This article is by Marsha Sukardi, SFPUC Engineer, who will be hosting the sold-out USGBC Northern California tour of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's Living Machine on June 20. Interested in learning more about water reuse? The GreenerBuilder Conference on July 13 features the topic "Dirty Water: Solving Onsite Water Reuse."
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) headquarters, located at 525 Golden Gate Avenue, is taking water conservation to a whole new level. Although various decentralized wastewater treatment technologies exist throughout the world, the SFPUC’s Living Machine is the first treatment system to combine these technologies and apply it to an office building within a densely urban environment.
This SFPUC demonstration system is located in San Francisco’s busy Civic Center area. The building’s planter boxes are engineered to mimic tidal wetlands, which help treat all of the building’s black and grey water, and, in turn, provide non-potable toilet flushing water for the building.
To date, the Living Machine has saved over 3.5 million gallons of potable water, reducing consumption from an average of 12 gallons per person per day in a typical office building to five gallons per person per day. The 525 Golden Gate building achieved LEED Platinum certification and is one of the few projects to meet all available LEED water credits.
The technology used and lessons learned from the Living Machine continue to set precedents for the state’s wastewater treatment and water conservation efforts. The Living Machine was the first system permitted under San Francisco Health Code Article 12C, more commonly known as the Non-potable Water Ordinance. Though it began as a voluntary program in 2012, in July 2015 the ordinance became a requirement for all new construction of 250,000 square feet or more of gross floor area. With San Francisco leading the way, decentralized wastewater treatment and reuse is on its way to becoming the new norm. Learn more about the SFPUC Living Machine.
The site tour on June 20, 2017 will include an in-depth presentation of the Living Machine system, a walk-through of the treatment train, and a Q&A session with the lead Stationary Engineer.