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There are a number of interrelated design approaches that contribute to the mindful stewardship of water resources and enhancement of the ecological water cycle on the campus of the Veterans Medical Center in New Orleans, La.
• As an extension of the landscape, vegetated roofs serve multiple functions and provide multiple benefits to the project, including slowing and reducing storm water runoff, providing visual respite to patients, cooling the microclimate and providing habitat to local fauna, and contributing to the longevity of roof surfaces.
• Rainwater collected from rooftops is routed to large buried tanks that will provide makeup water to the cooling towers — otherwise an ongoing and significant consumption of potable water.
• Local planting, onsite composting, and organic gardening and landscape maintenance will combine with efficient irrigation technology to minimize landscape demand for potable water, and previously mentioned low impact hardscape elements and rain gardens will help to recharge groundwater continuously. Although the team considered using the collected rainwater for irrigation, the decision was made to direct the rainwater to the closest, most efficient, and cost-effective use - cooling tower makeup.
• Efficient indoor fixtures for both faucets and flush fixtures are specified.
• HVAC condensate, a surprisingly large quantity of water, will be reused as cooling tower makeup.
SIDEBAR: Water Efficiency Measures at Project Legacy