I have written before about the many advantages of green roofs, rain gardens, and other sustainable design and construction options, including saving money on heating and cooling costs with green roofs, or saving on your water bill through rainwater harvesting, specific landscaping, and so on. However, a more measurable approach is on its way in the City next year. For the first time ever, water bills, which include not only the potable water we consume, but also the amount of sewage we generate. However, sewage in this case is not only the sanitary type, but also the stormwater sewage type. As many of us know, we have a combined sewer system here in San Francisco, which means that the effluent from kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc., as well as water from storm gutters and runoff from our property end up in the same system. And we are charged accordingly. However, next year, our utility bill will separate the amount of effluent and associated costs from sewage and the amount and cost from stormwater runoff. Therefore, it will behoove us to limit the amount of stormwater runoff that our properties generate. And how do we accomplish this? Through at least three ways:
- Build rainwater gardens that will collect stormwater runoff from our lots and not drain onto the gutter
- Install a roof garden, which will collect most of the runoff your property generates
- Construct driveways, paths, and other hardscapes using the porous pavement.
Although the design above options may seem daunting and expensive, and they can be, the cost savings, in the long run, will more than pay for themselves. For example, green roofs save on heating and cooling costs by insulating the home better than just having a regular roof. Additionally, there are grants to build rain gardens, roof gardens, and other sustainable features, which result in higher property equity.
In addition to the financial benefits to us as individuals, we can’t forget that these and other sustainable measures also provide a much greater advantage, which is environmental protection and “healing,” which is still a lot more to achieve. Also, it has been proven that a city’s green canopy results in better emotional and physiological health, cleaner air, and an opportunity for urban wildlife to live and thrive.
Currently, the City is promoting the reduction of impervious areas wherever possible, and, to that end, they are offering grants and other incentives to achieve this goal. San Francisco is at the forefront in many ways in setting these goals with a vision of increasing the amount of urban green spaces, reducing runoff and flooding, and bringing communities together to collaborate and realize actual improvements in their neighborhoods and citywide. And this vision includes a city with less grey (concrete and pavement) and more green (landscaping, road grades, trees, etc.).
At Sustainable Civil engineering, we have worked and continue to work on these types of projects. It is our passion, and we are experts in this area, including the permitting process, grant writing, design, and construction management. In other words, our company name says it all.