Evaluation of Rainwater Harvesting on Residential Housing on Virginia Tech Campus

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Virginia Tech


Rainwater harvesting (RWH) refers to the collection of rainwater for subsequent on-site use. Rainwater is most often used for non-potable purposes including toilet flushing, laundering, landscape and commercial crop irrigation, industry, fire fighting, air-conditioning, and vehicle-washing. This study evaluates the potential impacts of RWH on residential housing on Virginia Tech campus in southwestern Virginia in regards to potable water offset, energy conservation, stormwater mitigation, carbon emission reduction, and financial savings. Potential rainwater collection was estimated from three simulations used to approximate the maximum, average, and minimum range of annual precipitation. Collected rainwater estimates were used to calculate the impacts on the areas of interest. Cumulatively, the sample buildings can collect 3.4 to 5.3 millions of gallons of rainwater — offsetting potable water use and reducing stormwater by an equivalent amount, save 320 to 1842 kWh of energy, and reduce carbon emissions by 650 to 3650 pounds annually. Cumulative savings for the nine buildings from combined water and energy offsets range between $5751 and $9005 USD, not substantial enough to serve as the sole basis of RWH implementation on campus. A significant advantage of RWH relates to the management and improvement of the Stroubles Creek watershed in which the majority of the campus sits. Additionally, RWH implementation would benefit sustainable initiatives and provide Virginia Tech additional opportunities for conservation incentives and environmental stewardship funding.



energy conservation, Best Management Practices, facilities infrastructure, water-energy nexus, rainwater harvesting