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Water is an important element in everyday human and animal life. Over the recent years, concerns have been expressed with regard to the receding levels of the major water bodies in the world. The drop in volume has been attributed to global warming, a scenario that comes as a consequence of the greenhouse effect. Since the government began implementing the Code for Sustainable Homes, house designers have been focused on the aspect of water sustainability. They aim at reducing the ultimate impact of water shortages in homes and other social places. The code, therefore, has helped to establish the foundation for future regulations in construction, especially for those that relate to water conservation efforts. At the present, housing projects utilize standardized design elements that enable the houses to fall under the national standards for home sustainability (Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management, 2009).
In 1987, the United Nations Commission on Environment defined sustainable development as the path of socioeconomic and political progress that meets the present demand without impairing the capacity of the future generations to meet their own aspirations (Pirram, 2006). Additionally, the report indicated that the world population is growing at a rate that the current level of economic and physical resources can maintain. In this regard, the United Nations called on state members to institute strategies that would facilitate resource sustainability. In this case, the constructors were to incorporate water management systems in the buildings so as to economize the utilization of the limited volume that is in supply (Volkman, 2003).
In recent times, the issue of water conservation has been a key demand for the occupants and potential owners of newly developed homes. In housing projects, the initial units are aimed at inspiring exemplary achievement, greater innovation, and continuous improvement during the construction of the remaining portion. As such, construction companies ought to assess the work in an endeavor to improve water sustainability so as to enable the potential occupants to estimate the running costs of their homes (Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, 2007).
Although compliance with the Code for Sustainable Homes is currently voluntary, there may be a strict enforcement in the future, a situation which would ultimately label homes as unsuitable for the inhabitancy. For instance, in order to pass the water sustainability standards, there should be architecture defining the process of collecting, storing, distributing, and controlling the flow of water and water throw-out in the housing estate. The contemporary design of buildings contributes to the rise of a number of severe water conservation challenges. These challenges result from unrestrained consumption in an endeavor to meet cleaning, cooling, and cooking demands. One of strategies for waste reduction includes the incorporation of water harvesting facilities so as to enable neighborhoods become water efficient (Waterwise, 2009).
Water sustainability has been making councils and private home owners skeptical of the development strategies. As such, the inhabitants of towns welcome any move which is aimed at promoting an adequate supply of water for domestic consumption. As much as the companies emphasize on reducing carbon emissions, observers have insisted that such developers should not downplay the importance of having a reliable flow of water in places with human habitation. The Code for Sustainable Homes is a building regulation that incorporates multiple aspects of construction as well as their environmental impact (Thomas, 1998). Some of the design categories established within the code include water conservation and energy/CO2. There should be a design strategy that facilitates water supply, either from the public systems or from ground resources. Additionally, constructors ought to tackle the runoff patterns of surface water that is likely to result from the housing development. The water used for construction may come from creeks, dams, taps, or from recycled sources. There are situations in which water needs to be treated before it can be used for the construction purpose (Goodman, 2011).
Contamination by pathogens and microbes threatens the lives of human beings and household animals. Additionally, there are levels of contamination that can make water unsuitable for the construction. Impurities in water threaten every living organism in the environment. These impurities make a locality unsuitable for habitation due to the environmental destabilization that occurs as a result. For this reason, it is advisable to remove all the impurities from waste water before disposing it to the ecosystem. Such safety measures are undertaken in an endeavor to minimize the instances of imbalances in the ecosystem.
Constructors ought to come up with the strategies that meet the rates of daily water consumption in homes. Utilization of water in the household accounts for over a half of the entire volume that is utilized for human consumption. In most instances, there is a need to recycle the available volume of water so as to enhance its sufficiency through the reuse. With a quarter of the entire human water consumption being utilized in agricultural practices, it is evident that a significant volume of water is wasted through leakages (Jensen et al, 1994). Therefore, there is a need to enhance water preservation in homes and offices in an endeavor to sustain the rising demand.
In line with the code of sustainable constructions, houses should be designed in a manner that utilizes renewable sources of energy for much of their heating and cooling. While reducing the complexity, various companies need to utilize their expertise in solar geometry so as to incorporate window technology in a manner that exploits the local climate. Effective exploitation would, therefore, facilitate the heating, cooling, and ventilation whenever necessary (McArthur, 2010). Solar technology has been one of the greatest achievements in energy conservation. Its innovation was inspired by the high oil prices in the international market. In this regard, designers, homeowners, and builders strive for an increase in energy efficiency through the utilization of the renewable fuels for cooling and heating their homes. They endeavor to utilize building elements that collect and retain solar energy for a substantial amount of time. One of the suchlike materials is water, especially when it is utilized as a thermal mass. The use of water in such circumstances appeals because of its cheapness, simplicity, and install ability on structures without the requirement for special equipments (Lyster, 2007).
