Chapter 1IntroductionIntroduction”To have risked so much in our efforts to mold nature to our satisfaction and yet to have failed in achieving our goal would indeed by the final irony. Yet this, it seems, is our situation.”, an excerpt from Rachel Carson CITATION Car62 l 13321 (Carson, 1962) ‘s phenomenal book, Silent Spring that sparked the flame of the global movement to conserve the environment. The said book was named one of the most influential books in the scientific world and had raised many environmental arguments throughout the decades which helped established the people’s right to a clean environment.
Climate change and Global warming are not new concepts presented to the public. As early as the late 1890s, scientists already predicted that a decline in the overall health of our planet will occur in the next century. Though they were not the first doing so, both CITATION Joh72 l 13321 (Sawyer, 1972) and CITATION Wal75 l 13321 (Broecker, 1975) predicted that a change of climate in a global scale will occur due to human activities. This concerned the public, causing global organizations to form agreements to take actions into preserving the environment. Numerous agreements were formed, but the most successful ones were the mitigation of ozone depletion or the Vienna Convention of 1985 and the regulation of acid rain on a national and regional level or the Montreal Protocol of 1987
In the present day, the Earth’s condition is far from healthy or even recovering. Carbon emission has increased reaching 404 parts-per-million, 6% jump from the past decade which was 382 PPM, meaning more heat is trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. The surface temperatures global are increasing at an alarming rate and will continue to do so in the upcoming years according to CITATION NAS16 l 13321 (NASA/GISS, 2016). Though knowledge on environmental problems have expanded and new technologies are being developed and formed to conform to the said global challenges, the fate of the planet Earth is still at large due to its inhabitants pulling the planet past its quota. But like CITATION Car62 l 13321 (Carson, 1962) said in Silent Spring, “The choice after all, is ours to make.”
Background of the StudyTo simply put it, global warming is a rapid rise of surface temperature globally. The fastest rate of its instantaneous upsurge was recorded to have occurred over the last decade and scientist predicted that the global temperature over the next few decades is going nowhere but up. What causes this phenomenon is the greenhouse effect, which is basically when air pollutants like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases all clump up in the Earth’s troposphere. These gases are responsible for heating the Earth through absorption of solar radiation and light. Usually, after disseminating heat, the radiation produced would eventually leave the atmosphere, but since they’re abundant now, they tend to build up and trap the heat, making the Earth hotter than necessary. CITATION Ama16 l 13321 (MacMillan, 2016)Who are the culprits of climate change? It is in no doubt that human activities are the main source of the increase of GHG in the atmosphere over the past century. A huge chunk of it is from transportation, energy usage, and the industry, while partially, though equally damaging, are agriculture and buildings CITATION Uni16 l 13321 (USEPA, 2016). Over the past century, several sectors of the planet has suffered the consequences of this phenomenon and humans have relentlessly tried to reverse its effects. Global warming has greatly impacted not only the environment through melting ice caps, extreme natural calamities and disruption of biological systems, but the social systems as well that affects human greatly. Human health, Food production, and Water supply all have been compromised and are considered to be vulnerable. The unpredicted and extreme weather that the environment is experiencing have damaged the health of the ecosystem needed for food production and water supply. CITATION Ros07 l 13321 (Rosenzweig & Casassa, 2007)Buildings being one of the major contributors in climate change must cope with these changes happening in our planet. Architects being the ones responsible for creating a built environment should not only design buildings fit for the needs of humans, should also consider the demands of the environment. Aside from lessening the environmental impacts of buildings by using alternative sources of energy and such, built environment also has the potential to address social issues, like aiding food production and securing water supply. With this potential, built environment has the power to not only save the environment but may revive it as well.
As of today, buildings are well on their way of using vertical and rooftop gardens to promote local food production in urban areas, through this, buildings are securing food supply and lessening their impacts in the urban heat island effect. As for water supply, Rainwater harvesting is now a system being used to acquire more clean water aside from the conventional groundwater. But what about the water that is currently being used and wasted throughout the building? This shall be further addressed later in the research paper. In the Philippines where multiple regions lack in clean water supply, but is a place that is prone to typhoons and heavy rainfalls CITATION Sop13 l 13321 (Brown, 2013), a study based on the maximization of water usage will be fitting for their situation.
Statement of the Problem
On a par with the Vitruvian triad, Strength, Function, and Beauty, a new criterion for a building should be added. Regenerative – in which the building adapts to the environment and enhances it ecologically throughout its entire lifespan CITATION VAM06 l 13321 (Metallinou, 2006). Built environment, like natural environment, should evolve overtime. Buildings are created to meet the needs of people but soon, if the environmental issues that the planet faces are not addressed, there would be no place and no natural resources left for future generations to use. If possible, built environment should compensate for the damages that human activities have caused, create better living conditions, and be self-sustaining to avoid further depletion of natural resources.
