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The Emerald Home

by Doug Pushard

Completed in the Santa Fe area in the Fall of 2009 which included both active and passive rainwater catchment. It is a large awarding win green home built to the highest LEED standards and incorporates a state of the art building envelope, the most efficient windows and skylights on the market, geothermal heating, massive photo-voltaic arrays, low-water use appliances, new trees to provide passive summer cooling and a state-of-the-art water system which includes:

  • 3 - 1,700 gallon tanks that capture over 80% of the rooftop runoff
  • Passive catchment for the remaining 20% of the roof
  • High efficiency pumps equipped with floats
  • Overflow to 3 retention ponds which will slowly captue and infiltrate most runoff, even in a 100-year flood
  • Water catchment from the state-of-the-art cooling system
  • Rainchains on all canales
  • Screened canales and filters in all sump boxes to reduce particulates from entering the system
  • State-of-the-art irrigation controller
  • Irrigation system designed specifically for the drought tolerant plants
  • Wireless rain detector to shut off the irrigation system when it is raining

This home has won several awards for its innovation and it's many, many green features. The home is applying to be a LEED Platinum home and, if awarded, would be the first in Santa Fe. The water system encompasses almost all possible water re-use features, except grey water.

The home has been featured in numerous magazine articles and is truly a vision of what a "green" home can be. It is a "2030" home - today!

The custom rainwater system should meet almost all the water needs for the plants and landscape as they mature. This onsite water system is almost entirely invisible to visitors of the house. On the other hand, the photovoltaic system is highly visable. The PV system generates more than enough energy for the house and consequently the local utility company sends a check every month to the owner.

The water management system will save thousands of gallons of potable water every year and the passive catchment and the retention ponds will save thousands more gallons from being sent to the waste water treatment plant for "cleaning". The system saves the owner money and the community money by preventing this precious resource from being sent through the stormwater system.

With this state-of-the-art rainwater catchment and watering system, the feature that gets the almost all the attention are the beautiful rainchains! Not the water savings of the system, not the money savings, nor the low-maintenance aspects of the system; but the rainchains which literally surround the house. They are eye catching and really the only very visible component of the rainwater catchment system. Folks are amazed at both their beauty and their functionality.

The captured rainwater will supply a majority of the water required for this lovely landscaped yard. Additionally a state-of-the-art irrigation controller was installed to efficiently manage the water that will be used onsite. The controller is equipped with a rain detector which shuts off the system to prevent the wasting of water when it rains. The high-end controller is one of the few controllers on the market able to handle two pumps simulanteously. This was a requirement due to tanks being installed on both end of the home and the desire to have only one control system. The controller is easy to use and features a quick and easy way to turn up or down the duration times of watering (i.e. this very easy to use feature allows for quick seasonality adjustment without a service call or having to reprogram the controller).

The controller features an optional remote moisture sensor that would turn on and the system only when the plants need watering.

To ensure no water leaves the site three (3) overflow catchment ponds were constructed. These ponds capture the overflow from the 5,100 gallons of storage and should be capable of retaining most if not all the runoff on the property. These basins are rock lined and allow the water to slowly infiltrate into the ground, thus limiting the amount of runoff leaving the property.

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