News, Science and Technology

Net-Zero works to improve water sustainability

Eric Antmann, a graduate student in environmental engineering, gives a tour of the Net Zero water system attached to the UV Albenga Garage. Holly Bensur // Staff Photographer

Eric Antmann, a graduate student in environmental engineering, gives a tour of the Net Zero water system attached to the UV Albenga Garage. Holly Bensur // Staff Photographer

Eric Antmann, a graduate student in environmental engineering, compares the recycled water in the net-zero building at the University Village (UV)  to bottled mineral water.

“Because of the recycling system, this is actually similar to a high-quality mineral water,” he said. “It’s give or take the same mineral level as San Pellegrino.”

Antmann is part of the Autonomous Net-Zero Water Project team that developed a net-zero building. This building is equipped with a sustainable water system that recycles wastewater into clean water to be reused in a safe, economical and low energy manner. The system eliminates the traditional journey that South Florida water takes from the Everglades, to our homes and into the ocean – saving energy, reducing environmental impact and greatly minimizing the potential for a water shortage.

The project took four years to complete and was funded by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. James Englehardt, a professor in civil, architectural and environmental engineering, was awarded the grant and conducted a tour of the facility Friday.

“I am writing proposals to keep it running, because we do need research support to keep it going,” he said. “But we eventually got it built, and started in operation last January, but that was using treated city water and then our water went to sewer, the city sewer. Since June, we went into recycle mode.”

Englehardt, with an interdisciplinary team, used groundbreaking techniques to promote sustainable development and water use.

“We have a big team of students and various researchers and we test this water three times every day and we can also see on the computer all of the water levels, we can see all of the concentrations, and so we are constantly monitoring, testing, and collecting data,” Englehardt said. “We have lots of data and we are developing publications and so forth.”

After the water is used, wastewater travels to the system set up adjacent to the net-zero building. Half of the system is located outside, while the other half is housed in a small section of the nearby parking garage. The water goes through numerous steps to ensure quality. Organic matter, bacteria, metals and other impurities are eliminated.

“We are regularly achieving no bacteriological counts in our water through all of this disinfection equipment,” Antmann said.

Englehardt also hopes the project will help overcome regulation in addition to reducing energy and water demand.

Regulators, such as the Miami Dade Health Department, the Florida Environmental Protection Agency and other related government agencies, don’t have policies in place for systems like the net-zero building.

“The regulators don’t know how to permit a system like this yet,” he said. “So this is a research project that would partly help them develop regulations that would allow somebody to build a system like this and use it. The only reason we are allowed to do this is because it’s research, because nobody’s done it before.”

Students living in the participating apartment were unable to be reached at the time of publication.

The net-zero building was originally proposed for 20 students living in Eaton Residential College. But because of rising costs, the number of students was reduced to four.

Students applied to live in the net-zero apartment. Two groups of students applied, but only one could be selected. The participating students had to sign waivers because they are part of a research study.

“They have been very cooperative because every once in a while we have to go into the apartment to do something and they’ve been great to work with,” Englehardt said.

Students interested in touring the facility, conducting research or helping out can email Englehart and his team at netzerowaterdorm@miami.edu or visit miami.edu/netzerowaterdorm.

November 3, 2013

Reporters

Sarah Hall


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes are running low on tight ends. But their receivers — notably sophomore speedste ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ The pretty even split of carries between Travis Homer ...

The University of Miami has lost another player to surgery, and the depth was already lacking at thi ...

A six-pack of UM notes on a Monday: ▪ There has been no more popular or successful quarterback at UM ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ defense leads the nation in tackles for loss and stopping opponents on third d ...

UM President Julio Frenk outlined the strategies of the Roadmap to Our New Century, part of his Stat ...

Listeners to UM President Julio Frenk’s State of the U reacted positively to the message and the Uni ...

At UM’s inaugural State of the U address, President Julio Frenk detailed the strategies of the Roadm ...

Tropical storm scientists and climate experts at the University of Miami provided insight, observati ...

Joseph Ganitsky, a professor in the Miami Business School, examines the financial crisis facing Arge ...

Jeff Thomas may be quiet off the field, but the sophomore has been consistently making lots of noise ...

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Tuesday the league slate for the upcoming 2018-19 season. ...

Miami remained ranked in both major polls Sunday, checking in at No. 21 in the Associated Press Top ...

The Miami Hurricanes came to Toledo, Ohio for the biggest home game in the history of Toledo footbal ...

A quartet of University of Miami men's tennis student-athletes concluded the final day of compe ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.