School of AR-ID-BE
4th Quarter SY 2017-2018
Architectural Design 9 – Thesis Research Writing
AR200 – BR1
Review Of Related Literature – Draft
How can we maximize the water usage in buildings in order to achieve a closed loop waste-to-resource system?
Jaeya P. Ibañez2014170208
Arch. Anna Christina EaldamaDate Submitted:
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
As buildings continue to rapidly dominate nature, soon the environment will not be able to sustain the needs of modern civilization, leaving nothing for the generations to come. Architecturally, sustainability is the automatic remedy, but as new problems arise, a new approach is needed to address this ever-growing issue. One of which is Regenerative design, a concept loosely based on sustainability that not only could withstand its surroundings but could also complement and recondition its environment rather than depleting it.
2.1 Environmental problems in the Philippines
Aside from the Philippines being a frequent target of natural disaster such as typhoons and earthquakes, it faces multiple environmental problems such as pollution, depletion of natural resources, coastal and soil erosion, extinction of wildlife, as well as global warming and climate change. One of the biggest challenges that the country is facing is scarcity of clean water resources in multiple regions, including Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Central Visayas. About 70% or 160 billion cm3 of all potable water in the country is wasted CITATION Rho12 l 13321 (Villanueva, 2012). This is because only about 10% of wastewater is actually treated and the remaining is usually lost or unused due to poor management during irrigation and 58% of water resources are highly polluted. The condition of the Philippines’ ecosystem is drastically changing, leaving both the environment and its inhabitants’ health at risk. A problem that concerns not only those who are directly involved but the general public as well.
2.2 Architecture’s attempt to provide a solution
CITATION USG16 l 13321 (US Green Buildings Council, 2016) stated that buildings are proven to be large contributors to the decline of the Earth’s condition either in short span or long term. Aside from the damages they cause due to wastage of energy and raw materials, and emission of carbon, 13.6% of total clean water consumption are allotted to buildings, which is estimated to be 15 gallons of water with more than a half of its total percentage is wasted.
As a solution to all the troubles that buildings cause, the concept of sustainability resurfaced in the practice of architecture. Sustainable, as per definition of CITATION Bru83 l 13321 (Brundtland Commission, 1983), is meeting the present needs of society without compromising the needs of future generation. These days, the words “energy-efficient”, “eco-friendly”, “green building”, and “ecological design” are almost inevitable in the discussion of architecture and although it has numerous terms, collectively, their main idea is to make a building sustainable. The application of these concepts makes a building more environmentally sensitive, emitting less impact, and creating a better surrounding for people.
Though sustainability continues to advocate an efficient development for our society, environment, and economy, CITATION Hes15 l 13321 (Hes & du Plessis, 2015) consider this as a flawed model for development. The Utopian idea of changing the world from its unsustainable state to a sustainable condition is unattainable at the moment due to inconsistency in the definition of sustainability and the vision of it, and the failure of sustainability to adapt to our diverse and ever-changing environment. It seems like sustainable architecture doesn’t aim farther than making buildings less environmentally damaging. Though sustainability was a big step in solving the problem, the bar of expectation for sustainable buildings to save the environment is set at a low point, that if a building is designed with acknowledgement the environment, it is already deemed as a success. It’s time to step up and take further actions.
2.3 Regenerative Architecture – A different approach
CITATION Bil11 l 13321 (Reed, From Sustainability through Regeneration: Whole and Living System Design, 2011), a prominent architect and a former co-chair of the LEED Technical committee, discussed in one of his presentation that sustainability is no longer the solution to the environmental challenges that we are facing. He suggested that while sustainability was a great stepping stone for solving the problem, it is not the actual solution, for the world is a complex and diverse system and by simply applying sustainable design is oversimplifying and dumbing the whole world down. The environment does not need our protection but rather it needs our alliance in order to grow and develop. In lieu of his beliefs, Reed co-founded a development group called Regenesis. The group’s main advocate is to start a new and better wave than sustainability in architecture called Regenerative architecture.
Regenerative means to create again or to bring something back to life. As CITATION Ree07 l 13321 (Reed, Shifting from ‘sustainability’ to regeneration, 2007) stated, Regenerative architecture is a new concept that goes beyond sustainability with the sole purpose of making both the environmental and societal conditions better, and not just minimizing the negative impacts. Regenerative architecture employs a complete understanding of the biotic and abiotic systems in the understanding a structure. The three main goals of a successful regenerative design are the following; (1) The integration of local energy production, (2) The integration of local resource/food production methods, and (3) has a “closed-loop” waste-to-resource system, usually by means of recycling and reusing resource up to its optimal usage to maximize its potential. Buildings that are regenerative should not only the building be self-sustaining, but if possible, it should sustain its surroundings as well.
2.3.1 Integration of local energy production
Using fossil fuel as a source of energy has been frowned upon by environmentalists given that it is a finite resource, and plays a big role in the emission of greenhouse gases. By no means is using alternative sources of energy a new concept.. The most common renewable energy sources are solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass. Renewable energy resources have been popular over the last decade and has been one of the go-to innovations that architects use in buildings to make it somehow sustainable.
2.3.2 Integration of local resource/food production methods
CITATION Hol78 l 13321 (Holgrem ; Mollison, 1978) coined the term permaculture, a portmanteau of permanent and agriculture. Permaculture concentrates on the care for the planet, care for its inhabitants, and setting restrictions in number of people and their consumption. Not only does this secure the food safety and supply of the area but it also lessens the pollution, wastes, and costs compares to standard farming. Some of the common innovations applied in architecture today that exercises the concept of permaculture is rainwater harvesting, vertical gardens, and rooftop gardens.
