A Tucson based nonprofit, Watershed Management Group (WMG), initiated a research project with EPA funding to see if site-built composting toilets could meet user expectations and if so work towards granting the successful designs ‘reference design’ status with the state of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which would allow others in Arizona to build these composting toilets as an approved alternative to an on-site wastewater system. After collecting two years of successful data on user feedback and pathogen destruction of the finished composted material, WMG is still waiting to hear back from the Arizona DEQ about their request for reference design status.
The town of Falmouth, Massachusetts near Cape Cod, authorized funding for a pilot project to evaluate the efficacy, installation cost and public acceptance of both composting and urine-diverting toilets (called Eco-toilet Demonstration Program). Homeowners were given rebates and other incentives (called the Falmouth Eco-Toilet Incentive Program) to encourage them to use eco-toilets. Massachusetts is the first state to give a variance to allow urine-diverting fixtures and site-built composting toilets, which do not have ‘product acceptance’ in Massachusetts
Oregon created a permit pathway for using graywater to flush toilets and urinals in 2008, becoming the tenth US state to do so. To date less than a half dozen projects in the State (at least one residential, one institutional, and two food coops) have utilized this alternative method and most of them have uninstalled the systems. Treating and storing graywater to meet the high quality standard required is often cost-prohibitive. Several large-scale projects like Hassalo on Eighth and OHSU’s Collaborative Health Building have found it more cost effective to treat all combined wastewater for reuse together (including gray- and blackwater).
In 2011, Oregon created a permit pathway for reusing graywater to water landscapes in commercial and residential projects. There are three tiers to the permits,based on the level of treatment needed for final end use of the graywater. To date twenty-six tier 1 permits have been granted and one tier 2. The rules establish treatment and monitoring requirements, setbacks, access and exposure controls, site management practices and an annual renewal fee.
Inspired by an innovative housing program in Kirkland, WA, in 2009 the City of Bainbridge Island adopted the Housing Design Demonstration Program (HDDP) to encourage affordable housing, a vibrant pedestrian oriented-downtown, and innovative green building design. The program offers a 1.5x density bonus to green-certified affordable housing projects. To-date more than 250 new homes have been green building certified, with about 100 of those being affordable units.
In December 2009 the City of Seattle wrote a page in the history of green building leadership, when their City Council adopted Ordinance 123206, establishing the Living Building Pilot Program. The Program’s goal is to promote buildings that meet the Living Building Challenge (full Certification or Petal Recognition) by providing flexibility in development standards in Seattle’s Land use codes. The Bullitt Center building in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood was the first to be built under the Program.
Tacoma Building, Fire and Historic Preservation officials worked with local architect Ben Ferguson to adopt an innovative Live/Work Work/Live code amendment in 2012. Tacoma has a lot of historic buildings with an uncertain future, but the LWWL code makes it easier to adapt existing buildings for modern urban life. By reducing regulatory and financial barriers by not requiring change of use, they have provided a clear path to approval for a new mixed-use building type that caters to today’s market.