Water! Our most used resource on the earth, it makes up more than 55% of all of us but needs to be integrated more into architecture. As extreme weather events become more common, we need to care more about where the water comes from, how we use it and what happens when it leaves our buildings.
When I teach whole life carbon assessment, I start by reminding people that there is more than one crisis and we need to aim to be able to measure the ecological, social justice and water impacts too. Changing sea temperatures not only affects sea life, it reduces the oceans ability to store carbon.
I’ve combined a few of my research interests; carbon reduction, sustainable water and ecology promotion. Hopefully people can use the B7 Operational Water carbon values here to be able to consider water more in the design process and the system drawn has almost everything to show what’s possible.
The word occupant is consciously used instead of person; this isn’t intended as an attack on individuals and telling them to reduce their carbon footprints and water usage. Instead it’s intended as a tool for designers to minimise water and carbon usage. This could be protecting space for storage, including access in layouts and making structures strong enough.
When I first started this diagram (in 2020) the emissions were much higher, supplied water was 344 kgCO2e/m³ and treatment was 708 kgCO2e/m³. Since 2021 those are now much lower at 149 kgCO2e/m³ and 272 kgCO2e/m³. It is likely due to changes in the process and a greener power grid but I have yet to confirm this.
Colour coding systems seem to vary between when showing information at national or building scale. So I created my own that I’ve used here:
Black – Foul/Waste/Black Water
Blue – Drinking/Potable Water
Green – Plant/Topsoil/Green Water
Grey – Grey Water
Orange – Groundwater
Purple – Water Heating
Red – Hot Water
White – Steam/Airborne Water
If you are interested in understanding more about water design and blue-green infrastructure, check out Nanco Dolman and his presentations on Research Gate. He is incredibly knowledgeable and clear in his descriptions of things.
You can see more of my diagrams here.