Sustainable Design for the 21st Century

RAIN . . . . an Untapped Natural Resource!

By Brent Sauser

Rain 01

They don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothing.  Take away the sun for a few days and introduce rain into the gloomy equation, and Floridians get really cranky.  It has been raining the past few days in Central Florida, and along with the unwelcome lower temperatures come increased grousing about the rainy Raion Gutter 01weather.  We Floridians love our sunshine!

I had the occasion to go out into the rain to do some errands.  While warming up the car I took a minute to watch the rain fall.  It traveled from the roof of my house, to the rain gutters and downspouts, then to the driveway, where it eventually reached the street curb.  It would then find its way to a public storm drain to feed the nearby retention pond and, ultimately, percolate down into the underground aquifer.  I didn’t see anything particularlyrain storm drain 01 strange about the path of travel, that is, until I thought of it in context to becoming Net Zero.  Then, it didn’t make much sense at all! is dedicated to providing greater awareness in the pursuit of becoming energy independent in our design and construction practices. After all, God-given sun light is free and technology has enabled us to capture this free, retention pond 03sustainable, renewable resource with cost competitive photovoltaic systems, thereby allowing our buildings to produce MORE energy than they consume over the course of a year.  In like manner the rain we receive is a God-given natural resource that is also free for the taking.  Question is . . . . rain water 00What are we doing to harvest all this wonderful, free rain water?  If you are like me, not much.  Regardless of the time of year, most of the rain that falls within my property lines ends up in a retention pond.  That is NOT Net Zero thinking!

Rain Barrel 04It wasn’t always that way.  Back in a time where we didn’t have the luxury of public utilities to provide us with treated potable water, we had to fend for ourselves.  We dug wells, sometimes very deep wells to reach water, and we used rain barrels to capture the water from the rain.  Back then, rain water was as good as gold duringrain water harvesting 02 the dry season.  Many had multiple rain barrels to capture as much FREE rain water as possible.  Today, however, too many of us rely totally on the public utility to provide our potable and irrigation water.  We look at rain as just another natural nuisance . . . like the wind.

rain water harvesting 03It would be a mistake to concentrate solely on energy conservation without any attention to water conservation.  Many wonderful strides have been taken in the field of water harvesting that deserves mention.  It can be as simple as a rain barrel connected to a downspout, or as sophisticated as a large underground cistern system, depending on the specific rain barrel 03application.  Well thought out systems of every type and size are available for use.  With the severe drought going on in California, I wonder if any residents have changed their mind in regard to personal water conservation.

When you really think about it, rain water harvesting rain water harvesting 04makes good common sense.  Think of it this way . . . Instead of rain, dollar bills fell from the sky, would you let them drain away into a nearby retention rain water harvesting 05pond.  I don’t think so.  Not only does harvesting rain water make good common sense, it saves you money from water not provided by the public utility, and saves them money for not having to expand to cover increased demand.  So like sunlight, rain provides similar cost saving opportunities for us, if we are smart enough to take advantage of them.

Category: Editorial
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    March 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm

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