2.3.3 Closed-loop waste-to-resource system
As defined by ecologists, a closed-loop system is basically a cycle that does not exchange matter outside its system. Although the Earth itself is the only thing that can be on a closed-loop system, numerous industrial subsystems aspire to be as close-looped as possible. A closed-loop system may be possible through reusing, recycling, and recovery of resources. For example, on a par with the first principle of regenerative design, the wastes from the energy produced locally by the structure can be recovered and reused. Another is maximizing the use of water in a building, wherein rainwater and wastewater can be harvested, filtered, and refined to provide, if not drinkable, at least, potable water.
This aspect of regenerative design is highly applicable for the cases of wasted water here in the Philippines. Considering that more than half of water resources in the country is being depleted, introducing a new resource system can help provide better living conditions for inhabitants and a better situation for the environment.
2.4 Existing projects
Muntinlupa is one of the cities in the country that has dealt with water related problems due to the scarcity of clean water and lack of proper water management system. Public markets in Muntinlupa city has been disposing its untreated wastewater to nearby streams which then directs into the Laguna de Bay which is one of the main clean water sources of NCR. Due to the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, the city is obliged to act upon the issue and improve their services to the communities and environment.
The local government of the city searched for a low-cost system that would allow them to build their wastewater treatment facility near the public market in order to conform with the guidelines of the Clean Water Act and furthermore, to avoid the closure of the marketplace and loss of source of income for the city.
The city decided to utilize a hybrid sanitation technology as well as cocopeat, an ecofriendly and 100% organic material from coconut husks, as an alternative filter to strain treated water. After a year of completion, the new wastewater treatment facility of the city was able to decrease the water pollution level from 600 mg/liter to less than 30 mg/liter, comply to the Clean Water act of 2004, insure the source of income of vendors, recycle water from wastewater into reusable potable water, and save the public market an approximate of PHP 100,000 of operational costs.
The budgetary aspect for the project was considered as well as the financial standing of its potential users, something that some practitioners of green architecture often forgets due to the cost of sustainable design. Another innovation that served this project well was the use of local materials, the cocopeat as a water filter. Not only did this decision kept the costs of the project to a minimum, but also provided employment and generated income to the local coconut industry.
On a global scale, one of the existing projects in the world that is considered to be Regenerative is the proclaimed “North America’s Greenest Building” is located at the campus of University of British Columbia, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability. The building is designed to be completely water self-sufficient, with two different water system to attain this goal, namely the Rainwater system and the Reclaimed water system.
Rain that falls on the 1000 m2 roof collection area on the building harvests about 1,226,000 liters per year to support the average demand for clean water of 2000 liters/day which includes domestic use, commercial use, cleaning services, and building maintenance. The remaining 57,000 liters is dedicated for the fire suppression system.
The reclaimed water they utilize for the water closets, irrigation of greenhouses, landscapes, and vertical gardens is either from the building itself or from the wastewater treated on-site by utilizing a solar aquatics bio-filtration system. Per day, they acquire about 10,000 treated wastewater and uses only about 7000 liters of it per day by the building functions and the excess is fed back to the sewer line.
In addition, as part of CIRS’s mission to spread awareness of sustainable design and to educate people, they wanted to expose the systems of the building as much as possible. They made the wastewater treatment system to be plainly noticeable to visitors and bystanders by putting their vertical gardens and green walls on the southwest corner of the building.
Through architectural theories such as, proper site selection, building orientation, usage of proper materials, as well as the application of utilitarian thinking, that all elements must have an important role in the overall performance of the building and with the aid of modern technology, this building with its innovative attempt to partake in restoring the environment by treating water as a scarce resource and regenerating and prolonging the use of water is an exemplifying example on how architecture should be in response to the Earth’s prevalent problem.
2.5 Designing with nature for nature
Creating a whole new built environment that collaborates not only with people but as well as with nature is the core ideology of regenerative design. Designing a structure with environmental regeneration in mind might be the key to completely diminishing the negative impacts of buildings to our home planet. However, further research is needed in order to fully understand the aspects of nature that designers might be missing and develop a new system, with regeneration, to address today’s challenges and to provide a better future for the upcoming generations. A further research on the current state of environment in the Philippines and if regenerative design is feasible and truly applicable is needed as well.
Villanueva, R. (2012, March 23). 70 percent of water in the Philippines wasted. Philstar Global.
Claudio, L. (2015). Watewater Management in the Philippines. Environmental Management Bureau Conference. Region 3.
US Green Buildings Council. (2016). Impacts of Buildings to the Environment. US Green Buildings Council.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Brundtland Commission. (1983). Sustainable Development. United Nations Report.
Ghani, F. (2012, February 8). Issues in Sustainable Architecture and Possible. Pune, India: International Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering.
Hes, D., & du Plessis, C. (2015). Designing for hope, Pathways to Regenerative Sustainability. NY: Routledge.
Reed, B. (2007). Shifting from ‘sustainability’ to regeneration.
Regenesis Group. (n.d.). Manifesto. Retrieved from Regenesis Group Website: https://regenesisgroup.com/manifesto/
Reed, B. (2011). From Sustainability through Regeneration: Whole and Living System Design. Green Building Alliance’s Green, Healthy School. Pittsburgh: YERT – Your Environmental Road Trip.
Holgrem, D., ; Mollison, B. (1978). https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=renewable_home
Energy Information Administration. (2017). Renewable Energy Sources – Energy Explained. Retrieved from Energy Information Administration Website:
Sustainable Plant. (n.d.). Closed Loop system. Retrieved from Sustainable Plant Website: http://www.sustainableplant.com/topics/closed-loop/
United Nations ESCAP. (2009). Wastewater Treatment Facility in the Muntinlupa Public Market. Muntinlupa: UNESCAP.
University of British Columbia. (2011). UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability. Retrieved from Youtube: Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzNZO7WXBw4