Net Zero Water for Buildings and Sites

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Net Zero Water for Buildings and Sites is the curriculum associated with designing integrated water systems that work towards the goal of freeing a facility from the need to connect to the municipal water and wastewater system. Very few buildings around the world have accomplished this feat, yet it remains a critical component of moving towards greater resiliency, and it is a requirement under the Cascadia Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge.

The comprehensive program adopts a net- zero approach to investigate and provide practical tools for harvesting, treating, distributing, storing, using (and reusing) water on site.


Welcome - Orientation Materials

Week 1 - Introduction to Net Zero Water and the Integrated Water Cycle
Water Scarcity & Increasing Consumption, Deterioration of Water Infrastructure, Interrelationship of Water and Energy, the Integrated Water Cycle.

Week 2 - Water Harvesting and Treatment Approaches
Alternative Sources for Water Harvesting, Water Quality Considerations for Harvested Water, Determining Storage Capacity, Water Quality Guidelines and Treatment Options, Filtration, Disinfection, Biological Treatment, Biofilms, Catchments.

Week 3 - Water Harvesting System Design and Installation
Passive versus Active Water Harvesting, Types of Storage Tanks and Cisterns, Determining Water Demand, Legal and Regulatory Requirements, Cistern or Tank Openings and Overflow, Ecology of Water Tanks, Level Measurement and Control, Collapsible Tanks, Hydrostatic Lift – Ballast Calculations, Public Water System Protection, Backflow Control Methods and Devices.

Week 4 - Pre-Treatment and Cistern System Maintenance
Point of Entry Treatments (POE), Leaf Screens and Guards, First Flush Diverters, Downspout Filters, Vortex and In-Ground Filters, Sand Filters, In-Tank Processing, Cistern System Maintenance, Winter Operation, Water Testing.

Week 5 - Water Quality and Treatment Approaches – Part 1
Microbiological Contaminants, Inorganic and Organic Contaminants, Inorganic Chemicals, Organic Chemicals, Selecting Water Treatment Approaches: Basic Wastewater Treatment Processes, Styles of Water Treatment Devices, Filtration Equipment.

Week 6 - Water Quality and Treatment Approaches – Part 2
Membrane Filtration Processes, Membrane Materials, Membrane Fouling, Membrane Cleaning, Ultraviolet Disinfection, Chemical Disinfection.

Week 7 - High-Efficiency Distribution and End-Use – Part 1
System Monitoring and Control, Determining Appropriate System Complexity, Meeting Building Codes and Ordinances, Accessibility for Maintenance, Repair and Safety, Planning for Operator Skill Level and Project Security, Cost and Budget Tradeoffs.

Week 8 - High-Efficiency Distribution and End-Use – Part 2
Potable Water Uses, Indoor Non-potable Water Uses, Landscape/Outdoor Uses of Harvested Water, Reallocation of Water, Decentralization of Water Distribution and Treatment, Regulatory Barriers, the Next Utility: Integrated Green Infrastructure.
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Green Roofs
Sustainable Development & Design
Water / Stormwater Management
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
- Understand how to design a building that achieves net zero water use.
- Understand the theoretical and practical considerations underlying on-site water collection and disposal/management versus off-site alternatives.
- Learn from case studies about what some buildings are doing to come closer to net-zero water management.
- Learn about practical tools and systems for harvesting, treating, distributing, storing, using (and reusing) water on site.
Jeffrey Bruce, FASLA, LEED, ASIC, GRP, is owner and President of Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company, a national landscape architectural firm. Jeffrey is a LEED accredited professional and is certified irrigation designer who has received over 60 separate desi
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Course Codes
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

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