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Olympia’s New Water Education Center Aims for LEED Platinum
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculated that the total energy spent nationwide to supply drinking water and process waste-water releases 116 billion pounds of carbon dioxide annually — approximately the same quantity of emissions as 10 million cars. Unsurprisingly, many US cities are finding ways to save money and make their water treatment facilities as environmentally-friendly as possible. In Washington, a brand new LEED Platinum-aspiring water education center has opened next to the city’s sewage treatment plant. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm, The Miller Hull Partnership, the project features a green roof, exhibit halls, classrooms, and an ornamental pond and fountain fed by reclaimed water from the treatment plant.
Despite the United States’ reputation as a heavy consumer of energy, the nation actually has one of the most successful water conservation programs in the world. While national greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 17 percent since 1990, water demand has actually dropped. Despite the population increasing 30 percent since 1975, when water demand was at its highest, the US has managed to successfully ration and monitor its water supplies. The next step is to upgrade water treatment facilities to make them as green as the US’ water policy is. Olympia, Washington has taken the lead in educating the public about recycling water.
The LOTT Center is designed to actively engage the public. “This new building portrays all the good things about community stewardship,” said Robert Hull, one of the founding partners of Miller Hull. “It’s no longer just a sewage treatment plant. It becomes the new public face of LOTT in the community.”
“Common themes that run throughout this project include education, environmental sustainability, and the value of reclaimed water as a beneficial, safe resource for our communities,” said Scott Wolf, a partner at Miller Hull. “By showcasing Class A reclaimed water (water that has been used and then cleaned to high quality standards so it can be returned to the community for irrigation, toilet flushing, industrial and manufacturing) in these water features, LOTT provides the public with an opportunity to see and experience the water up close, reinforcing the themes of reclaimed water as a valuable resource and its contribution to the environmental sustainability of our communities.”
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