One of the greatest achievements in energy conservation has been a water wall. Its innovation was inspired by the high oil prices in the international market. Designers, homeowners, and builders had hoped to increase energy efficiency through the utilization of renewable fuels for cooling and heating their homes (Downey, 2010). They endeavored to utilize building elements that collect and retain solar energy for a substantial amount of time. Passive solar designs possess a number of unique features that make them preferable to active systems (Goodman, 2011). Passive solar designs utilize climatic resources in the provision of energy for heating, ventilation, and cooling. They are not dependant on auxiliary energy sources. Additionally, they are cheap, simple, and installable on structures without the requirement for special equipments.
Water walls refer to the utilization of water as the thermal mass in a passive solar design. Utilization of passive water wall design has been the most attractive development. Water provides the required thermal mass at a cost lower than the phase change salts and concrete. Water walls are easy and economical to install on new constructions (Burkhard &Craig, 2000). They have proved to be more effective in cooling and heating as compared to masonry, especially in localities where night temperatures are cool. As compared to the phase change storage, water walls prove to be more flexible as they can be applied in heating as well as in cooling. Furthermore, they do not have a critical operating temperature. As opposed to concrete, water walls are disguisable and occupy smaller space (Roy et al, 2011). They have proved to be extremely comfortable as they possess a large radiant exposure on the inside. When need arises, water walls are retrofitted easily and economically.
The process is categorized into three techniques: isolated gain, direct gain, and indirect gain. Direct gain refers to radiation that is directed and stored in a living space. Indirect gain concentrates solar radiation before distributing it through the use of a unique thermal storage medium. Through convention, radiation, and conduction, the energy can be transferred or used for heating and cooling of a certain home. Isolated gain designs facilitate the collection of solar radiations at a selectively sealed location. The radiations are then utilized in the house as the need arises (Pirram, 2006). As pointed out in the introduction, effective application of passive solar design is an age old technique. The current technology can, therefore, improve on the earlier gains so as to make modern residential buildings safer and more environmentally friendly.
Water and Home Construction
During the construction, civil engineers install taps that reduce continuous flow of water. As such, toilets and bathrooms are equipped with the facilities that are capable of holding water for as long as it is required by the user. Reducing leakages is an economical way of preserving water resources for future use. With regard to the irrigation, sprinklers are installed in a manner that enhances the effectiveness so as to eliminate the necessity of having to leave taps running for an extended duration of time. Water efficiency and conservation cannot be attained unless the leakage targets offset losses and inefficiencies (Dawes & Hackles, 2007).
During the construction, architects ensure that they utilize pavements which are made of permeable materials so as to facilitate the reduction of the runoff, a situation that helps to avert flooding. At the same time, architects enhance harvesting of water that can be utilized for the irrigation and cleaning (Downey, 2010). The construction design and permeable pavements allow for water to filter into the underside of pavements, and this prevents water from becoming an obstacle to movement. The water is then collected within an area above the impermeable membrane. The collected water will then be directed to the perforated collector pipe and further into the grey water-recycling tank. This is in a bid to attain a target of 38 cubic meters of rainwater accumulated per unit household (Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, 2007). This is believed to cut on the costs of buying water since the recycled water can be used for various things, including drinking and cooking. This way, water can be preserved for future use within a household and for the Welch as a whole. Most housing projects aim at meeting the needs of residents and companies in the locality without posing a possible threat to the surrounding ecosystems.
In addition to specially constructed pavements, rainwater can be collected from the roofs into a reservoir tank that is, consequently, connected to the microbial treatment and sanitizer boilers that purify water for the domestic and company use. The gutters collect all the water that flows from the roofs. Given their cylindrical shape, little amount of water is wasted at the points of collection. Rain harvesting is cheap because, apart from the initial cost of installing containers, little effort is required to the effect collection (Hunt, 2007). This helps in saving money as the home owner does not have to pay the bills for such a water harvesting. Such ventures are among the most effective sustainability strategies as the water collected can be utilized for the purposes such as cleaning and irrigation, thereby not requiring enhanced purification. In addition to providing the water for domestic use, water harvesting facilitates environmental conservation as it helps in preventing flooding (French & Krajewski, 1994).
Most engineers implement the vision of fitting houses with water saving implements. For example, fitting the washrooms with a dual flush coupled toilet and seat. This has a small and a large button that is pressed in flushing the toilet. The user of the toilet can decide whether to flush the small flush button and save 33% of water or to press the large flush button and save 26.6% of water for an average toilet flush. In addition, civil engineers fit aerated showerheads that maintain a strong stream of water by mixing air in the shower water such that the water flows at 8 liters per minute. This is contrary to the normal 14 liters per minute although both deliver 3 bars within the specified time and speed. This alteration on the showerhead saves up to 45% of water that is consumed (Pingping et al, 2011). In addition, water taps may be fitted with the water breaks that set the amount of water that flows through the tap.
