300,000 gallons of harvested rainwater supplies 200,000 toilet flushes; lowers water bills and demand on public utilities
Most Oregonians have had enough of the rain. But for The Oregon Clinic’s Gateway Medical Office Building, each drop has been golden. Thanks to the second wettest June ever, The Oregon Clinic has reached its goal of collecting 300,000 gallons of rainwater. This is enough rainwater to flush each of the 45 low-flow toilets in its building more than 4,400 times — for a total of 200,000 toilet flushes and a savings of close to $5,500.
The Oregon Clinic is located at 1111 NE 99th Ave. in Portland. Completed in September 2006 and home to 50 doctors and medical providers, the 100,000 square foot building received gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in April 2007.
LEED is a nationwide certification program initiated by the U.S. Green Building Council. It provides a definitive description of what constitutes a “green building,” including strict standards on water and energy conservation, utilization of recycled materials and access to transportation.
“Both employees and patients take pride in the fact that The Oregon Clinic puts rainwater to good use and is an energy-efficient building,” said Phil Armstrong, COO for The Oregon Clinic. “Our building reflects the belief that you can make smart use of water and energy while also providing a safe, enjoyable space. The money we save enables us to purchase equipment and make other improvements important to patient care.”
Rainwater from the roof is gravity fed to an underground 20,000-gallon fiberglass storage tank. A pump transfers collected rainwater through a 0.5 micron bag filter and an ultra-violet filter (which kills bacteria) into a 400-gallon indoor atmospheric storage tank. When someone flushes a toilet, the indoor storage tank supplies the water.
In addition to flushing toilets, the 300,000 gallons of harvested rainwater are used for watering outside plants. If purchased from the city, the 300,000 gallons would cost about $5,500.
According to Tim Harman, building engineer, “The rainwater harvesting and reuse program reduces the annual rainfall runoff from the building site by 82%.”
“Since Oct. 1, 2009,” Harman said, “the building has used only 37,000 gallons of city water for toilets, compared to a total of 949,960 gallons of city water consumed during a year for other uses. The Oregon Clinic minimizes the use of city water in other ways as well. For example, keeping filters and water meters clean enable more accurate usage readings.”
“We are very proud that since the inception of the building in 2006, we have used 850,000 gallons of rainwater,” he said.