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New Philosophy:

Sustainable Water Use: 11 Steps

May 2, 2005 | By Andy Guy
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Sustainable development is catching on in Michigan. Across the state, more than 225 companies big and small are practicing the concept because it establishes a way to simultaneously achieve economic prosperity, build social equity, and add value to, rather than degrade, the natural environment, on which humans depend.

Two leaders of the global movement are the architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. In the tenth anniversary edition of their book, The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability, the authors write: “Designs should recognize the communal, cultural, historical, spiritual, and poetic possibilities of the use of water and its central role as a precondition for life.”

More concretely, these visionaries say that architects, engineers, and developers should:

  1. Carefully account for water throughout their entire design process.
  2. Protect water sources from contamination and carefully consider efficiency techniques at every step.
  3. Use potable water only for life-sustaining functions.
  4. Consider groundwater, rainwater, surface-runoff water, graywater, and any water used for sewage transport or processing systems within a cyclical concept.
  5. Return wastewater to the earth in a beneficial manner, using organic treatment systems whenever possible.
  6. Avoid groundwater contamination in any use of water related to the construction or operation of a
    project or facility.
  7. Consider rainwater and surface-runoff water as possible resources for inhabitants and building systems.
  8. Minimize impermeable ground cover.
  9. Treat and apply graywater to practical or natural purposes that fit its characteristics.
  10. Put water used in any process back into circulation, and minimize the use of toxic chemicals or heavy metals. All discharges of process-related water should meet drinking water standards.
  11. Restore water used for sewage treatment or transportation to drinking water standards prior to distribution or reuse.
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