This green-fee funded project examines the potential for regenerative rainwater harvesting systems on The University of Texas at Austin’s campus.Two Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs), one from the School of Architecture and one from the School of Engineering, work together to bridges design and engineering to ensure both technical and aesthetic qualities within each system.
The two GRAs have spent the first part of the project conducting a series of feasibility studies for existing buildings and fields on campus. These feasibility studies determine possible rainwater harvesting demonstration sites based off of aesthetic and design considerations according to The University of Texas Master Plans, runoff potential, capture capacity, construction costs, short and long term fiscal feasibility, and site appropriateness. After conducting these studies, the areas of particular focus have become University of Texas Athletic fields and stadiums, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and new building projects including the Dell Medical School and proposed new graduate student housing.
In the spring the team will begin to look at each of these sites to conceptualize to integrate cisterns while meeting the University’s design standards. The aesthetic and location of each cistern is extremely important when considering the context and conditions for the proposed site. For some sites the cistern design should be visible and celebrated, working in conjunction with the building style. For others the cistern should be hidden or out of plain site, as to not take away from the aesthetic or functionality of the building.
The GRAs will then engage the larger University of Texas community with their schematic designs for each site in hopes of feedback, support, and education on the importance of water re-use.
The project will culminate with the preparation of a final report which will include suggestions on how to include cisterns into the new building designs, as well as all of the research on why using cisterns and other rainwater harvesting systems is beneficial for The University of Texas at Austin as well as the community at large. Through this project we hope to educate and demonstrate that rainwater harvesting cisterns are fiscally, environmentally and socially appropriate measures for the University to promote a green institutional identity.