The choices of the consumers and civil engineers in conserving water are unlimited. Flow restrictors may be used to reduce water consumption by imposing a physical constriction that controls the amount of water that flows through the tap at any given time. The devises that are used for such measures are not expensive and are accessible in many outlets that deal with the civil engineering equipment (Roy et al, 2011). The conservation of water and willingness to do so is not a problem of the engineers alone; the consumers must also make individual choices to conserve water. The water processing equipment is not expensive. The toilet and bathroom equipment geared towards water conservation comes in a variety of prices that allow members of any social class to conserve water (Adams & Younge, 2005). Much, while treating the water, may require expertise; collecting of grey water and conservation does not require any specific qualifications. The consumer can control leakages from taps and overflows to conserve water while protecting the environment at the same time.
Several constructors install structures that enable surface drainage. This calls for an effective collection and recycling of surface or rainwater. Much of this water is that which overflow various reservoirs during the instances of excessive rains. Construction companies find it challenging to implement low cost water sanitations and treatment programs (Burkhard &Craig, 2000). This is because there is a level of pathogens and impurities that will determine the extent and uses that the recycled and/or harvested water can be utilized. In housing projects, there are sanitation systems that endeavor at ensuring high hygienic standards, most of which facilitate the control of damaging contamination. Water treatment strategies help in retrieving nutrients, most of which are reused in agricultural practices (Weatherhead et al, 1997). This works in reducing the overall demand for water resources, thereby making it cheap and sustainable over a long period of time.
If the ecological wastewater treatment was to be achieved, a closed-loop treatment system is recommended. Most water management companies are currently using a disposal-based linear system. However, water conservation can only be attained when the current linear treatment methods are transformed into the cyclical treatment methods. Using organic waste water cycles always provides an approach for managing all the valuable wastewater resources (Treolar, 2011). When organic wastewater is not recovered in urban areas, the chemicals and particles from wastewater may flow to the surrounding rivers, thereby posing a threat to the natural aquatic ecosystems. The chemicals may, in addition, affect the general well-being of humans in these areas because we depend on the organisms that live within the same ecosystem. For example, humans feed on fishes and other seafood (Kat-Reynen & Hattum, 2006). Their contamination amounts to various illnesses of the entire population.
The main goal of civil engineering is to form homes that promote health and wellbeing of all the life forms that exist therein. It is also committed to creating a transport system that is in harmony with the environment. Sources include bath, shower, hand basin water, washing machine, dishwasher, and a kitchen sink. The major constituents of these sources of water to be recycled are odors, oil, oxygen, and food particles (Royal Society of New South Wales). There are also organic matter, grease, suspended solids, and turbidity. There is, hence, a need for the separation of water before it’s getting into the first treatment point. This is because different impurities require different treatments, which also have varying costs. Housing projects should hence be prepared on their plan to enhance water recycling and reuse to put up cost-effective approaches (Maidment & Miaou, 1986).
Water preservation and conservation presents several advantages to members of the community. Although civil engineers are mandated with ensuring that water is conserved in an ethical and environmentally friendly environment, it can only be attained by the cooperation between the community and/or consumers and the engineers. This can be achieved by the community education programs in which engineers teach the community members how to conserve water in a cost-effective manner. The engineers can further manage the water demand and link back to the ecosystem (Welsh, 2005). This can also be achieved by using a variety of approaches in conserving water, for example, making drainage pipes. If need be, there should be installations consisting of internal drainage systems. The systems should be connected to the water treatment and purification units to enhance its reusability in any domain. Water sources can also be preserved; for example, by using the taps that have different levels of water release depending on the intended use (Makropoulos et al, 2008).
Housing projects would need adequate infrastructure to be able to carry on with the water conservation strategies. Among the infrastructure that these projects would need are a properly structured water management cycle, rain water tanks, bioremediation, separation of grey, black, and storm water, no portable water use in construction sites, and wetland retention equipment. In urban planning, housing projects ought to embrace multiple uses of open spaces and ensure that the storm water is reused. In addition, it could adopt a water sensitive urban design while incorporating aesthetic value into the open space areas that use the storm water drainage and manage the water cycle (United States Environmental Protection Agency March, 2005). The quality of water could be improved by treating the storm water.
Housing projects need to implement strategies that aim at enhancing sustainability. As such, there should be an effective harvesting of rainwater as well as the integration of several water management technologies. Construction companies ought to install effective appliances in toilets and bathrooms so as to hold water for as long as it is required (Jarvis & Haygarth, 2002). This can be further promoted by considering the implementation of the construction site management plans. The management plans include using mulch to reduce the amount of water used in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens, sweeping sidewalks to minimize the amount of water used in washing and control the blockage on drain ways. This also reduces the pollution of water that goes through storm drains. Pools and hot tubs should also be covered to minimize water that is lost through the evaporation. If these aims are to be achieved, the infrastructure used in collecting water must be kept in a good condition (Office of Environment and Heritage, 2011). The water gauge, collecting tanks, and drainage ways should be maintained in a good condition such that they do not leak and pose a threat to the users.