California city’s plan for net zero building includes net zero water usage

Santa Monica city services building aims for highest level of sustainability.

December 09, 2016 |

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The city of Santa Monica, Calif., intends to construct a 50,000 sf city services building that will not only aim for net zero energy, but also net zero water usage.

The structure will be designed to meet the requirements of the International Living Future Institute’s “Living Building Challenge,” the most stringent environmental building standard in the world. Plans call for the building to collect rainwater for treatment and reuse—a system that would be a first for California. 

The challenge will be to design a system that will allow California’s Division of Drinking Water to permit its use. The 2013 California Plumbing Code allows rainwater collected onsite to be a source for potable water, but no such systems have been permitted in the state to date.

The project, particularly the approaches to water use, could set precedents for other green buildings in California. With the state suffering through a multi-year drought, the project could become a welcome trendsetter.

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