July 2009, Vol. 21, No.7


‘Green’ Projects Often Hard To Identify

Timing of “SRF Funding Boost Includes Tight Deadlines for States, Recipients” [May] was perfect since project applicants and consultants are working hard to meet the tight funding deadlines. This article is informative and useful as it highlights various funding deadlines, the availability of other funding sources, and the challenges of the state agencies and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particularly in allocation of 20% of funds dedicated for the Green Project Reserve.

In the wastewater industry, the concept of sustainability is still evolving. Unlike in the building industry, there is no integrated approach or well-defined mechanism available for identifying a wastewater project as “green.” For example, the U.S. Green Building Council has instituted a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for identifying green building projects, using an integrated approach that considers sustainable sites, energy conservation, indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, material reuse, innovation, and other components. In general, these same components can be adopted for identifying green wastewater projects.

However, each project in the wastewater category is unique, and all these components may not be applicable for every wastewater project. Sometimes a sustainable component that is relevant to a wastewater collection and conveyance project may not be relevant to a wastewater treatment project. Even within the same project, some of the various sustainable components may compete with each other. For example, anaerobic wastewater treatment conserves energy, but it also produces greenhouse gases, which increase the carbon footprint of the project unless methane is captured and utilized.

Although the absence of an integrated approach makes it difficult to identify wastewater projects that qualify for the Green Project Reserve, it is a good move to dedicate 20% of funds for promoting the cause of sustainability. EPA’s webcast on Green Project Reserve, which can be viewed at http://www.epa.gov/water/eparecovery, might be useful to project applicants and consultants who are pursuing projects funded by this reserve.

Velmurugan Subramanian
Project Engineer
Tulsa, Okla.


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