Urban resilience: potential for rainwater harvesting in a heritage building

  • YEAR
    Paschoalin, Rachel
    Pace, Ronnie
    Isaacs, Nigel
    2020 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science, Design and Environment Science, Urban Science
    Conference Papers


Population growth and climate change are imposing challenges on the built environment and urban communities, including managing growing water demand. The Wellington water supply network is vulnerable not only to rainfall variation but also earthquakes where it could struggle for water to fight fires post-quake. Rainwater harvesting for greywater would also be beneficial under water scarcity. Historic buildings, an important part of the city’s built environment, can contribute to sustainable development while also reducing water demand. This paper presents a rainwater harvesting study on the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Category 1 ‘Old Government Building’. The 145 year old timber building houses the Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law, with about 2,000 students and staff. In addition to the challenges due to heritage requirements, the environmental, economic and social benefits are examined. These include resilience to flooding and climate change, a backup plan for building and city fires, water cost reduction, and regional sustainable water management. The recommendations which, while directed at this building, will be appropriate for consideration in other heritage buildings. It must not be forgotten that rainwater is a valuable natural resource that creates a number of opportunities and benefits for the city and communities.

Keywords: historic buildings; water management; urban resilience; climate change.


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