If you’re someone looking for Architects in Michigan who have a passion for passive design, Sedgewick + Ferweda architects is the firm for you. We have experience in lots of passive methods including solar apertures, Trombe walls, air tight building envelopes, and passive heating and cooling systems. Today we are going to talk about one of the simplest and most beneficial passive techniques – rainwater collection.

As architects in Michigan, we are no stranger to passive architecture. We strive to enhance the wellness of out client while meeting their design dreams. Most of the time when passive design is discussed passive heating and cooling is the main topic.  Rainwater harvesting is simple and highly beneficial but is typically forgotten. The effects of treated water, rainwater runoff and storm drains are often swept under the rug and most neglect to acknowledge how much of an impact these systems actually have.

As architects in Michigan, we are always looking for ways to save our clients money and to be ecologically responsible wherever we can so rainwater collection is always an option! Small steps like rain water collection makes a huge difference. If you think about how many gallons of unused water are washed right into the storm drain a rain barrel kind of seems like a no-brainer. Instead of using treated water from the city, that you pay for, you can simply refer to the handy rain barrel that you forgot you had in the backyard. In contrast to treated water, rainwater does not produce the same corrosion and scale that treated water does. So much money is spent on filtering and cleaning water so regulating its use and finding other options to fulfil needs that do not require potable water is encouraged. Rainwater collection is just one simple way you can lessen the burden on the demand for water.

Sustainable landscape designs are just as important as passive design being incorporated into a building. If your landscape and building are not in tandem you may run into costly problems in the future. Water run off is a very common issue. You see that many people have water collecting in their yards creating unwanted ponds, or worse, water collecting against the foundation of a house. Rainwater collection can help control and prevent these issues while being better utilized and bringing down water costs, preventing erosion, and water contamination through pesticides. Rainwater can be used in the micro to macro scale to benefit more than one household. Rainwater collection is not just a residential method, it can also be used within the community and the cost benefits can be reaped at both scales.

It is a common misconception that it is illegal to collect rainwater. Some states have regulations in place but currently there are no states that have laws making it illegal to harvest rainwater. States like Connecticut and Florida encourage the collection of rainwater. In states like Arkansas and Colorado it is legal to harvest rainwater, however, they have regulations in place that restrict and limit some of it uses. In that case of the state of Michigan, rainwater and other cost-effective methods are highly encouraged. Michigan has instated the Cost Effective Governmental Energy Use act, so as architects in Michigan these kinds of procedures are familiar territory. States like New York encourage and even teach rainwater harvesting to its residents. Architects in Michigan, like us, who are passionate about these passive systems, we hope to influence enough people to use methods like rainwater harvesting so that our state will achieve similar programs and make sustainable water systems more prevalent. Our priorities include serving the public, and we plan to achieve that by going above and beyond to bring about a brighter and healthier future.

Collecting rainwater is totally free. There are many options to achieve this. You can have architects in Michigan design you a passive system or you can install smaller systems yourself. You can find cheap rain barrels that you can pickup at your local hardware store or you could also build one at home. DIY rain barrels are cheaper and just as effective. Rain water can be used to water indoor and outdoor plants, lawns, and gardens, washing and cleaning and can even be potable if treated properly. Concerns like bugs and shelf life are some of the most commonly asked questions that have simple and cheap solutions. The water contained inside the rain barrel has a shelf life of approximately 2 weeks, so there is a favorable amount of time for the supply to be used between rain cycles. A simple netting can be placed to prevent any unwanted materials from making its way inside the container.

Rain scaping is another clever way to manipulate rainwater in your favor. You can strategically place gutters, edging, pea stone and other landscaping materials to raincape. You spend a little time putting in work that makes your yard look amazing and it spends the rest of the time doing the work itself. If you are looking for something that is not visible you can implement larger systems like catch basin to minimize the impact on the look of your yard. The goal for rain scaping is to collect rainwater and move it somewhere else to be utilized through catch basins and permeable pavement, vegetation and other landscaping materials.

There are ways other than a physical barrel to use rainwater. These include: xeriscaping, rain scaping, and designs that are incorporated directly into your building. We can provide wall, roof, HVAC and plumbing systems that can aid you in the collection of rainwater. A common concern among clients pursuing a passive design is the appearance of these systems. As architects in Michigan we can implement passive system designs that are elegant and enhance the overall aesthetics of your building. When these systems are integrated directly into the building they can be used for more than just landscaping and irrigation. We can provide rainwater systems that aid in heating and cooling and with a filtration system in place the rainwater supply can be made potable and further extend its uses.