The Living Building Challenge at River Bend Farm: Water Petal

In 2019, The Ecology School is embarking on a rigorous construction project to create a Dining Commons and Dormitory that will exceed the greenest of the green standards in building. We are passionate about living our mission and dedicated to “practicing what we preach” at River Bend Farm. This is why we have chosen to seek Living Building Challenge certification.

The Living Building Challenge is organized into seven performance areas called Petals. (Petals, as in flower. Because the buildings, like a flower, are giving back to the environment more than they take!) The Petals are: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Fitness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. (In April, we’ll look at the Energy Petal!)

Water is a natural resource that here in Maine is abundant. However, lack of water is a serious issue for many U.S. states and countries around the world and even regions that have abundant fresh-water sources may soon be at risk. The Living Building Challenge’s Water Petal stipulates that, “…project water use and release must work in harmony with the natural water flows of the site and its surroundings. One hundred percent of the project’s water needs must be supplied by captured precipitation or other natural closed-loop water systems, and/or by recycling used project water, and must be purified as needed without the use of chemicals.” By mimicking the ecological flow of water that occurs naturally, integrating building and site hydrology, and leveraging stormwater as a resource, the Living Building aims to achieve net-positive water. Below are a few highlights of the many ways the requirements of the Water Petal will influence design at River Bend Farm. Want to learn even more about the Water Petal? Click here!

  • Rain gardens will capture storm-water runoff and strategically drain to nourish farm fields below.

  • On-site septic field waste will be treated and used as fertilization for local, off-site farms.

  • Water treatment will be achieved using activated carbon filters or treatment with UV light.

  • Reused 55-gallon barrels constructed into cisterns will capture rain water to be used in the gardens.

  • Low flow toilets, faucets, and showers will save gallons of water each year over conventional.

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