Sensible Design

deloitteOne of the last projects that I worked on as a plumbing engineer was Deloitte University Campus. According to their website  they harvest the rainwater from their roof. I can verify that this is true because I did the design for it. It was probably the most complicated storm system I’ve ever worked on because of the shape of the building. It’s the only building I’ve ever seen shaped the way it is. When we were designing the mechanical/electrical systems we were instructed to do it at LEED standards.

I’ve designed lots of buildings for LEED certification which for me as a plumbing designer is always based on the building’s water consumption. So a basic LEED certification would simply be specifying low flow toilets and faucets. What would usually happen during a normal design process would be that the client would typically drop the LEED portion because they did not want to pay the upfront cost of the more expensive fixtures. In engineering parlance this is known as “value engineering” or VE for short. The LEED component was usually VE’d on all the projects I worked on, to save money.

Deloitte was an entirely  different story. They were going for LEED Platinum, which until that time I didn’t even know existed. I wish I could remember who the architect was. We even designed a green roof for them. I had never heard of a green roof much less designed one. (This was 2009) The lead designer had a little knowledge of green roofs but I think this was his first one as well.  Looking at the satellite photo I don’t see the green roof, so maybe that part got VE’d. I don’t know if they achieved their LEED Platinum status or not but it’s certainly the most efficient building I’ve ever worked on.

From the aerial view it’s easy to see that outside of the building’s footprint there are virtually no hard surfaces, so practically every drop of water that falls onto the site is retained. All of their roof drainage stays onsite in the pond in front of the building. It must be quite a peaceful campus!

I have shamelessly cut and pasted the following from Deloitte’s website (and fixed their typos).

Quick facts

  • During construction, 20 percent of materials used was regionally extracted, promoting local business and diminishing the amount of fuel used for shipping and decreasing emissions.
  • Greenscaping with native plants and highly efficient landscape irrigation system leads to a 50 percent reduction in water usage.
  • The open space around the facility provides a habitat for local vegetation and wildlife, diminishes heat that emanates from concrete, and helps purify storm water run-off.
  • High-efficiency faucets are expected to reduce annual water consumption by 53,000 gallons.
  • High albedo roofing is highly reflective absorbing less solar energy, reducing surface temperature, and decreasing heat transfer into the building.



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