efficient Irrigation: Employ water efficient irrigation strategies. Reclaimed

rainwater can be used for irrigation to reduce outdoor potable water

consumption.

Alternative Water: Implement cost effective methods to utilize alternative

sources of water such as harvested rainwater, treated wastewater, air handler

condensate capture, gray water, and reclaimed water, to the extent permitted

under local laws and regulations.

Associated
LEED Credits
(NC 2009)

Green Building Council LEED BD+C: Water Efficiency (WE)

WE Credit1: Water Efficient landscaping up to 4 points

 Reduce potable water use for irrigation by 50%, 2

points.

 Reduce potable water use for irrigation by 100%, additional 2

points.

WE Credit 2: Innovative Waste Water technologies 2 points

Reduce potable water use for building sewage conveyance by 50%
through the use of water-conserving fixtures or non-potable water (e.g.
captured rainwater, recycled gray water on-site or municipally treated
wastewater).

WE Credit 3: Water Use Reduction 2-4 points
Employ strategies that in aggregate use less water than the water use
baseline calculated for the building (not including irrigation):

 that result in 30% water savings, 2 points,

 that result in 35% water savings, 3 points,

 that result in 40% water savings, 4 points.

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting

[PRODUCTS AND ECONOMICS]

Product Images

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Components

(Figure 3) Box roof washer
(Source: http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75 )
(Figure 4) Tanks Installation
(Source: http://www.harryhelmet.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-different-rainwater-
harvesting-storage-tanks/)
(Figure 5) A simple water treatment system of canister filters for sediment and organic
removal and a UV disinfection system (Source:
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75 )

Construction of systems:

 Construction of systems is relatively simple.

 Many of the processes (such as roof sloping, gutters, downspouts) are
required for the management of rainfall on roofs and buildings normally.
These can be modified to allow water collection.

 The largest component is the storage

Cost Range Cost ranges for various components of a rainwater harvesting system can be
found in pages A-39 to A-41 of “RAINWATER HARVESTING FOR
ARMY INSTALLATIONS, PUBLIC WORKS TECHNICAL BULLETIN PWTB 200-1-75” 22
MARCH 2010 located at
http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

From experience at a Northwestern installation, costs varied depending on the
size of the units. A system for a large barrack with two vaults of 80 m3 (20,800
gal) and 100m3 (26,000 gal) was $132K. A large brigade-sized system with a 40
m3 (10,500 gal) vault was estimated at $49K and a smaller, 10m3 (2,600 gal) vault
system was estimated at $30K. The determining factor is the amount of water
to be stored for use.

http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

The Pros and Cons of Different Rainwater Harvesting Storage Tanks

The Pros and Cons of Different Rainwater Harvesting Storage Tanks

http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/ARMYCOE/PWTB/pwtb_200_1_75

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[PRODUCTS AND ECONOMICS]

Payback periods are variable, but are reportedly on the order of 10 to 15 years.

 A proposed rainwater harvesting project at the University of Alabama,
Birmingham, featuring underground storage and use for campus
irrigation, had a payback period estimated at 9.4 years.6

 A rainwater catchment project at Fort Bragg has an estimated Return on
Investment (ROI) of 11.8 years.7

 Stormsaver LTD presented examples of projects with ROIs varying from 1
to 5 years. The key to short ROI projects are buildings with large roof
collection areas coupled with high water usage.8

6 Li, Z. 2012. Design of an Underground Storage Tank Involving Water Collection for Water Reuse to Irrigate the Campus

Green Areas of the UAB Campus. Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. University of

Alabama, Birmingham. Birmingham, AL.
7 J. Love, Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works, Email Communication

8 Farnsworth, M. 2015. Sustainable Drainage, Case Study. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sustainable-drainage-case-
study-mike-farnsworth.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sustainable-drainage-case-study-mike-farnsworth

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sustainable-drainage-case-study-mike-farnsworth

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting

[SPECIFICATIONS]

Vendors State by state listing of rainwater harvesting vendors:

http://www.harvesth2o.com/vendors.shtml

Warranty Info Most system components are standard building items such as roof, gutter, tanks

and pumps. Warranties for these items and common and may vary by vendor.

