January 1, 2009

The home’s water collection system makes capturing and storing fresh water so simple that you wonder why cities need a municipal supply at all.

rain harvest

In fact, households in rural parts of New Zealand have used a similar system for
generations. Great Barrier Island, along
with much of northern New Zealand, has plentiful rainfall, so there is rarely 
a shortage of water.

The roofs of the home’s two pavilions were designed to drain rainwater into a channel on top of the central stone wall. This wall conceals twin acrylic downpipes [1] that funnel the water to a 6,000-gallon concrete tank [2] that was buried on the site before construction of the home began. Leaf filters collect any debris from neighboring trees before the water enters the tank. The lightless concrete tank prevents bacteria from flourishing and keeps the water cool.

When needed, water gets back 
to the home with the assistance of 
a 240-volt pump that’s fueled by electricity from the home’s solar panels. Wastewater is drained to the onsite septic tank [3], which treats waste 
with naturally occurring anaerobic bacteria, then releases it to a drainage field consisting of long, slender 
porous channels buried in the lawn 
[4]. The hoses allow the waste to seep 
into the soil to irrigate and fertilize 
the grass and plants.

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