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Green Building with Onsite Wastewater Systems

Concern is growing globally over natural resource consumption and climate change. Many governments, companies, and industries are taking action to reduce the environmental footprint associated with manufacturing, processing, and building. Meanwhile, much of the world is working through an economic downturn that has left governments and individuals in debt and trying to stay afloat. It is therefore imperative that all aspects of building and development are conducted both sustainably and economically, including wastewater management.

The environmental and economic benefits provided through the manufacture and construction of onsite (decentralized) wastewater systems versus centralized wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) were quantitatively examined through an analysis of embodied energy, embodied carbon, and the cost of each system type. Average values per sewer connection were calculated by analyzing the material and construction costs for 40 sewer extension plans from the 2005 Southwest Virginia Regional Wastewater Study. The total system and per sewer connection values of embodied energy, embodied carbon, and costs were then compared to the resource consumption of materials and construction for the same number of onsite wastewater systems.

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