Net Zero Water Rating
Before delving into what Net Zero Water Rating is, let me first enlighten you about its history. To begin with, I’d like to point out to LEED – an initiative by the U.S. Green Building Council. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design provides a set of standards to help building owners or builders decrease their environmental impact and utilize their resources more effectively. With the increasing environmental disruption caused by the global human ‘development’ inititatives, several countries adopted and appropriated LEED based measures to combat regional crises. For example, in India, Indian Green Buildings Council (IGBC) was formed under the Confederation of Indian Industries. IGBC offers offers a wide array of services which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes.
To further improve the water performance in buildings and built environment projects, IGBC launched Net Zero Water Rating system in 2020. This rating is a tool which enables the designer to apply water efficiency concepts and adopt appropriate measures for harnessing alternate water to achieve Net Zero Water Status. In case of an existing building, the tool enables implementation of water efficient measures to reduce overall water consumption and encourages projects to meet rest of the water requirements through alternate water.
IGBC Net Zero Water Rating System is designed for both New and Existing building and built environment projects. The project team can evaluate all the possible points to apply under the rating system using a checklist. The project can apply for IGBC Net Zero Water Rating System certification if the project can meet all mandatory requirements:
- Water Performance Ratio (% use of alternate water to total water consumption) shall be more than 0.75 (but less than 1)
- Net Raw Water consumption shall be zero
- Furthermore, to achieve Net Water Positive (Platinum rating) Status, the water given back to source shall be more than 1.05%.
In addition, IGBC Net Zero Water Rating system is designed for both new and existing buildings and built environment projects. These buildings include (but are not limited to)
- Offices, IT parks, Banks, Shopping malls, Hotels, Convention Centre
- Hospitals, Transit facilities (Airports Metro and Railway Stations)
- Educational institutions (Schools, Colleges, University campuses etc.), and
- Industrial buildings (factory buildings and Warehouses).
Net Zero Water Building Examples
The following two examples illustrate the concept of a net zero water building using buildings with different approaches to achieving net zero water.
With all this information at your disposal, you might probably wonder about the different ways to optimise the water consumption in new and old buildings and achieve this certification. Here’s my take on how Soil Scape Filter technology can easily optimise water consumption by recycling 80% of wastewater produced in all the above categories of buildings and help your establishment achieve a Platinum Net Zero Water Rating in India:
Off late, this eco-technology was enlisted as ‘innovative’ by the Ministry of Jal Shakti and it surely has a strong reason. The SSF Technology, as seen in the image above, is installed in the front-yard of a ‘She Toilet’ at Nizampet, Telangana.
SSF is a vertical eco-filtration system of treating wastewater through the layers of sand, gravel, and biologically activated soil called as ORGANOTREAT®. This biodegradation process releases nutrients in simple forms which can be absorbed by plants for their growth. In the entire process of cleansing water SSF does not require any electricity; even more, there is no requirement of regular dosing of the microbial consortia, and skilled labourers for O&M.
The most significant feature is that SSF technology requires 1.5 sqm / KLD space, but can be tailor constructed in any available shape. This implies that SSF Technology can fit on the compound walls, between poles / ducts – thereby saving a lot of extra space that is usually required by other conventional technologies.
Soil Scape Filter technology
All the features of the SSF technology combined makes it a perfect fit for any establishment, old or new. Its ability to treat wastewater (sewage and effluent) and make 80% of it available for reuse (flushing, gardening / washing) reduces the demand for raw / fresh water and groundwater. Isn’t it a clear win-win?
To summarise in brief, I would point towards the initiative of IGBC’s Net Zero Water Rating system as a means to optimise the use of water across India. By having a higher rating, it would imply that the establishment is ‘water positive’, or where water consumption is optimum. It is a sad state of affairs that a rating system is required to flush our mindsets into accepting and achieving the optimisation of the very substance that helps us live! I have attempted to explain how SSF technology can be a wonder for establishments to achieve IGBC’s Net Zero Water rating. While there are other bioremediation and phytoremediation technologies in the market, the use of a special microbial consortia in the SSF system makes it stand out from its competitors. Finally, for this 2020 directive to reach all builders, architects, and professionals under MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) might perhaps take many years considering the pending issues, ongoing issues, and in general for the mindset change to happen. It would hence be every readers’ responsibility to maximise the outreach of this information in any form possible.
Author: Mohanish Jaju