Thursday, March 24, 2011

Green Building Consultant’s Water Pyramid Designed to Prevent Future Urban Water Crises

What's the best way to understand how to deal with urban water crises, which are increasing in frequency in the U.S.? Green building and water conservation consultant Jerry Yudelson has produced “The Pyramid of New Water Sources,” a new visual representation of critical new opportunities in water conservation, efficiency and new supply.

Yudelson said, “The 'Pyramid' derives from the research for my 2010 book, "Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis", and organizes opportunities for extending our urban water supplies, going into a hotter and drier future. It represents a conceptual breakthrough and a great tool to help citizens, public officials and water planners visualize the full range of opportunities.”

This new graphic reference tool shows future water supply sources, in the form of a pyramid diagram with ten steps, each of which increases in cost and complexity. In general, there is a greater potential for cost-effective increases in urban water supply for those measures at the bottom of the pyramid.

The Pyramid of New Water Sources ranks the following measures:
1.    Changing behavior, with such measures as public education, effective water pricing, water audits and web-based information.
2.    Low-cost/no-cost measures, such as fixing leaks and retrofitting lower water-using fixtures
3.    Irrigation measures, including native plantings and drip irrigation, along with smart irrigation controllers.
4.    Hygiene, such as water-free urinals and high-efficiency toilets
5.    Appliances, such as water-conserving dishwashers, water softeners and clothes washers
6.    “Extreme Makeovers” that include composting (no water) toilets, hardscape (unplanted) landscaping and onsite blackwater treatment and reuse.
7.    Water heating, one of the biggest energy users in the water cycle, including hot water recirculation loops, efficient water heaters, and solar water heaters
8.    Onsite reuse, including rainwater and graywater collection and reuse for irrigation
9.    Offsite reuse, using reclaimed water from “purple pipe” systems and even “sewer mining” (treating sewage already flowing in pipes)
10.    Desalination of seawater and brackish water; new water sources, such as creating potable water with reverse osmosis treatment of reclaimed sewage.

Yudelson says, “It is important to come up with simple, visual tools that help everyone grasp the essentials of what is truly a complex and multi-faceted subject.” Yudelson hopes that The Pyramid will become an essential visualization and teaching tool and expects it to be adapted for specific localities as well as educational environments.

A PDF file of The Pyramid of New Water Resources can be downloaded without cost via this blog post:

About Yudelson Associates
Yudelson Associates is a leading international firm in green building consulting, water resource conservation and sustainability planning. The founder, Jerry Yudelson, is widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s leading green building and sustainability experts and a highly regarded keynote speaker. He is the author of 12 green building books and served for two years as Research Scholar for Real Estate Sustainability for the International Council of Shopping Centers, a 70,000-member international trade organization. He is a frequent green building speaker at industry and professional conferences and chaired the country’s largest annual conference and trade show, Greenbuild, for six years from 2004 through 2009.
For more information please contact Jerry Yudelson, 520-207-9759, info(at)greenbuildconsult(dot)com or visit

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