Code
Restrictions

If end use of harvested rainwater is for potable use, state and local plumbing
codes apply.

Figure 6. Rainwater capture is integrated into the design of the building as an architectural feature. Swoop roof collect rainwater for

diversion into buried cisterns for irrigation use. (Source: HDR)

http://www.harvesth2o.com/vendors.shtml

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting

[CASE STUDY]

9 Jenicek, E.M., L. Curvey, Y. Cruz, and R. Phillips. 2013. Water Sustainability Assessments for Four Net Zero Installations.

US Army Construction Engineering Laboratory. ERDC/CERL TR-13-25

RAINWATER HARVESTING AT MILITARY INSTALLATIONS

A series of literature searches were conducted in an effort to find rainwater harvesting projects
associated with military installations. The search found 10 applications at five locations across the
United States; Washington, Hawaii, Virginia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico):

Figure 7. Location of two case studies indicated by circles.

 Barracks Renewal Project at Joint Base Lewis McCord (JBLM), near Tacoma, WA. This
project is described in detail below.

 Two Battalion Headquarters Buildings and an Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS)
Weather facility at JBLM. Recovered water for each facility is collected and stored in
underground vaults and used to irrigate surface water riparian strips.

 Two Regional Logistics Support Center Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facilities (RLSC
TEMF) at JBLM. Recovered water is stored in a series of aboveground tanks and used for
toilet flushing, irrigation, and vehicle washing. The process uses a combination of vortex
filtration and a continuous ultraviolet system to treat collected water, providing sediment
removal, disinfection, and color removal.

 Federal Center South 1202, the Headquarters Building for the USACE Seattle District,
Seattle, WA. This project is described in detail below.

 Schofield Barracks, Oahu, HI. Rooftop recovery for irrigation.9

 Rooftop collection at Fort Bragg, NC.

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[CASE STUDY]

 Warrior Transition Battalion Barracks, Fort Bragg, NC. A rainwater catchment system for
irrigation purposes. The economics for this system are promising compared to a potable
irrigation system (the project costs would be equivalent to those of a back flow preventer
and meter system). The ROI is estimated at 11.8 years, and the project is scheduled for
construction in the fall of 2015.

 Fort Buchanan, PR. Proposed project to assist in meeting Net Zero Water Goals.

More detail is presented on two contrasting studies, the Barracks Renewal Project at JBLM and
Federal Center South 1202.

CASE STUDY 1: Joint Base Lewis McCord (JBLM) Barracks Renewal Project
Four rainwater harvesting projects were completed between 2003 and 2005, integrated
with barracks renewal construction. The projects were early adopters of the technology.
The water was collected from the rooftop and directed it into a subsurface vault. The
water from the vault was used for non-potable uses — toilet flushing and landscape
irrigation. Over 800,000 gal storage dedicated for irrigation and just over 130,000 gal for
toilet flushing.

There were a number of lessons to be learned. The toilet systems had problems with
colored water and sediment in the water. Although this did not affect the performance of
the toilets, it presented an unpleasant appearance to users. It was found that using
higher quality, more expensive, auto-purging filters compared to manual purging filters
improved the water appearance to an acceptable level. A second problem was that the
system was prone to breakdowns and went through long periods of non-operation. It
was found that thorough training was required for operations and maintenance
personnel to keep the systems operating smoothly.

JBLM is still committed to rainwater harvesting, and has implemented different strategies
based on lessons learned from the early 2000s period. The focus on these projects has
been on irrigation, since toilet flushing was the most problematic aspect.