Which leads to the main question of this thesis, How can we maximize the water usage in buildings to achieve a closed loop waste-to-resource system?
Other questions that the paper aims to answer by the end of the study are as follows:
How can it be possible to minimize water supply enough to fit the needs of the people and without compromising their lifestyle?
What additional spaces should be added in a building to facilitate such proposed system/design?
How can it be possible for mitigating measures like rainwater harvesting systems to be aesthetically pleasing?
What architectural style is best suited for buildings with mitigation measures?
What are the innovations and trends that may be incorporated in the design to preserve the environment while still serving the needs of the people?
Goal and ObjectivesThe main goal of this paper is to present a new approach that can be used to minimize the ecological damages caused by buildings, specifically on water resources. Not only would the approach lessen the large amount of water being wasted by buildings CITATION CBE12 l 13321 (CBECS, 2012), but it would also lessen the extraction of water from fresh groundwater, thus saving it from potential drought and contamination.
The following statements are the objectives to be achieved at the end of research conduction:
To critically assess existing approaches used for water supply and management in order to identify what is the most effective and efficient.
To provide an architectural design or system to aid buildings in recycling water and maximizing its potential usage without minimizing the usage of the people and compromising their needs.
To identify how to incorporate such mitigating measures without undermining the aesthetic of a building.
Significance of the ResearchThe findings to be gathered in this paper will be used to have a better understanding of the relationship between people, architecture, and the environment. Scarcity of water and the depletion of natural water resources in the Philippines are occurring faster than predicted. The total amount of clean and/or recyclable water that are wasted on and by buildings daily are enough to provide for people who lacks access from fresh water, but unfortunately due to lack of better and effective systems, this leaves those who are less fortunate with little and usually unfiltered water supply. This affects both the society and the environment, and architecture having an impact on both, could aid in preventing this ever-expanding problem. Further collected data and solutions to be made would be for advancement of the quality of buildings in the Philippines.
This research may be helpful for future researchers, students, and architects who are willing to learn more about and continue further studies on regenerative design, application of closed-loop waste to resource systems in structures, and architectural mitigating measures to minimize the ecological damages caused by buildings. More importantly, this research aims to be a stepping stone for other researchers in developing better living conditions for Filipinos who lack access of clean water.
Scope and limitations
In this study, The relationship between the environment, people, and architecture will be discussed. Moreover a search for a solution that architecture can bring to provide the needs of the people and preserve our dying environment, specifically on the scarcity of water and the rising demand of clean water in the Philippines. Furthermore, this paper will discuss on how can we maximize the water usage in buildings to avoid wastage of a scarce commodity without completely compromising the lifestyle of people.
Though the research might dabble on structural design, plumbing, and even method of constructions for any baselines and backup data, it will exclude any study on mechanical, cost estimates, and such. The study will be limited to proposing a system or a design to aid buildings in catering the water demand of people while limiting its harm on the environment.
Different variables due to human activities are currently responsible for global warming, which results to multiple problems to the environment. As an outcome, the overall condition of the environment fluctuates, and this affects human beings. To compensate, different inventions and innovations are made and multiple researches are being conducted to stop the complications created by man, reverse the impacts, and try to restore the planet back to its normal condition. Several sectors are affected by these problems such as food production, human health, human settlements, and most importantly, water supply. As surface temperature rises, the natural state of rainfall, river flow, and water evaporation changes. This leads to warmer water temperature which changes the water quality, rising of sea level reduces groundwater and turns freshwater into saltwater consequently reducing water supply, augmented evaporation decreases the efficiency of dams, and on top of all that, the increase in population means higher human demands making the existing water systems inadequate to supply the future needs CITATION ZWK07 l 13321 (Kundzewicz, 2007).
Therefore, creating an approach to that maximizes the water usage in a building could minimize the wastage of a finite resource, enhance the condition of current groundwater resources in the Philippines and, in the long run, would save our natural resources.
center25125Fig 1.1 – Research Paradigm
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 1.1 Research Paradigm
Fig 1.1 – Research Paradigm
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 1.1 Research Paradigm
Chapter 2Review of Related LiteratureAs 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 PhilippinesAside 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 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 productionUsing 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 systemAs 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 projectsMuntinlupa 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 minimize the project cost, 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.
As part of CIRS’s mission to spread awareness and educate people of sustainable design, they wanted to expose the systems of the building as much as possible. The wastewater treatment system was designed 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, 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.