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Rainwater Harvesting Options for Commercial Buildings - Australia

Rainwater Harvesting Options for Commercial Buildings - Australia

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Published by: Friends of Sebago Lake Watershed on Aug 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 AIBS 2007, Beecham, S. et al ‘Rainwater harvesting options for commercial buildings
using siphonic roof drainage systems- lessons for Building Surveyors’
Rainwater harvesting options for commercial buildings usingsiphonic roof drainage systems----Lessons for Building Surveyors
Terry Lucke
, Simon Beecham
and George Zillante
School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia(terry.lucke@.unisa.edu.au)
Water conservation is an integral part of sustainable building practice and WaterSensitive Urban Design (WSUD). New building design priorities have beenestablished in Australia that focus on reducing the consumption of both energy andwater. The stormwater runoff from commercial buildings is one area in which muchpotential for improvement has been identified. Gone are the days where the onlyconcern with roof runoff was to ensure its rapid removal from the site. The need toharvest this precious resource has been recognised and new technologies are emergingto resolve this issue. Siphonic roof drainage is a relatively new building servicestechnology which has many benefits over conventional drainage systems. Buildingdesigners and architects are specifying siphonic roof drainage systems on anincreasing number of commercial and industrial buildings. For example, SydneyOlympic Stadium, the Norman Foster designed Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kongand the new International Terminal Buildings at Adelaide and Sydney airports allhave siphonic roof systems. The benefits of these systems include, ability to quicklydrain high intensity rainfall events, substantial cost reductions, virtual elimination of underground pipework and the opportunities for significant stormwater reuse options.This paper aims to provide an overview of the many benefits that are being realised byplanners, building designers, engineers, architects, surveyors, contractors and ownersby specifying a siphonic roof drainage system. Furthermore, it will examine the waterconservation and reuse options that are possible with siphonic drainage and comparethese to conventional roof and property drainage systems.
Siphonic roof drainage, stormwater harvesting, water reuse, building services design
 AIBS 2007, Beecham, S. et al ‘Rainwater harvesting options for commercial buildings
using siphonic roof drainage systems- lessons for Building Surveyors’
Commercial siphonic rainwater drainage systems were first developed by Ebeling andSommerhein in the early 1970s in Scandinavia (May, 1995). Since then, manythousands of new buildings worldwide have been designed incorporating siphonicroof drainage systems. The advantages of these systems over conventional roof drainage systems are numerous and have much appeal for architects and designers.Siphonic Drainage is growing from a once “obscure curiosity” in Europe to anemerging market in the United States (Rattenbury, 2005). Because of the heightrequirements needed for siphonic roof drainage systems, the technology is only viablefor larger commercial buildings and structures over about four metres in height (Referto Plates 1 and 2)
Plates 1 and 2 – Qantas Domestic Terminal in Sydney
Siphonic systems are designed to exclude air from the pipework and, once primed,cause the pipes to flow under pressure. Syphonic roof drainage systems have strategicadvantages over conventional systems, and particularly so in respect of their cost-effectiveness to quickly remove large volumes of rainwater safely and effectively(Brahmall and Saul, 1999). A major advantage of siphonic systems is the greatlyincreased driving head of water and consequent reduction in pipe diameter sizes. Thedriving head in this case is effectively the difference in level between the water in thegutter and the ultimate discharge point, which is usually near ground level.The increased driving head in siphonic systems offers much potential for stormwaterharvesting and reuse. Because the building’s total roof runoff is normally dischargedfrom only one or two downpipes with high velocity, the water can easily be directedto most places on a development site without the need for pumping. This means that
 AIBS 2007, Beecham, S. et al ‘Rainwater harvesting options for commercial buildings
using siphonic roof drainage systems- lessons for Building Surveyors’
rainwater tanks can be placed in a convenient location away from the buildingfootprint if so desired. The strategic location of stormwater collection tanks can thenfacilitate energy-free landscape irrigation or other reuse options.
Conventional roof drainage systems consist of a number of large diameter downpipeswhich connect the roof drainage to the underground stormwater drainage system.Conventional systems are designed to operate at atmospheric pressure (May, 1995).The amount of water that can enter the open-ended downpipes is dependent on thedepth of water in the gutter (H) and the outlet size (D). The type of flow is categorisedas either “weir” type or “orifice” type flow (May, 1995). Refer to Figure 1.
Figure 1 – Conventional Gutter Outlet and Downpipe
Research has shown that the water flowing in the downpipe in a conventional roof drainage system is annular in nature (Wright, Jack and Swaffield, 2006). This meansthat the water spirals down the inner edges or walls of the pipe and there is a hollow,air-filled core down the centre of the water flow (Arthur, Wright and Swaffield,2005). The air that is drawn down by the water actually restricts the water dischargein a pipe to between one quarter and one third of the pipe cross section area. Thismeans that large diameter pipes are required to enable the gutters to drain quicklywithout risk of overflowing. These types of conventional roof drainage systems arevery inefficient and require extensive underground pipework systems (Figure 2).
H = head of waterin gutterD = diameter of downpipe

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