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[CASE STUDY]

10 The American Institute of Architects (AIA). 2015. Federal Center South Building 1202. AIA Top Ten. Available on-line:

http://www.aiatopten.org/node/204

Figure 8. A concrete rainwater collection vault used in the renewal barracks project at JBLM.

(Source: USACE, Seattle

District)

CASE STUDY 2: Federal Center South Building 1202
Federal Center South (Figure 9), located in Seattle, WA, serves as the Headquarters for
the USACE Seattle District (NWS) and is an award-winning building that was completed in
2012. It was a project responding to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(ARRA), which focused on improving infrastructure and providing jobs10, and is a 4.6-acre
development featuring a 209,000sf office structure. The total construction cost for the
project was $65 million and was completed on time and on budget.

http://www.aiatopten.org/node/204

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[CASE STUDY]

Figure 9. Federal Center South 1202, Seattle, WA. Headquarters for the USACE Seattle District. (source: USACE, Seattle

District)

The project features many innovative and state-of-the-art features to promote aggressive
energy performance and maximize sustainability. This includes a number of features to
enhance water conservation and sustainability, including the use of rainwater harvesting.

Rainwater is collected by a rooftop runoff system as well as by a soil infiltration system
and stored in a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. The collected water is used for toilet
flushing and irrigation. The goal of rainwater harvesting is to collect 430,000 gallons
annually. This would allow for 79% reduction of potable water needed for toilet flushing
and 14% reduction of potable water for irrigation. Collected rainwater is also used for
decorative water features in the building (Figure 10).

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[CASE STUDY]

11 Chaloeicheep, C.Q., C.F. Chatto, E. Clark. 2014. Shaped to Perform. High Performing Buildings. Fall: 18-27.

Figure 10. Decorative water feature supplied by harvested rainwater. (Source: USACE, Seattle District)

In addition to water conservation, the use of harvested rainwater contributes to the
remarkably high energy efficiency of the building11 . The effectiveness of the rainwater
harvesting system and other novel systems are maintained by periodic training of building
occupants and operators via the use of email blasts and bulletins (see
http://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/Training-Of-Building-Occupants-Operators-Is-
Critical-To-Maintaining-High-Performance–15035?source=part). Figure 11 is a schematic
of the rainfall collection system.

http://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/Training-Of-Building-Occupants-Operators-Is-Critical-To-Maintaining-High-Performance–15035?source=part

http://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/Training-Of-Building-Occupants-Operators-Is-Critical-To-Maintaining-High-Performance–15035?source=part

P a g e | 1 7

These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[CASE STUDY]

Figure 11. Schematic of the rainfall harvesting system at Federal Center South 1202 in Seattle, WA. (Source: GSA
Building 1202 Sustainability Brochure)

By all indications, the Federal Center South 1202 building appears to be a remarkably
engineered building, and the rainwater harvesting system is considered a success.
However, a complete assessment of the performance of the rainwater harvesting project
is not possible due to the relatively short period of operation, and because 2014 and 2015
have been unusually dry in the Seattle area.

Lessons
The two case studies present rainwater harvesting projects with ambitious goals of off-
setting potable water use by targeting both toilet flushing and irrigation. However, the
results were substantially different. The Barracks Renewal project was less successful and
eventually was discontinued, while the rainwater harvesting project at Federal Center
South 1202 is well conceived and is off to a highly successful start. The following are
some lessons that can be gleaned from these two projects:

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These TechNotes are intended to provide general information for the consideration of design strategies. The TechNotes should NOT be interpreted as an endorsement of any
specific product or technology.
Rainwater Harvesting
[CASE STUDY]

 The treatment protocol should be determined by the intended end use of the
harvested water.

 Building users should be educated about the plan to utilize harvested rainwater;
users will then be prepared for issues such as slightly discolored water.

 Provisions should be made for maintenance of the systems, including training for
maintenance staff and funding for time and supplies.

 Access to the underground vaults should be included.

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